The Publishing Trap!

As part of the Open Access Week 2017, the Drill Hall Library hosted an event for researchers, based around playing the new game created by Chris Morrison and Jane Secker: The Publishing Trap. This game is designed to help inform researchers about the publishing process – each player or team takes the role of an academic and the game follows their career from finishing their PhD to their..erm…deaths and beyond. You can find out more about the game on the UK Copyright Literacy website. The event was open to researchers from all three universities based at the Medway campus, and there were research support staff from each university on hand to play the game with researchers and answer any tricky questions that might crop up.

Here are some pictures from the event:

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Shiny new game!

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Deep in thought…

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Cakes decorated by Jane

Some of us had played the game before, as a test run, when it was still a prototype, so it was very exciting to see the finished product. It is a really useful and entertaining way of learning, teaching and thinking about the publishing process, so I hope we can use it for researchers at CCCU in the near future.

Other useful links about The Publishing Trap:

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Thoughts from ‘Open Access: Understanding the New Environment’

A couple of weeks ago (23rd October), I attended “Open Access: Understanding the New Environment”, an event hosted by the University of Kent as part of Open Access Week.

Half my working week is spent doing things with our institutional repository. Mainly, I amend and create metadata for the items that go into the repository, and sometimes I answer queries about it and help academic staff deposit their research. Open Access (OA) was something I’d heard a lot about in connection with repositories and other things, and I felt that I should try and find out more about it, both for my own development and in case I was ever asked about it!

The programme for the afternoon consisted of talks from a variety of speakers involved in OA in some way. I won’t write about them all here, because you can read an excellent summary of the day at Phil Ward’s blog, Research Fundermentals. You can listen to all of the talks online, should you so wish.

Although all the talks were of interest, the ones I found particularly interesting were Rosemary Hunter on “Gold, Green or in Between: Establishing an Open Access Journal” and Kevin Ashley’s talk on “Research Data Management and Open Access”. I’d come across OA journals in the course of my work on the repository, and it was fascinating to hear the story of, firstly, the difficulties experienced by academics and journal editors in dealing with big publishers, and secondly, about how an OA journal can be set up. After hearing Rosemary’s talk I, and others, I think, were left wondering why more people don’t set up OA journals in order to bypass many of the problems inherent to other forms of OA. As Phil writes:

[feminists@law, the OA journal] was light in terms of expense (a single Article Processing Charge (APC) could pay for the cost of a whole journal, using online OA), and flexible in terms of the type of media that could be accepted (it no longer had to be solely text-based); but it was not lightweight in terms of academic rigour or seriousness.

Kevin Ashley, director of the Digital Curation Centre spoke about the importance of research data to Open Access. This wasn’t something I’d really thought about before, but Kevin explained it all in an accessible way, arguing the case for the release of research data to (e.g.) avoid duplication of work and to expose ‘bad’ research. He argued that even if research didn’t achieve what it set out to do, the data from that research can still be useful to other researchers in the field, so even data from ‘failed’ projects should be published. I also found his talk interesting because of the fact that it was about data, and a lot of my job involves dealing with data in one form or another. The talk reminded me of the importance of good data and that my hours spent cataloguing and entering metadata into the repository are not in vain!

Although a lot of what was said in the talks was new to me, the speakers were engaging enough to make the information accessible, and I came away from the day knowing much more about OA than I did when I went in, and feeling more confident in my understanding of where my own role fits in to the Open Access environment.

FRBR for the Terrified

On Monday, some colleagues and I attended the FRBR  for the Terrified workshop at the University of Kent, Canterbury. It was facilitated by Robin Armstrong Viner, Head of Collection Management at the University of Kent.

Although I’ve been reading a fair bit about RDA (Resources Description and Access) (which is based on FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) principles) over the last couple of years, I haven’t had any training in RDA-related things since we touched on it in the Music Cataloguing for Beginners course I attended in 2011. It was good to have the opportunity to learn about FRBR itself, something with which I wasn’t very familiar at all. I was slightly daunted by it before the session, but, while I still need to make all the information stay in my brain somehow, I feel that I understand it much better now!

The workshop was mainly a PowerPoint presentation, to which I added copious notes, as fast as I could write them down (as is my wont), but we also had a couple of practical exercises to do. I think these were the most helpful parts of the workshop, as we had to really think about and apply the FRBR principles in ‘real life’. I particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter-related task, when we had to arrange cards representing a variety of Harry Potter-related items to their correct part of the “Bibliographic Relationships” table (p. 4 of the PDF).

It was all a good reminder of why I enjoy cataloguing so much. I love the way it makes you think differently about what might be considered normal everyday objects; what they really are, where they’ve come from, their relationships to other things. Learning about FRBR, I found I was having to switch on my ‘cataloguing brain’, which was great!

I don’t know when I will have the opportunity to practically apply what I’ve learned, as it is unlikely that my workplace will be implementing RDA anytime soon; but I was glad to have the opportunity to do some professional development and at least gain some theoretical grounding in these important changes to cataloguing practice.

Thank you to the lovely people at the University of Kent for a most interesting afternoon…not to mention some tasty cake!

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We were given a very useful list of bibliographic references. I won’t include them all, but here are a few links to FRBR and RDA-related readings and resources available online:

I apologise for all the acronyms in this post!