Tough data-driven decisions and radical thinking: how Middlesbrough College’s LRC survived austerity

Author: Tracey Totty

When other libraries had their budgets cut, Middlesbrough College’s Learning Resources Centre (LRC) enjoyed a stable (yet not increasing) budget with minor cuts from 2015–2017. For 2017–2018, the LRC was required to save 50% of its non-pay budget. The cuts were not unexpected, but so much in one go was a severe shock.

As a matter of good practice, we were already making data-driven decisions for all our resources and were trying to get the best deals we could. It was time for consolidation, tougher decisions and, possibly, some radical thinking.

At the beginning of 2017 this process started, and is now reaping rewards. This article will set out how decisions on making the necessary budget cuts were made, what was done to make the reduced budget go further (whilst maintaining the high quality of services) and the results of the exercise.

The author presented this work at the UKSG E-resources for Further Education event in November 2018.

URL : Tough data-driven decisions and radical thinking: how Middlesbrough College’s LRC survived austerity

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.462

Open Access Escape Room: the key to OA engagement?

Author: Katrine Sundsbø

Open access (OA) has had, and will continue to have, a significant effect on the scholarly publishing landscape in academia, yet many academic staff publish OA in order to comply with policies, rather than engaging with the value of open scholarship and in debates that ultimately affect them.

Training sessions and workshops are often arranged to increase knowledge and awareness in the academic community, but engagement is often low. On the other hand, some academic staff, who already do engage, will happily attend sessions and workshops to increase their knowledge even further.

The struggle to increase OA engagement overall could be due to the training not being appealing enough, and academics not being aware of benefits until after they have attended workshops.

At the University of Essex, we took a bold, brave and curious approach to increasing engagement during Open Access Week 2018, and created an OA-themed escape room.

This resulted in great engagement from students, academic staff and professional services staff, some of whom reported that they never knew how relevant OA was for them. The Open Access Escape Room was a success, and provided a positive environment for conversations around OA.

URL : Open Access Escape Room: the key to OA engagement?

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.459

Open-access policy and data-sharing practice in UK academia

Author : Yimei Zhu

Data sharing can be defined as the release of research data that can be used by others. With the recent open-science movement, there has been a call for free access to data, tools and methods in academia. In recent years, subject-based and institutional repositories and data centres have emerged along with online publishing.

Many scientific records, including published articles and data, have been made available via new platforms. In the United Kingdom, most major research funders had a data policy and require researchers to include a ‘data-sharing plan’ when applying for funding.

However, there are a number of barriers to the full-scale adoption of data sharing. Those barriers are not only technical, but also psychological and social. A survey was conducted with over 1800 UK-based academics to explore the extent of support of data sharing and the characteristics and factors associated with data-sharing practice.

It found that while most academics recognised the importance of sharing research data, most of them had never shared or reused research data. There were differences in the extent of data sharing between different gender, academic disciplines, age and seniority.

It also found that the awareness of Research Council UK’s (RCUK) Open-Access (OA) policy, experience of Gold and Green OA publishing, attitudes towards the importance of data sharing and experience of using secondary data were associated with the practice of data sharing.

A small group of researchers used social media such as Twitter, blogs and Facebook to promote the research data they had shared online. Our findings contribute to the knowledge and understanding of open science and offer recommendations to academic institutions, journals and funding agencies.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551518823174

Research cafés: how libraries can build communities through research and engagement

Author : Katherine Stephan

The Research Support Team at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) runs events called research cafés throughout the academic year.

During these cafés, we bring together PhD students, early career researchers and more established academics over lunch to give them an opportunity to talk about their work to a lay audience of their peers and the public.

From its inception in 2013 we have maintained the overall format of the research café, based as it is on promoting interdisciplinary dialogue in an informal setting, while also making a few small but significant changes.

These changes have in turn increased the visibility and reach of research promotion within the Library. Against that backdrop, this article – which is based on a lightning talk and poster session presented at the 41st UKSG Annual Conference, Glasgow, in April 2018 – will outline why the library is ideally placed to facilitate this type of scholarship sharing and why research and community engagement should be viewed as an integral part of a university library’s agenda.

It will also discuss how its success has allowed our Team to work in partnership with colleagues from across the University in new and exciting ways. Finally, it will address what further developments we can make to continue to improve and help the research community at LJMU and beyond.

URL : Research cafés: how libraries can build communities through research and engagement

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.436

Open Access Policy in the UK: From Neoliberalism to the Commons

Author : Stuart Andrew Lawson

This thesis makes a contribution to the knowledge of open access through a historically  and theoretically informed account of contemporary open access policy in the UK (2010–15).

It critiques existing policy by revealing the influence of neoliberal ideology on its creation, and proposes a commons-based approach as an alternative. The historical context in Chapters 2 and 3 shows that access to knowledge has undergone numerous changes over the centuries and the current push to increase access to research, and political  controversies around this idea, are part of a long tradition.

The exploration of the origins and meanings of ‘openness’ in Chapter 4 enriches the understanding of open access as a concept and makes possible a more nuanced critique of specific instantiations of open access in later chapters.

The theoretical heart of the thesis is Chapter 5, in which neoliberalism is analysed with a particular focus on neoliberal conceptions of liberty and openness. The subsequent examination of neoliberal higher education in Chapter 6 is therefore informed by a thorough grounding in the ideology that underlies policymaking in the neoliberal era.

This understanding then acts as invaluable context for the analysis of the UK’s open access policy in Chapter 7. By highlighting the neoliberal aspects of open access policy, the political tensions within open access advocacy are shown to have real effects on the way that open access is unfolding.

Finally, Chapter 8 proposes the commons as a useful theoretical model for conceptualising a future scholarly publishing ecosystem that is free from neoliberal ideology. An argument is made that a commons-based open access policy is possible, though must be carefully constructed with close attention paid to the power relations that exist between different scholarly communities.

URL : Open Access Policy in the UK: From Neoliberalism to the Commons

Alternative location : http://stuartlawson.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2018-09-03-Lawson-thesis.pdf

Systematic analysis of agreement between metrics and peer review in the UK REF

Authors : Vincent Traag, Ludo Waltman

When performing a national research assessment, some countries rely on citation metrics whereas others, such as the UK, primarily use peer review. In the influential Metric Tide report, a low agreement between metrics and peer review in the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) was found.

However, earlier studies observed much higher agreement between metrics and peer review in the REF and argued in favour of using metrics. This shows that there is considerable ambiguity in the discussion on agreement between metrics and peer review.

We provide clarity in this discussion by considering four important points: (1) the level of aggregation of the analysis; (2) the use of either a size-dependent or a size-independent perspective; (3) the suitability of different measures of agreement; and (4) the uncertainty in peer review.

In the context of the REF, we argue that agreement between metrics and peer review should be assessed at the institutional level rather than at the publication level. Both a size-dependent and a size-independent perspective are relevant in the REF.

The interpretation of correlations may be problematic and as an alternative we therefore use measures of agreement that are based on the absolute or relative differences between metrics and peer review.

To get an idea of the uncertainty in peer review, we rely on a model to bootstrap peer review outcomes. We conclude that particularly in Physics, Clinical Medicine, and Public Health, metrics agree quite well with peer review and may offer an alternative to peer review.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1808.03491

The UK Scholarly Communication Licence: Attempting to Cut through the Gordian Knot of the Complexities of Funder Mandates, Publisher Embargoes and Researcher Caution in Achieving Open Access

Authors : Julie Baldwin, Stephen Pinfield

Whilst take-up of open access (OA) in the UK is growing rapidly due partly to a number of funder mandates, managing the complexities of balancing compliance with these mandates against restrictive publisher policies and ingrained academic priorities, has resulted in UK higher education institutions (HEIs) often struggling with confused researchers, complex workflows, and rising costs.

In order to try to address this situation, the UK Scholarly Communication Licence (UK-SCL) was formulated to bypass the root causes of many of these challenges by implementing a licensing mechanism for multiple-mandate compliance in one single policy.

This is the first empirical study to focus on the genesis of the UK-SCL and how its implementation has been conceived thus far. A qualitative research method was used, taking the form of 14 semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders from the initiative across the UK.

The results indicate that those working within UK HEIs are concerned with the complexity of the current OA policy landscape and are frustrated with the inertia within the current system, which has resulted in higher costs, further publisher restrictions, and has not addressed the underlying tensions in academic culture.

The UK-SCL is seen by its initiators as a way to achieve further transition towards OA and take back some element of control of the content produced at their institutions.

The study concludes by modelling the ways in which the UK-SCL is intended to impact relationships between key stakeholders, and discussing possible implementation futures.

URL : The UK Scholarly Communication Licence: Attempting to Cut through the Gordian Knot of the Complexities of Funder Mandates, Publisher Embargoes and Researcher Caution in Achieving Open Access

Alternative location : http://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/6/3/31