17 May 2013

Report on UKSG 2013, Bournemouth, UK -- Part 1

Guest post by Anne Madden

Key themes:
UKSG 2013 was apparently the biggest yet. With 930 delegates, the organising committee are very restricted in the venues open to them. Bournemouth and the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) proved acceptable and accessible and will be recycled for 2016. In particular, the sponsor hall was well laid out and worked very well (see pics below). Getting to a workshop did occasionally involve a bit of advanced navigation though.

Over the 3 days, my idea that the Conference was focused around Open Access and the Finch report was shot down. Finch was only the launch pad. Very roughly, the themes could be broken down to:
  • Open Access (Part 1)
  • The Research Agenda (Part 1)
  • Our clients under the microscope (Part 2)
  • The role of Technology (Part 2)
The inclusion of Lightning talks and Breakout Sessions further broadened the scope of the Conference, and some of these talks and workshops were real highlights for me.

Day One
Following greetings from Ross MacIntyreChair of UKSG and Bob Boissy, President of NASIG, various awards were presented. It was good to see Ireland was represented by Kathryn Walsh from NUI Maynooth who won one of the early career professional awards.

Open Access
The first presentation was by Phil Sykes “Open Access gets tough”. As an early aside, he welcomed the HEFCE decision to insist on OA for REF 2020 where decisions are made on how much funding will be provided to each university. This, he claims, will be a game-changer as loss for non-compliance could be disastrous. HEFCE have an annual research budget of £2 billion.  It was obvious from the outset that Phil Sykes was passionate about OA.

Sykes didn’t honestly believe that Institutional Repositories were being adequately supported. He credits David Willetts as the man who breathed new life into the OA movement and the Finch study. Finch proposed Gold OA (immediate access on a CC By licence). RCUK immediately adopted the recommendations but also allowed for Green OA which allows for an embargo period especially for humanities and social sciences. At least 45% of funded research would have to be on a Gold basis for this year, gradually building to 100%. The APC costs were being deducted at a time when the budget was already very tight, so this was not a popular decision. As a result, now 45% must be published OA, but either Green or Gold is acceptable.

He highlighted how the stars were currently aligned for a major push-through of OA: prominent politicians and key research figures are all very supportive of the movement.  He did chide librarians for their lack-lustre support of OA. As librarians, we should be raising awareness of the current enormous costs of subscribed journals and providing all relevant information, support and advice on the OA alternative to our clients.

Fred Dylla (“The evolving view of public access to the results of publicly funded research in the US”)  brought us through the various steps, studies, reports and legislation leading to OA in the US: the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable; the Competes Act (which was signed earlier this year by President Obama); the NSF report; the OSTP Directive; the FERPA Act (2012). There is a nice insight into the process at http://www.aip.org/fyi/2012/049.html. One of the earliest “wins” for OA was when, in 2007, the NIH Public Access Mandate was passed. By September 2013 the OSTP have directed that eleven funding agencies, that between them control a $100m budget, come up with a plan for public access. In it, they must keep the international scene under consideration.

Mr. Dylla highlighted the logistical and technical problems that need to be solved using various partnership approaches:
- Interoperability: for example, would research reports housed in http://science.gov be compatible with publisher platform and linking resources?
- What about unique identifiers?
- Identifying funding sources?

Already some of these issues are being addressed. In May this year, CrossRef will launch FundRef – which will trace and ID funding sources. ORCID (covered separately) is now launched and will provide a unique identifier for researchers. A trial group of Public Libraries are making research available free of charge within the participating libraries. There is also an article rental scheme, DeepDyve, which already has 100 publishers on board.

For anyone with an interest in the progress in the US of Open Access over the past 3 years, Dylla’s presentation is an excellent source of information. One slightly disappointing note relates to their apparent acceptance of Green OA with an average of 12 months’ embargo as a target. Also interesting will be how OA journals will develop – already according to one questioner hundreds of “journals” with titles remarkably similar to leading journals are touting all and sundry for papers.

So what should librarians be doing to support this? Jill Emery quoted from Lankes’ Atlas of New Librarianship “the mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities”. It is our duty to champion what is being created locally. We are also responsible, she suggests, for ensuring that OA is not a separate project, but is central to the organisation’s research agenda.  What are we doing with our collections to help to facilitate these major changes in knowledge in our local societies/user groups?

Ms. Emery regretted that the general attitude of librarians is “adversarial” with publishers as the bad guys, and only their greed holding back the democratisation of research. She flagged three important points:
1. Open Access is still going to involve money
2. It is still going to need management and organisation. “This is the golden age of cataloguers”.
3. OA has to be integrated into mainstream library and organisational activity.

The movement is gaining momentum; a recent survey estimated 17% of journal articles published in 2015 will be OA. Meanwhile, library budgets were being cut and journal costs were soaring. Before proceeding with any OA plans, Jill Emery and her colleagues first decided to survey the current scene. Of the ten major publishers surveyed, all had a significant number of hybrid journals available. While general indications suggested an APC of $660, the average identified in their survey was $3,000. Librarians should challenge these prices – what is the value of the prestige of a publication against its cost?

She next introduced a term briefly touched on earlier by Phil Sykes “double-dipping”. Discounts to subscription prices offered to institutions based on the number of APCs they have submitted to the journal/publisher. OUP were by far the most transparent in this respect. Another factor to follow is the type of licence that is being offered.

A major difficulty at present is tracking usage – a key role for librarians is to ensure that any available tools such as FundRef and ORCID will be utilised to allow for Counter 4 compliance (currently no publishers are Counter 4 compliant). Librarians should also be changing mindsets within faculty and departments. Should librarians be dealing with APC charges? Essentially librarians should be developing the organisational OA policy and this will require becoming the experts on OA standards and developments and promoting them through the organisation.

My next stop was the Mendeley break-out session. At the time of attending, this was a good fit with the OA agenda. The statistics were staggering:
- 381 million documents in the database (not unique, included some duplications)
- 227,000 public or private groups
- 50-60,000 active users per week
- 1,500 Mendeley advisors establishing local communities

It operates as a Desktop client but there is also a web version. The user profile is largely academics and top level researchers, who use it to organise and annotate their collections as well as sharing with interested communities within Mendeley. It is compatible with a wide range of resources – with mobiles via Scholarley or Droideley and with Kindles using Kin-sync. The “Moodley” project is under way with Cambridge University to integrate it into their symplectic VLEs. The words “shared” and “collaborative” were used repeatedly; including user-generated tagging, collaborative filtering, and more than 300 apps which have been generated for Mendeley by the users.

As for altmetrics, there is a quite accurate relationship between article readership in Mendeley and the citation index – except that it is available much earlier.

But we all know what happened next, so the future of this valued resource is uncertain.

Also falling under the OA umbrella was the Swets session on OA and the role of the intermediary. This was hosted by Maxim van Gisbergen of Swets. In an evolving scholarly communication world, what assistance can an intermediary provide? Who will be their customer – should the intermediary be funded by publishers or librarians? Some suggestions included the traditional roles of facilitating visibility and access to resources, but also proposed they might provide assistance in pulling together “big deals” and APC payments. Once again it was mentioned that librarians should strongly consider whether they wanted to get involved in management of APC management within their organisation. The Research Information Network had recently published a paper on how intermediaries could be involved in this process. The key point I took from this break-out session was the disruptive effect that OA will have on all stakeholders.

Two lightning talks finish the section on Open Access. The first was Carolyn Alderson, of JISC, who spoke of a new project launched by JISC Collections to facilitate the payment of APCs. It is a consolidated platform developed in partnership with OAK (Open Access Key) who provide the technical expertise.  JISC are already “trusted partners” in managing payments between institutions and publishers. She reiterated Phil Sykes view that IRs are not being used effectively. Additional benefits of the service include the ability to collect information about APCs for both libraries and publishers, and the opportunity to promote standardisation of process through the industry. The pilot has just been launched: 64 institutions and 60 publishers have shown an interest in becoming involved.

Not quite OA, but the Coventry University textbook project may have been seen as such by their students.  As a marketing ploy inter alia, they took the “no hidden extras” route for their 2012/13 first year students and in conjunction with Ingram Coutts supplied each new student with the core textbooks they needed free of charge for the duration of their Course. Funding was provided by each department, and the entire project was co-ordinated by the Library. A week before the students arrived, Ingram Coutts arrived on scene with their containers of books and set about bundling and marking them with each student’s ID no. Next year they are looking at a more eBook focused solution, again in partnership with Ingram Coutts. One interesting fact is that, although borrowing figures were down, footfall in the library increased by 10%.

The Research Agenda
Presentations on research came from Jenny Delasalle of Warwick University; Laurel Haak of ORCID and, in a breakout session, Joanna Ball of Sussex University. There may well have been more break-out sessions on the subject but this is the only one I attended that falls under the research heading.

The topic chosen by Jenny Delasalle was the relevance of librarians to research evaluation and vice versa. Universities are ranked substantially on their research output; this output is evaluated on where they have published, what has been published and the citation index. As libraries regularly provide this information or resources to provide it, the link to the library is already established.

An additional role for the librarian is to provide guidance on using social media to increase the impact of research. For REF 2014, 20% of the research funding decision will be based on impact. RCUK require research reports which are submitted to ROS (Research Outcomes System) – librarians are key partners in this through CRIS (Current Research Information Systems)/IRs and through handling metadata creation.

Another initiative is Snowball Metrics, involving Elsevier and 8 Universities including Warwick. This has produced a “recipe book” identifying core units of measurement or metrics to allow for the equitable benchmarking of universities on a global basis. For example, counting the value of grants as well as the number of projects, and breaking it down to Depts, FTEs, quarterly figures etc.

So what tools can we point our clients at to measure what is needed? The prestige of the journal in which it is published is still very influential. For clients looking for information on journals, there are a number of tools including Ulrich’s, JCR, “Snip”, and now also Google Scholar metrics.

Article level measures: in addition to the traditional citation index, use any new tools available – tools for counting hits on specific sites; “likes”, reader ratings etc. Librarians need to step in and advise on these tools and how researchers should use them when developing their profiles and submitting their research portfolio.

Two items that fall under her “recommended viewing” list include the http://altmetrics.org site, and the recent SURF report “Users, narcissism and control – tracking the impact of scholarly publications in the 21st century”. Future opportunities include tracking and being the expert on the changing publication profile: the article level economy, and the non-traditional article.

It had already come up in conversation, now it was the turn of Laurel Haak to give her very animated presentation on ORCID. ORCID has three key benefits: it connects a researcher to their output and follows them through their career; it facilitates and automates the population of IRs; and avoids any confusion between the output of researchers sharing the same name.

Very simply, ORCID is a register which provides a unique and persistent ID for every researcher. It is an open, not-for-profit initiative and is the “person part” of the system, combined with DOIs and organisational IDs – all designed for interoperability. First, it has to be adopted by both researchers and by information systems, publishers etc.

Currently, there are 8-9,000 new registrants per week and it is being integrated into manuscripts submission systems, IRs and resources such as Scopus. By contacting professional bodies, they are receiving permission to embed ORCID in the members’ renewal forms. Researchers are responsible for managing their own account – issues of privacy are addressed. Occasionally, a “trusted organisation” may set up the account for the researcher, and then contacts them to claim it.

ORCID is being accepted as the standard author identifier tool and it is worth checking out the site in order to recommend to staff that they sign up as early as possible.

The final presentation I have included in this section is the workshop by Joanna Ball, University of Sussex, entitled “Supporting research data management on a shoestring: a practical solution”. The management of research data had previously been a neglected part of the research process, but new standards from funders such as RCUK and EPSRC require that a detailed management plan be submitted at the bidding stage. She undertook to develop a Code of Practice which would identify roles for the Research office, Library and for IT services. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, she re-purposed previous JISC projects, such as RDMRose. From the outset it was decided that the project would be carried out by postgraduate students (and postdoctoral students for Life Sciences participants, for hierarchical reasons); they were perceived to be more acceptable and less possibly biased than Librarians.

Some outcomes: set up a Digital Curation Centre to first up-skill librarians. Twitter Chat was used to address questions on the ethics of sharing. The need for a flexible solution that would take account of a range of different tools and media was highlighted. To work, the Code of Practice would require collaboration and buy-in from all parties.

She put some queries to her audience:
- Should each university/institution follow their own path or could collaboration and cooperation (maybe using a “best practice lab”) result in a one-size-fits-all out of the box solution? 
- What are the roles for librarians in the research management agenda?

In answer to this last question, she suggested our roles should be ethics, data protection, curation, copyright and legal limitation information, storage, authority on responsibility and ownership of data. In other words, “information literacy”.

The themes 'Our clients under the microscope' and 'The role of Technolocy' will be covered shortly in a separate blog post.

Sincere thanks to the Acquisitions Group of Ireland for making my trip possible.

*Guest blog posts represent the personal views of the poster and do not represent the official opinions or commentary of libfocus.com


  1. Thanks Anne - what a fantastic post! Sounds like a great discussion including a couple of favourites:

    "As librarians, we should be raising awareness of the current enormous costs of subscribed journals and providing all relevant information, support and advice on the OA alternative to our clients"

    "An additional role for the librarian is to provide guidance on using social media to increase the impact of research."

    +1 :)

  2. Thanks Michelle,
    there were certainly some good "takeaways" and bit by bit I'm reading the citations and references, especially the SURF report. Lots in that.
    Registering with ORCID is another easy win for librarians I think.