Baseline Open Access assessment: themes and trends

The institutions that have volunteered information for the baseline assessment spreadsheet (13 including the project partners) have, through their own openness, provided some useful insights to how and what open access developments are taking place. Based on information received up the end of the summer, a top 10 (although not necessarily in order) of themes and trends were identified for a presentation at the Northern Collaboration conference in September, and have been expanded for this blog post. A further analysis will take place after the latest information updates from the autumn have been added.

  1. QA of research output records sits with the Library, irrespective of how deposit is carried out.

Quality Assurance seems to be a role that libraries are being recognised for as part of the open access process. This may be because no one else wants to do it, of course, but it does flag up that there is a very definite and important role that libraries are being called to undertake. This theme also highlights the role of libraries in research information system management, and it would be good to understand how this is panning out more broadly.

  1. Text-mining is a largely unexplored area, with a major sticking point being the default use of PDF as the filetype being deposited.

Maybe not so surprisingly, text-mining hasn’t hit the radar yet, or at least not in the institutions providing data. There is interest, certainly, but possibly a lack of awareness of how to engage and support this in research outputs within repositories. It is recognised that the default use of PDF (or, at least, PDF image files if created this way) doesn’t necessarily help with this, and the main purpose of the repository being to facilitate easy access rather than machine processing. It would be good to hear of examples where repository contents have been used in text mining to understand how this can be best enabled.

  1. The heaviest focus is on Green Open Access, with Gold Open Access as an add-on.

This is perhaps not surprising given the pronouncements from many institutions in this area. Pragmatism is winning out over policy preference (at least in RCUK’s case). It does raise the issue of how institutions might better support Gold Open Access (assuming costs can be managed).

  1. Reporting is an underdeveloped area.

Whilst libraries have focused on getting content deposited, and some repository systems have good reporting tools, it seems that this has been put on the back burner in many cases, at least for now. Given the audit requirements for HEFCE and RCUK, this is an area that will require development, and internal reporting will also help raise the profile of what Open Access through the repository can enable.

  1. Metadata entry does use automated tools (e.g., CrossRef if supplying a DOI), but much effort is still manual.

The inconsistency in information and policy from different publishers makes this manual effort almost inevitable. Nevertheless, if systems can be used to provide metadata, and maybe event the appropriate full-text, then they can be successfully exploited for this. This area of development in Jisc to help support HEFCE policy compliance is thus a key area to assist with ensuring repository records are managed in a timely fashion.

  1. There is widespread availability of polices for Open Access, informed by an institutional body.

It was good to see that almost all those providing information have a local Open Access policy to inform their local practice. To some degree, then, institutions have accepted the need to highlight and communicate the benefits of Open Access and the need to act on this. It remains to be seen what type of teeth such bodies have when trying to enforce the policy.

  1. Creative Commons licences are used widely, but only when required.

The power of the mandate seems to have had an impact here. Responses suggested that the RCUK and HEFCE policies are influencing use of CC licences. However, the responses also suggest that institutions are not promoting their own view of such licences, or looking to make use of them more generally. This feels short-sighted, as if such licences are going to be used, then it will be important for institutions to know and understand how the both make the most of them, and also defend them if they need to (if a licence is breached, for example).

  1. Most sites responding now seem to have 1 or more FTE working on Open Access.

It is a while since UKCoRR did a survey of staffing for repositories and Open Access, so it was good to see this evidence. This is not to say the staffing resource is sufficient, particularly, but that there is some substance to how institutions are tackling Open Access that wasn’t present a few years ago.

  1. A widespread mix of support services within universities are involved in Open Access.

This was another positive finding at the responding institutions. These connections will be tested further in an [upcoming survey] to unpick further how these relationships are working. It was less positive to note that direct academic involvement was not high, when they are primary stakeholders. Understanding how to involve academics more closely may be an ongoing challenge for all support services.

  1. The main concerns noted were: resources, time – and the acceptance date!

No surprises here…

There is no doubt that many of these findings are not new, but it has been useful to have confirmation of them based on the data received. The more institutions provide this, the better the analysis can be, and hopefully lead to more refined investigation and analysis of Open Access trends.