Archive for the ‘ORO’ Category

Most downloaded: May 2010

Friday, June 4th, 2010

There is quite a significant headline story for this month’s download figures. The most recent edition of Early Childhood in Focus, a regular review of the best and most recent research, information and analysis on key policy issues, published by the Bernard van Leer Foundation in collaboration with The Open University, was authored by our very own Dr John Oates. John deposited a copy of this text in ORO and, in the month of May only, it received 294 downloads, topping the stats by far. Congratulations to John, who has clearly produced a very popular piece of work, and has successfully used ORO to disseminate it to as wide an audience as possible.

The complete Top 15 downloads for May can be accessed here: ORO downloads 05_2010.

Using ORO to create a publications feed for your website

Friday, June 4th, 2010

One of the many advantages of ORO is the role it can play in raising the profile of OU research. By this, I don’t only mean at the University scale, but also at Faculty, Department, Centre, Research Group, and individual researcher level too.

As such, we have had many people come to us and ask if we can create a publications feed for their website. The answer is yes, it can be done in a variety of ways, but up until now we’ve tended to work with people making these requests on a case-by-case basis, which of course can be very time-consuming.

However, now (as of today), it is a lot easier for you (or your website editor) to embed a publications feed, driven by ORO, without much (if any) involvement by us! From any set of search results, or indeed from any browse page within ORO, you will now see “Embed as feed” towards the top of the page with a “+” sign next to it. Clicking on the “+” will reveal a string of code which, when copied into the code for your site, will create a publications feed based on that page.

The standard feed this code creates is the ten most recent publications, in descending order by year of publication. I would suggest this, together with a link through to ORO to view all publications matching the criteria, would be a very nice feature on any OU-research-based website. And remember to make use of ORO’s Short URL service when linking through to a set of publications, particularly if it has been generated from a search.

Clearly, some people may want feeds ordered or styled in different ways, and in these cases you may still need to come back to us for help. However, we are addressing that too! Pretty soon we will also be rolling out a feed API for ORO, allowing developers to play around with the raw data, perhaps changing the citation style, the order of results, the number of results displayed, and so on. Also on the cards is some new functionality to allow individual articles to be tagged with Research Group information, thus enabling feeds for Research Groups to be created off the back of that information. Keep any eye on the blog for further announcements!

Finally, to help people understand how to use this new functionality, we’ve produced a short screencast demo which can be found in a new “Video Tutorials” section of the ORO help pages. More screencasts demonstrating other features of ORO will be added over the coming weeks and months!

Most downloaded: April 2010

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Very nearly half of the articles that feature in this month’s list are new (to the list, not newly published), which is great to see.

Congratulations to Dr Clive Barnett (Social Sciences > Geography) for coming top with his 2005 paper “Consuming ethics: Articulating the subjects and spaces of ethical consumption”, published in Antipode. This is a high quality journal with a strong impact factor, illustrating the point nicely that publishing in top journals alone doesn’t necessarily guarantee access to everyone that needs it. There will be many university libraries throughout the world who cannot afford to subscribe to Antipode, and so by depositing a copy in ORO Dr Barnett has increased his chances of diseminating his work to researchers working at those institutions.

To put this in a little more context, here is an estimated breakdown of the categories of people accessing ORO in April:

Academics: 35%
Research students: 29%
Undergrad students: 18%
Non-academic: 18%*

*Mostly health practitioners and non-university-based researchers, but also some local government and charity workers. Proportion of access by general public estimated at only 1%.

Click here for the complete list for April: ORO downloads 04_2010a.

Are institutional research repositories relatively less important for the sciences?

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Prompted by a couple of recent threads of email correspondence, I thought I’d raise the slightly thorny issue of why there doesn’t appear to be many of our science publications appearing in the most-downloaded stats from ORO. In the words of one of the people who contacted me about this, “[either] science at the OU is no good, or people in science use other means of communication etc.”.

I’m not the best placed to comment on the quality of our scientific research here at the OU, although I would hazard a guess that it cannot all be labelled bad, nor for that matter can it all be labelled good, much the same as at any other institution one would assume. So, I doubt very much that science at the OU being “no good” is the reason behind its lack of presence in the ORO download stats.

Instead, my own hunch is that, across Science as a whole, academics have been (and still are, to a certain extent) spoilt by their access to electronic journals, databases, and other subscription-based resources. They are very much used to visiting places like Science Direct, Web of Science, Scopus etc., and then clicking through seamlessly because their libraries have paid access to the journals which interest them. Other disciplines, in the Social Sciences and Arts, have perhaps (relative to the sciences) been lavished to a far lesser degree in terms of access to electronic resources, and so have evolved more innovative ways to search for literature.

One might reasonably ask, therefore, do institutional research repositories serve as much of a purpose for Science as they do for other disciplines? Well, I think it would be foolish to make any kind of judgement here based on anecdotal evidence from ORO alone. It would, though, be interesting to hear from other institutions as to the trends in their own download stats. How high do the sciences feature elsewhere?

What is clear, however, is that even if scientific research is relatively less well accessed in institutional repositories now, it is extremely unlikely to remain the case. All the signs are that the aforementioned seamless access to electronic resources will decline over the coming years, simply because libraries cannot keep pace with the volume and cost of journals. In the wake of this, scientists will also need to become more innovative in the way they search for literature, as well as disseminate their own work for the benefits of their peers facing the same access problems.

My prediction then, is give it time. Science will have its day!

Most downloaded: March 2010

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Topping the most-downloaded stats for March is a cross-faculty (Social Sciences and HSC) journal paper from 2007: “Choice and chance: negotiating agency in narratives of singleness”, published in the Sociological Review. Interestingly, as indicated by the download index of 0.47, this paper has received the majority of its total downloads in this last month, perhaps suggesting a recent surge of interest.

Also worth mentioning is the Computers and Education paper by Chris Jones and colleagues (again, another cross-faculty effort; IET and OUBS): “Net generation or digital natives: is there a distinct new generation entering university?” This paper has been downloaded more than once a day since it was deposited in ORO on the 8th of February, and was the second-most downloaded paper in March.

Here is the complete list: ORO downloads 03_2010.

Most downloaded: February 2010

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The most downloaded item from ORO in February 2010 was CREET’s Nigel Bennett and coauthors’ 2003 report on distributed leadership. Literature reviews are often popular, but in receiving more than one unique download per day that month, this article is clearly particularly well valued by its audience.

Another article worth mentioning is the joint IET and OUBS paper by Jones et al. (2010) on “net generation” students encountering e-learning in higher education. This very-recently-published-paper was deposited in ORO in the second week of February, and yet still ended up the sixth most downloaded article that month.

For the complete Top 15, click here: ORO downloads 02_2010a.

ORO drop-in session – 11th March 2010

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

The ORO team are running a drop-in session next week on Thursday 11th March in the Digilab between 10:00-11.30.

Want to know how to deposit items or talk to us about a technical ORO query then come along to this session and a member of the team will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about ORO.

No need to book, just turn up!

Concentrating on downloads…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

As most people will know, up until now, I have regularly produced two monthly top 10 lists for ORO: the most-viewed journal articles and the most-viewed non-journal articles. However, I’ve always preferred the idea of providing figures on full-text downloads rather than visits, as I think this has the potential to provide people with much more meaningful information.

A visit to a particular article may well be someone genuinely interested in reading and using that bit of research, but, equally, it could be someone who has just performed a Google search, clicked through to the item on ORO, looked at it for a second, and then moved on because they realised it was not what they were after. A download, however, probably means a lot more than that. If that same someone has clicked through to the item on ORO, looked at the title and abstract, and then taken the decision to download the full text, I would say there is a fair chance they have made the decision that that document is going to be useful to them in some way. And if that someone is an academic carrying out a literature search for their next paper, it may even translate into citations for you!

Anyway, I’m not going to go into the reasons why I haven’t reported on downloads up until now, simply because they are boring technical things that no one will be interested in. However, suffice it to say we have now gotten over these boring technical problems and have been merrily recording full text downloads since the 15th of December 2009. So, without further ado, here is the first top 15 (no longer top 10!) downloads for January 2010: ORO downloads 01_2010a.

One quarter of ORO’s content openly accessible to all

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Last week, we reached what I believe to be a significant milestone with ORO: 25% of the research articles ORO contains are openly accessible to all. This compares to 15% just one and a half years ago, at the start of our current advocacy and development programme. During the same period, the number of articles ORO houses has risen from 7,112 to 11,898, which, taken together, I hope reflects a heightened interest and understanding among our academics here at the OU of the benefits of open access to research. In the remainder of this post, I’d just like to take a moment to remind us all of those benefits, and why thinking about open access to research is so important.

For whatever gain, the broadest possible audience for academic research has to be a priority, not only for the individual, or that individual’s institution, but also for society as a whole. Working on the assumption that, somewhere along the line, the research you are carrying out has some benefit to someone, or something, that someone or something needs access to your work.

So, let’s take the most common method of publication for academic research – the journal – and consider the audience you might be reaching by publishing in this way. You might argue that the vast majority of institutions will all subscribe to journals in which you publish and that therefore most people who will want to read and cite your work will be able to. However, the fact of the matter is, that there are so many journals in existence today, and they come at such a cost, that academic libraries simply cannot keep pace. Indeed, I was at an event recently where it was revealed that, based on the journals subscribed to by their two institutions, academics at Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham could, at best, only expect to access around 50% of each other’s research. In short, just because your library subscribes to a particular journal, it certainly does not mean that the next university down the road does. And then when you start thinking about access at poorer institutions, perhaps in the developing world, the access problem multipies even more.

Emerging from the problem of the cost of academic journals, of course there is an understandable tendency for the library community to advocate open access. However, alongside this, there is an equally understandable push from research funders as well, simply because they want the research they invest in to reach the widest possible audience, and thus maximise the chances of it having an impact of some kind. Indeed, in this country, the UK Research Councils all now have mandates requiring the research they fund to be made openly accessible as soon as possible after publication. This, to me, is central to the need for open access, and research funders are quite right to be thinking about and acting upon it. For people, society, and ultimately the world to benefit from research and scientific discovery, it is something that must be shared as openly as possible. In short, those involved in academic and scholarly research must, as part of that role, concern themselves with the effective proliferation of their findings. And the best way to do that, is through open access.

Finally, here’s a reminder of some FAQs on the ORO site for more information:

What is open access?

What are the benefits to researchers?

What are the benefits to the Open University?

What can I deposit in ORO?

What about copyright?

Top ten most-viewed articles (December 2009), including a new “Visitor Index”

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Included in this month’s most-viewed article stats is a new measure – something I’ve called the “Visitor Index”. This is something I’ve developed to give people an idea of how well-accessed their article is relative to the amount of time it’s actually been in ORO, or (more accurately) relative to when we began recording visitor stats with Google Analytics (19th July 2008).

The index is very easy to interpret. Basically, a value of 1 means you’ve had the same amount of unique visitors to your article as days the article has been in ORO, i.e. an average of 1 unique visitor per day. So, anything above 1 obviously means you’ve been getting an average of more than 1 unique visitor per day. Crudely, the greater your Visitor Index, the better!

So, what use might this be? Well, when looking at the top 10 most-viewed articles within a given month, the Visitor Index will help to provide a bit more context. For example, an article appearing in the top 10 with a relatively low Visitor Index might indicate a recent surge of interest in that particular piece of work. Equally, a recently-published journal paper, or maybe even an “In Press” journal paper, with a high Visitor Index would tell you that, no sooner that paper was deposited in ORO, people were keen to view it.

So, without further ado, here are the most-viewed (journal and non-journal) articles during the month of December 2009: ORO article views 12_2009. Comments welcome (as always)!