Last Thursday I attended a ’Repository Softwares Day’, organised by the Repositories Support Project (RSP). Held at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester, the event comprised a good mix of presentations and exhibits from key software developers such as EPrints, DSpace, Fedora, and so on.
Microsoft were there, talking about their complete cycle of solutions for the scholarly community. So, from tools to assist academics in researching and writing their paper, through to publishing platforms for hosting e-journals, and then finally their open-source repository software.
In terms of the repository end, I was left wondering whether there is room for more software – certainly in the UK, where EPrints and DSpace are very well established. Of more interest, in my opinion, was hearing about their article authoring add-in for Word 2007. Installing this enables the user to create very well structured technical documents (e.g. journal papers) in a way that captures additional metadata and semantic information at the authoring stage. The add-in also makes use of SWORD (Simple Web Service Offering for Repository Deposit), meaning an author could potentially deposit their article in whatever repository they choose from within Microsoft Word at the click of a button, assuming the repository is SWORD-compliant. This carries benefits for both the author (through ease of deposit) and Repository Managers/Administrators (possibly more full text). We will certainly be looking at making ORO SWORD-compliant in the coming months so as to take advantage of these features.
Another tool that I came away from the day feeling quite excited about is SNEEP (Social Networking Extensions for EPrints). I’d read bits and pieces about this plugin for EPrints (the software underpinning ORO) prior to attending this day, but I was really grateful of the opportunity to see an actual presentation on it. Basically, installing the plugin would give us three new features for ORO: the ability to comment, to bookmark, and tag individual eprints. The various permutations of who can and can’t add / see comments and tags are explained in the SNEEP Wiki pages; again, I expect us to look into the possibility of installing SNEEP for ORO in the coming months.
The final major point of interest from the day for me was hearing and learning more about the various CRIS (Current Research Information System) solutions on offer. I’m going to mention Symplectic here, not because I’m endorsing the product, but simply because I attended their presentation, so it’s the one I feel most informed about currently. I was particularly impressed by Symplectic’s Publications Management System, which automatically gathers publications information from key databases such as Web of Science and ‘asks’ academics by email whether the publications it has found belong to them. If the academic clicks ‘yes’ then the article can automatically pass through to their repository, giving them the option to attach full text beforehand. More needs to be known, but one can see how a system like this could take away a lot of the data entry needed to populate a repository – an element typically cited by academics as the biggest barrier to depositing their work. However, the depositor is still making a conscious decision to put their work in their repository, but at the click of a button rather than by filling in lots of data fields manually.
All told, this was an extremely informative and thoroughly enjoyable day!