Author Archives: Chris

About Chris

Chris looks after Open Research Online (ORO) on a day to day basis. He has worked in this role since 2011 and can advise on using ORO to maximise dissemination of research outputs and Open Access publishing generally.

ORO Annual Update 2017-18

PDF Version: ORO Update 2017-18

Highlights from the ORO year include a big increase in deposits to ORO, this was due to:

  • Requirements on self archiving for the REF2021 exercise
  • Deposit of around 500 theses digitised by the EThOS service
  • Strategies for automated deposit – including integration of Jisc Publications Router

We also saw an increase in site visits – this is heartening – it confirms a reversal in a dip that occurred back in 2014.  However, downloads decreased by 7%, I will be looking at discoverability of content in ORO over the next few months.

The next year should also see us refresh our integration with ORCID, a light touch website make-over, increased legacy thesis coverage, measuring the effectiveness of our automated deposit strategies and continuing support for REF2021.


Student Dissertations in ORO

We are very pleased to have recently added some third level student dissertations to ORO.  They are for the History module “A329 – The making of Welsh history” and are listed in ORO on their own Student Dissertations page.

Adding student projects to ORO:

  • Is a great way to showcase the research done by OU students.  Providing access to them as exemplars for current and prospective students, supports student recruitment, attainment and retention.
  • Supports the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences objective of actively engaging with OU students as partners and co-researchers.

Example record in ORO

Module Team Chair Richard Marsden said:

A329 offers undergraduate History students a rare opportunity to conduct an independent research project on a topic of their own choosing. Some of the work they have produced is extremely impressive and constitutes a real contribution to our understanding of Welsh history. It is great to be able to make those contributions publicly available to members of the public and other scholars on ORO, especially as doing so is very much in keeping with the OU’s public mission and support for the open sharing of knowledge’.

We are in discussion with other modules to add more student dissertations to ORO.  Contact us if you are interested in using ORO in this way.

If ORO was a drink.. what would it be?

I recently attended the Playful Learning conference at Manchester.  The conference introduced me to a variety of playful strategies to use in both teaching situations and in  everyday work scenarios.

One of the very first things we were asked to do by Katie Piatt in her keynote was to think about a game as a drink and then design a drinks mat for it. Why might you do this?  Well, firstly it brings a bit of fun to the workplace, and secondly, it may elicit responses that you might not get if you asked a straight question.

One of my favourites from the conference was Simon Says = Cocktail = Drink / Repeat.

So, I thought I’d bring the idea into our ORO team meeting and get the guys who work on ORO to think about ORO as a drink and then design their own drinks mat for it.

What did I get, what drink do we imagine ORO to be?  What insights on working with ORO did I get?


Not a great surprise, but they were by turns fruity, strong and, err, chewy!

a Sundae

Something light, to suit all tastes.


Definitely winning the prize for artistic merit: free water, although terms and conditions apply…


Yes, you love it or hate it… but is it a drink? [team meeting descends into bickering]

…and Gravy

Is that really a drink!  [team meeting descends into polite librarian brawl regarding viscosity and Newtonian fluid]

But Brown Open Access, available in cubes – that might catch on!

Or something else…

Bingo!  This was what I was after… I was being told that using ORO is too hard.  People don’t have the time figure it out – they want help to make it easier.

So maybe by introducing this technique, allowing the space for people to think differently, or at least licence to express this thinking, did provide me with some useful insight.

And it was a team meeting that was fun!  If you want some blank mats for you to try it yourself, I have some spare – let me know.

Opening Umbrellas: Icons in Academic Publishing.


With a (big) hat tip to Dr. Susan Gibbons, (Yale University) whose presentation at Researcher to Reader 2018 triggered this post.

Spending as much time as I do trawling the academic literature, one becomes immune to the plethora of icons that inhabit publisher, library, content aggregator, repository and other services that hook onto scholarly communications.  At a glance these icons are supposed to tell us something useful.  However, we now have so many different icons, I doubt they now serve any useful purpose.


The basic information these icons are supposed to convey is YES or NO; YES you can access this content, or NO you cannot.   Access to these subscribed journals may be indicated by green ticks, green unlocked padlocks, green rectangles, green squares, a green circular button or a green “S” – there may be a standard colour but there is no standard icon.  Moreover, even within the same website you can get different icons at article level or journal level, there is a lack of consistency across platforms and within them.

or NO

The scholarly content libraries do not subscribe to are often variations of locked padlocks – a variety of colours.  However, they are never red or crosses – that would definitely give the wrong impression!  Some cut to the chase and just present you with a shopping trolley, get your purse ready!  But, my favourite is just an existential empty white box – there’s nothing here to see…

or YES, for everyone

Then we get Open Access (YES for everyone – not just those that have subscription access).  “But that’s simple!” you might say “use the regular orange Open Access icon!”  Yes, well, but some publishers like their own flavour of this; some like a different coloured variation of the open padlock, and others just like an “O”.  Some like to have two varieties, orange for hybrid Open Access and blue for pure Open Access!  Some purely Open Access publishers like to get in on the act and have an open padlock icon too – even though everything in the journal portfolio is Open Access – erm why bother?

or YES, for a period of time

And then we have “Free Access” – access to papers bound by a time period or free access to particular types of journal items (e.g. editorials).  These can be notoriously difficult to tell apart from icons indicating subscribed content.  Different shades of green (or blue) open padlocks, or just plain “F” icons.  Perhaps the most successful of these resort to simple text stating “Free Access”.


Then we have partial access to this journal content; when you can read some journal issues but not others.  Mmm, getting tricky.  So we have green squares split into 2 – half green, half white. Or paler shades of green to indicate a more washed out type of access.  And then purple squares with an O split into 2 – partial access to Open Access journals – now that’s a niche use case!

and the ARCANE

“B” icons indicating Backfiles, “N” for New, “E”  for Earlycite (???) and “H” icons for “Held at the library”.  Library discovery systems aren’t great – Orange buttons with “Check Holdings” (what are holdings, again?).  Repositories with embargoed content have PDF icons with (or without) padlocks.  Some publishers have custom items to distinguish Open Access paid for by the author and that paid for by the journal.  Really, does the reader care?

Somewhere along the line we’ve lost the plot – publishers and librarians have requirements that the scholarly reader does not!  The best answer appears to be publishers who have just ditched icons and use clear text to indicate the nature of the journal content.  Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be lovely if it was all rationalised and we had a simple small set of uniform indicators/icons?

Open Access and ORO – not just about mandates!

The biggest challenge facing  Institutional Repositories like ORO is not meeting the REF Open Access policy, although that is important!  Rather it is demonstrating their long term value to the research community they serve.  Take the case of the discussion paper authored by Dr Lesley Baillie:

Baillie, Lesley (2017). An exploration of the 6Cs as a set of values for nursing practice. British Journal of Nursing, 26(10) pp. 558–563.

  • This paper has been downloaded over 7,000 times by users from over 90 countries and territories since deposit in June 2017.
  • Making the paper Open Access in ORO has increased downloads by 409%.(1)
  • The version in ORO is not behind a paywall – this increases the readership to professionals and practitioners not affiliated to a university
  • When institutional repositories are indexed by Google and Google Scholar they are great platforms to make papers discoverable and accessible on a global scale.

Lesley comments “Certainly I think the open access is undoubtedly enabling healthcare professionals, including nurses, to easily access literature that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.”

Deposit in an institutional repository like ORO can be massively beneficial in the dissemination of research papers of the community it serves.

ORO Case Study PDF

(1) Based on publisher downloads of 1,458 and ORO downloads of 7,427 – data accessed 2018/05/04


ORO Drop-in

Hi, I’m holding an Open Research Online (ORO) drop in next Wednesday 23rd May from 10-12.

I’ll be in the Library Bookends cafe area (by the book swap) and will be happy to answer any questions on ORO, Open Access & the REF Open Access policy.


REF 2021 Open Access Policy – Update

The Open Access policy for the next REF has been amended.

To be eligible for submission to the next REF, HEFCE now requires that the full-text of journal articles and published, peer-reviewed conference proceedings (with an ISSN) are deposited in an open access repository within 3 months from acceptance. This is a change from the previous timeframe of 3 months from first publication (in place since 1st April 2016).

A new deposit exception to the policy has been created to cater for publications being added to an open access repository in accordance with the old timeframe.  Any publication that misses the new timeframe (3 months from acceptance) but meets the old timeframe (3 months from first publication) will be eligible to claim this exception.  This exception will remain in place for the whole of the REF2021 publication period.

This change is required for all eligible publications accepted for publication on or after 1st April 2018.  The version of the publication required by HEFCE to be deposited in an open access repository is the author’s accepted manuscript.

Further details can be found at


ORCID Training

Earlier in the week Alan and I did some more training on ORCID IDs for researchers here at the OU.  ORCID IDs are persistent identifiers for researchers and can be used to:

  • Aid disambiguation in researcher platforms to ensure accurate ownership of research outputs
  • Make connections across researcher platforms to save time

Slides are available:


Further notes from the presentation : ORCIDs at the OU – Notes

Research Support Website: ORCID

Automated ORO deposit – Jisc Publications Router

Jisc Publications Router

We have integrated the Jisc Publications Router service into ORO.  This means that bibliographic information (and some full text) of many new publications will automatically be added to ORO without the need for the author to manually add the record to ORO.

Pipes by Chris Smart CC BY NC-ND (

We are doing this to:

  • Reduce the workload of the ORO user
  • Increase the coverage of the repository (we know not everything OU researchers publish reaches ORO)
  • Increase the timely deposit of research publications (to support our attempts to meet the REF Open Access Policy)

So what does it mean for an ORO user?

Many publications will be added to ORO before you might normally add themunless you are adding them to ORO very quickly (i.e. immediately on acceptance).

However, not all items will be captured by this automated service – so unless you have had confirmation of an addition to ORO, continue to add new publications as usual.

You will still need to add the full text (Author’s Accepted Manuscript)

Normally, the full text will not have been added so you will still need to add the full text (Author’s Accepted Manuscript).  When you receive an email informing of automated deposit you can:

  • Reply to the email attaching the full text which we will upload to ORO on your behalf.
  • Select the Submit Changes (Authors/Depositor only) option in the middle of an item page and adding the full text using the usual ORO edit pages:

ORO – Displaying Bibliometric & Altmetric Information

ORO now displays bibliometrics information for individual items alongside the (already existing) Altmetrics.  So what do they mean!

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Altmetrics (Alternative Metrics – geddit?) are a suite of metrics that can be used to measure the level of attention a research paper has gained across a range of platforms.  These include:

  • Citations in Wikipedia and policy documents
  • Mentions on blogs
  • Mainstream media coverage
  • Bookmarks on Mendeley
  • Mentions on Twitter

Altmetrics provide a useful insight on where research outputs are gaining attention outside of the scholarly literature.

Altmetric use a characteristic Donut Badge which is used to visualise the metrics.  Clicking on the Altmetric Donut in ORO  will send you to the Altmetric page for the paper where you can identify each of the mentions the research output has accrued.

Citations from Dimensions

Four different types of citation metrics are displayed:

  1. Total Citations – different datasets have different coverage and the total citations in  one dataset will differ from another.  The total citations from the Dimensions dataset will differ from other datasets (e.g. Google Scholar or Scopus)
  2. Recent Citations – the number of citations received in the last 2 calender years
  3. Field Citation Ratio (FCR) – a measure of the relative citation performance of a paper in its field, as categorised using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC).  Where the normalized value is 1. i.e. if a paper has a FCR of over 1 it has a higher than average number of citations for it’s group. Papers less than 2 years old do not have an FCR.
  4. Relative Citation Ratio (RCR) – a measure of the relative citation performance of a paper in its field as measured by the subject area of the papers that cite it.  Where the normalized value is 1. i.e. if a paper has a RCR of over 1 it has a higher than average number of citations for it’s group. Papers less than 2 years old do not have an RCR.

Clicking on the Dimensions badge will send you to the Dimensions page for that paper where you can see where the citations have come from and further detail and contextualisation.

Note: Both Altmetric and Dimensions are companies owned by Digital Science which is a subsidiary of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.  Access to the APIs the ORO service use to display these data is free.