Category Archives: Open Access

#ThesisThursday at The Open University

So Dan Weinbren quotes Steven Rose the OU’s first professor of biology in his history of the OU. (1)   It’s not just true of research in general but also postgraduate research: The Open University is a destination for PhD students.  And that’s a nice entry point to this post – which is our contribution to #ThesisThursday – a wider campaign highlighting Open Access to postgraduate theses via the network of UK Higher Education repositories.

Postgraduate Research and The Open University

Provision for postgraduate student research was written into the Open University Charter (1969) and the first PhD thesis was awarded by the University as early as 1972 (2). Over 3,500 theses have been awarded for studies directly undertaken at the OU and over 2,000 awarded for theses studied at an Affiliated Research Centre (3).

The breadth of postgraduate research conducted at the Open University is astonishing – of course this isn’t unique – but it’s worth stating:  The Open University does multi-disciplinary teaching and research.  A record of all theses can currently be found in the library catalogue, you can search them from the thesis search.

However, these records were created for the print theses, and those theses continue to sit on the shelves in the library here at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes.  Readership is limited by the fact they are print artifacts.

Increasing access to Open University postgraduate research

The Open University institutional repository (ORO) is home for a significant subset of that total number of theses.  Currently we have over 1,200 theses awarded by the OU in ORO – PhD, EdD, MPhil and MRes.  Our aim is to have a record of all Open University awarded theses recorded in ORO and, wherever possible, provide access to the full text online. We are doing this in 3 ways:

  • All newly awarded theses are added to ORO at point of award.
  • Where a legacy thesis has been digitised by The British Library via its EThOS scheme – we are also adding it to ORO.
  • Where a legacy thesis has yet to be digitised we are undertaking a systematic scheme of digitisation – expect to see results early in 2019.

Making the full text available online means a reader doesn’t have to visit the building to read the the print thesis, all they need is an internet connection.

Measuring the impact

Which is all very well – but is it worth it?  What kind of readership do PhD level theses get.  Well, the numbers are clear.  There are thousands of downloads of theses from ORO every month – we’re closing in on half a million downloads in total!

And these downloads are global, access is not restricted to those readers that can get to Milton Keynes!  Downloads of theses in 2017 came from 188 countries and territories.

In case you are wondering, the most popular thesis in ORO has been downloaded over 15,000 times (Bailey, Keith Alan (1995). The metamorphosis of Battersea, 1800-1914 : a building history.) (4)

 …and back to the OU

Sometimes in your day to day work at OU HQ in MK, you are reminded of the remarkable ethos of the institution.  As I was checking a legacy thesis earlier in the week, I couldn’t help but read the acknowledgement, here’s how it started…

A remarkable understated testament, not only to the determination of one particular OU student, but also to the opportunities the OU provides: #thesisthursday OU style.

References

(1) Weinbren, Dan. (2014) The Open University: A History, p.110.

(2) ibid., p.110.

(3) “The Open University’s Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) programme enables leading research institutes, who do not have their own degree awarding powers, to provide doctoral training with our support.”   http://www.open.ac.uk/research/degrees/affiliate-centres

(4) All data from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/cgi/stats/report/

A roundup of free online training

There have been a few new, free online training resources for researchers released lately, so we thought with summer here it would be worth a roundup.

From a focus on working with data and data management to a broader range looking at different aspects of working openly, there should be something for everyone.

  • Data Tree is a new free online data management training course, funded by NERC. It’s especially aimed at PhD students and early career researchers in the environmental sciences, but useful for anyone who wants to learn new data skills. It includes ways to engage and share data with business, policymakers, media and the wider public.
  • FOSTER Plus is a 2-year, EU-funded project, carried out by 11 partners across 6 countries, with the aim of developing Open Science. Their draft Open Science training courses have just been released for use and public consultation, so early users have a chance to shape their development. Courses include What is Open Science?, Open Science and InnovationData Protection and Ethics, and Open Access Publishing.
  • We posted about the UK Data Service’s data skills modules back in May, but if you didn’t have time then, take a look now. They have introductory sessions on Survey Data, Longitudinal Data and Aggregate data.
  • We also posted before about the CESSDA ERIC Data Management course which takes you through each step of the research process working with data, from planning to publishing.

If you get a chance to work through any of these and have feedback that you’d like to share, please let us know so we can pass it on. Get in touch at library-research-support@open.ac.uk

 

 

 

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

 

Event for authors and researchers – Explore open access books

Springer Nature is holding a multidisciplinary event on Monday 23 April in London during Academic Book Week, exploring how open access books can help authors make the most out of their research. The event is open to all researchers and authors of scholarly works.

The half-day event will cover:

– Why should academics publish an open access book?

– How can authors track the impact of their book?

– What is the future of open access book funding?

– Author case studies showcasing OA book authors’ experiences.

Confirmed speakers include:

– Prof. Owen Davies, History Department, University of Hertfordshire

– Dr. Roseli Pellens, Macroecology, Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité, Paris

– Hannah Hope, Open Research Co-ordinator, Wellcome Trust.

*Update – further speakers have been confirmed*

  • Prof. Maureen Mackintosh, Economics, The Open University
  • Tim Britton, Managing Director Open Research, Springer Nature
  • Ros Pyne, Head of Policy & Development Open Research, Springer Nature
  • Martijn Roelandse, Head of Publishing Innovation, Springer Nature

Registration is now open:

https://www.springernature.com/gp/open-research/about/news-events/all-news/academic-book-week18/15499472

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 http://www.hefce.ac.uk/rsrch/oa/Policy/.

 

ORO Usage Data

Ever wondered what your most downloaded paper in ORO is? Ever wondered how many papers your School has in ORO? Ever wondered how many Open Access papers are in ORO?

ORO has the functionality to help you answer these questions.  You can look at the usage data by person, individual paper, school, faculty and university.

The data are available from the ORO Statistics page.  We’ve created a guide to help you get usage data out of ORO.

You can collect data about downloads of particular papers and if you want to dig a bit deeper you can see where those downloads are coming from and how people are finding your papers by looking at referrals to ORO records.

The guide includes a health warning – a download count should not be assumed to be a person downloading the paper, or indeed a person reading it!

PDF: ORO Usage Data Guide

July ORO downloads – how do people get to ORO?

This is second of three posts looking at the benefits and functions of the institutional repository through the lens of the top monthly downloads.  This post looks at the different ways people get to the Open Access papers in ORO.

In June and July the top 50 downloads in ORO had another new entry:

Burel, Grégoire; Saif, Hassan; Fernandez, Miriam and Alani, Harith (2017). On Semantics and Deep Learning for Event Detection in Crisis Situations. In: Workshop on Semantic Deep Learning (SemDeep), at ESWC 2017, 29 May 2017, Portoroz, Slovenia.

In which the authors “introduce Dual-CNN, a semantically-enhanced deep learning model to target the problem of event detection in crisis situations from social media data.”

The paper was added to ORO on the 14th June and was 13th on the top downloads list in June with 211 downloads, and 24th with 146 downloads in July.

Referrals from social media seems to have had significant impact on the downloads this paper received, most notably from Twitter.  On June 25th the Accel.AI (Artificial Intelligence network) twitter account tweeted a direct link to the paper:

This was retweeted by Massimiliano Versace

and then he retweeted himself retweeting @AccelerateAI

The following day it was tweeted by Vineet Vashishta (a “Top 10 influencer on #MachineLearning & #DataScience) – this amassed the most retweets and likes.

The tweets (and their retweets) seem to have had a direct impact on the downloads of the paper, especially the latter, which appears to have resulted in over 100 downloads of the paper.

This seems to tie in with a previous analysis of ORO downloads and the beneficial impact of the patronage of a Twitter Heavyweight.  The lead author Grégoire Burel, Research Associate in KMi in STEM added:

“It seems to be a ‘completely out of the blue’ case. We have a follow up paper (‘Semantic Wide and Deep Learning for Detecting Crisis-Information Categories on Social Media’) that will be presented soon at ISWC17 (21-25 October) so it would be interesting to see if it gets picked up again after we publish it to ORO”

I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it!

Search and Referrals

Whilst the majority of traffic coming to ORO is from a direct search in Google there is an increasing trend for referrals in ORO, both from social media and other referring websites like Google Scholar.  In 2014 15% of traffic came from referrals, this year (to date) it’s up to 25%.

This shift in traffic from direct search to referrals is interesting.  A Forbes article back in May, The Trend To Facebook Referrals Is A Risk To Google Search, called it context search:

“People often want answers to their questions within the context of their community. So “searches” are changing. People are going back to what they did before Google existed – they are asking for information from their friends. But online. And primarily using Facebook.”

I find that quite compelling and so far this year:

  • Referrals from social media have a lower bounce rate (71%) than search (78%)
  • Referrals from social media have a higher average session duration (1:45 minutes) than search (1 minute).
  • Referrals from social media have more pages per session (2.13) than search (1.61).

However, results from general referrals (e.g. from clicking a link on a website) compare as well or better than referrals from social media:

  • 66% bounce rate
  • 1:45 minutes a session
  • 2.16 pages per session

So maybe it’s not so much about someone you (kind of) know on social media giving you a tip, as actually knowing you’ve found what you were looking for.

Top downloads list for July:

Repository Downloads – March & April 2017 Edition

This edition of the downloads report from ORO forms 2 posts.  In the first I look at the general characteristics of repository downloads and repository web sessions.  In the second I will focus on a single item in ORO and how creating strong relationships on and off line aid the dissemination of a research output. 

ORO downloads and web sessions have some defining characteristics:

  • Both downloads and web sessions fluctuate across the academic year.  There are dips in downloads and web traffic in the summer and peaks in the spring and winter (either side of Christmas).

  • Downloads and site visits are remarkably stable.  There are no steep troughs or peaks outside the annual variations.  A cumulative average mapped onto the chart indicates how steady downloads and web visits have been over the last few years.

  • Downloads are higher in number than site visits.  At first that seems counter intuitive – don’t you need to access the repository to download the paper?  But many downloads of content archived in ORO come direct from Google and Google scholar – so these counts are not collected in site visits as recorded by Google Analytics.

Monthly top download counts also show a remarkable stability with 37 of the Top 50 in March also in the Top 50 in April.  This stability is somewhat reassuring – the counts aren’t fluctuating wildly without rhyme nor reason – the full lists are below.  However, those items that do break into a top downloads list often have a story behind them… (see next post!)

Celebrate the Year of Open at The Open University

Celebrate #YearOfOpen at The Open University

You may be aware that 2017 is #YearOfOpen … a 365 day celebration of open education and the anniversary of a number of key milestones in its development, including  the Cape Town Declaration, 15 years since the Budapest Open Access Initiative, and the 5th anniversary of the Paris OER Declaration.  We’re excited to announce that, in addition to all the excellent events happening around the world, we’ll be taking part in the OER Hub’s Year of Open event here at The Open University, UK (OU) on Tuesday 20 June 2017! 

For more information, visit the OER Hub blog.

Image credits:The Year of Open logo is licensed CC BY 4.0. 

 

HEFCE Open Access Policy: one year on – how is it working?

It’s been one year since the HEFCE Open Access Policy for the next REF came into force. In a nutshell the policy requires all journal articles and published conference items (with an ISSN) to be deposited in a repository within 3 months of publication (probably acceptance from April 2018) with the Author’s Accepted Manuscript.  So how is it working?

What is working?

How compliant are we? That’s normally the first question… and there are 2 answers. Firstly, of the eligible outputs added to ORO we reckon that compliance is around 84% – this includes items published Gold Open Access.  It doesn’t include outputs that may be compliant in another institutional repository or a subject repository.  However, we estimate only around 60% of OU affiliated research outputs get added to ORO so there is a significant number of outputs that still aren’t going into ORO.  And, if they aren’t reaching ORO we aren’t in a position to see if they are meeting the HEFCE policy.

Are we getting more Open Access items?  From April to March 2016-17 we received 737 Author Accepted Manuscripts that’s compared to 595 deposited in the previous year. Given that deposits of journal articles and conference proceedings are slightly down year on year (1767 in 2016-17 compared to 1873 in 2015-16) that’s some healthy growth in accession of Green Open Access content.

How can we do better? Is often the follow up question.  Firstly, getting better coverage in ORO is one answer and we need to be exploring automated ways of populating ORO to know what the institution is publishing.  Once we have the data we can then go about trying to get the full text, or identifying compliance elsewhere.  Secondly, we need to continue to get the message across about the policy, some researchers remain unclear about the requirements. We need to be creative on both counts.

What’s not working?

Well, there are a few problems for me.  To be fair, some of them are the challenges of Green Open Access, not the policy itself.

“I can’t get the AAM” – We have engaged researchers trying to do Open Access the Green route who are struggling to meet the policy.  Researchers collaborating overseas who aren’t the corresponding author have real issues obtaining the Author Accepted Manuscript from the corresponding author.  We have to remember that the corresponding author may have no knowledge of the UK context and may find the self-archiving process totally alien. Obtaining the full text at all, let alone within 3 months of publication, is a challenge.

“It’s not enough time” – The proposed move to deposit from 3 months from acceptance rather than publication poses a massive challenge for us.  We have been transparent to our researchers and asked for deposit 3 months from publication, not 3 months from acceptance.  And our compliance levels indicate that we are being successful.  However, we should remember the policy is requiring a significant change in behaviour for some researchers not used to the complexities of Green Open Access.  Moving the time frame to 3 months from acceptance would mean our compliance rates would drop.

“Is it really not eligible?” What about those items that haven’t met the policy requirements… are they seriously not eligible for the REF?  Is HEFCE expecting 100% compliance.  I doubt it, but I don’t know.  What I’m expecting are some kind compliance levels to be announced not dissimilar to the RCUK compliance levels introduced when their Open Access Policy was introduced (e.g. in Year 1 45% should be Open Access, in Year 2 53%, Year 3 60%, Year 4 67% and Year 5 75%).  But understandably HEFCE won’t announce that because it might impact on the levels currently being attained – we might take our foot off the pedal.

One danger of this is that we start second guessing the audit HEFCE might undertake. In a light touch audit the home institution may be the only people who know whether something met the 3 month deposit criteria.  So what interest does that institution have to disallow that output from its own REF return?

“It’s not Open Access is it!” –  When we do manage to get Author Accepted Manuscripts and deposit them to the repository, then we look up the embargo periods to see how long we have to lock them down for and we have embargo periods of 18 to 24 months… that’s not Open Access is it? Sometimes, it’s hard not to conclude that it’s more a Repository Deposit Policy than an Open Access Policy.

So, in conclusion, we are getting an increase in Open Access papers available at the OU, which is great, but it’s not without headaches, and a lot of hard work from everyone involved!

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