intraLibrary is just for Learning Objects, isn’t it?

The issues around adapting intraLibrary to adequately function as an Open Access repository of research are agonisingly documented on this blog (see http://repositorynews.wordpress.com/category/adapting-intralibrary/); there was an interesting and necessary discussion on the JISC-REPOSITORIES mailing list yesterday (though it’s still rumbling on) about the differences, if any, between ‘general repositories’ like EPrints and DSpace and specialised Learning Object repositories and the suitability of various platforms to fulfil a variety of institutional needs (Open Access to research material; Reusable Learning Objects/Content Packaging; other multimedia and complex digital objects. )

The hardest line was that it would be highly impractical to use the likes of EPrints and DSpace to “store, catalogue and serve e-learning resources” or, conversely, to use a specialised LO repository like Intralibrary for research.  My own view is that there is scope for complementary technology and that LO repositories can benefit from the culture of openness and sharing exemplified by OA archives of research as the zeitgeist shifts towards Open Access to a wider range of educational resources.

I would be the first to recognise that intraLibrary isn’t ideally suited to be used as an Open Access repository, however, with some “customisation” it can do the job perfectly well.  I expect the same is also true, from the other direction perhaps, of DSpace and EPrints – Soton, in fact, is currently  developing EdSpace based on its famous open source software.

Institutions increasingly expect their repositories to manage a wide range of digital material; at a recent RSP focus group it was clear that repository administrators running a range of platforms are increasingly being expected to manage everything and the kitchen sink.  Moreover, institutions, especially smaller ones, simply don’t have the resources to implement the ideal software solution(s) that will satisy multiple stakeholders.

(Disclaimer:  Some of these perspectives are paraphrased from my colleagues on JISC-REPOSITORIES)

For Les Carr’s perspective on the discussion* see his blog post on repositoryman.

* or argument!

Nothing whatsover to do with repositories

Nothing like a satellite-eye view of our planet to put the earthbound world of repositories into perspective. Just the thing for a Friday afternoon as the end of the project draws ever closer…

(click on the image for more)

Satellite image of the Bear Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula along the Gulf of Alaska

Satellite image of the Bear Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula along the Gulf of Alaska

Zotero

Not sure how I missed this to be honest but just come accross Zotero which is a FireFox plug-in and billed as the next generation research tool that help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. Yet to have a proper play with it but at first sight it but looks intuitive with a high degree of functionality (N.B.  Not sure if it has a social networking element for sharing resources; could be a potential tool for PERSoNA?)

Citation advantage as Holy Grail

Over Christmas, betwixt comedy reviews of the year, I have continued to mull over (no pun intended) the debate surrounding Open Access and the citation advantage as evinced in my pre-festive post and Phil Davis’ response to it.  Somewhat whimsical to be a proper academic and determined to stay off-line I have mulled (OK pun intended) without recourse to any literature, either empirical or rhetorical.

Phil is quite right to question my (and others) motivation, as a repository manager, to look for studies that support my “own political view” and the putative citation advantage of OA is perhaps seized upon by our community as the only real carrot we can offer – after all we are attempting to engage with a community for whom empiricism is, quite rightly, extremely important (not to mention funding and professional kudos) so it is natural that we should seek to illustrate a concrete benefit in this way. My personal enthusiasm for OA, however, is actually based in a passion for learning and sharing that learning and in the course of my own advocacy I have found the majority of academics receptive to what might be termed the “soft” benefits of OA – indeed, in 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative detailed the “unprecedented public good” that OA could do:

“Removing access barriers…will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.”

Whether such rhetoric and idealism will translate into action without an empirical carrot (surely two words that aren’t often put together) is, perhaps, still a moot point.

A recent article by a certain Philip. M. Davis has analysed “the citations to articles published in 11 biological and medical journals from 2003 to 2007 that employ author-choice open-access models. Controlling for known explanatory predictors of citations, only 2 of the 11 journals show positive and significant open-access effects. Analyzing all journals together, we report a small but significant increase in article citations of 17%. In addition, there is strong evidence to suggest that the open-access advantage is declining by about 7% per year, from 32% in 2004 to 11% in 2007.” (from the abstract)

The article goes on to conclude that “the open-access citation advantage, widely promoted in the literature, is considerably overstated for the biological and biomedical literature; and secondly, that some of the citation advantage can be explained by variables other than access. Lastly, there is strong evidence to suggest that the citation advantage has declined moderately over the last few years.”

Davis also suggests that:

“Free dissemination of the scientific literature may speed up the transfer of knowledge to industry, enable scientists in poor and developing countries to access more information, and empower the general public. There are clearly many benefits to making one’s research findings freely available to the general public—but a citation advantage may not be one of them.”

In short, the citation advantage need not be the Holy Grail for Open Access.

Davis, P. M. (2009). Author-choice open access publishing in the biological and medical literature: a citation analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(1), 3-8 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.20965 and a free copy is available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1813/11647

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