CoPILOT workshops

DELILA Project Blog

Nancy and I gave two workshops before Easter at the LILAC conference at the University of Manchester and at the OER conference at the University of Nottingham. Nick Sheppard wrote up our session at OER13 on the official blog. Our slides from LILAC13 are on their website. In both cases we wanted to find out from participants how a community of practice for sharing IL resources might work in practice. The findings will feed into the work of the CoPILOT committee who are working to set this up in the UK. CoPILOT is now a sub-group of the CILIP Information Literacy Group and we have an enthusiastic group who are helping us with this endeavour. More soon but do have a look at the IL-OER wiki we have set up.

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Libraries, OA research and OER: towards symbiosis?

I’m at OER13 in Nottingham (see #oer13 on Twitter and for fuller blog coverage). I’m doing my lightning talk in an hour or so and wanted to edit my slides which I put together in a little bit of a rush…unfortunately I’ve used up the trial licence on PowerPoint so I can’t (proprietary software is not suitable for OER, discuss) so will have to leave them as they are. I did just want to point at Amber Thomas’ recent post however so it’s WordPress to the rescue!

This in particular from Amber’s post is relevant to my presentation:

(Identifying what OA and OER have in common):

“An ecosystem approach: small pieces loosely joined rather than silos, interoperating pieces of the jigsaw, jorum and humbox, figshare and PLOS, giving people choices in how to assemble their services without locking them in.”

And Amber’s summary:

“Open access and open education may have forked away from simple principles but at heart they both share a founding principle: the opening up of access to what goes on in universities. They are not the same, they are rife with nuance and sometimes even passionate internal disagreements. But the energy behind the activists, developers and reformers is immense and I’d love to see a little more talking across boundaries. Take a little trip over the bridge!”

Bridging the worlds of OER and Open Research –

RSP webinar – OER for research repositories managers

Next Tuesday I am delivering a webinar with Laura Skilton of Jorum entitled OER for research repositories managers

This is particularly timely as Jorum have just this week released a new iteration of the national OER repository in beta (see which I’ve had some minimum involvement in as I was invited to sit on the Jorum Steering Group so know just how much hard work has gone into it.

Laura will be up first talking about some of the exciting new features of Jorum and exploring how they may be relevant to repository managers who may wish to explore managing OER at their institution and I hope to examine some of the similarities and differences between OA research and OER and the different requirements of repository software that may be needed to effectively manage them.

In the interests of Open, my slides are below (subject to change):

Implementing the Symplectic API

We’ve made real progress implementing the Symplectic API which I hope will help motivate academic staff to update and maintain their Symplectic profile and, who knows, perhaps even encourage them to upload full-text to the repository! Kudos to web-developer Mike Taylor who has done all the clever stuff (though this summary reflects my understanding so may contain errors!)

As can be seen in the screen-shot below, Mike has been able to submit a query to the API (using Leeds Met username as a parameter) and differentially parse the resulting XML by publication type including, where available, links to DOI and full-text in the repository (currently labelled as Public URL). Symplectic also has the option to “favourite” records which is flagged in the XML and which we’ve use to identify “Selected publications” in order to give academics greater control over their profile (there is also a “make invisible” option to prevent specific records being exposed from the API.)

The next step will be to liaise with the corporate web-team to explore how the feed can be embedded in the institutional CMS. We’ve already picked a few brains and it shouldn’t be too difficult though there are still one or two technical issues including how best to submit a query; we wouldn’t want to use username as that would be a privacy issue and the preference would be email address though this will require a layer of translation from email address (which isn’t searchable)to either Leeds Metropolitan username or Symplectic internal user id. In addition, the API isn’t designed to be hammered dynamically so results need to be cached so there are questions how best to refresh that cache to reflect changes that academics may wish to make to their profile.

Research records – filling the gaps with Google Scholar + Zotero

The stated aim of our Symplectic implementation – and integration with the repository – is to make it easier to maintain a constant, up-to-date picture of research activity across the University…historically, however, research management has been somewhat variable across the institution…frankly I knew this already and the repository had become the de facto research management tool but is itself far from comprehensive. Nor are the automatic data sources (Web of Science, Scopus and PubMed) likely to solve the problem, with variable results depending, for example, on the subject area and types of publication; I have also been importing existing records from EndNote libraries …where they exist, but there are still large swathes of research missing over the past 10 years or so that we are trying to cover. Especially less formal publications.

Other than automated search, the easiest way to get data into Symplectic is by importing RefMan (RIS) or BibTex, both of which can be exported from Google Scholar, but only as single records (so far as I can tell), unless you use Zotero in FireFox…

1. Install Zotero in FireFox –
2. Go into settings in Google Scholar (top right)
3. Bibliography manager -> Check “Show links to import citations into” and select preferred output (RefMan/BibTex etc) and save preferences
4. Now a search in Google Scholar should show a folder icon in the address bar. Click the folder.

5. A small window drops down that shows the Google Scholar citations, with an empty check box in front of each citation
6. Select the citations that you need and click “OK”

7. A small window pops up that indicates the records are being saved into Zotero
9. Open the Zotero window with the icon at bottom of browser where the records should be displayed (you can keep searching and sending additional records to Zotero for eventual export)
10. Highlight (select) the Zotero records that you wish to export. Right-click on the selection and select “Export selected items”

Choose the appropriate format (in my case RIS) and save the file to the desktop with an appropriate name for subsequent import to Symplectic / research management system of choice. Ta da!

Records in Google Scholar aren’t necessarily the most reliable so care will need to be taken with this process but it’s certainly worth exploring as a method of filling the gaps in our research records.

What role for repositories after (Gold)Finch?

As the discussions around the rights and wrongs of the Finch report rumble on (like a storm that you think has moved away before frightening the life out of you with a huge thunderclap right over your head), the new RCUK policy will take effect on April Fools Day next year (not sure if the date is significant?) whereby RCUK-funded authors must publish in RCUK-compliant journals i.e. journals that offer a suitable gold option OR a suitable green option. By “a suitable gold option” RCUK means immediate (unembargoed) OA to the “version of record” from its own web site, under a CC-BY license AND permission for immediate deposit of the version of record in an OA repository, also under a CC-BY license.

If the recommendations of the Finch report are realised and full gold OA is achieved in the UK, will the main function of repositories then be to preserve the institutional “version of record” and should we endeavour to procure that version rather than, for example, giving up and going home…or, perhaps, just linking to the gold version elsewhere?

As discussed in a recent post for ukcorr I would argue that, whatever happens, repositories are likely to remain a primary source of authoritative full-text versions of research outputs, not to mention associated data-sets as well as a variety of other scholarly outputs, including electronic theses and Open Educational Resources (OER) (N.B. dropping this link in to the excellent briefing paper on Open Practices from the OER Synthesis and Evaluation Project for convenient personal reference.)

In addition, repository infrastructure is predicated on the principles of interoperability, and though the potential to aggregate repository content across the national and global network has arguably not been fulfilled, it continues to be an active area with the development of services like BASE in Germany, RIAN in the Republic of Ireland, JAIRO in Japan and CORE in the UK.

If we are able to work within the prescriptions of Finch and the RCUK policy to increase the quality assured content of our repositories as well as integrating with institutional systems and making them ever more flexible tools for our research communities then together with the prospect of COUNTER compliant download stats from repositories (see that ukcorr post) we can continue to play a pivotal role, not just in the evolution of Open Access to research but the active dissemination of research to the public and increase the profiles and reputations of our institutions to boot!

(N.B. Also dropping in this link to this recent report from SAGE international / the British Library – Moving towards an open access future: the role of academic libraries)


Extending the CRIS model to a ukoer workflow?

One of the conclusions of the Repositories and Preservation Advisory Group (RPAG), which advised the JISC Repositories Programmes between 2005 and  2009,  was that teaching materials had not been well served by attempting to integrate them into institutional repositories as they had very different workflows and requirements to scholarly works and other research outputs (thanks to Lorna Campbell – citation needed.)

It is still the case, I think, that research management infrastructure is generally further developed than that for OER including Open Access repositories and CRIS (Current Research Information Systems) most often commercial software implementations of Atira Pure, Symplectic Elements and Avedas Converis. Typically these systems are dynamically populated with records from the institutional HR database and are designed to allow staff to manage their own research profile. Arguably this reflects the greater prestige, real or perceived, still implicit in research activity compared with teaching and learning. Associated to this, academic libraries are primarily focussed on access to research materials and historically have not been closely involved with the management of teaching materials which, where they are available digitally, are often in virtual learning environments (VLEs) to which the library may not have access (Robertson 2010) and may be poorly integrated into the users’ view of library resources (Hirst, 2009)

At Leeds Metropolitan University we have established a “blended” repository comprising both research and OER and have worked closely with Jorum (the national OER repository in the UK) to ensure both that openly licenced material from across the sector can be “harvested” into our local repository and that institutional OER can be automatically disseminated to the national service. In addition, the library has implemented the EBSCO Discovery Service which provides a mechanism to explore a wide range of library resources including the library catalogue, electronic databases and, crucially, the repository meaning we are able to configure the respective systems to enable library users to utilise the main library search facility to discover a wide range of openly licenced material from across the UK Higher Education sector (see previous post). Finally, in order to make it easier to maintain a constant, up-to-date picture of research activity across the University we have also recently implemented Symplectic Elements which automatically retrieves bibliographic data from citation databases and enables files to be uploaded directly to the repository. Records can also be imported (e.g. from EndNote) or manually entered; resource type and metadata can be easily configured for sub-sets of users and the system can pass any MIME type to the repository which means in principle it can be extended for use by teaching and learning staff (who may not be research active) to curate OER and offer an easy deposit mechanism to the local repository and subsequently to Jorum.

This approach could have several benefits, particularly for non-research intensive institutions in a difficult economic environment for Higher Education, providing an OER workflow that is closely related to that for research and deriving greater value for money from the investment in technical infrastructure which in turn will also have the potential to increase the esteem, recognition and reward associated with openly licenced teaching and learning resources.

Discovering ukoer at Leeds Metropolitan

Recently I blogged over at about integrating the repository with the EBSCO Discovery Service and I just wanted to expand a little, specifically in the context of OER and the (perpetually) developing infrastructure that I hope will ultimately result in OER from across the sector being discoverable from EDS…

…a long term objective is also to ensure that the repository is well embedded in the institutional infrastructure and that relevant resources are easily discoverable, both within and without, by our own students and staff as well as scholars in the wider world, whatever discovery tools they may use and whatever their level of information literacy.

The EBSCO Discovery Service provides a mechanism, a one-stop-shop or library search engine, to explore a wide range of Library resources including the Library catalogue and electronic databases and we have been able to liaise with EBSCO to add the repository as a searchable target.

Currently the repository includes just ukoer released by staff at Leeds Metropolitan; the most recent version of intraLibrary, however, developed as part of the PORSCHE project, and due by the end of the month, includes the facility to harvest metadata from other OER repositories, particularly Jorum, so that we can search from our local search interface and from EDS:Multiple routes to discovery including the “library search engine” EBSCO Discovery Service

Jorum / OER case-study

The process of setting up an OER service at an institution is potentially complex, requiring a significant infrastructural and human resource both to implement and maintain hardware / software and to promote the service to institutional stakeholders. A successful service is likely to require at least 1 FTE post-holder though the full range of expertise is unlikely to reside with an individual staff-member and will involve a considerable learning curve in areas as diverse as copyright and IPR, cataloguing and metadata standards, repository/VLE/content-management and more general web-technologies.

At Leeds Metropolitan University, the OER repository has to a large extent developed alongside Jorum and represents several projects including a JISC funded repository start-up, a UKOER phase 1 project (Unicycle) and the HEA funded ACErep project. The maturing service is built on intraLibrary, a commercial learning-object repository that incurs an annual licensing fee in addition to a substantial implementation cost in year one and has required considerable customisation and associated technical work to embed it within a broader OER infrastructure. The core human resource is currently 1 FTE Repository Developer (University grade 5), 0.3 FTE Information Services Librarian and 0.5 FTE Senior web-developer (University grade 6) though staff employed on the project(s) has varied over time, including faculty based administrators during Unicycle for example.

Even though Leeds Metropolitan University has implemented its own repository, Jorum continues to be an important component of the institutional OER infrastructure and has the potential to increase the visibility of local repository content, by harvesting metadata into the national service for example. Moreover, as the institution moves towards a “consumer” model of OER use as part of the resourcing of its curriculum, staff will be increasingly directed to Jorum as a national OER repository that links together a number of institutions & resources where the aggregated material is largely from the UK HE sector, meaning there is an agreed understanding of levels of study so staff can feel confident about using the resource in their Learning & Teaching.

In terms of what the sector would lose, one of the main things is simply the focus of a national aggregation service…it has always been a frustration that OA research has never been successfully aggregated, for two main reasons, I think:

  • because they are “diluted” by metadata records for which it has not been possible to procure full-text or copyright does not permit deposit
  • insufficient (auto-harvestable) rights information

(See these posts on the UKCORR blog for more on this and

UKOER and Jorum, I think, have in fact circumvented both these issues and aggregation is therefore much more effective (especially by RSS as a light weight alternative to OAI-PMH) and with the potential to do all sorts of interesting stuff with that aggregation.

Leeds Metropolitan University has also worked with Jorum and intraLibrary on the PORSCHE (Pathways to Open Resource Sharing through Convergence in Healthcare Education) project at HEA MEDEV which has explored potential ways to represent OER in multiple repositories and which has resulted in the intraLibrary software incorporating OAI-PMH harvest functionality so that the metadata from external repositories can appear as a “collection” in intraLibrary. As well as being valuable to the institutions involved, this work has benefitted the sector as a whole and demonstrates the value of a central OER repository that can serve as a focus for innovation across the sector.