Friday, 18 April 2014

Knowledge Unlatched: One Year on - Frances Pinter

Knowledge Unlatched is a not-or-profit collaborative initiative between libraries and publishers that enables books to be published on open access. It is helping stakeholders to work together for a sustainable open future for specialist scholarly books. This session reported on the pilot and plans for scaling.

First of all a short video on 'Knowledge Unlatched' was shown. It is clear that there is a need for open access monographs, as well as journals, but a way to do this needs to be worked out. 'Knowledge Unlatched' is a consortium of libraries which pays a Title Fee which gives them unrestricted Creative Commons access to Open Access monograph books, allowing people to access scholarly publications to downloaded and read. The more libraries join and pay the fixed amount Title Fee, the cheaper the book. Its aim is to find a sustainable route to monograph OA, especially for the Humanities and Social Sciences sector, spreading costs across many institutions globally.

Firstly, a small proof of concept pilot was conducted, using 28 new books from 13 publishers, in literature, history, politics, media and communications with an average title fee being $12000, split amongst the 200 libraries who needed to sign up. In the end, nearly 300 libraries in 24 countries joined the pilot, taking the cost down to $40 per title per library, with an average title fee of £8,000. Knowledge Unlatched has become a real community of libraries and publishers and includes 77 UK libraries.

Now the results are being reviewed and a report will be made available in June this year. It is now planned that:
- The cycle will be repeated with more publishers and titles involved;
- Small single subject specific options will be developed and offered;
- More libraries will be recruited;
- Work more with existing consortia.

'Implementing E-Resources Access for Alumni at King's College London' - Anna Franca (Subscriptions & access manager, KCL)

King's College London (KCL) is a multidisciplinary research-led university with a long history of notable and prominent alumni worldwide, who act as ambassadors for the college. KCL Library Services offers to its alumni a wide range of benefits, including the option to apply for library membership. However, this was ‘traditional’, i.e. focus on walk-in physical access and print borrowing for an extra fee. There are increasing numbers of international students & alumni not based in the UK, and walk-in access is not so practical. Therefore, Library Services started to explore the options to provide e-resource access to alumni and so met with the Alumni Relations team representatives to try and find a way forward.

In June 2012 King's Library Services began participation in the JSTOR Alumni Access pilot project, which gave alumni access to JSTOR. As a result of this, there was an unprecedented number of new requests for alumni benefits, with over 700 requests for Alumni Online membership in first day after the announcement of the trial! Indeed, there was over 14,000 accesses in the first year. JSTOR can also provide access statistics by collection, title, etc which helps with collection development.

There were a number of challenges to overcome in offering this benefit to alumni. The Library Service had to carry out investigative work to identify what publishers had to offer, but was pleased to see that many suppliers are adding alumni access (either as standard or for small fee). However, authentication was a particular problem. KCL uses both ezproxy and Shibboleth. It would have to add data on alumni to Shibboleth, which would be too much of an undertaking. Therefore, it was reliant on the publishers allowing different authentication routes. There was also the question of funding the work. JSTOR access is funded by library services, but access to additional services means looking at long-term funding options.

This pilot project showed how giving alumni access to e-resources can work, with a key learning point being to maintain good relations with the Alumni Relations team. It has also helped give JSTOR and the participating libraries an understanding of how to implement and develop an approach that is valuable and sustainable (

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gaining a deeper understanding of students and their needs: the SAGE Undergraduate Scholars at the University of Sussex

Suzanne Tatham, University of Sussex
Eva Brittin-Snell (BA International Relations)
Lenart Celar (BSc Psychology with Neuroscience)
Lucy Hensher (BA Geography)

Suzanne, Eva, Lenart and Lucy gave us an overview of the novel approach SAGE and the Library are working to get a better understanding of how students develop their research skills and where and how they research.  The idea was to offer three scholarships for students who would help provide insight on the student journey during their time at university. 

They were looking for student who would:

  • write regular posts
  • engage closely with library and SAGE
  • work up to 2hours per week on library events and promotional activity
  • have enthusiasm and commitment to the project
  • drive the project, so it would be fully student led

In exchange for this, the students would get:

  • The opportunity to develop communication, networking and presentation skills
  • The chance to work with an international academic publisher
  • The change to use social media tools in a professional environment

Getting the project up and running

Timing was difficult as need to get them from the start, and it would take time to get them up and running.  They used Freshers’ Week to advertise these positions, inviting students to submit a blog-style post, a CV and a statement as to why they would be good for the role. 

It has taken 2 terms to get the project up and running, and the library has been working with Sage at all stages, including interview panel. They developed a non-prescriptive schedule to ensure things would happen, but ensuring it was student-led.

Creating a new blog

They worked with sage to look at various topics for the blog, some of which have already been covered, others which are up and coming.  Examples included:

  • How did you prepare for university, including pre-arrival reading?
  • How did you find your first term?
  • When did you first look for something that wasn’t on your reading list?
  • What were your first impressions of the library?
  • How you feel about ebooks?

The students then discussed three projects they have worked on to date.

Survey on pre-arrival reading

They wrote and ran a survey to compile different experiences of undergraduates.  They got 160 respondents, the majority of whom were <20 years of age from across a wide range of study.  Findings included:

  • 60% of students were give a pre-arrival list, 79% of those used it
  • The majority bought all or the most relevant books
  • Some only bought the core books or those that weren’t in the library
  • Those who didn’t receive a pre-arrival reading list were asked how they found books.  In the main they didn’t, but those who did went to the library, or asked peers.
  • When asked what else would be useful, responses included a relevant list (too many books that aren’t then used in the course) and reminders of essay writing techniques.
  • When asked what other types of preparation they used, answers included newspapers, tv shows etc.

The SAGE scholars found it easy to find students for survey, using personal connections and social media.

Focus group to explore research done, resources and devices used

The Scholars ran two focus groups and the library stayed away, so people could feel they could speak openly.  Both groups gave good insight and opinions.  Findings include:

  • Most students have smartphones and use them for music and Facebook
  • Some have Kindles and use them for reading course books
  • Laptop users had a wide range of activities, including reading, leisure activities and taking notes in lectures.
  • Laptop users often preferred using campus computers, due to bigger screens and faster internets.
  • When asked where they looked for data, they used Wikipedia et al for quick definitions, but used more “trusted” sources for marked assignments.
  • Use lecture notes and recordings, and read more widely via library search, the VLE or Google Scholar
  • Students could tell reliability of source if tutor recommended/peer reviewed. 
  • Most students decided what to read depending on if they could get away with not reading it.
  • Students were more likely to read short pieces.
  • They mainly preferred paper books but if needed they used ebooks to complete assignments at last minute.
  • Student read lots of news aticles/shared information online
  • Short articles can be read on a phone, but some materials will only be read on a laptop .
  • There is a need for a mix of ebooks and paper copies.

The SAGE scholars found the focus groups easy to set up and communicate, and participants could speak honestly, so will use this method again.

Conference attendance

The SAGE Scholars attended APS in Brighton and met people who valued their opinions.  They sat on a panel with students from Greenwich University and were asked questions on how gather information, their opinion of ebooks and how can publishers make books more appealing for students to buy.  Key discussions included:

  • The common reason for ebook use was price and availability .  The library is investing more in ebooks to provide wider availability, which is important for students who are competing for copies.
  • The students felt that printed books remain a key part of reading, with the majority still preferring to read in paper, but they acknowleged that ebooks are more efficient. 
  • It was felt that ebooks are useful for quick reads and referring back, while printed books serve a different purpose as a text book.
  • Online journals were seen as a good resource, as they bring something new, are more up to date and are much quicker to read than a book. 

What has been learned so far about information and learning behaviours?

The SAGE Scholars are first years, so their behaviours are likely to change.  But so far they have got an interesting picture of student activity.  Learning points to date include:
  • There’s a lot of work to do around pre-arrival reading – many students are not getting list and those that do contain non relevant titles.
  • The focus group showed that students use wide range of resources to access material, but when comes to academic work, is a narrow focus and is tutor recommended. Books and articles not on reading lists are not likely to be read, but this might change over the next few years.
  • Print is still a popular choice, but there is an increase in use of ebooks.  This is more so graduates, but starting to increase for undergrads.
  • Students use Google and Wikipedia but are aware of what tutors want to see on bibliography, and don’t venture too far from lecture notes. 

Future plans for the SAGE Scholars

  • They want to raise the profile of their blog internally and externally
  • The students will present to SAGE in their second year
  • The project will evaluate changes in perceptions and behaviour
  • SAGE will do a day of shadowing, to see how students go about their day and study
  • Develop networks to increase engagement with peers across social science
  • More student-led activities eg “shut up and write”

Find out more about the project at

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Disruptions in a complex ecology: the future of scholarly communications

Michael Jubb, Research Information Network

Mike held an excellent breakout session and fit a lot into a relatively short space of time, hence the length of this post!  

What is purpose of scholarly communications?

It isn’t just about communications, it is about many other things and the system has a number of different purposes:

  • Registering research findings, their timing, and persons responsible
  • Reviewing and certifying the findings, making sure the work is not bogus via quality assessment and peer review etc.
  • Disseminating new knowledge.
  • Preserving  record of findings for the long term efficiency and effectiveness of research
  • Rewarding researchers for their work

More recently, the Royal Society  wrote a report, Science as an Open Enterprise in which it reported that research should be communicated in ways to make it
  • accessible
  • intelligible, so people can understand it 
  • assessable, making open to quality assessment by others.  Not just an assertion but the evidence on which it is based
  • usable, as others should be able to use the results of the research

So, if those are the purposes, how is scholarly communication done? 

Answers from the audience included: articles, books and monographs, conferences, posters, websites, blogging and social medial. Broadly, the mechanisms for scholarly communication fall into two camps, oral and written.

Oral – lectures, seminars, conference presentations, teleconference etc
Written – theses, working papers, preprints, books, journal articles, wikis, emails etc.

There are some important distinctions between these different mechanisms.  The degree of openness or closed-ness can depend on the tool used.  Written forms can be open - a blog can be read by anyone who can find it, a book or article can be read by anyone who can buy it – but other forms of communications are more restricted.

The other distinction is the degree of quality assurance associated with the scholarly communication.  Blogs can come about by someone sending their thoughts out into the world, while other forms go through some pre-publishing quality assurance mechanism.

Who are the key players are in this ecosystem, and are their specific interests congruent?

Researchers are interested in career advancement, street cred by publishing good work, discover as readers, disseminate as authors.  As readers they want quick access to best research they can find.

Universities care about reputation building, making money  via attracting research grants and new students.

Funders- care about impact and the outcomes of the research.  They fund research in order to make an impact on the world at large or to be able to monetize date (eg pharmas), so there is a big interest in maximising dissemination and impact of high quality research, with a specific emphasis on efficiency in the scholarly system.

Publishers – are interested in generating revenue, building reputations, attracting authors and maximising dissemination of high quality research.

Learned societies – these share lots of interest with the other stakeholders, but also have their own interests as publishers and /or supporters of researchers.

As can be seen, these stakeholders don’t share exactly the same interests, so it not surprising there are some tensions in the ecology.  Each player needs the others but don’t all sing from the same hymn sheet.

The research landscape: funders and do-ers

A report prepared by Elsevier showed that approximately £27bn was invested in research in the UK in 2011.  The biggest proportion of this came from business enterprise (c 50%), with government next (c30%) and funding from other research charities and overseas funding last (25%).

But who did the research? The biggest sector was business enterprise (c64%), followed by higher education (26%) and with under 10% undertaken by government.

It is important to recognise that the research funded by government and charities that is done in higher education, is open, whereas most of the research and development undertaken in the UK – business enterprise – doesn’t get into the standard kind of scholarly communication mechanisms.  

International differences between funding sources

How research is funded differs widely by country.  In Japan an overwhelming proportion of funding comes from business enterprise, whereas in the UK a much lower proportion of research is funded by business, with a higher proportion being funded by government.  The UK is something of an outlier in terms of how research is funded across major research nations.

In terms of where research is done, Japan sees the majority of research being done in the corporate sector.  The UK shows less corporate research being done, but is far less of an outlier.

Research is an increasingly collaborative enterprise

Over the last few years, the UK and Germany show rises of up to 50% of the number of articles involving researchers from other countries.  This is very different from China, which stands at about 15% at the moment, or the US which has much lower levels of international collaboration in comparison with the UK or Germany.

The number of articles with single authors is also decreasing.  In the UK 15% of articles have single authors and in Germany, only 10%.

So different players have different interests, and now involve international players all with different interests. 

The big challenge is the extent to which research is bound to higher volumes of data compared with 20 years ago.  It might be simple to present findings and data on which it is based within an article, when using a small number of data points; you can’t do the same with 6 million data points. 

How do you present this in prose along with the vast increase in volumes of data and analytical tools used to analyse data (software, tools workflows etc)?  This will be one of the essential challenges over the next 10 years.

Some stats on the scholarly communication ecosystem

Number of scholarly publishers in the world: c 2k
Number of journals: c 28k (10k in WoK, 18k in SCOPUS)
Number of articles published per year: c 2M

An STM report prepared last year by Mark Ware showed the following:

Revenues by geographic territory
·         52% US
·         32% EMEA
·         12% APAC
·         4% other

Revenues by source
·         70+% library subscription
·         16% corporate
·         4% adverts
·         3% memberships
·         4%other

So if you join subscriptions from libraries and corporate libraries, you are looking at over 90% of revenue coming from that source, with relatively small amounts coming from other areas.  A few years ago, memberships would have been a higher proportion, which shows a significant change in the landscape.

Quality assurance and peer review

Many stakeholders are involved in quality assurance: researchers as peer reviewers, Editors and Editorial boards, publishing staff.   Broadly the types of review are:
  • single blind, where the referee knows the identity of the author
  • double blind, where neither side knows who the other is (the norm for humanities)
  • open, when both sides know who each are
There are a number of issues with peer review, including:
  • fairness and bias
  • delays
  • Inefficiency due to repeat submissions and reviews
  • data and reproducibility making it harder for reviewers to assess the work
  • overload – too many articles! Some publishers report difficulties in finding reviewers

Mike also listed some other ways of reviewing work, including:
  • soundness not significance (eg PLOS1)
  • cascade (pass article from one journal to another within a single publisher’s portfolio)
  • portable (pass article from one journal to another, across to a different publisher)
  • open and iterative (done in the open on a journal platform once an article is submitted)
  • post publication peer review (comments and ratings alongside articles)

 Open Access routes (with uptake)

  • fully OA with apc (5.5%, but 9% for UK)
  • fully OA with no apc (4.2%)
  • hybrid (0.5%, but 3-4% for UK)
  • delayed free access journals (1%)
  • repository pre-print (6.4%)
  • repository accepted ms (5%)

Balancing the ecosystem

In the last part of his talk, Mike referred back to the original list of key players, stating that there are many other players in this ecosystem that are important to its maintenance, including: subscription agents and intermediaries, library systems, reference management services, OA infrastructure, Metadata standards, text and data mining etc. 

All these elements are becoming increasingly important – it is a far more complex world. 

The big challenge is how to sustain that world with continuing flow of innovation on one side, and sustaining ecology on the other side.

In closing, Mike asked if articles are not the future of scholarly communications, what is the future for the journal?

Monday, 14 April 2014

The future of scholarly communication

David De Roure, University of Oxford, Oxford e-Research Centre

This morning on the opening day of UKSG 2014 David De Roure presented his view on the future of scholarly communication, looking at the shift in scholarship, end of the article, research objects and social machines.

The full slides are on, here is a summary of what I found most interesting:

Social media:
People doing completely new things with social media. New social processes – citizen reporting. 
Guardian reading the riots project ( about the Summer 2011 riots. Examples of rumours spread on Twitter before being confirmed or Denied; London eye on Fire, rioters attack London Zoo and animals on the loose
Information now interdisciplinary and "in the wild" - "in it" versus "on it", significant methodological shift

End of the article guy: 
8 points for why article has failed:
  1. No longer possible to include evidence in the paper – Container failure
  2. No longer possible to reconstruct a scientific experiment based on the paper alone
  3. Writing for increasingly specialist audiences restricted essential multi-disciplinary re-use
  4.  Research records needed to be readable by computer to support automation and curation 
  5. Single authorship gave way to casts of thousands
  6. Quality control models scaled poorly with increasing volume
  7. Alternative reporting  necessary for compliance with regulations
  8. Research funders frustrated by inefficiencies in scholarly communication - Outputs need to be  discoverable and reusable

myExperiment and Research Objects:
Isn't just about the data it is what you do with it – Methods are important, software, protocols etc. Need to look at software as well as data to get complete picture.

myExperiment ( is a tool to allow scientists to share workflows. Can associate other content with e.g. PDF and PPTs to create packs.

Research Objects ( - Enabling reproducible, transparent research.
The R Dimensions - Research Objects facilitate research this is reproducible repeatable, replicable, reusable, referenceable, retrievable, reviewable, replayable, re-interpretable, reprocessable, recomposable, reconstrutable, repurposable, reliable, respectable, reputable, revealable, recoverable, restorable, reparable, refreshable (See  for the photo)

Social machines:
Tim Berners-Lee talks about social machines as "...processes in which people do the creative work and the machine does the administration.." 
Wikipedia classic example – etiquette and protocol has developed over time and socially constituted
Every hashtag on Twitter can be considered social machine

Final thoughts/questions:
  1. Shifts in scholarship -A "turn" or ongoing transformation?
  2. End of the article - Don't retrofit digital, think post-digital
  3. Research Objects -Inevitable with automation. How do we cite them? how are they curated?
  4. Social Machines - Humans in the loop, empowered. Can you view your projects as social machines?