Repositories and “old school” academics

On Repositories

I had an interesting chat with a self-confessed Old School academic: he’s in a deeply unfashionable area of research, and publishes in deeply unfashionable journals…. but he makes sure that everything he publishes goes into his local Institutional Repository.

I ran my idea of a CRIS-like system past him, and he spotted an immediate flaw: “It’s mine!”

He will not share anything until has been published. He will not put unpublished work anywhere that it can be got at1. The problem is that your unpublished work can be plagerised, and published, before you finish your work… meaning that you are now plagerising someone else – on your own research!

I asked him about copies of his work, and if he keeps them on the fileservers in his college: Nope, he keeps them on a removeable hard disk, which he takes home with him every night.

So where does that leave us?

  • I think we need to accept that that old school have a point: plagerism is rife, and not just at undergrad level – it happens at all levels of academia.
  • I think that the “google generation” will be less paranoid about their work… and more aware of computing systems (on which: who else noticed that Peter Murray-Rust mentioned having disk-level encription on his laptop when giving his presentation at OR08?).
  • I think that the idea of providing an backup (or archive) for “work in progress” is valid, and that the idea of a hierarchical system can be sold.

BUT (and you notice it is a pretty damn big “but”), we will need to be sure that the archive is secure, that work cannot be copied, and that the academic feels firmly in control.

On another topic

My friend was hugely supportive of his local repositorty: not only were the staff excellent at handling the deposit and sorting out all the metadata stuff for him; but he was actually able to raise the profile of his work!

He drums into his students two messages when it comes to publications:

  1. Do NOT release anything into the public domain until your work has been definitely accepted
  2. Make sure you put a copy into the local IR: the more people find your work, the greater the pool of people who might cite your work: a 1% citation rate from 10 people is 1-in-10; a 1% citation rate from 100 people is 1: a 10-fold increase!

[1] He told me a story of, when he was in China over the summer, a student submitted a piece for his Masters degree. A quick read of it showed that this was an incomplete work, by someone else. Further, fairly simple, investigation revealed it was written by a PostDoc, in a US University, and was going through it’s final review process.

Understanding Organisational Cultures…. the journey down

Well, the plane boarded 10 minutes late… and we were held up for “15 to 20 minutes” due to a fault in the air-conditioning system. Once that was fixed, we taxi’d out… and ran over a bolt!

So, we taxi’d back, had the tyre checked over, and then waited for another space in the traffic to take off.

The flight down was fairly uneventful – £5 for a sarnie and a coffee! Talk about a captive market!

Plane lands, and I jump on the bendy-bus to Luton Airport Parkway station, pre-booked tickets to Mlton Keynes… except no trains from LAPW go to MK…. they go from the other train station… and the last train went 10 minutes ago. My choices are: Train into London, cross London, back out to MK; or a taxi.

45 quid later, I’m at the hotel.

Thank god for big beds and strong showers!

… and Premier Inn hotels do an All You Can Eat breakfast – do I look like a man that picks at his food? Get stuck in there mon!

Now at Cranfield, free coffee on tap…. a happy gorilla 🙂 (and I’ve already been ranting about CRIS’ and the need to market oneself :chuckle: )

Repositories are dead, long live repositories – redux

There has been talk around the place that the term Repositories (as in Institutional Repositories) is detrimental (it appears in several guises on the IdeaScale page Repositories – communicating the idea and by a number of people in conversation and talks.

There is an interest in Repository Fringe ’09…. but if the term “Repository” is to be replaced, what should we do about the not-a-conference title?

…. and what should the term “Repository” be replaced with?

Will we ever get it right?

Of course we will!

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

Or, to put it another way, if we have enough Code Monkeys hacking away, we will (eventually) get the perfect system that will give us Green Open Access with Green Publishers.

In fact, the protocol for doing this is defined in RFC 2795

We just need to “Keep the faith”

“I have a dream”

I’ve talked about this many times before, but this is probably the first time that I’ve committed pen to paper (or, keypress to web-page, in this Web 2.0 world) and described it publicly.

I believe that the current Repository concept is flawed… actually, lots of people now realise that the current concept is flawed, and people are trying to decide what the correct model should be.

We know that the binary-object-centric view does not work, and we know that we need to involve the user much much earlier in the aquisition process

Here is my model:

Researchers have Interests: a general topic/area/subject that interests them; that they want to investigate; to understand.

Researchers apply for funds to Research aspects of that Interest: to look at particular facets; to search for significance; to find reasons or rules of behaviour.

Researchers produce things: they write articles; they produce data; they have significant emails; they go to conferences…. and all of these relate to specific pieces of Research, or to general Interests.

Articles go through iterations: a lengthy final draft; a pre-submission version tailored to a specific journal; a post-review version; a publishers final-copy version… and each of these link to the previous version, or directly to a specific Research thing or Interest thing

The idea is that when someone puts a thing into their workspace, they describe it:

  • An Interest will have a Description, and inherit the primary “author” from the user profile.
  • A piece of Research will have a Title, a Description, a Funder (and “grant number” or other code), will default the Principle Investigator to be Interest.Author[1].
  • The various Article/Conference/Email/Data things will have their appropriate meta-data, and inherit from the item above them..

The idea, therefore, is that the researcher deposits often, and rarely has to provide much supportive metadata… which could easily fit into their normal working flow… and if we could promise to back up their data, they will probably be happy.

Look at http://www.myexperiment.org/ as an example of something heading in this direction.

[1] If we are clever, then we can link into the organisations MIS databases, and pull the “principle investigator” from there, and get a list of assocciated researchers (those paid from the grant), who are likely to be co-authors.