International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries

IATUL News Alerts

Archive January 2011

The Dataverse Network®: An Open-Source Application for Sharing, Discovering and Preserving Data

Saturday, 29 January 2011 1:35:11 p.m.

The Dataverse Network is an open-source application for publishing, referencing, extracting and analyzing research data. The main goal of the Dataverse Network is to solve the problems of data sharing through building technologies that enable institutions to reduce the burden for researchers and data publishers, and incentivize them to share their data. By installing Dataverse Network software, an institution is able to host multiple individual virtual archives, called "dataverses" for scholars, research groups, or journals, providing a data publication framework that supports author recognition, persistent citation, data discovery and preservation. Dataverses require no hardware or software costs, nor maintenance or backups by the data owner, but still enable all web visibility and credit to devolve to the data owner.

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E-journals: their use, value and impact - final report

Saturday, 29 January 2011 1:33:31 p.m.

This two-part report takes in-depth look at how researchers in the UK use electronic journals, the value they bring to universities and research institutions and the contribution they make to research productivity, quality and outcomes.

Journal publishers began to provide online access to full-text scholarly articles in the late 1990s, triggering a revolution in the scholarly communications process. A very high proportion of journal articles are now available online 96 per cent of journal titles in science, technology and medicine, and 86 per cent of titles in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

It’s clear that e-journals have given researchers an unprecedented level and convenience of access to knowledge in scholarly articles, but what effect have they had on the ways in which researchers seek information? Do they provide good value for money to higher education libraries and what are the wider benefits for universities and research institutions?

Our Phase One report examines how researchers interact with journal websites and whether enhanced access to journal articles has led to greater productivity, research quality and other outcomes. It finds that researchers are savvy when it comes to using e-journals, finding the information they need quickly and efficiently, and that higher spending on e-journals is linked to better research outcomes.

Based on an analysis of log files from journal websites and data from libraries in ten universities and research institutions, our report starts to build a clear picture of how e-journals are shaping the information landscape a picture that we’ll add to as our research in this area continues.

The aim in the Phase Two report was to test and examine the reasons underlying the behaviours which were identified in Phase One.

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JISC Inform 29 Winter 2010

Saturday, 29 January 2011 1:32:30 p.m.

In this issue of Inform – the last before our move to digital – we are looking to the future, and new ways in which teaching, learning and research might take place in a digital world: from digital literacy, practical guidance on establishing an Open Access policy and on finding digital resources, to how we can keep Britain’s position in the world’s league tables and make sure we are investing in the right projects.

Open-ness means different things to different people but for us it’s a way of promoting the full value of publicly funded material and making the most of our shared expertise, which is highlighted in our article on steps to Open Access. This means promoting open source data and open standards across technology in order to produce research, learning materials and other products that researchers, students and managers can benefit from whether they are based in the next lecture theatre or in an institution far away. The debate in this issue takes up the thread, asking whether we should pay for content online, while at the grassroots a new report on research and Open Access looks at how today’s young academics are facing these questions.

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Transitions in scholarly communications - a portfolio of research projects

Saturday, 29 January 2011 1:31:25 p.m.

A new portfolio of research projects will be focusing on transitions to electronic-only publication, gaps in access, the dynamics of improving access to research papers and the future of scholarly communication.

The scholarly communications landscape has been transformed over the past few years, in the UK and across the world. Technological change has brought - and continues to bring - profound changes in the roles that researchers, funders, research institutions, publishers, aggregators, libraries and other intermediaries play in disseminating and providing access to quality-assured research outputs, in their goals and expectations, and in the services they provide and use. There are shared ambitions for significantly enhanced access, but no consensus on how best to achieve it.

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Developing Infrastructure for Research Data Management at the University of Oxford

Saturday, 29 January 2011 1:30:13 p.m.

The University of Oxford began to consider research data management infrastructure in earnest in 2008, with the 'Scoping Digital Repository Services for Research Data' Project. Two further JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee)-funded pilot projects followed this initial study, and the approaches taken by these projects, and their findings, form the bulk of this article.

Oxford's decision to do something about its data management infrastructure was timely. A subject that had previously attracted relatively little interest amongst senior decision makers within the UK university sector, let alone amongst the public at large, was about to acquire a new-found prominence. In November 2009, the email archives of researchers within the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia were compromised and leaked to the Web by climate change sceptics, alongside commentary casting doubt upon the scientific integrity of the researchers involved. The story was seized upon by the national press and entered the public consciousness. Although subsequent enquiries have exonerated the researchers from scientific malpractice, criticism has been levelled at their data management practices. The report of Lord Oxburgh's scientific assessment panel in April 2010 observed that the researchers:
'should have devoted more attention in the past to archiving data and algorithms and recording exactly what they did. At the time the work was done, they had no idea that these data would assume the importance they have today.'

The report adds that 'pressing ahead with new work has been at the expense of what was regarded as non-essential record keeping'.
The case brings home the importance of managing one's research data well. The sympathy many researchers undoubtedly felt for their colleagues at the Climate Research Unit is unlikely to stretch indefinitely into the future, especially if, as seems likely, funding bodies start to insist, rather than simply recommend, that research paid for by public money is open and accountable. But to what extent should researchers be expected to redirect their time from research to data management? Clearly there is a cost involved, and one which explains the reluctance to devote resources to what might look like 'non-essential record keeping'. The value of researchers to their institutions is measured in publications, not orderly filing cabinets.

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Academic Liaison Librarianship: Curatorial Pedagogy or Pedagogical Curation?

Saturday, 29 January 2011 1:29:10 p.m.

When reflecting on a methodological approach and set of research practices with which he was closely associated, Bruno Latour suggested that, "there are four things that do not work with actor-network theory; the word actor, the word network, the word theory and the hyphen!". In a similar vein, it could be suggested that, "there are three things that do not work with academic liaison librarianship: the word academic, the word liaison and the word librarianship". Why so?

Whatley defines academic liaison in the 1990s and early 2000s as being built around three roles: reference services (emanating from the reference desk), instructional services (e.g. library, bibliographic and database instruction) and collection development (print and, increasingly, electronic). Garnes and Smith provide a similar description of the liaison role, with the liaison librarian being responsible for understanding an academic department's needs for collections, information services and instruction. These three roles characterise the liaison model. Thull and Hansen, in discussing the Reference and User Services Association definition of liaison work, point out the centrality of the collection to liaison, since both reference and instructional services orient the reader/library user to the collection, as conventionally understood, i.e. print with an emerging subscription-based electronic dimension.

However, these explicit functional roles mask a further implicit interpersonal, communicational or phatic role, harnessing a capability that, in the near future, may be of greater importance, relationship building: "Building relationships is becoming the essence of what it is to be a liaison librarian…". Relationship building, it is argued here, will play a crucial role in the re-articulation of academic liaison librarianship, as it moves from the liaison model, with its collection-centred approach, towards what Williams calls an engagement-centred model.

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