26 June 2015

LIBER 2015 paper wins award

The emerging role of institutional CRIS in facilitating Open Scholarship, was recognised by the LIBER Conference Programme Committee with the Innovation Award given to the 3 most innovative and relevant papers submitted to the conference.

St Andrews, together with Aberdeen, was the first UK University to introduce a CRIS (Current Research Information Information System) and, along with other UK HEIs is active in the use of the CRIS to facilitate Open Access and Research Data Management to meet the demands of funder compliance, promote Open Scholarship as a desirable and viable option to researchers and to benefit the wider research community.
The University Library recently appointed Anna Clements Assistant Director to head up the new Digital Research Division, bringing together Open Access, Research Data Management, Digital Humanities and Research Computing, reflecting its importance to the Library and the University.

Anna, who co-authored the paper with Jackie Proven, said "This award recognises the hard work at St Andrews as a champion for the use of innovative systems to support many areas of research information management, including Open Access and Research Data Management. The CRIS has demonstrated how it can respond to the changing policy landscape and benefit researchers and management alike by reducing the burden of data collection and processes for compliance, but the much more exciting part is that it is now beginning to facilitate Open Scholarship itself."


12 June 2015

New open access data repository for autism research

Stanford University has announced a new and ambitious project to establish the world’s largest collaborative open access repository for data on autism. The project is called The Hartwell Research Technology Initiative, or iHART for short. The project goal is to provide the research community with a centralised repository for biomedical data on autism. It is hoped that the increased access to data will enable greater collaboration across research centres and institutions, and will lead to new techniques for intervention and detection.

The iHART project is funded by a $9 million grant from the Hartwell Foundation - a charitable organisation that grants awards for biomedical research to help children. iHART will be led by Dennis Wall, a specialist in autism spectrum disorder and Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The repository will have an integrated portal that will enable researchers to draw on a variety of data types, ‘including phenotypes, proteomics, metabolomics, genomics, measurements and imaging of brain activity, information on the gut microbiome, blood-based biomarkers, physician narratives, diagnostic test results and treatment protocols.’ (Stanford Medicine news centre). Through the portal users will also be able to integrate their own data.

See the press release here: http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2015/06/9-million-grant-to-establish-open-access-autism-database.html

5 June 2015

Open Access in Estonia: the Information Society

Estonia is very advanced in e-government infrastructure compared to the UK. You can't fail to be impressed by its e-Resident initiative.  In 2007 it introduced a Mobile-ID for mobile phones that permits secure authentication and digital signatures. With a population of only about 1.5M the effects of government initiatives are seen quickly and data privacy is legally protected, including access to medical records which are owned by patients. It's fair to say that in this context Open Access and Open Data could be seen as a natural progression. The University of Tartu is leading in open scholarship - sixty-percent of Estonia's successfully defended doctoral theses are generated at Tartu annually. It also has six Centres of Research Excellence of which two are European Commission Centres of Excellence.

"In Estonia, anyone can go to a state forest and extract birch sap from a birch tree. "
Slide 12 from Estonian ICT Demo Center (2014) Estonian information society presentation slideshow
In 2012 it began participating in an 8-month project under the auspices of the EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) Open Access and Open Data in Estonia Project. The project lead was the University of Tartu Library (UTL).  Its main outcomes were:

  • Introducing policy change to the Estonian Research Council and the possibility of a national Open Access policy.
  • Minting digital object identifers (DOs). UTL has joined DataCite and is now minting its own digital object identifiers (DOIs) for research data sets.  St Andrews has been able to do this since April this year.
  • Training researchers in self-archiving resulting in a significant increase in deposit of accepted manuscripts into UTL's repository.
  • Publishing journals Open Access using the open journal system (OJS) platform.
  • Publishing monographs Open Access.  Tartu currently has 17 Open Access monographs on OAPEN.
  • A network of credible champions has been established to advocate Open Access among their peers.
These outcomes broadly reflect institutional experience in the UK although the UK seems much more advanced in metadata and standards.

Unlike the UK, there is no downward pressure from government on Open Access. Instead, UTL engaged with the Estonian Research Council to introduce its Open Access requirement for publicly-funded research.  However, there is no national Open Access mandate at this stage. Gold route publication is preferred. Deposit into institutional repositories is a precondition of research evaluation which is similar to Hefce's Open Access requirement commencing 1 April 2016. Researchers are permitted to use their research grants to pay publication costs which mirrors the position in Canada, China and the USA. But there are no supporting central funds such as the Research Councils UK block grant.

The Estonian government is committed to supporting the infrastructure of a modern information society. It will be interesting to see how it meets the socio-technical challenges imposed by copyright and publisher policies to give its citizens free access to its publicly-funded research - not just having the internet but seeing the content.