research at risk logo

Back in December 2014 we posted an idea on the “Research Data Spring” (also named “Research at Risk”), a collaborative initiative for UK Research hosted by Jisc. This is an idea I am hoping to develop in conjunction with the Centre for Information Science at City University London (#citylis) and the researcher-led open access publisher Ubiquity Press. The members of the team are Andy Byers at Ubiquity and David Bawden, Lyn Robinson and myself at #citylis.

Here’s the idea as posted on the Jisc Ideascale platform. The ideas posted on the platform Jisc used for this initiative could be voted for by members of the community and receive comments. We are very grateful to everyone who voted, “agreed” and commented. We got 40 votes and 12 comments. Thank you.

In mid January 2014 we learned our idea was successful in passing to the next stage in Research Data Spring (of 70 ideas posted, 44 were shortlisted). We will participate in a sandpit workshop on 26-27 February in Birmingham, and today I will present the idea and network with other participants at a workshop within the International Digital Curation Conference. The detailed programme for today is in PDF here.

The idea has two main components, one that we could call “technical” (in the sense it implies the development of a tool) and one that we could call “research” (in the sense that it implies researching what has already been done,  learning from the process of developing the tool and from its implementation).

Our idea is to write a plugin for Open Journal Systems that sends data automatically or semi-automatically to Institutional Repositories.

1. To make data submission easier in terms of data by allowing people to upload directly to Dryad (an international repository of data underlying peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature) and Figshare (an open access repository developed by Digital Science) via API.

2. To make depositing easier by connecting OJS to other services via the JISC publications router which can be subscribed to by institutions to receive submissions.

The key thing to say here is that we are aware there’s important work that has been done already in this area, with tools that are already in use. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We want to build on what has been done, as there seems to be consensus that none of the existing solutions are completely satisfying. We are not saying we can come up with THE tool; we would use this opportunity to

  • discover what has already been done,
  • work with what already exists,
  • use the development phase itself as research data,
  • implement and test the tool and obtain research data,
  • produce a research output and an open source tool that can be used by the community.

For example, Stuart Lewis alerted us that the University of Edinburgh uses both SWORD and OJS (http://journals.ed.ac.uk/). We also know Rory McNicholl made a plugin based on the OJS SWORD plugin that gives editors the option to deposit to repositories as part of the OJS workflow. This was developed for and is in use by UCL at http://ojs.lib.ucl.ac.uk/. Rory was interested in collaborating with us and we believe the knowledge and expertise exchange would be vital.

The points made by Martin Eve are vital. We believe it is authors (not publishers) who must be responsible for depositing their work in repositories. This is also why this is a researcher-led idea, one that seeks knowledge exchange between researchers (who are also journal editors), publishers, developers, librarians (including repository managers) and university administrators.

I am a researcher and editor, not a developer, and developing this project would be an opportunity to continue learning about the technical component, which can only give a more thorough understanding of the pragmatic challenges and opportunities, from an implementation point of view, of open access and data and manuscript deposit. I believe it is essential that authors gradually become more involved in the publishing and depositing process, and this collaborative idea is one step in this direction.