Monday, 22 April 2013

UK Serials Group Conference

Rebecca Mogg from Cardiff University Libraries attended this year's UK Serials Group (UKSG) Conference in Bournemouth with financial support from the Kathleen Cooks Bequest Fund. With Rebecca's help we can all update our knowledge on open access publishing, supporting researchers, the fascinating realities of the world of the digital student, altmetrics [a new one for this blog] and  developments in library technology.  Rebecca clearly returns to her workplace with a number of innovations to experiment with. Always the sign of an excellent conference!

Bournemouth International Centre - the venue for
UKSG in 2013
Image credit: Lewis Clarke [CC-BY-SA-2.0],
 via Wikimedia Commons
I was fortunate to receive a grant from the CILIP Wales Kathleen Cooks fund to attend this year’s UKSG Conference in Bournemouth from 8-10 April.  This was my first time at UKSG and I was impressed by the size of the conference and the breadth of the representation of delegates from across academic librarianship, publishing and other professional bodies supporting the sector.  Not to mention the conference dinner and funfair which had the real ‘wow factor’!

The programme was tightly packed and I got lots of ideas and good practice to report back to my institution.  There was also plenty of opportunity to chat to suppliers and see product demos, helping to bring me up to speed with recent developments in areas such as eBooks and digital archives.

The key themes of the conference looked at the evolution of open access, research evaluation and researcher identity, digital students – new learning and information habits and really useful library technology. I have provide much more detail about the sessions I attended below together with my reflections.  Videos of the plenary sessions are available on the YouTube UKSG Channel and the full presentations can be viewed on Slideshare.

Evolution of Open Access

The conference opened with presentations from Phil Sykes, Liverpool University and member of the Finch Committee, and Fred Dylla outlining the progress of the open access movements in Britain and America. 
Sykes provided the background to the Finch outcomes and argued that politically we have never been in a better position to move forward with open access as there is full support in both RCUK (Research Councils UK) and in Government.  This may change in the future and so it’s important that we seize the initiative.  He encouraged us not to ignore the defects in the current policy but to take a positive attitude.  We must provide strong support nationally through our professional bodies and skilled advocacy on campus.  It’s important we make the Gold route work properly to avoid double dipping. 

The focus of Dylla’s presentation was on open access to research data.  Progress in the US is not as advanced as the UK. However, a recent initiative from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to increase access to the results of publicly funded research where projects exceed $100m in R&D expenditure, makes important steps to tackle this deficit. There are also a number of partnership projects between publishers and research funders including the FundRef scheme which aims to make it easier to determine which public body has funded research. 

The final presentation on this theme was from Jill Emery of Portland State University who suggested a toolkit for librarians to respond to open access.  Emery argued that responsibility for supporting open access should lie within Library and that we should engage others in OA provision to ensure that the gold route works effectively and libraries are not double charged.  Emery also advocated that libraries should re-structure their budgets to fund open access publication.  I felt that this was currently less applicable to the UK where the majority of funding is currently coming from RCUK.  Also, we are yet to receive any savings in terms of subscriptions to free up funds in the library budget for article processing charge (APC) payments. These talks gave us plenty to chat about over lunch! 

Researcher Evaluation and Researcher Identity

 Jenny Delaselle from Warwick University outlined a range of publication and citation metrics and encouraged us to make our researchers aware of them.  She also highlighted the current developments in article level metrics (altmetrics) – more on this later.  Laurel Haak from ORCID followed with a talk aimed at raising awareness of the importance and value of encouraging researchers to set themselves up with ORCID IDs.  ORCID is:
 “an open, non-profit, community-based effort to provide a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers”.  
This is certainly something I intend to pick up with researchers in my subject area.

On Tuesday a workshop presentation from Mike Talyor, Elsevier Labs and Paul Groth, VU University Amsterdam usefully continued the theme of altmetrics - a topic about which I knew very little.  Taylor provided the definition:
altmetrics are article-level metrics – counting and interpretation of non-formal citation of scholarly documents.  Non-formal citation could be when a work is saved in Mendeley / Zotero / Figshare, bookmarked in Delicious or shared on Twitter or Facebook. 
The two presenters highlighted the benefits of altmetrics to the individual researcher.  They can tell a story to potential funders about the impact of previous research, and do this much faster than citations. Altmetrics services such as ImpactStory or can help a researcher aggregate all the places where their research is being discussed. Both presenters stressed that altmetrics is in the early stages of development and so the figures should not be compared and used for ranking.  There is much more to come in this area, so watch this space.

Similarly, presenters from Proquest and Goldleaf discussed ways of measuring the impact of online humanities information resources.  This is an important topic as in these disciplines usage statistics often do not give the full picture of the value of a product.  They have conducted a large-scale study into researcher’s use of online resources and will be publishing an article about their findings in the next issue of UKSG journal - Insights.  They also intend to put together a toolkit for librarians.  A couple of practical suggestions which I found useful included:

  • setting up quick polls when users access a certain resource to find out their views about it,and 
  • requesting inbound and outbound linking stats from your link resolver and finding out from providers how many users are making use of the personalisation features of the resource.
Joanna Ball at the University of Sussex provided a workshop session on their approach to supporting Research Data Management.  I was particularly impressed by their idea of running one of their regular researcher seminars on the topic of “Why share your research data?”  Rather than the library leading, they invited a representative from the UK Data Archive and a researcher from their own University with expertise in ethics to lead the discussion. 

Digital Students 

Tuesday morning’s plenary sessions focused on  Digital Students: new learning and information habits.  The first presenter, Lynn Silipigni Connaway from OCLC, gave a synopsis of a number of recent studies which have looked into researcher and student behaviour around information resources access and use.  Some of the research studies quoted had been reported on previously but the presenter brought them altogether to draw some useful conclusions, including:
  • the increased need for seamless online discovery to delivery (including mobile). Users expect their online search experience to lead them to the end product. This is generally what is experienced in other aspects of the web!
  •  provide search help at the time of need (chat and instant messaging (IM) - embedded in search interfaces, mobile technology)
  • design all of our systems with users in mind Model our services on popular services.And finally 
  • focus on relationship building instead of service excellence – identify needs and be in a stronger position to make an impact.

The talk which followed from Joshua Harding, a postgraduate medical student at Warwick Medical School, was the highlight of the conference for me.  He offered a glimpse into the world of the student in the not so distance future, and gave a strong message to both librarians and publishers to act.  I recommend watching the full presentation. Joshua outlined how he has taken the step to being a ‘paperless student’, by using his iPad for his entire study needs.  He uses apps to enable him to take handwritten notes, read and annotate key textbooks, carry out patient consultations, look up and revise key facts (e.g. drug information at the point of need and revise anatomy).  Joshua argued that tablets will become the norm for students in the next 18 months and that our services need to be ready.  He called upon publishers to improve e-textbook provision and to provide ‘smart books’ which will act as a personal study buddy through the use of learning analytics which show him, for example, the areas he may need to revise. A number of current barriers to becoming a paperless student were highlighted, including: 
  • lack of connectivity to cloud services such as Dropbox
  • cost – at the moment he pays for all his textbooks - with the advent of fees, students will expect this provision
  • the ePub format which prevents him from being able to copy and annotate sections of text, and 
  • the array of places to look to find relevant books.  
Joshua called for a universal store where they can be located and purchased.

Really useful library technology

Given the current interest in a shared LMS in Wales, I opted to attend a session from Adjoa Boateng and Dave Pattern about Alma and Intota.  Boateng gave a very candid presentation about the implementation of Alma at the University of East London.  As early adopters of this new product, they experienced a number of quite major sounding teething problems, particularly with the reader service, or ‘ fulfillment’ aspect of the product, including issues with self-service, fines, email notifications and reservations.  However, there were a number of aspects which went well including the ExLibris SFX integration, data load and configuration and overall they were pleased with the changes. 

Dave Pattern presented on the progress of their current JISC funded HIKE (Huddersfield, InTota, Knowledge Base+) project which is due to report soon and will include an evaluation of the new InTota LMS.  Both these presentations had a common theme which emphasized the importance of taking the opportunity to re-consider current workflows.  UEL responded to the requirements of the new platform during the implementation whereas Huddersfield’s approach was to map their ideal workflows first.  These workflows can be viewed on the project web site.

The final breakout session of the conference was another highlight for me.  It was presented by Ronán Kennedy and Monica Crump from GUI Galway and was a very candid account of their implementation of Primo and their users’ response.  It highlighted the importance of user-observation studies to truly understand how students and staff make use of our library resources and where they experiencing stumbling blocks.  We are just starting to make use of this methodology here at Cardiff University and I think that one-year-on from our implementation of Primo we should consider running a similar exercise.

Lightening Talks

A new format for UKSG, these sessions each consisted of 3 x 10 minute talks covering new services and innovations.  Of particular interest to me was Caroline Alderson’s presentation on the JISC Open Access fees pilot and Gill and Gravely’s presentation about their work to integrate mobile technologies into library services at Surrey.

Dodgems! (c) Rebecca Mogg, 2013

With quite few bleary eyed delegates in the room following Tuesday night’s funfair, dinner and disco Wednesday  morning kicked off with a brief presentation from Ed Penz at CrossRef who reported on some research UKSG will be undertaking into usage statistics and web analytics for discovery tools.  Liam Earney then talked about JISC’s new service, Knowledge Base+, which is currently available on free trial to the user community.  It aims to create a knowledge base of licence and subscription information which will enable institutions to improve their decision-making and management of resources.  Liam also mentioned a sister project in the US called GoKB which has an international scope and will be made available outside of the US in future.  Finally Simon Inger from Renew Training provided some highlight results from a large-scale study into reader navigation conducted in 2012.  The research compares readers from different sectors and subject areas and looks extremely useful.  Certainly a report to take a closer look at - How Readers Discover Content in ScholarlyJournals! 

Concluding sessions

The very last plenary sessions of the day came from the two Americans with fabulous headgear: Jason Scott from the Archive Team and T Scott Plutchak from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Scott’s entertaining presentation highlighted the transient nature of the web and how we are at the mercy of the whims of the internet’s major players who can suddenly decide to close down a site at short notice.  The closure of the GeoCities site in 2009 with only 30 days notice to users, prompted Scott to set up the Archive Team, who are identifying and downloading material from “at risk” web sites and saving it for posterity.  
Plutchak rounded off the conference with a plea for librarians and publishers to work more closely together and to learn more about the work that we each do.  He encouraged us to move away from stereotypical views of each other and avoid giving each other unhelpful badges.  Essentially we both want the same thing! 

We are very grateful to Rebecca Mogg for this report. If you have attended an event, or have undertaken a project which deserves wider dissemination, please do contact to see if we can publish your report here.

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