Monthly Archives: October 2016

Mission Open Access: the Apollo repository launches

IMG_2298To celebrate Open Access Week 2016, the Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) officially launched ‘Apollo’, the University of Cambridge’s upgraded open access repository.

Researchers, University research staff and librarians gathered at the University’s Engineering Department to see a demonstration of the new features of Apollo, speak to some of the University’s Open Access Champions and raise a glass to launch the service.

The repository stores a range of content and provides different levels of access, but its primary focus is on providing open access to the University’s research publications.  Apollo forms an important part of the University’s provision for meeting research funder requirements for open access, enabling ‘Green’ access to publications.  The launch of the upgrade comes at an exciting time for the Office of Scholarly Communication, as the repository has recently received its 10,000th upload.

The Cambridge University Office of Scholarly Communication looks after all aspects of scholarly communication within the University. This ranges across the entire research lifecycle from searching for information and collaborators, through to authoring and copyright issues and finally the publication and dissemination process, leading into assessment. The OSC has responsibility for the open access and open data programs at the University in terms of compliance with funders’ policies, and delivers and manages the University’s digital repository, Apollo.

Cambridge University was one of a handful of ‘testbed ‘ institutions that participated in the early deployment and development of DSpace, and has been running a DSpace repository for over a decade. Over that time, Apollo has participated in a number of externally funded projects intended to better understand researcher requirements or improve the services it offers. These include: Incremental, DataTrain and PrePARe, which developed resources to support research data management and EPIC and Keeping Research Data Safe (KRDS), which focused on the repository’s preservation services.

IMG_2297Upgraded features

With the support of RCUK, the OSC have spent £43,000 to upgrade the repository. Cambridge is now leading the country by running DSpace Version 5.4, the most recent and most stable version of the application. This has given Apollo a modern and improved user-friendly interface.

Since the upgrade in May 2016, the repository has had close to 2 million views from actual people (not machines!)

The upgrade means we can now increase the services offered by the repository.  Digital Object Identifiers, or DOIs, can be minted in-house. The Open Access team has minted over 6000 DOIs since May for articles, theses, datasets and other research outputs.

In addition, people identifiers – Author ORCIDs – are now displayed in the repository. The repository is interoperable with other systems and sends ORCIDs  to Datacite, which might allow repository items to be automatically populated into Authors’ ORCID profiles in the future.

Perhaps the most exciting integration is with the University’s publication management system Symplectic, allowing for easier reporting of Open Access compliance.

Request a Copy

Part of the upgrade involved the introduction of a new feature called ‘Request a Copy,  designed to open up the University’s most current research to a wider audience.  ‘Request a Copy’ operates on the principle of peer-to-peer sharing – if an item in Apollo is not yet available to the public, a repository user can ask the author for a copy of the item.  Authors sharing copies of their work on an individual basis falls outside the publisher’s copyright restrictions; here, the repository is acting as a facilitator to a process which happens anyway.

The Request a Copy button has been much more successful than we anticipated, particularly because there is no actual ‘button’.  By the end of September 2016 (four months after the introduction of ‘Request a copy’), we had received 1120 requests (approximately 280 requests per month), with two thirds for articles. Apart from a small number of requests for datasets, the remaining third were for theses.

Of the requests for articles during this period, 38% were fulfilled by the author sending a copy via the repository, and 4% were rejected by clicking the ‘Don’t send a copy’ button.

Of the articles requested during this period 45% were yet to be published.  The large number of requests made prior to publication indicates the value of having a policy where articles are submitted to the repository on acceptance rather than publication – there is clearly interest in quickly accessing this research, rather than waiting for publication.

Open Access Week

The Apollo launch was the closing event of Open Access Week at the OSC.  Established by SPARC and partners in the student community in 2008, International Open Access Week is an opportunity to take action in making openness the default for research—to raise the visibility of scholarship, accelerate research, and turn breakthroughs into better lives.  The OSC also released a daily programme of announcements, blog posts and live-streamed events, which are spotlighted on the OA Week webpage, and celebrated this year’s theme of ‘Open in Action’.

Stay in touch with news from the OSC through the monthly newsletter

Published 28 October 2016
Written by Hannah Haines

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How open is Cambridge?

As part of Open Access Week 2016, the Office of Scholarly Communication is publishing a series of blog posts on open access and open research. In this final OAWeek post Dr Arthur Smith analyses how much Cambridge research is openly available.

For us in the Office of Scholarly Communication it’s important that, as much possible, the University’s research is made Open Access. While we can guarantee that research deposited in the University repository Apollo will be made available in one way or another, it’s not clear how other sources of Open Access contribute to this goal. This blog is an attempt to quantify the amount of Cambridge research that is openly available.

In mid-August I used Cottage Labs’ Lantern service in anLantern_Oct2016_Graphic attempt to quantify just how open the University’s research really is. Lantern uses DOIs, PMIDs or PMCIDs to match publications in a variety of sources such as CORE and Europe PMC, to determine the Open Access status of a publication – it will even try to look at a publisher’s website to determine an article’s Open Access status. This process isn’t infallible, and it relies heavily on DOI matching, but it provides a good insight into the possible sources of Open Access material.

To determine the base list of publications against which the analysis could be run,  I queried Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus to obtain a list of publications attributed to Cambridge authors. In 2015, the University published 9069 articles, reviews and conference papers according to Web of Science. Scopus returned a slightly lower figure of 7983 publications. Combining these two publication lists, and filtering to only include records with a DOI, produced one master list of 9714 unique publications (that’s ~26 publications/day!).

In 2015 the Open Access team processed 2746 HEFCE eligible submissions, so naïvely speaking, the University achieved a 28.3% HEFCE compliance rate. That’s not bad, especially because the HEFCE policy had not yet come into force, but what about other Open Access sources? We know that other universities in the UK are also depositing papers in their repositories, and some researchers make their work ‘gold’ Open Access without going through the Open Access team, so the total amount of Open Access content must be higher.

In addition to the Lantern analysis, I also exported all available DOIs from Apollo and matched these to the DOIs obtained from WoS/Scopus. WoS also classifies some publications as being Open Access, and I included these figures too. If a publication was found in at least one potentially Open Access source I classified it as Open Access. Here are the results:

Figure 1. Of 9714 DOIs analysed by Lantern, 51.8% appear in at least one open access source.

It is pleasing that our naïve estimate of 28.3% HEFCE compliance closely matches the number of records found in Apollo (26.2%). The discrepancy is likely due to a number of factors, including publications received by the Open Access Team that were actually published in 2014 or 2016, but submitted in 2015, and Apollo records that don’t have a publisher DOI to match against. However, the most important point to note is the overall open access figure – in 2015 more than 50% of the University’s scholarly publications with a DOI were available in at least one “open access” source.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the analysis. Using everyone’s favourite metric, the journal impact factor (JIF), the average JIF of articles in Apollo was 5.74 compared to 4.33 for articles that were not OA. Other repositories and Europe PMC achieved even higher average JIFs. On average, Open Access publications by Cambridge authors have a higher JIF (6.04) than articles that are not OA, which suggests that researchers are making value judgements on what to make Open Access based on journal reputation. If a paper appears in a low(er) impact journal, it’s less likely to be made Open Access. Anecdotally this is something we have experienced at Cambridge.

Figure 2. Average 2015 JIF of papers classified according to their open access status.

The WoS and Scopus exports contain citation information at the article level, so we can also look at direct citations received by these publications (up to 16 August 2016)  rather than relying on the JIF. I found that Open Access articles, on average, received 1.5 to 2 more citations than articles that are not Open Access. However, is this because authors are making their higher impact articles Open Access (which one might expect to receive more citations anyway) and are not bothering with the rest? Or this is effect due entirely to the greater accessibility offered by Open Access publication? Could the differences arise because of different researcher behaviour across different disciplines?

My feeling is that we have reached a turning point – the increased citation rates of Open Access material is not caused by the article being Open Access as these articles would have naturally received more citations anyway. Instead of looking at formal literature citations, the benefits of Open Access need to be measured outside of academia in areas that would not contribute to an articles citations.

Figure 3. Average citations received by papers according to their open access source.

Breaking it down by the source of Open Access reveals that articles that appear in other repositories receive significantly more citations than any other source. This potentially reveals that collaborative papers between researchers at different institutions are likely to have greater impact than papers conducted solely at one institution (Cambridge), however, a more thorough analysis that looks at author affiliations would be needed to confirm this.

If we focus on the WoS citation distribution the difference in average citations becomes clearer. Of 8348 WoS articles, not only are there fewer Open Access articles with no citations (14% vs 17%), but Open Access articles also receive more citations in general.

Figure 4. Citation distribution of papers found in WoS depending on their open access status.

What can we take away from this analysis? Firstly, Lantern is a valuable tool for discovering other sources of Open Access content. It identified over a thousand articles by Cambridge researchers in other institutional repositories that we did not know existed. When it comes time for the next REF, these other repositories may prove a vital lifeline in determining whether a paper is HEFCE compliant.

Secondly, more than 50% of the University’s 2015 research publications are potentially Open Access. Hopefully a similar analysis of 2016’s papers will show that even more of the University’s research is Open Access this year. And finally, although Open Access articles receive more citations than articles that are not Open Access, it is no longer clear whether this is caused by the article being Open Access, disciplinary differences, or if authors are more likely to make their best work Open Access.

Published 28 October 2016
Written by Dr Arthur Smith

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Are academic librarians getting the training they need?

As part of Open Access Week 2016, the Office of Scholarly Communication is publishing a series of blog posts on open access and open research. In this post Claire Sewell looks at the training of library staff in areas relating to scholarly communication.

The problem

Few people would deny that the world of the academic library is changing. Users are becoming more and more sophisticated in their information gathering techniques and the role of the academic librarian needs to adapt accordingly or risk being left behind. Librarians are changing from the traditional gatekeeper role to one which helps their research community to disseminate the outputs of their work.

This shift offers academic library staff new opportunities to move into research support roles. An increasing number of libraries are establishing scholarly communication departments and advertising for associated roles such as Repository Managers and Data Specialists.  It’s also becoming common to see more traditional academic library roles advertised asking for at least a working knowledge of areas such as Open Access and Research Data Management.

This is an issue that we have been considering in the Office of Scholarly Communication for a while. My role as Research Skills Coordinator involves up-skilling Cambridge library staff in these areas so I’m more aware than most that it is a full time job. But what happens to those who don’t have this type of opportunity through their work? How do they find out about these areas which will be so relevant to their future careers?

For many new professionals studying is their main chance to get a solid grounding in the information world but with the profession undergoing such rapid change is the education received via these degrees suitable for working in 21st century academic libraries? This is a question that has been raised many times in the profession in recent years so it’s time to dig a bit deeper.


Our hypothesis is simple: there is a systematic lack of education on scholarly communication issues available to those entering the library profession. This is creating a time bomb skills gap in the academic library profession and unless action is taken we may well end up with a workforce not suited to work in the 21st century research library.

In order to test this hypothesis we have designed a survey aimed at those currently working in scholarly communication and associated areas. We hope that asking questions about the educational background of these workers we can work to determine the suitability of the library and information science qualification for these types of role into the future and how problems might be best addressed.

After a process of testing and reworking, our survey was launched to the scholarly communication community on October 11th 2016. In less than 24 hours there were over 300 responses, clearly indicating that the subject had touched a nerve for people working in the sector. (And thank you to those who have taken the time to respond).

Preliminary findings

We were pleased to see that even without prompting from the survey, respondents were picking up on many of the issues we wanted to address. For example, the original focus of the survey was the library and information science qualification and its impact on those working in scholarly communication.

When we piloted the survey with members of our own team we realised how diverse their backgrounds were and so widened the survey to target those who didn’t hold an LIS qualification but worked in this area. This has already given us valuable information about the impact that different educational backgrounds have on scholarly communication departments and has gained positive feedback from survey respondents.

Many of the respondents talk of developing the skills they use daily ‘on the job’. Whilst library and information professionals are heavily involved in lifelong learning and it’s natural for skills to develop as new areas emerge, the formal education new professionals receive also needs to keep pace. If even recent graduates have to develop the majority of skills needed for these roles whilst they work this paints a worrying picture of the education they are undertaking.

The survey responses have also raised the issue of which skills employers are really looking for in library course graduates and how these are provided. Respondents highlighted a range of skills that they needed in their roles – far more than were included in the original survey questions. This opens up discussions about the vastly differing nature of jobs within scholarly communication and how best to develop the skill set needed.

A final issue highlighted in the responses received so far is that a significant number of people working in scholarly communication roles come from outside the library sector. Of course this has benefits as they bring with them very valuable skills but importing knowledge in this way may also be contributing to a widening skills gap for information professionals that needs to be addressed.

Next steps

The first task at the end of the collection period (you have until 5pm BST Monday 31 October) will be to analyse the results and share them with the wider scholarly communication community. There are plans for a blog post, journal article and conference presentations. We will also be sharing the anonymised data via the Cambridge repository.

Following that our next steps depend largely on the responses we receive from the survey. We have begun the process of reaching out to other groups who may be interested in similar issues around professional education to see if we can work together to address some of the problems. None of this will happen overnight but we hope that by taking these initial steps we can work to create academic libraries geared towards serving the researchers of the 21st century.

One thing that the survey has done already is raise a lot of interesting questions which could form the basis of further research. It shows that there is scope to keep exploring this topic and help to make sure that library and information science graduates are well equipped to work in the 21st century academic library.

Published 27 October 2016
Written by Claire Sewell
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