Tag Archives: repository

How open is Cambridge? 2017 edition

Welcome to Open Access Week 2017. The Office of Scholarly Communication at Cambridge is celebrating with a series of blog posts, announcements and events. In today’s blog post we revisit the question about the openness of Cambridge. 

For Open Access week last year I looked at how open Cambridge was using the extremely useful Lantern tool, developed by Cottage Labs, and which is the basis of the Wellcome Trust’s compliance tool. If you haven’t used it before, Lantern takes a list of DOIs, PMIDs, or PMCIDs and runs these through a variety of sources to try and determine the Open Access status of the publication. I found that, for publications in 2015, 51.8% of all of Cambridge’s research publications were available in at least one ‘Open Access’ source. How did Cambridge’s 2016 publications fair? Read on to find out.

Using the same method as last year, I first obtained a list of DOIs from Web of Science (n=9416) and Scopus (n=9124) for articles, proceedings papers and reviews published in 2016. Combining and deduplicating these lists returned 10,674 unique DOIs (~29 publications/day). I also refreshed the 2015 publication data using the latest Web of Science and Scopus information, which returned 10,090 unique DOIs. Year-on-year, this represents a 5.8% increase in the total number of publications attributable to Cambridge – more than inflation!

The deduplicated DOI lists for 2015 and 2016 (20,764 DOIs in total) were fed into Lantern and analysed in combination with information from Web of Science and the University’s institutional repository Apollo.

Figure 1. Distribution of papers, published in 2015 and 2016 which have a DOI, according to the Open Access sources they can be found in. 57.5% of 2016’s articles appear in at least one Open Access source, which represents a 4% increase over 2015. One third of all papers published in 2016 are available in Apollo.

Very pleasingly the percentage of publications available in at least one Open Access source increased to 57.5% in 2016 compared to only 53.4% for 2015 publications. Given that the total number of publications also increased during this period this result is doubly exciting. In raw numbers, this means that while 5384 publications were Open Access in 2015, an impressive 6135 publications were made Open Access in 2016.

Most of this increase can be attributed to the much larger share of publications that appear in Apollo, which is now the largest source of Open Access material for the University of Cambridge. An additional 822 publications were deposited in Apollo in 2016 compared to 2015, which is a 30% increase in one year alone.

You can now find more of the University’s research outputs in Apollo than in any other Open Access source. And because we operate an extremely popular Request a Copy service, potentially all of the publications held in Apollo, even those that are restricted and under embargo, are available to anyone in the world. You just need to ask.

Published 23 October 2017
Written by Dr Arthur Smith
Creative Commons License

Milestone -1000 datasets in Cambridge’s repository

Last week, Cambridge celebrated a huge milestone – the deposit of the 1000th dataset to our repository Apollo since the launch of the Research Data Facility in early 2015. This is the culmination of a huge amount of work by the team in the Office of Scholarly Communication, in terms of developing systems, workflows, policies and through an extensive advocacy campaign. The Research Data team have run 118 events over the past couple of years and published 39 blogs.

In the past 12 months alone there have been 26000 downloads of the data in Apollo. In some cases the dataset has been downloaded many times – 170 – and the data has featured in news, blogs and Twitter.

An event was held at Cambridge University Library last week to celebrate this milestone.


Opening remarks

The Director of Library Services, Dr Jess Gardner opened proceedings with a speech where she noted “the Research Data Services and all who sail in her are at the core of our mission in our research library”.

Dr Gardner referred to the library’s long and proud history of collecting and managing research data that “began on vellum, paper, stone and bone”. The research data of luminaries such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin was on paper and, she noted “we have preserved that with great care and share it openly on line through our digital library.”

Turning to the future, Dr Gardner observed: “But our responsibility now is today’s researcher and today’s scientists and people working across all disciplines across our great university. Our preservation stewardship of that research data from the digital humanities across the biomedical is a core part of what we now do.”

“In the 21st century our support and our overriding philosophy is all about supporting open research and opening data as widely as possible,” she noted.  “It is about sharing freely wherever it is appropriate to do so”. [Dr Gardner’s speech is in full at the end of this post.]

Perspectives from a researcher

The second speaker was Zoe Adams, a PhD student at Cambridge who talked about the work she has done with Professor Simon Deakin on the Labour Regulation Index in association with the Centre for Business Research.

Ms Adams noted it was only in retrospect she could “appreciate the benefit of working in a collaborative project and open research generally”. She discussed how helpful it had been as an early career researcher to be “associated with something that was freely available”. She observed that few of her peers had many citations, and the reason she did was because “the dataset is online, people use the data, they cite the data, and cite me”.

Working openly has also improved the way she works, she explained, saying “It has given me a new perspective on what research should be about. …  It gives me a sense that people are relying on this data to be accurate and that does change the way you approach it.”

View from the team

The final speaker was Dr Lauren Cadwallader, Joint Deputy Head of the OSC with responsibility for the Research Data Facility, who discussed the “showcase dataset of the data that we can produce in the OSC” which is  taken from usage of our Request a Copy service.

Dr Cadwallader noted there has been an increase in the requests for theses over time. “This is a really exciting observation because the Board of Graduate studies have agreed that all students should deposit a digital copy of their thesis in our repository,” she said. “So it is really nice evidence that we can show our PhD students that by putting a copy in the repository people can read it and people do want to read theses in our repository.”

One observation was that several of the theses that were requested were written 60 years ago, so the repository is sharing older research as well. The topics of these theses covered algebra, Yorkshire evangelists and one of the oldest requested theses was written in 1927 about the Falkland Islands. “So there is a longevity in research and we have a duty to provide access to that research, ” she said.

Thanks go to…

The dataset itself is one created by the OSC team looking at the usage of our Request a Copy service. The analysis undertaken by Peter Sutton Long and we recently published a blog post about the findings.

The music played at the event was complied by Tony Malone and covers almost 1000 years of music, from Laura Cannell’s reworking of Hildegard of Bingen, to Jane Weaver’s Modern Cosmology. There are acknowledgments to Apollo, and Cambridge too. The soundtrack is available for those interested in listening.

This achievement is entirely due to the incredible work of the team in the Research Data Facility and their ability to engage with colleagues across the institution, the nation and the world. In particular the vision and dedication of Dr Marta Teperek cannot be understated.

In the words of Dr Gardner: “They have made our mission different, they have made our mission better, through the work they have achieved and the commitment they have.”

The event was supported by the Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.



Published 21 September 2017
Written by Dr Danny Kingsley
Creative Commons License

Speech by Dr Jess Gardner

First let us begin with some headline numbers. One thousand datasets. This is hugely significant and a very high level when looking at research repositories around the country. There is every reason to be proud of that achievement and what it means for open research.

There have been 26000 downloads of that data in the past 12 months alone – that is about use and reuse of our research data and is changing the face of how we do research. Some of these datasets have been downloaded 117 times and used in news, blogs and Twitter. The Research Data team have written 39 blogs about research data and have run 118 events, most of these have been with researchers.

While the headline numbers give us a sense of volume, perhaps let’s talk about the underlying rationale and philosophy behind this, which is core.

Cambridge University Library has a 600 year old history we are very proud of. In that time we have had an abiding responsibility to collect, care for and make available for use and reuse, information and research objects that form part of the intrinsic international scholarly record of which Cambridge has been such a strong part. And the ability for those ideas to inspire new ideas. The collection began on vellum, paper, and stone and bone.

And today much of that of course is digital. You can’t see that in the same way you can see the manuscripts and collections. It is sometimes hard to grasp when we are in this grand old dame of a building that I dare you not to love. It is home to the physical papers of such greats as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. Their research data was on paper and we have preserved that with great care and share it openly on line through our digital library. But our responsibility now is today’s researcher and today’s scientists and people working across all disciplines across our great university. Our preservation stewardship of that research data from the digital humanities across the biomedical is a core part of what we now do.

And the people in this room have changed that. They have made our mission different, they have made our mission better through the work they have achieved and the commitment they have.

Philosophically this is very natural extension of what we have done in the Library and the open library and its great research community for which this very building is designed. Some of you may know there is a philosophy behind this building and the famous ‘open library Cambridge’. In the 19th century and 20th century that was mostly about our open stack of books and we have quite a few of them, we are a little weighed down by them.

Our research data weighs less but it is just as significant and in the 21st century our support and our overriding philosophy is all about supporting open research and opening data as widely as possible. It is about sharing freely wherever it is appropriate to do so and there are many reasons why data isn’t open sometimes, and that is fine. What we are looking for is managing so we can make those choices appropriately, just as we have with the archive for many, many years.

So whilst as there is a fantastic achievement to mark tonight with those 1000 datasets it really is significant, we are really celebrating a deeper milestone with our research partners, our data champions, our colleagues in the research office and in the libraries across Cambridge, and that is about the changing role in research support and library research support in the digital age, and I think that is something we should be very proud of in terms of what we have achieved at Cambridge. I certainly am.

I am relatively new here at Cambridge. One of the things that was said to me when I was first appointed to the job was how lucky I was to be working at this University but also with the Office of Scholarly Communication in particular and that has proved to be absolutely true. I like to take this opportunity to note that achievement of 1000 datasets and to state very publicly that the Research Data Services and all who sail in her are at the core of our mission in our research library. But also to thank you and the teams involved for your superb achievements. It really is something to be very proud of and I thank you.


Who is requesting what through Cambridge’s Request a Copy service?

In October last year we reported on the first four months of our Request a Copy service. Now, 15 months in, we have had over 3000 requests and this provides us with a rich source of information to mine about the users of our repository.  The dataset underpinning the findings described here is available in the repository.

What are people requesting?

We have had 3240 requests through the system since its inception in June 2016. Of those the vast majority have been for articles 1878 (58%) and theses 1276 (39%). The remaining requests are for book chapters, conference objects, datasets, images and manuscripts. It should be noted that most datasets are available open access which means there is little need for them to be requested.

Of the 23 requests for book chapters, it is perhaps not surprising that the greatest number  – 9 (39%) came for chapters held in the collections from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. It is however possibly interesting that the second highest number – 7 (30%) came for chapters held in the School of Technology.

The School of Technology is home to the Department of Engineering which is the University’s largest department. To that end it is perhaps not surprising that the greatest number of articles requested were from Engineering with 311 of the 1878 requests (17%) from here. The areas with next most requested number of articles were, in order, the Department for Public Health and Primary Care, the Department of Psychiatry, the Faculty of Law and the Judge Business School.

What’s hot?

Over this period we have seen a proportional increase in the number of requests for theses compared to articles. When the service started the requests for articles were 71% versus 29% for theses. However more recently, theses have overtaken request for articles to a ratio of 54% to 46%.

The most requested thesis, by a considerable amount, over this period was for Professor Stephen Hawking’s thesis with double the number of requests of the following ten most requested theses. The remaining top 10 requested theses are heavily engineering focused, with a nod to history and social research. These theses were:

The top 10 requested articles have a distinctly health and behavioural focus, with the exception of one legal paper authored by Cambridge University’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Education, Professor Graham Virgo.

When are people requesting?

Looking at the day of the week people are requesting items, there is a distinct preference for early in the week. This reflects the observations we have made about the use of our helpdesk and deposits to our service – both of which are heaviest on Tuesdays.

When in the publication cycle are the requests happening?

In our October 2016 blog we noted that of the articles requested in the four months from when the service started in June 2016 to the end of September 2016, 45% were yet to be published, and 55% were published but not yet available to those without a subscription to the journal.  The method we used for working this out involved identifying those articles which had been requested and determining if the publication date was after the request.

Now, 15 months after the service began it is slightly more difficult to establish this number. We can identify items that were deposited on acceptance because we place these items on a very long embargo (until 2100) until we can establish the publication date and set the embargo period. So in theory we could compare the number of articles with this embargo period against those that have a different date.

However articles that would provide a false positive (that appear to have been requested before publication) would be ones which had been published but we had not yet identified this – to give an indication of how big an issue this is for us, as of the end of last week there were 1768 articles in our ‘to be checked’ pile. We would also have articles that would provide a false negative (that appear to have been requested after publication) because they had been published between the request and the time of the report and the embargo had been changed as a result. That said, after some analysis of the requests for articles and conference proceedings, 19% are before publication. This is a slightly fuzzy number but does give an indication. 

How many requests are fulfilled?

The vast majority of the decisions recorded (35% of the total requests for articles, but 92% of the instances where we had a decision) indicate that the requestor shared their article with the requestor. The small number (3%) of  ‘no’ recordings we have indicate the request was actively rejected.

We do not have a decision recorded from the author in 62% of the requests. We suspect that in the majority of these the request simply expires from the author not doing anything. In some cases the author may have been in direct correspondence with the requestor. We note that the email that is sent to authors does look like spam. In our review of this service we need to address this issue.

Next steps

As we explained in October, the process for managing the requests is still manual. As the volume of requests is increasing the time taken is becoming problematic. We estimate it is the equivalent of 1 person day per week. We are scoping the technical requirements for automating these processes. A new requirement at Cambridge for the deposit of digital theses means there will be three different processes because requests for these theses will be sent to the author for their decision. These authors will, in most cases, no longer be affiliated with Cambridge. Requests for digitised theses where we do not have the author’s permission are processed within the Library and requests for articles are sent to the Cambridge authors.

Given the challenges with identifying when in the publication process the request has been made, we need to look at automating the system in a manner that allows us to clearly extract this information. The percentage of requests that occur before publication is a telling number because it indicates the value or otherwise of having a policy of collecting articles at the acceptance point rather than at publication.

Published 12 September 2017
Written by Dr Danny Kingsley
Creative Commons License