Monday, 17 May 2010

CRIS Event Cafe Society Write Up - Group 3: Stakeholder Engagement

At the JISC/ARMA Repositories and CRIS event 'Learning How to Play Nicely' held at the Rose Bowl, Leeds Met University on Friday 7th May the afternoon was dedicated to a cafe society discussion session. Four topics were explored by delegates and over the course of four blog posts we are disseminating the facilitator reports from each session.

Please use the comment option below to contribute or comment on these discussion topics.

Group 3 - Stakeholder Engagement
Facilitator: William J Nixon, Glasgow University

The afternoon session of the “Repositories and CRIS” was an opportunity to bring Research Office and repository staff together across a range of topics and to draw lessons from other institutions, raise issues and share experiences. The focus of the discussion was “Stakeholder Engagement with the questions: “Who are the main stakeholders and how do we engage them? What do academics think?”. Over the sessions the focus was with researchers, research office and repository staff – but we acknowledged that there were many other stakeholders for our systems. These include funding bodies, University management, JISC, HEFC and RMAS amongst others.

The café approach to these sessions enabled attendees to stay for as long as they wanted, to move on to other sessions, and in some cases to return. Many of the initial attendees stayed across the first two sessions. The sessions had a good mix of research office and repository staff, both attending and contributing.

Key themes
• Key stakeholders – who are they?
• Workflows- what comes first the CRIS or IR?
• Carrots and sticks

Key stakeholders
In each session, there was an opportunity for staff to identify themselves as either research office or repository staff which was a useful starting point.

The initial discussions in each of the sessions, some of which overlapped considered who are the key stakeholders, with a particular focus on academic staff. It became clear very quickly that it was insufficient to talk just about researchers as a homogenous group and there was some discussion around unpacking them, guided not by discipline or research itself but by the nature of their funding and the length of their post, so we identified
• Researchers
• Contract staff
• PhD staff

These roles have created a shifting landscape not only for researchers themselves and their work/funding but for the CRIS/IR staff who support them.
The discussions here were then around how much do these staff know about, or are aware of the CRIS or the repository, in order to set a baseline for engagement. It was felt, certainly for IRs that there was still insufficient awareness of these -“invisible services”.

One approach which some institutions have begun to do is to provide build in sessions on the IR and CRIS as part of new research staff’s training. This opportunity to embed this information into existing courses was felt to be very valuable

At other institutions IR staff have been invited to be involved in Research Staff meetings and conferences.

Other Library and research office staff were recognised as stakeholders and as these CRIS and IR services have matured beyond a “project set-up” it is also necessary to inform and to engage them.

Some institutions have worked to inform and update their subject Librarian staff to act as advocates for the IR and for open access; others though preferred to manage this through the smaller repository team who they felt were better able to answer the range of queries which academic colleagues would ask. These include copyright, versioning issues and funder compliance.

Workflows and scope- what comes first the CRIS or IR?
There was some discussion, particularly around researchers and their publications about what should come first, a record in the CRIS and then as appropriate fed through to an IR, or should a publication just be deposited or entered into the IR. A third option was an additional publications database which was not part of the CRIS or the IR.

In some institutions the CRIS is or will be used to store the publication data while the repository is only used to hold the full text. A key challenge for one institution was the move to a CRIS for managing its publication with the expectation that research staff would manage their own publications. This was in contrast to the mediated service which the Library had provided [but was felt to be unsustainable in the longer term]

Questions here ranged around: who would manage the import of this data, its management (“clean-up”) and its acceptance/review. We also considered acceptable turnaround times for managing any review of the data before it became live – and how that could that be used to support engagement with staff.

Different workflows and staff resources were also covered. These ranged from self-deposit/submission to a wholly mediated service just done by the Library for the IR. This seemed to be less of an issue for data for the CRIS.

The need to engage with departmental administrative staff as a stakeholder group was identified here as one solution for this issue. These staff have the local knowledge and many are in departments dealing with publications, the CRIS and web pages.

Working with them for the IR (and CRIS) is a good way forward. Some institutions have taken this forward and provide training and support for these staff for the IR in a similar fashion to that provided for the CRIS.

Repository staff in particular also had concerns about the focus on bibliographic data for their CRIS or their IR if was a mix of full text and bibliographic data, if the importance of the need for full text was lost.

The comment was also made that the “repository is a set of services” not just an entity in itself – and one which can take on a range of roles including digital preservation, research assessment and open access.

Different institutions approached this differently and it was felt that there was no right answer or one size fits all, different institutions and the needs of different stakeholders will dictate the workflows but the need to engage staff at all levels is crucial. It was felt that this was most effective when the CRIS and IR could demonstrate valued added services [“carrots”].

Carrots and sticks
There was a considerable amount of discussions around the “carrots and sticks” for depositing material into the repository, or dealing with it in a CRIS. Did these help or hinder the engagement with stakeholders? Some of this flowed from the concerns over the sustainability of the mediated approach to deposit, the range of content which may be accepted to the IR and its public availability [a need for a dark archive?].

Carrots (and value adds):
• Increased visibility in Google
• Re-use of content in the IR (or CRIS) in personal websites etc
• The inclusion of citation data from Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Knowledge
• Business intelligence opportunities
• Inherent value of discovery/availability
• Adding value to the research agenda

• Publications polices
• Funder mandates
• Professional development and review documentation

Final comments
This was a dynamic and rolling discussion throughout the afternoon with good mix of repository and research staff across a wide range of stakeholder and engagement issues. This short report provides a flavour of the key themes which emerged and were explored across the 4 30 minute sessions. In addition to those already detailed other issues raised included questions about research data be held, when and by who.

It was clear the research office and repository staff are engaging with a wide range of stakeholders in a variety of different ways, with varying degrees of success. Increased co-operation, co-ordination and a shared understanding of the work each group is doing.

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