Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Reflections from OR2010: Part 1

Last week Antony and I attended the 5th International Conference on Open Repositories in Madrid. The conference boasted a fully packed, 4 day programme including ‘General’ presentation sessions, User group sessions, working groups and forums. Nearly 500 delegates were in attendance, representing countries from all across the globe.

One of the reasons Antony and I were in attendance was to present a Poster, authored in conjunction with Glen Robson and Ioan Isaac-Richards from the NLW, about the work of the Welsh e-theses harvesting service. A copy of the poster is available from the Aberystwyth University repository CADAIR.

With parallel streams running for the majority of the programme there were too many sessions for one person to attend- let alone comment on- so below I’ve discussed the sessions I found of most interest and relevance to the work of the WRN.

The first couple of interesting sessions related to nationwide open access/ repository support networks: the first located in Germany; the second located in Australia. The OAN (Open Access Network) initiated by the DINI (German Initiative for Network Information) and funded for a two-year term by the German Research Foundation (DFG), has created an over-arching infrastructure between quality certified German IRs to act as a single interface for research promotion and to support other DINI Open- Access projects. DINI certification, a certificate of IR quality, denotes that an IR utilises international standards, such as DRIVER for metadata, has determined and makes its policies regarding use clear and available, and is well-positioned within both its own institution and the greater open access arena.

The OAN harvests data from the DINI certified repositories within Germany, aggregates the data and puts it through a number of value added modules such as data clean-up, FT link finding, OCR, and citation tracking. The aggregated data is then presented within a single search interface, and acts as a single point for data export and further harvesting. It also acts as a single point for the other OA projects, some of which were presented at OR2010, such as OAS (Open-Access Statistik) and OAFR (OA Subject Based Repositories).

The OAN is also responsible for increasing the number of certified repositories and offers support to repository managers in order for their repository to achieve certification. The alignment of WRN repositories, specifically in the area of policies, is an area of focus for the WRN team this autumn so the process of DINI certification will work well as a basis for this process.

Caroline Drury, University of Southern Queensland presented on the ANDS (Australian National Data Service), a service looking to inform and influence national policy on the curation of data. ANDS has created Research Data Australia, a central collection of curated data sets produced by Australian academics. ANDS also offers the following services: Publish my data; Register my data; Identify my data; which are related to this central collection. Also based at Queensland is Tim McCallum, the technical support half of the CAIRSS repository support team (the team resembles that of the WRN team with one technical and one organisational support officer). Piggy-backed on to a CAIRSS repository survey, ANDS has been investigating the data management practices at Australian Universities. This survey found that there was a low-level of repository manager involvement within the University in regards to data management, a trend that ANDS are looking to change with Senior Management intervention, in conjunction with CAIRSS. Data management is a new area of interest for the WRN so we will be watching the progress of ANDS with interest.

The other session of direct relevance and interest in regards to the work of the WRN, and more specifically the poster presented e-theses harvesting service, was from Nikos Houssous, National Documentation Centre (EKT), Greece. Nikos was describing the National Archive of PhD Theses developed at EKT, a single search interface presented within DSpace. Like the NLW in Wales, the EKT have a historic role in the collection of Greek PhD theses, a role they were looking to extend to the digital realm. The EKT are undertaking a digitisation project of the PhDs currently held in print form, as well as encouraging institutions to submit theses electronically. Records are held in a bespoke theses admin system and then pushed to both the DSpace system (via SOAP in ETD-MS (a metadata standard for e-theses devised by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD)) and to the EKT Library Catalogue (via Z39.50 in UNIMARC). The DSpace collection also forms a central harvesting point for DART Europe, a service aggregating PhD theses records for the whole of Europe. I was unaware of NDLTD and ETD-MS before Nikos’ presentation and their relation to DART is of interest to the next stage of the Welsh e-theses harvesting service.

Through other sessions and networking I became aware of two other national aggregation services: NARCIS in the Netherlands and RCAAP in Portugal. Whereas RCAAP is an aggregation of IR content, NARCIS is an aggregation of IR and National information, such as DANS (Data Archiving and Networked Services). There are also plans to incorporate the data from METIS the Dutch national CRIS, which will provide much richer information about researchers and their projects. Anecdotally, the NARCIS presenter reported that theses and dissertations were the most frequently retrieved items through the system, perhaps as NARCIS provided the only central point of discovery for these types of items.

It’s certainly nice to know that the work of the WRN parallels that carried out within other countries and that we have an extended network to call upon when in need of best practice advice.

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