Forget the format, focus on the functions: research evaluation, re-evaluated

Wow, this is the fastest write up ever! Many thanks, Charlie. Let’s keep working on this!! #sydconf15


Rules of Engagement for Sessions 22-24 July 2015

This blog post is to propose a few “rules of engagement” for our Thinkfest effort this week.  This is a start and your feedback and additions are most welcome.  We probably don’t need very many rules so instead here are a few affirmations to support our aims to create and collaborate over the next days and beyond.  See what you think.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT for The Sydney Conference 2015

  • We expect to be active, engage and participate throughout the conference.
  • We can think, discuss, share and visualise ideas according to our inclinations and talents.
  • We are not rehashing history but will remain forward looking in order to co-create new ways to address our challenges.
  • We will respect the diversity of our groups and support the interchange of ideas between each of us (egalitarianism).
  • Avoid “ground hog day” whenever possible as there is so much new content to explore.  Instead, build and expand and extend the thoughts and comments of others.
  • Members of each thread will decide who receives attribution on their published outputs at the end of the week.

Please feel free to add and amend.  Let the thinking begin!

JoAnne Sparks

Data Collection Development and Library Practice

An assertion, a few questions, a provocation (a few more questions), and some background information.

  • Assertion: Libraries and librarians have a role in scholarly data collection development, management and discovery.
  • Question: What does a scholarly data collection development and management role constitute for a university library? How might selection and management skills for scholarly information be translated into the same for scholarly data?  Why would this (scholarly data collection development and management) be an activity that university libraries want to take on? What contribution can be made by university libraries to the RDS Access to Data for Culture & Community Research project?   Where does the national research infrastructure (Trove & Libraries Australia) provided by the National Library of Australia fit into all of this?
  • Provocation: Will university libraries be a place where the long tail of data generated through public and private funding is collected as part of the scholarly record?  Where will data curation as a valued skill set and effort contributing to scholarly knowledge be fostered? Do humanities, arts and social science researchers look to the university library as the repository for all of their research outputs, including data?  Let’s discuss this… the pivotal role that university libraries will play to support data intensive research, at the conference.

Silent SilosBackground information:  The Research Data Storage programme is funded by the National Research Infrastructure for Australia. “The Cultures and Communities capability is required to make both old and new data discoverable and reusable and to extract greater value from existing collections that are as varied as statistical data, manuscripts, documents, artefacts and audio-visual recordings. These materials reside in a diverse array of private and public repositories, many of which are unconnected. This national, collaborative research infrastructure will provide researchers with the resources and access to large data sets that a single institution would be unable to establish and maintain.  The humanities, arts and social sciences research disciplines, which underpin cultures and communities, hold datasets which form important parts of our cultural heritage. There are many such datasets, but they are typically small in size. They are also typically heterogeneous, but capable of being linked or connected.” “Outcomes and Impact

  • Nationwide services supporting coherent modes of access to the fundamental cultural and data types held in the long tail of research;
  • A growing number of communities operating meta collections of such data holdings;
  • Concrete steps toward the development of a specific, Culture and Communities focused, meta collection of those data types;
  • Routine simplification and reduction in overhead costs offered to related Culture and Communities collections through their adoption of these commonly provided services;
  • Improved data services of value to many Australian researchers.

Sustainability—ongoing development and maintenance

The services, once made operational, are expected to be of interest to such a number of researchers that the participating operators expect to maintain and continue the services for the foreseeable future. They will form primary data support services needed as a consequence of holding research data. Their continued operation is expected to fall within the normal course of the business of any general research data service provider.” Image credit: Silent Silos | Indigo Skies Photography | CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 Hashtag: #D4CCR

Linked Open Data and Scholarly Information

An assertion, a question, an example, food for thought, and a provocation.

  • Assertion: using linked open data methods enables discovery of scholarly resources across silos.
  • Question: what does this new method of constructing a semantic layer across scholarly resources mean for library practice?
  • Example: Stanford, Harvard, and Cornell university libraries are working on the Linked Data For Libraries project.  The goal: “to create a Scholarly Resource Semantic Information Store (SRSIS) model that works both within individual institutions and through a coordinated, extensible network of Linked Open Data to capture the intellectual value that librarians and other domain experts and scholars add to information resources when they describe, annotate, organize, select, and use those resources, together with the social value evident from patterns of usage.”
  • Food for thought: The Research Object (c/- Michael Gonzalez) “The useful outcomes of research are not just traditional publications. Instead they are everything else that goes into, and supports an investigation.” Developing a Workflow for Research Objects into DataBank by Jamie Wittenburg.  “traditional models of scientific scholarly communication often limit researchers to publishing only aspects that can be captured in text and static images.  These models are inadequate for supporting reproducability, a core tenet of the scientifice process.”
  • Provocation: The 2015 LODLAM Summit was recently held in Sydney and there’s incredible work being done by (mostly) libraries (scholarly and cultural) around the world to support resource discovery using linked open data methods.  Is this a topic we can dig into at the conference… as a part of the discussion on scholarly information and communication?  Is there an appetite to take on this semantic and technical challenge in university libraries here in Australia?  What might it mean to be able to break out of the clunky limits of federated search and web content management systems?  Can libraries be agile in the design of search in support of discovery of scholarly resources?

Image credit:  Electric star | aivas14 | CC-BY-SA 2.0

PKP Launches New Open Access Publishing Cooperative Study

Interesting work on finding a “sustainable open access model for peer-reviewed scholarly publishing”.

“The Public Knowledge Project is pleased to announce the launch of the Open Access Publishing Cooperative Study. This two-year initiative, in collaboration with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and other important stakeholders, will explore the feasibility of establishing publishing cooperatives that bring together libraries, journals, scholarly societies, presses, and others as a financially sustainable open access model for peer-reviewed scholarly publishing. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is providing a grant of $460,000 to support the project.

“Now that we have widespread acceptance of open access to research and scholarship,” states John Willinsky, Khosla Family Professor at Stanford’s GSE, Professor (Part-time) in Publishing@SFU, and PKP Director, “we need to carefully assess ways of transitioning from subscription-based to open access publishing. While Article Processing Charges work for well-funded research, we obviously need a model that can serve all fields of research and the cooperative has the advantage of building on the shared goals, existing collaboration, and current funding of libraries, journals, and societies.”

The $460,000 MacArthur Foundation grant will be devoted to (a) gathering financial data from journals and libraries to establish current investment levels in professional quality publishing; (b) consulting with stakeholders – research libraries, scholarly journals, scholarly societies, presses, funding agencies, and others – about perceived gains and risks of a co-op approach to open access funding, governance, and structure; and (c) develop and assess open source co-op publishing infrastructures for running pilot studies to evaluate impact on scholarly and public quality of this approach to open access publishing.

If the results of the first three stages show sufficient promise, the Open Access Publishing Cooperative Study plans to hold a culminating “constitutional assembly” for stakeholders in scholarly publishing. The assembly will apply what has been learned in the study to forge the principles and structures by which such cooperatives might constitute a means of bringing about sustainable and global open access to research and scholarship.”

For more information and interview requests:

Kevin Stranack, Project Manager
Public Knowledge Project

For more information about the study, visit the project website:

Citizen Science: changing the shape of scholarly communication

The rise of citizen science is one of the trends that are changing scholarly communication today. Fuelled by new digital technologies and an online world, given impetus by the open government movement, everyday Joe’s and Josephine’s across the globe are participating in large-scale science projects in the safety of their own backyard. They are observing nature, collecting samples, taking photographs and videos, measuring things, analyzing and computing data and then contributing these to a myriad of specific science project websites. It’s research, Jim, but not as we know it.

For decades, the general public has had a stake in research: as taxpayers whose governments fund research; as potential beneficiaries of research outcomes; to see research benefit society as a whole. But direct involvement of the public in research projects has generally been limited to volunteer participants in research studies – and that has changed.Through citizen science amateur or nonprofessional scientists are involved in conducting scientific research and there has been an explosion of the number and variety of these projects over recent years. One of the best known is probably GalaxyZoo but you could check out this list of the top 13 CS projects for 2013 or look at one of my favourite’s, Redmap. Even NASA is in on the act. According to NASA, “Citizen Scientists have helped to answer serious scientific questions, provide vital data to the astronomical community, and have discovered thousands of objects including nebulas, supernovas, and gamma ray bursts”. NASA also involves the (mostly technical section of the) general public in hackathons such as the 2015 International Space Apps Challenge that involved over 13, 000 participants in over 130 locations.

Involving the general public in research through helping collect and analyse data and generate apps using the data is a smart way of furthering research and engaging the public (who in turn are likely to be happier funding research projects). The benefits are outlined nicely in many resources such as this briefing paper from the Digital Curation Centre and this edition of the ABC Science Show. Of course there are risks in any citizen science project, such as data reliability, but there are also ways to mitigate the risks (e.g. with scientists checking and verifying the data) and perhaps a level of acceptable risk in light of overwhelming benefits.

The sum of all this is that if everyday Joe’s and Jospehine’s are more involved in research, then they are more likely to be an audience for the outcomes of research – and a very important one if we are to ensure the continuing benefits of citizen science. But how well is research communicated to the general public? Consider some of the challenges:

  • Researchers are focused on conducting research and engaging with other researchers – is it really their job to communicate research outcomes to the general public?
  • Will the public understand scholarly content in its current form (eg. an academic journal article) or is a layperson’s summary required?
  • How frustrated will the public be when they discover so much of the research they have funded, or been involved in, remains locked behind scholarly paywalls?
  • Should governments, institutions and researchers be looking to really harness the power of social media to engage the public in publicly funded research?
  • Can a model like The Conversation serve to communicate research to the general public or are there others models and mediums?

Expanding on the last point, consider the rise of The Conversation. TC was initiated because academics were dissatisfied with the way the media published their stories. The idea behind TC was to build a new media model that pairs up editors with a researcher and lets them collaborate on a story together. Lisa Watts, whom I heard talk at the Digital Science Showcase in Melbourne earlier this year, noted that TC has more than 2.5 million readers with branches in the USA, UK, Australia and Africa. With readability indexed at 16 years old, an open access model with creative commons licensing, perhaps this is the perfect medium to communicate research with the general public. Indeed, the audience for TC is primarily non-academic (80%) encompassing policy makers, government employees, and teachers.

Scholarly communication and citizen science was a hot topic at this year’s Force2015 Research Communications and eScholarship Conference at the University of Oxford. Let’s make it one at The Sydney Conference as well. I’ll leave you with a parting thought: can citizen science be applied to research in the arts and humanities? My guess is that it can, and most likely is, so let’s talk about that too.

Bring your ideas to #Thead5 Dive in and out of communications (multi dimensional)

Good Bye Google+ (And Google Ripples?)

Screenshot 2015-06-12 14.29.07

With the demise of Google+, or perhaps more accurately, the deconstruction of Google+, and the advent of Google Photos and Google Streams . I have been left wondering what will happen to Google Ripples? Will Ripples be part of Streams? Will it be lost forever?

Although, like most of the world it appears, I am not a huge user the Google+ social network, I thought that Google Ripples was pretty cool.  In a nutshell, Google+ Ripples allowed Google+ users to see who re-shares a post and in turn who those people have then shared the post with. It allows you to see the post spread over time and all presented with a visual interesting, easy to use interface. Perhaps the best thing about Ripples was that you could put in any URL and see “Ripples” for the post. What a great way to for authors to track who is re-posting their content, determine who is influencing in a particular field, etc. And it was so easy to use…..

So what are the (preferably free) tools are you using or have noticed others making use of for that Ripples effect in a Ripples-free world? Please share!

#Thead5 Dive in and out of communications (multi dimensional)