Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts on request for information by OSTP

The American whitehouse Office for Scientific and Technology Policy has issued a request for information to discuss options for improving public access to results of federally funded research. Interestingly this is not on whether publically funded research should be publically available, but rather on how this can be achieved.

They ask a large variety of questions which I will not even begin to address one by one. It did start me thinking what my own personal humble opinion could be on this matter. Regarding a policy on open access I would have a number of suggestions: publications should either be directly available in open access or with a delay of no more than six months. A sustantial part of the funding (10%) should be dependent on this public availability. If it is not available for another six months then the funding should also be withheld for these six months. A fee should be reserved for paying for a publication fee if the journal requires this. I do not feel it is necessary for the policy to demand either the green (repository) or the gold (OA journal) road. This is something the market will also adapt to.

It would be valuable to have an overview of all the research results. The funding council could provide an overview of research, not the actual publications but persistent links to the articles offered by either a journal or a repository.

In the request for information they clearly don't ask for policy on data. This would be an interesting next step....

Friday, December 04, 2009

LORE a tool for creating enhanced publications?

A tool (firefox pugin) called LORE will allow you to register relationships between resources and thus constructing a compound object. This could be used to create Enhanced Publications. There is a great blip video at http://www.blip.tv/file/2132990/

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Autumn School a success

The Autumn School on Tools for researchers finished yesterday. This proved to be very interesting. Though the topic was rather broad this also allowed for the exchange of insights across disciplines and at different levels of tooling. Common issues are: responsibility for the tool (is it for the IT department, the research group itself or the library), how to discover and manage researcher demands (usually come up with just in time requests), sustainability (how to ensure maintenance, development and archiving) and open source vs closed source software.
Typical for the Netherlands is the challenge faced by the universities of Applied Sciences (HBOs). They have only recently been given the responsibility to undertake research. This raises questions on: which research should we be doing, what is our position relative to the research universities and which tools do we need.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Animation on the Elements by Tom Lehrer

This does bring back memories. Having a chemist as a dad means you learn all sorts of strange quirks of science. Excellent animation by the way :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tools for Researchers Autumn School

Just a quick plug from my work ;-)
Sorry, this is in Dutch, but the actual activity will also be in Dutch...

Van 2 tot 4 november 2009 organiseert SURFacademy in samenwerking met de Universiteit Leiden de Autumn School ‘Tools voor Onderzoekers’.

Er zijn veel (generieke) tools die handig kunnen zijn bij zowel het verrichten van onderzoek, als het communiceren over en publiceren van de resultaten. Deze Autumn School biedt de gelegenheid om kennis te maken en ervaring op te doen met deze tools. De Autumn School richt zich op onderzoekers en ondersteuners voor onderzoekers, werkzaam aan universiteiten en hogescholen.

De school start met een inleiding op het onderzoeksproces en geeft een overzicht van het brede scala aan tools dat van belang kan zijn. Vervolgens worden hier vier thema’s uitgelicht. De tools zullen in de vorm van presentaties en workshops worden uitgediept.

· In het thema e-science/grid computing wordt uitleg gegeven wat deze technologie inhoudt en de mogelijkheden die deze biedt voor onderzoek. Aan de hand van voorbeelden wordt getoond hoe deze techniek in projecten is toegepast.

· ICT biedt ook mogelijkheden om onderzoeksdata gemakkelijker op te slaan en te delen. In dit thema worden voorbeelden gegeven van faciliteiten voor het online opslaan en delen van onderzoeksdata.

· Onderzoekers werken meestal samen in nationale en internationale teams. Deze samenwerking kan met collaboratories worden ondersteund. Verschillende samenwerkingsomgevingen worden getoond die zijn gebruikt in het onderzoek en ervaringen worden gedeeld.

· Als laatste thema zullen een aantal Web2.0 tools worden gepresenteerd die kunnen worden ingezet op verschillende plaatsen in het onderzoeksproces.

Naast de tools in deze thema’s wordt u bij deze Autumn School ook gevraagd een eigen tool mee te nemen die u kunt delen met de andere deelnemers. Dit kan een tool zijn die aansluit bij de eerdere voorbeelden, maar het kan ook een hele andere tool zijn.

Voor meer informatie, waaronder het volledige programma en de mogelijk om je op te geven, zie: http://www.surffoundation.nl/nl/bijeenkomsten/Pages/AutumnSchool.aspx

Het SURFacademy programma wordt gezamenlijk uitgevoerd door SURFnet en SURFfoundation, in samenwerking met de Nederlandse universiteiten en hogescholen. De bijeenkomsten van de SURFacademy staan open voor iedereen die werkzaam is binnen het Nederlandse hoger onderwijs.

Datum: maandag 2 november 2009 t/m woensdag 4 november 2009

Kosten: € 150

Locatie: Leiden

Open Access week: activities in the Netherlands

19-23 October is the international Open Access week. There will be a lot of activities in the Netherlands to promote Open Access. You can find a (hopefully quite comprehensive) list here.

Video on Open Access

A great little video on Open Access, created by Sparc...

Open Access 101, from SPARC from Karen Rustad on Vimeo.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Can I reuse research data? The answer according to Dutch law

A new report has just been published on the legal situation regarding the reuse of research data, according to Dutch law. This report was commissioned by SURF and has been written by CIER. The report (in Dutch) can be found here.

Of course this is quite complicated legal stuff, so to keep it simple there are a few standard questions which have been answered. This straightforward explanation can be found here.
(Don't forget to read the disclaimer though)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Great holiday in Slovenia

I have just returned from a great holiday in Slovenia. I was very impressed by the beautiful landscapes: mountains, waterfalls, lakes and hills. Ljubljana is a small but very attractive and friendly capital. The mediterranean was hot but beautiful. Piran was very pretty, yet rather busy. But most of all I was impressed by the original Karst: rills, gulleys, Dolines, huge sinkholes, natural bridges, a veeery large Polje and of course the caves. I was especially impressed by the huge canyon in the Skocjan cave.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A golden road with a green lining?

As more and more organisations are realising the benefits of open access a discussion is still taking place on the road to take to Open Access. I do wonder where we will go? Perhaps there will not be two separate roads, Green and Gold. Perhaps the future is Gold OA, if enough publishers will adopt this model. This would certainly make it a lot easier for researchers, rather than having to also add their publication to a repository. A number of publishers are past experimenting on switching their business model to earning their income from article processing costs. It would be helpful if the research funders mandate Open Access to all their funded research. This is now taking place, as the NIH, Welcome trust started off and now also EUROHORC and ESF have taken position.

However (Institutional) Repositories will probably continue to exist. Not all materials are published in journals (take grey literature, data and learning materials for instance). However: nobody wants to refer to the same publication in different places. The journal is where the articles are and where traffic and publicity goes to.

Institutional Repositories can still perform a valuable function for archiving reasons and can form a place to collect all the research materials together. The questions remains who will provide aggregations which collect usage statistics and citation scores and will provide persistent identifiers.

Comparison of Costs and Benefits of Open Access for UK, Netherlands and Denmark

The Houghton studies on the costs and benefits of Open Access from the UK (commissioned by JISC), the Netherlands (commissioned by SURF) and Denmark (commissoned by DEFF) were compared in a study commissioned by Knowledge Exchange. Noticeably in all three countries benefits can be achieved by switching to an open access model. The benefits are different in the three countries though, these are mainly due to difference in scale between the three countries and how the education is organised in the three countries.

On the 22 June 2009 this combined report was discussed in a seminar with various members of the European commission and other European bodies present. At this seminar not only the report was presented, but responses from various stakeholders and implications for funders were also discussed. Two speakers from the European commission gave a presentation on the activities they are undertaking in the field of Open Access.

For the details please see : http://www.knowledge-exchange.info/Default.aspx?ID=316
The photographs of the seminar can be seen at: http://www.knowledge-exchange.info/Default.aspx?ID=321

Monday, August 10, 2009

Video on the archiving of enhanced publications

The video below was created as a part of the European DRIVER II project. In this animation created by Eugene Durr for the royal library and Delft University you can see how the archiving of enhanced publications is organised. The main challenge is to archive the text, the data and the relationship between these two quite different files.
You might recognise the voice over ;-)
See: http://www.surfmedia.nl/app/video/D5CHvHq2d27nAnHDhOrbxaOo/play?format_id=GyhlyRi8C5t5dzDRwit19kDf&mode=object

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Houghton study on OA benefits for the Netherlands is now out

This afternoon we went to the Dutch ministry of education, science and culture to present the report written by John Houghton on the Costs and Benefits of Research Communication in the Netherlands. You can read the press statement and the report here.

It was interesting to hear the responses by the various stakeholders in the process. The were quite positive on the findings in the report. The big questions remains: how to start the reshuffle in funding that is required to make this work. It is quite interesting to see this in the perspective of the UK and soon Denmark and Germany. The UK findings certainly pointed in the same direction.

The report was attracted quite a lot of media attention.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Data sharing statement in journal

The BMJ is asking authors to end their article with a Data sharing statement.
See: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/338/mar25_1/b1252
It does not oblige the author to actually share their data, but it is a first step in thinking about the underlying data and also to make the underlying data slightly more transparent. I wonder when further journals will follow.
(Off the SOAN blog.)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Video on Digital Preservation

An absolutely brilliant video on digital preservation. How to make a slightly dull topic quite exciting :-) This was created by Digital Preservation Europe.
"To learn more about DPE or to access their suite of preservation resources and tools, please go to http://www.digitalpreservationeurope.org."

Friday, April 17, 2009

information behaviour of the researcher of the future

I just was pointed at a report commisioned by JISC and the British library on the information behaviour of the Google Generation in the future. This can be found at: http://www.bl.uk/news/pdf/googlegen.pdf. It has been around for a while (since January 2008) but still seems quite applicable.
One trend they discern is 'power browsing': quickly scanning materials across the broad collection of information on offer. Information literacy is and remains extremely important.
Interestingly they fear that there will be less of a role for the library. I am not sure that I share this worry. I feel that it is up to the library to change and offer a new physical space which matches the demand of the student and researcher of the future. Their walls no longer hold a monopoly so they must give the user a good reason to come and visit. And as the netgen is also a social generation, certainly offer them room for social interaction.

I do find the report is slightly more applicable to students than to researchers. Some points (e.g. power browsing) they acknowledge are not unique to the Google Generation but actually have been adopted by researchers of all generations.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

How to cite tweets and keep them available...

Twitter is definitely taking off as a popular medium despite the brevity and 'media-poorness' of the messages. If you are going to train your students in correctly quoting the internet, how about tweets? In the article http://gunther-eysenbach.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-cite-twitter-how-to-cite-tweets.html the author links to some nice articles.

He also raises a far more challenging question. How to keep twitter messages retrievable. The author describes the 'Webcite' tool which will archive citations on the web for you.

To try it out I have just created a Webcitation of a tweet I sent out a few days ago. It is a little work, especially adding the metadata, but at least you are assured that the webpage will be retrievable. I do wonder how long the webcite service will be available.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is there one Generation Y?

I just skimmed through the ACRL 2009 strategic thinking guide. This is interesting input for my present work, although some points are related to the situation in America. I did find three interesting observations regarding students:
" • Increasingly, multiple generations make up the student enrollment at most colleges (either virtually or physically). This trend is likely to persist as the unemployed return to retool and reskill."
This combines nicely with the ideas regarding Life Long Learning on this side of the Atlantic...

"• We are all “becoming” Generation Y (also known as the Net or Millennial generation). New research shows that increased access to sophisticated technological social tools and increased connectivity via smart phones, laptops, and other handheld devices is changing the behavior of several generations; other generations are taking on the characteristics of Generation Y. Frequently cited generational differences are beginning to blur."
I like the 'we' in this quote. Does this mean that this is not a generation as in an age group, but rather a portion of the population? This would connect nicely with the findings that there are large differences within the young age group regarding technology uptake and attitude. This also matches the findings that older generations (e.g. the old X gen) are taking on social networking, gaming, twittering etc. more and more seriously...

"• The gadget-savvy Millennial students do not fully comprehend the complex networked
information world: “students may have confidence because they are unaware of the complexities involved [in using the Internet effectively] or just because they have grown up with technology. This potential gap between actual and perceived skills and literacy is important to understand and factor into strategies for teaching and learning at the institution.”
OK, I interpret this as follows, but correct me if I'm wrong: they think they are smart, but they do need some training in Information Literacy. This is a point which does keep on popping up.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Open and Shut?: Open Access: Whom would you back?

A very interesting blogposting and article by Richard Poynder. For all those out there trying to get an overview of the current state of affairs regarding Open Access: Green vs. Gold Road, Article Processing Charges vs. Institution Fee replacing the 'Big Deals'. It takes the discussion one step further than the first argument for Open Access: Accessibility. OA can also be used as a means to change the dependancy of Universities on publishers: Affordability. In the subscription model the library pays the institutional fees and the researchers are kept away from the pricing. At present a researcher simply chooses a journal by topic and of course citation index. Journal pricing does not play a role in selecting a journal to publish in. Simply changing the model to Open Access with an instution fee will consolidate this situation.

Open and Shut?: Open Access: Whom would you back?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

HBO Kennisbank Widget

Just a quick snippet out of my new job: The HBO (Universities of Applied Sciences) in the Netherlands are now also adopting repositories. Interestingly they were later than the research universities who each built their own repository. A number of HBOs have chosen to make use of a central repository service offered by SURF. This is called the HBO kennisbank. It is a big success, especially in collecting and offering Student theses.
You can access the HBO knowledge bank at: http://www.hbokennisbank.nl but you can also add the widget below to your blog/portal/website.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Wordle off my blog

Wordle: My blog 3rd of feb 2009

Just tried out Wordle, this really is a quick and easy way to generate a tagcloud, really straightforward and very nice results!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New job at Surf

A blog entry for all the people out there that hadn't heard yet, or that don't follow my tweets. Starting the first of February I will be leaving Utrecht University and starting a new job at SURF foundation. Half of my time I will be a community manager for the SURFshare projects, ensuring that the information and experiences learned in the projects are exchanged amongst the projects and brought to all those interested, mainly in the field of higher education in the Netherlands.
If you haven't heard about SURFshare: it is an initiative to improve the access to scientific knowledge making use of IT facilities. Examples are projects in the field of Open Access publishing, Virtual spaces for researchers to collaborate in or projects that aim to improve the accessibility of research results from professional universities in the Netherlands.
The other half of my job I will be the community manager for the Knowledge Exchange. This is a collaboration between JISC (UK), DEFF (Denmark), DFG (Germany) and SURF (Netherlands) aims at making 'a layer of scholarly and scientific content openly available on the Internet'. One of my tasks will be to try and channel and exchange experiences learned in the various working groups that are working on one of many topics.

Utrecht is getting a VLTE=ELDO

A just read the brand new strategic plan for the IT facilities here at Utrecht University. After all these years we are actually getting a Virtual Learning and Teaching Environment (in Dutch an ELDO: Electronische Leer- en Doceeromgeving). I had trouble suppressing a small chuckle. Haven't we always had a VLTE? Haven't we been using WebCT and Blackboard as just that? The teacher-centreredness of both systems has always meant they have been used mainly as a teaching tool. Student learning usually takes place elsewhere.
Does this mean we are making a strategic choice of putting the teacher in the centre of the learning process? No, I don't think this is necessarily the case, in the general strategic plan of Utrecht University this is not mentioned.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Website Lecturenet is now online

Not only is the Lecturenet service now up and running, the website for the service is now also online. It can be found at: www.lecturenet.nl.
(There also will be a university url available soon...)
The website is only available in Dutch and isn't quite finished but aims to provide links to pedagogical advice on the use of Weblectures and also links to various reports on implementing Weblectures.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Feasibility study: automatically archiving and sharing learning objects from Blackboard

Last year I set up a pilot study with the University Library here at Utrecht University. Courses in Blackboard are normally only accessible to the teacher of the course and the students. After a few years they get cleared up. Any archives are not accessible to anybody other than the system admin. This means teachers cannot see each other's materials and learn from each other.
In a previous project (the KIP project) we discoverd teachers were not interested in adding metadata to improve the 'findability' of archived materials. So this time we decided on a different approach:
- We created archives of a number of courses using the Blackboard interface (this can be done in batch)
- These archives are ZIP files consisting of XML files describing the course, files, links and XML files descrbing these files and links.
- The library wrote a script which analysed these XML files, stored certain files and retrieved the associated metadata from the XML.
- The files and links were saved in DSpace in a separate repository.
- A search interface was written so that teachers could search in the repository.

Once this was built I performed a test with six teachers at Social Sciences with various attitudes to computers and the sharing of knowledge. The results can be found in the following pdf document (in Dutch I am afraid).

Who should have access to your teaching materials
A number of interesting findings arose. In general teachers were quite pleased to have this facility. They were not out to copy other teacher's materials but would like to be able to see what other teachers are teaching in their courses. There were not all that enthousiastic about sharing their materials with the whole world. They would like to know what others are doing with their materials.
On the technical side: It is technically possible. The Blackboard IMS packages contain a lot of information, not enough to fill all Dublin core fields, but it certainly is a good start.
This facility is not yet in production (other projects took priority) but it could be taken into production without too much work. All the difficult work has been done.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How many student theses public?

In the past year I have been responsible for a organising a system to archive all the students' master theses here at Social Sciences, Utrecht University. The university library programmed a very practical web interface which acts as a front end to the rather more complex interface of the repository itself. I must say I am very pleased with the system they came up with.
The challenge was to think up a procedure which would comply with all the checks the management required (had to be a real student, truly graduated, and indeed his/her real thesis). At the same time the teaching staff did not want to have spend any time on the process at all. This resulted in the workflow described here. (in Dutch I am afraid)
From June onwards the system was taken into production and a large number (587) theses were submitted. These were not all of the theses. We missed a number of the theses of students which had been handed in before the 1st of June. I also expect that the late adoption meant that a lot of teachers did not submit the theses they had received earlier on in the year. We still managed to collect 77% of all the theses. For a first attempt I am not certainly not dissatisfied, the coverage should go up in the coming years though.
I was very interested how many students would choose to make their thesis public and how many would choose to keep theirs private. 69.5% chose to make their thesis public. The main reason not to make it publically available was that they wished to submit the thesis as an article in a scientific journal and in many cases publishers will not accept it if it has been made public on an earlier date. Some students also indicated that they wish to continue in the field of research and do not want to others to take over their ideas... In fact even some abstracts were not made public for this very reason.
The report on the implementation can be found here (in Dutch too I am afraid).