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October 25, 2013 / playforth

Open Access Week 2013

This time last year we launched our institutional repository to an internal ‘audience’ of academics and research administrators, holding demos, leafleting and doling out cake all week. Since then we’ve created 6 new collections and uploaded over 350 new documents. In the second half of the year we clocked up over 18,500 downloads, thanks to Google indexing and a variety of sources (from Wikipedia to university reading lists) linking to items in the repository. Also this year we have linked repository deposit to our content management system, so items can be easily converted into entries on our main website.

BUT self-deposit rates are still low. Confusion over publisher policies and permitted versions is a barrier. Academics don’t have time. Their administrators don’t have time. Does it apply to them? What is it for? Why can’t they just list their publications on the website like before? So for Open Access Week 2013 we had another big push, with online communications, new posters and leaflets, prizes for deposit, and a big external splash led by central communications.

stickers   OAprizes

I was really pleased with our promotional strategy and materials, and the response from external users (see this Storify), but the proof of the advocacy is in the repository… and by Wednesday afternoon I was getting worried that I’d have to eat all the prize chocolates myself, because the deposit rate was even lower than in a normal week.

What could we learn from this? Maybe it was a timing issue – incentives are pointless unless people actually have content to contribute during the timeframe. Maybe the barriers still outweighed the allure of chocolate. Maybe I hadn’t done my job properly and despite all the training and documentation, people just didn’t know how to deposit publications.

By the end of the week, although submissions were still conspicuously lacking, I had received several emails and phone calls from people who intended to add something but needed a bit more guidance on the what and how, and the level of awareness generally seemed to have risen – so although some chocolates remain unclaimed at time of writing, I’m not calling it a complete failure (I might just extend the deadline…)

Also in Open Access Week I went to London for a conference organised by LSE and Sage, on Open Access Futures in the Humanities and Social Sciences, of which a little more over at the Impact and Learning blog…

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