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SPARC IR: Evolution and Adoption of Online Scholarly Publishing Models

Baltimore, MD SPARC IR morning “Campus Publishing Strategies” sessions focused on making use of, and understanding the evolution of scholarly publishing as a platform for scholarly discourse as well as a process for developing intellectual products. Moderator Richard Fyffe, Grinnell College, reminded the audience that Clifford Lynch, Executive Director, CNI, had cautioned against losing the role of institutions in establishing educational repositories.

Rea Devakos, Coordinator, Scholarly Communication Initiatives, University of Toronto Libraries, talked about work on the Synergies Project which is a national platform for scholarly publishing in Canada focused on humanities. She explained, “Context has been added as a fundamental characteristic of information.” The Synergies consortium consists of five core member institutions led by Université de Montréal and 16 regional partners. [from the web site] “In bringing Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities research to the internet, Synergies will not only bring that research into the mainstream of worldwide research discourse but also it will legitimize online publication in Social Sciences and Humanities.”

The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) will host the Access 2009 Conference, billed as “The premier library technology conference.” UPEI recently released “Islandora” which is an open source Fedora digital repository for a Drupal front-end that provides an easy way to build and manage repository content for use by web sites

Catherine Mitchell, Director, eScholarship Publishing Group, California Digital Library, University of California, opened her remarks by suggesting that we stop talking about repositories. In her view quantification standards such as size and number of downloads do not work because the comparative scale of institutions are so different. There are ten large campuses in the University of California system, for example. In spite of the enormous overall size of UC holdings and usage, she views the lack of visibility of e-scholarship and the associated lack of incentives for participating in open access deposit efforts as impediments to moving forward towards creating robust open access repositories.

Their model is to establish marketing campaigns at each institution facilitated by an outreach and marketing coordinator who in turn creates user groups within each of their institutions in collaboration with e-scholarship liaisons and local site administrators

“Interface design,”Mitchell says, “Is the elephant in the middle of the room.” Their new web site design is very simple. She said, “The homepage is a place where people seldom go and it must be [designed] as a marketing tool.”

How scholarly publishing models translate to small colleges and universities involves looking into the strategic reasons that the library might be involved as a publisher according to Janet Sietman, Digital Commons Project Manager and Teresa Fishel, Library Director, Macalester College. Located in St. Paul, Minnesota with a population of 1,900 students, 57% come from outside the Midwest. Macalester has 164 faculty members and 19 library staff members. The point of convergence with regard to how to provide scholarly publishing efforts on campus was in “Services.”

At Macalester their institutional repository is a showcase for student research and publications, and provides visibility for faculty scholarship. Additionally new opportunities for libraries were assessed as part of the IR planning process. They saw that by applying traditional library cataloging, selecting, managing content skills they could begin to address the need for institutional change. These e-activities added value over time. They also discovered ways to leverage materials through external web services (Google services).

Currently they expect a 400% increase in downloads from DigitalCommons@Macalester next year as interest in born digital journals that are published from their repository grows. Faculty at this small institution see heightened visibility of research materials as an advantage going forward.

SPARC IR luncheon speaker Bob Witeck, CEO Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., Washington, D.C., welcomed fellow “Smarty pants and know-it-alls.” Witeck stated that he had never done delivery of “real knowledge.” Irregardless he views SPARC library and scholarly publishing attendees as fellow marketers.

In collaborative efforts such as scholarly publishing key marketing messages are an integral part of the work everyone needs to do together to succeed. He suggests that finding out who cares about issues such as the reach of shared knowledge in digital formats and why that matters in a world where science has been kept secret are significant. Witeck says, “Right now we may have a perfect storm of opportunity around making publicly-funded science, public, because it’s all about trust and value.”

In the discussion that followed Les Carr pointed out that when you live in an institutional environment it’s all about proving that something is better than another thing. While he agrees that marketing, or being able to tell a good story is useful, he finds that institutions are not so good at using marketing tools such as creative design, media, and coming up with well-crafted marketing messages.

Witeck answered that the best messages might be articulated by people other than scholars, researchers or librarians. “Stop talking to yourselves,” he said. Bright young faculty and champions for new ideas are powerful messengers. Additionally he believes that institutional leaders should be on board with the marketing messages, and be willing to carry messages forward. Enlist third parties, focus on funders and work towards solution-driven business strategies are all part of overcoming institutional barriers to successful deployment of scholarly assets:

1. Articulate what IRs can do for stakeholder communities

2. Establish processes for figuring out what to talk about 3. What are the key points in the message

Stories about compelling content, real substance, shared value and solution-driven components are part of a narrative that work to communicate ideas around participation and adoption of scholarly publishing strategies.