Friday 7 October 2011

Open Access, UCL, and Me

In the past couple of years, UCL has really been pushing the open access agenda in academia. Announced in 2009, the open access policy states
That, copyright permissions allowing, a copy of all research outputs should be deposited in the UCL repository in Open Access
and UCL is aggressively pursuing what is often called "Green OA", where research from subscription based journals is made publicly available in an online repository that hosts the final accepted versions of a writer's output.

UCL staff have been asked to manage their publications, and much of UCL's research output is now parked up at UCL Discovery, where full text of publications emanating from UCL academics can be found. There has been a fair amount of press coverage about this, and UCL is often mentioned as the trailblazer in Open Access when it comes up in discussion.

However, the archive is only as good as its holdings, and the holdings are only there if academics dig them out. For the past couple of years I've had it vaguely on the to do list to trawl through my personal archive to locate the last-but-one version of published material, and mount on UCL Discovery. Now is the time to do it, as I have also got to port over and manage all my websites, databases, and research records on systems that have changed in the year I've been away. Its a half-an-hour-a-day-for-three-months kind of tinker.

And I thought - why, wont you join me on this tour? When things go live, I'll post a little thing here about the research, how it came about, what the outcomes were, and link to the full text of the papers themselves. As I go further and further back, it's also going to be a test of my personal archiving strategy...

An example to get the ball rolling? My plenary at Digital Humanities 2010 "Present, Not Voting: Digital Humanities in the Panopticon" was originally posted on this blog, but I was asked to write it up for the conference proceedings, which appeared in Literary and Linguistic Computing, 26 (3). Discovery has a nice summary page which gives the abstract, etc, and the PDF of the full text is available from there.

The plenary got a fair amount of coverage at the time, so I wont talk too much about this one. I hope to post one or two "new" papers a week up here over the next few months, and will tell the story behind each one as I do.


Kevin Ashley said...

Melissa - first may I offer my congratulations and support for what you plan to do. The usefulness of your material will be increased greatly by you taking the time to tell the story behind each one.

However, I feel I must take issue with your statements about the strength of UCL's commitment. A policy which uses "should" is weaker than one which says "shall", and one that says it doesn't apply whenever someone else's policy overrides it is also not a strong policy. Consider in contrast that of Edinburgh's School of Informatics. As a condition of employment, you may not enter into any agreement which results in you or the university losing any rights to non-commercial exploitation of content. The only exception is content where the author or university is paid to produce it. The policy is here:

In summary: 5 stars to you; 3 to UCL. It could do better.

Melissa said...

Thanks Kevin. I agree, actually. I'm already running into issues with UCL in putting certain things online... my reaction is, if you are asking me to be brave, allow me to be brave! I think there are some real kinks in the process that need working out. I'll cover this in more detail on my blog as part of the process...