Engaging researchers with Open Access

Dissemination starts with acceptance — this is one of the key ideas from the Workshop Uncovering researcher behaviours and engagement with Open Access hosted by Oxford Brookes University this week. When engaging with researchers an important point to remind them of is that the dissemination of their research doesn’t start at publication, but it starts way back with the acceptance for publication.

This workshop offered a refreshing insight into the familiarity of experiences found in universities all over the country and gave us a chance to work towards coming up with ideas that could provide solutions to the problem of engagement.

The day started with a warm welcome from the Vice Chancellor of Brookes, Alistair Fitt who threw three challenges at us to think about:

  1. There is currently no solution in Open Access to deal with monographs
  2. Where is the evidence for the claim that Open Access leads to more citations?
  3. The Green route has triumphed over Gold, and RCUK should change their policy with this in mind.

Excellent challenges to us all and caused conversation throughout the day.

Sarah Fahmy from JISC offered us an overview of the Pathfinder projects that we would hear about throughout the day and it’s worth checking out more about the projects and in particular the excellent work going on at Portsmouth, Nottingham Trent and Brookes and Coventry and Northampton who would present to us throughout the day on their particular Pathfinder Projects.

Challenge your thinking

Talks from both Stuart Hunt and Julie Bayley impressed upon us the need to challenge the way we think about the problem, to shift perspective and come at the issue we’re trying to solve from all angles. In particular Stuart impressed on us the need to define what our issues are, what the issues faced by our researchers are, and how we can bridge the gap between these two. Stuart reminded us that seeing researchers as naughty children, not doing what we want them to, means we've already failed.

Julie presented to us a fascinating way of looking at a problem, using techniques of intervention mapping to influence behavioural change. Working in groups we tackled a particular OA problem and made progress towards looking at it in a more positive light to come up with new ways of making change.

During the day I encountered many interesting ideas from other attendees that gave me a lot to think about. Some key ones that stuck out for me are:

  • If, as librarians, we want to work in collaboration with researchers and get them on board the OA bus then we need to stop acting like a service. If they expect us to do everything for them they’ll never see us a colloborative partner.
  • Getting support from outside the library (higher up in the university) can be vital — academics respond to credibility.
  • Don’t just aim at academics, it’s important to get support staff on board so they also have OA knowledge.
  • People are looking at us to summarise the processes, create FAQs and step back from the complexity.
  • Make your processes and documentation easy. It’s not patronising to simplify it just removes the barrier so there isn’t a mountain to climb but a door to open instead.
  • Empowering authors so that they feel there is a benefit and take control of the process is important for engagement.
  • Target the early career researchers and postgraduate researchers — with them on board they can challenge their supervisors to engage more.

Further reading

There was more packed into the day then I could take in, so here as some links to further reading and projects you should check out.

Thanks to Oxford Brookes for hosting the day, to all the speakers for sharing your projects and thoughts, and to all my fellow attendees for speaking about your experiences and sharing your thoughts.