I am the program

Oct 19 2010 Published by under Open Access, Praxis, Tactics

I'm a little chagrined that I have zero activities planned for our university campus this week for Open Access. I know - this is the time! Act now! The enthusiasm seems larger this year than I remember from previous OA week/day events. I'm missing the boat!

So after I got over it I realized: I am the Program.

This week I'll be giving two talks - one was on Monday afternoon to our University Graduate Council on a new software product, SciVal Spotlight, that tracks research performance and helps predict research strengths and emphases. It is Open Access. No, it's a subscription database, and one that is pretty expensive. But it's unique, it builds on librarian expertise supporting the research mission, and should strengthen our relationship with other campus units. There's a short demo if it here if you want to see more. Note that I didn't include any detailed local data in the talk but Elsevier has several whitepapers available that discuss aspects of the software, which are Open Access.

I'll also be giving a guest lecture this Thursday to Jean-Claude Bradley's Chemical Information Retrieval class at Drevel University over the internet. I'll be giving an overview of web 0.0/1.0/2.0/3.0 applications and scholarly communications issues in chemistry. Since it's Open Access week I'll cover this along with publishing, copyright, identity and library issues. This lecture was fun to prepare and thanks to Jean-Claude for asking me to offer my perspective on this.

I was also planning to talk to my reference colleagues this week about reference management tools, specifically comparing established licensed products like Refworks and EndNote with newer, freely available versions like Zotero and Mendeley. This talk is being pushed back to early next month. While this may seem like a odd topic for Open Access week, I've believed for some time these tools are going to become increasingly important channels for scholarly communications and information sharing. I also believe that researchers will need to use multiple reference management tools over the course of their career, and become facile in converting files and moving between products as their research and personal networks expand and change.   

While it's great to promote Open Access, there are a bunch of other issues tied up with it: copyright, author rights and archives and funding mandates for researchers to deposit results. There are many ways to reach faculty, staff, and administrators and make them aware of the deeper issues lurking underneath the concept of Open Access and how the library can help them.

As a program planner the most difficult part of my job in scholarly communications is creating programming that faculty in all areas (humanities, social science and science) can relate to. Invariably a program emphasis that excites scientists will be inappropriate or of little interest to humanities and some social science faculty. So programming can be effective but also limiting in some ways.

So talk to faculty about how they are publishing their research, especially if there is new journal being formed or moved from another campus, a new research initiative that needs to know more about library collections, a student or faculty member that needs more information about publishers and editors for their work.  Tell the administration about new tools to better identify campus research strengths, and mandates from funding agencies that affect research activity and support, and how the libraries can support these efforts. I can't guarantee that all of these conversations will be successful, or that everyone who hears what you have to say will be excited about it. You may have to build supporters one faculty member, one program one person at a time. What may work on a large research campus may not be effective for a small college or specialized technical school.  The important thing is to start a conversation.

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