March project update

Over the past few months the opeNWorks project team enjoyed a really useful meeting, hosted by Liverpool John Moores University.

Having analysed the project case studies and ideas generated at the project workshop the team has developed a greater understanding of the basic support needs specific to particular types of institutions.

There is a modest level of research activity and research income at the majority of universities in the North West region, a consequence of which is that there is a high incidence of limited Open Access support in many institutions.

Throughout this period it has become increasingly clear that the regional community of practice our project is seeking to create may not meet the support needs of all institutions. However, it is clear that the outputs from other Pathfinder projects will supplement the resources created within opeNWorks, eg, Edge Hill University has already made use of the CIAO resource to assess institutional readiness for OA developed by the created by the Oxford Brookes-led project.

Having considered the range of issues in supporting OA and funder compliance, the project partners recognise the complementary nature of the initiatives Jisc is supporting on a national level, eg, Jisc Monitor and Publications Router, and the work of the Pathfinder projects, which are producing reusable outputs, eg, advocacy materials, workflows, document templates, of great value to institutions with limited OA support.

The first toolkit the project will produce will support funder compliance with a focus on the HEFCE OA policy, the challenge that all project partners have in common, and is designed based on feedback from the December workshop and questions from practitioner staff with little experience of supporting OA from partner institutions. It appears likely that different approaches to supporting the HEFCE policy will develop within the partner institutions over the coming 12 months, with most already clear that depositing papers will be the responsibility of academics.

Advocacy has been continually highlighted as a key concern for institutions and it was noted that universities need resources to support their communications sooner rather than later to tie in with institutional plans for raising awareness of the HEFCE policy. The toolkit will be shared with the wider NW research support network for feedback and testing at the end of May.

Part of the workshop session was given over to thinking about what form a regional community of good OA practice might take. It is clear that individuals value face-to-face contact with colleagues in similar roles and a network of colleagues to seek advice from. However a regional repository of resources and news digests was also suggested as a key requirement.

The project team had identified NoWAL, the North West Academic Libraries consortium, as a logical hub for a regional community of practice. The group recently held a research support exchange of experience event at which the idea of a network was proposed. Although NoWAL has a formal committee, administrative support and a website most initiatives are member-led and develop organically. The project team remain keen to explore options for defining and developing an OA community of good practice with the new network’s Chair.

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