Re: Learning from the successful OA IRs

From: Paula Callan, QUT Eprint Archive Co-ordinator <p.callan_at_QUT.EDU.AU>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2006 13:31:56 +1000

Hi Everyone

At 01:20 AM 20/01/2006, Stevan Harnad wrote:
      Paula Callan of Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
      has summarised some extremely useful data on the actual
      efforts and
      costs that were involved in setting the QUT OA self-archiving
      onto it's now successful and unstoppable course. (I hope
      Paula will post
      it to this Forum.)

This is the information that Stevan was referring to.  The summary below
was my off-list reply to a query for:
 I. A description of the strategy used to populate the IR
II. The approximate cost of this strategy
III. The success of the strategy in terms of increased content
QUT Strategies:
QUT's repository ( ) was launched in January
2003 and we used a range of strategies to promote the service and to
populate the repository.  The most important strategy was the
endorsement, at the highest level, of an Eprint Repository Policy:

However, getting a policy endorsed by the University Academic Board did
not immediately translate into having the whole community aware of the
policy and actually acting on it .  Hence we also used various other
strategies including:
 * Formal launch event with formal invitations to all Department Heads
    and Directors of Research.
 * Press releases in the University newspaper
 * Publication of glossy brochures and posters
 * Feature Advertisement on the Library web page.  See: hit 'refresh' until the QUT ePrints ad
 * Emailing all Heads of School to request invitation to School staff
    meetings to talk about the repository and answer any
 * Regular eprint depositing workshops (hands on)
 * Identifying and contacting individual researchers with prolific
    publication output.
All these strategies were successful to a degree.  However, we found that
in order to get people to ACT on their good intentions to deposit, we
needed to simplify the deposit process and address their concerns about
possible copyright/publication agreement infringements.

Initially, our deposit guide inferred that depositors should:

a) Determine if the publisher allowed self-archiving by referring to the
publication agreement they had signed or by checking the SHERPA list of
publisher policies. (If it appeared that this may not be the case, we
suggested that they should contact the publisher to request permission.)
b) Convert their file to PDF format before uploading it.

Unfortunately, in the first 12 months the deposit rate was quite modest
using this raft of strategies.  I asked some academic colleagues for some
honest feedback and they said that they had found the publisher policy
aspect just too daunting (or too time consuming). 

Also, many of academics from low-tech fields had no idea how to convert a
Word file to PDF so couldn't complete the deposit process. 

Current strategies/processes
 * The researchers can now upload their files in any format, including
    MS Word.  The files are converted to PDF during the metadata review
 * We ask them to deposit the final draft version of EVERY new research
    publication (eg journal articles and conference papers).
 * They do not need to check the publisher's policy on self-archiving.
Now the process is much easier and there are no worries about copyright. 

When describing the deposit process, I now say.
      " you just complete a simple web form and upload your final draft
      file.  It's very simple and takes less than 5 minutes per paper."

The Library does all the policy-checking and enables as much open access
as is consistent with the eprint-type and publisher-policy.  This has not
actually added much extra workload to the metadata review process as we
always checked the publisher's policy anyway.   (If you are interested in
how we handle this see details at the end of this message).

The results of this change have been quite dramatic.  We now get over 100
papers deposited, by the authors, each month.  We currently have 2200
papers in the archive (approx 90% are open access) and we estimate that
we are capturing over 40% of our current annual research publication
output - and this figure is increasing.

Some Departments have opted to use research assistants or even
admininstrative staff to deposit their research publications. 
Unfortunately, this can cause just as many problems as it solves. Most
publishers only allow us to use the author's own version of the paper,
not the definitive published version.  The depositor must contact the
author and ask for a digital copy of the final draft. The author then has
to forward this file which takes almost as many keystrokes as depositing
the paper.  It is generally only the author who will be able to spot any
errors in the record and they are best-placed to select appropriate

The key seems to be "if you make it easy enough, the authors will do it

However, on the positive side of the equation, you also need to find ways
to provide incentives.  We added a download-statistics feature to our
site and the researchers just love it. 

I also use strategies like sending congratulatory emails to researchers
when they achieve a major download milestone and copy it to their whole
Department.  This has often been followed up by the Head of Department
publicly congratulating or acknowledging the achievement. I tend to get
plenty of phone calls afterwards from non-participating researchers
asking how they can get their work in the repository. 

I know of at least one person who included his download statistics in his
(successful) application for promotion.

Once they start to experience the benefits they become very attached to
the process. 
When one of our academics recently moved to another university, he went
to their library to ask why they didn't have an eprint archive.  That
university is now in the process of establishing one.

If the researchers find it useful they will deposit their papers and they
will tell their colleagues how great it is.  Recommendations from
colleagues are much more effective than Library promotional materials. 

I always suggest that they embed the URL for their "personal eprint page"
into their email signature as this will quietly promote their
publications with every email they send.

It is important to look at THEIR work-flows and ensure that the service
provides the rewards  THEY value. 

Messages about the altruism of open access or the rising journal prices
seem to make little impact.  What really gets their attention though is a
demonstration Google search in which I enter 3 words and a QUT eprint
floats to the top of the return set of 2.5million hits.

The QUT eprint project got off the ground with a University "Initiative
grant" that funded a full-time project officer position for 6 months and
about A$3,000 for promotional materials and events. 

For 2 years after that, the project officer position was continued
half-time; funded jointly by the Library and the Division of Information
& Learning Support.  It would have been impossible to fund the full costs
of this project from the Library's normal operating budget.

Now that our eprint repository has reached a critical mass of
participating authors, it seems to have developed a momentum of its own. 
The others will hear about it from their colleagues and will not want to
feel they are missing out on something good.  It will still need ongoing
promotion and support but our faculty librarians will now keep the ball
rolling.  Two library assistants have will now undertake most of the
metadata reviewing/editing.  This will incorporated with their other

Policy-checking - access-control
We check the name of the publisher against the SHERPA list and against a
spreadsheet of permissions that we have negotiated. 
 * If the publisher supports self-archiving, we enable full open
 * If there is an embargo period or the SHERPA list indicates that the
    publisher does NOT allow any version to be self-archived, we restrict
    access to "archive staff only".  The author's email address is always
    available via the eprint record and the inference is that you could
    email and ask for a free copy - but we do not state this.
 * We have created a system to remind us to enable access to the
    fulltext of the embargoed items when the time comes.
 * If the publisher's policy is unknown, we check the journal website
    for clues.  We may send a generic permission request email or just
    restrict access if permission looks unlikely. We find that we have
    fewer and fewer of these to do now that over 90% of publishers allow
    the preprint to be self-archived and we have already contacted most
    of the relevant "unknowns".
For books and book chapters, we restrict access to the fulltext file. We
help the author to request permission if they indicate that they would
really like to have the fulltext accessible.

For every published document, we insert a link to the publisher's
web-site (to the doi for the article if possible).



Paula Callan  BA (UQ), GradDipLib&InfoSys (QUT), GradCertEd (Higher)
E-print Archive Project Officer 
Queensland University of Technology,  Brisbane,  Australia
CRICOS No. 00213J
Email:     Ph: (07) 3864 3795

"You see, I don't believe that libraries should be drab places where
people sit in silence, and that's been the main reason for our policy of
employing wild animals as librarians."  Monty Python's Flying Circus
Received on Fri Jan 20 2006 - 11:30:03 GMT

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