Open Access: How will we know if we’ve been successful?

To end Library Research Services week, I thought I might pose the question: ‘How will we know when – or if –  open access has been a success?’Image result for open access

For those who don’t know, open access is a publication process which enables your research to be openly and freely available to anyone, anywhere – as long as they have an internet connection.

Open access notoriously disrupts the traditional publishing process, whereby researchers sign over their papers to publishers who then put the work behind a paywall. Over recent years funding bodies, higher education institutions, researchers, and those working in the scholarly communications sector have encourage, endorsed, and even mandated open access so that it’s now, very much, a permanent fixture within the publishing sphere.

But how do we know whether the move to open access has been a success? Undoubtedly more articles than ever are being openly published. Increasingly researchers are considering it as a viable, or indeed necessary, option for publishing their research. Because the Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust, Research England (formally HEFCE), and other external funders mandate open access for certain outputs which they’ve funded, institutions are now having to monitor compliance levels. Here at Bath in the Spring my team assessed our own compliance levels and I’m happy to report that they were above average.

So yes, through compliance monitoring we can assess whether open access has been a success, at least in respect to whether researchers are choosing it as a way to publish.

The open access movement, however, is more than just about compliance levels. Open access is about the unencumbered sharing of knowledge, the development of collaborations that may have never been formed if the papers that the researchers build upon were inaccessible, and about equitable access no matter your affiliation or location. It’s also about about re-use and licencing options (see, for example, UK-Scholarly Communications Licence and the Creative Commons licencing scheme). But how do we measure whether these benefits have been realised?


Analysis of download statistics is one way, though this approach reveals only part of the picture. In order to gauge whether open access has been of benefit to researchers – and society more broadly – we also need to start seeking out examples of where open access has directly resulted in the development of further research; where articles have been taken up by industry and other sectors to develop their own areas of specialisms; or where, for example, schools and further education institutions have made use of freely available papers in their teaching.

By identifying such examples, we can start to draw together a more comprehensive answer to the question of whether open access has been a success. If you have made use of open access articles to further your research or have examples of where your own papers have been used by others, please get in touch as we’d love to start showcasing how Bath authors are benefitting from open access!

But compliance monitoring and measuring the impact of open access is just the tip of the iceberg.

For many the hope is that the open access scholarly publishing model becomes business-as-usual. And for others, success will only be achieved once the sharing of data and peer review also become fully open.

Image result for open access

For more information about open access at Bath please contact the Open Access Team (, ext. 5114).


Posted in doctoral students, impact, international, journals, open access, postgraduates, publications, REF, research, Research Portal | Leave a comment

Data management plans in collaborative research: you might own your data – but are you in control?

Data management plans are increasingly submitted as part of grant applications, and the University of Bath Research Data Policy requires that one be written for all new projects. Whilst this might seem, at times, like a bureaucratic headache, the reality is this: data arising from projects are Foreground Intellectual Property (IP). The data management plan therefore offers a mechanism by which this IP can be controlled, protected and exploited to maximise impact.

However – in the context of collaborative projects involving multiple institutions leading on different work packages, data ownership and the right to decide how they are used both during and after the project are not always synonymous.

Data Controller

Whilst data protection legislation applies only to personal data, it is perhaps wise, in the context of research data as IP, to take note of the definitions and powers that the Information Commissioner’s Office provide for the role of Data Controllers. Data (IP) ownership does not immediately make you the data controller in a collaborative project. If you use data from human participants in your research, understanding the differences between the rights and responsibilities of data owners (assigned in collaboration contracts under the IP clauses) and data controllers is vital in order to understand who can and cannot make decisions about how data are shared, either within the project team or with third parties in the future. The bottom line is that the data controller may have more power and influence in these decisions than the data owner, and this is where the importance of a detailed data management plan cannot be over-emphasised.

road-closed-sign-2079685_1280Whilst all projects benefit from data management plans, they are particularly important documents for collaborative projects and should be agreed to by all parties. They should be reviewed at least annually throughout the course of a project.

The process of discussing and writing a data management plan will ensure that collaborators are clear about their roles and responsibilities. It also provides an opportunity to find out whether collaborators agree on matters like which data archive will be used and whether the data will be shared with a third party. By identifying such philosophical, practical and legal issues early on, the hope is that these types of roadblocks are less likely to arise in the latter stages of the project and stall completion.

For advice and support on writing data management plans, or on any aspect of research data management, see our webpages or email

Data controller definition and responsibilities: Information Commissioner’s Office: Data controllers and data processors: what the difference is and what the governance implications are. 2014

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Publish & flourish: presenting the strengths of your publishing track record

“Publish or perish” is a widely quoted academic maxim. For better or worse, researchers’ academic contribution is often judged on the basis of their publishing track record.

When applying for research funding, jobs and/or promotion, you can’t assume that those assessing your application will be specialists in your research field. They won’t necessarily recognise at a glance the ground-breaking ideas in your article titles or the eminence of the journals you’ve published in. So how can you communicate your strengths?

This is a situation where judicious use of publication and citation data has a lot to offer. Quantitative indicators can never substitute for expert judgement[1], but used responsibly they can reinforce and evidence the expert narrative you provide about your track record.

RA Graph

You could annotative your publication list to indicate, for example, where individual papers are highly cited compared to other papers from the same field and year of publication. This is particularly helpful for relatively recent papers and fields where citation rates are generally low: 10 citations might not look like much compared to the 14,000+ citations Google Scholar report for the 2012 Higgs Boson discovery paper, but if those 10 citations put your paper among the top 1% most cited papers worldwide for your field and the year your paper was published, that’s worth highlighting.

You can also benchmark your (or your team’s) overall publishing record against relevant comparators to articulate and visualise strengths. For example this graph in this blog post shows the anonymous ‘Researcher A’ outperforming UK and European baselines for her field on three indicators: (a-axis) percentage of papers published highly cited for their field and year of publication; (y-axis) percentage of papers published in a high impact journal; and (bubble size) percentage of papers co-authored with an industry partner.

Do contact me for an introduction to the tools available for presenting your publishing track record and guidance on using them. In brief, my advice is: choose indicators relevant to the case you’re making; present them in context of publishing and citation patterns for your field; and always say where your data comes from. You can also refer to:

Katie Evans, Research Analytics Librarian

June 2018

[1] The first principle of the University of Bath’s Principles of Research Assessment & Management is that research assessment and management are to be centre of expert judgement.

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Surfacing our publications online

This is an update on the transition of our institutional repository from Opus ( ) to the Research Portal ( ).

Opus (Eprints) has been our open access repository since 2008, making the research articles, conference papers, theses, etc., by Bath authors available online.  Since 2012 Opus has been integrated with Pure*.  Researchers have added pUniversity of Bath Research Portalublication metadata and full text to Pure which has then been surfaced online via the Opus website.

The roll-out of the Research Portal, which includes profiles for academic authors and fingerprinting functionality (mining keywords from full text) has been completed.  The Portal also showcases our research projects, equipment and datasets.  We are now in the process of applying redirects on Opus URLs for publications to their equivalent Research Portal URL.  We expect this to be complete in the next few weeks.  After this, Opus will be decommissioned and the Research Portal will be serving our research publications to the world.

We’ve been busy redirecting harvesting sites and search engines like Google Scholar to the Research Portal.  Academics have been informed about the Research Portal, and are being encouraged to update their profiles.  Pure and the Research Portal fulfil our Open Access obligations for the REF and funders.

What does this mean for your links?

We have a commitment to preserve the full text of our research publications via our institutional repository.  All of the documents and metadata records in Opus are available from the Portal, however if you’ve been using Opus for publication lists, you will need to update your links to the equivalent Portal lists as there are no redirects set up for these.  There are RSS feeds available from browse and search results on the Portal to help.  A frequent related request we have is how to set the Portal to automatically tweet new outputs.  There are some nifty tools available for this – we’ve used IfThisThenthat to good effect but would love to hear other ideas.

For individual publication URLs, a redirect will be in place to take readers to the same output page on the Portal.  If you’re able to edit the Opus URL on your site and update this to the Portal URL, please do.

If you have any questions, please get in touch via openaccess at


*Pure is available for Bath users from:  You will need your Bath username and passsword.

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New Management resource

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The university of Bath Library has purchased Sage Business Cases database for all students and academics.

The link to SAGE can be found on the online Management Subject page and all the cases can be found on the Library Catalogue.

What does this database offer you?
• Unlimited access to 2,500 + real world global business cases
• Browsing by subject, publisher or academic level

SAGE Business Cases is designed to engage students in applying core concepts to practice through the use of examples from the global business environment.

Please contact us with any feedback you have on the database. Your comments will provide valuable information for the Library to use in evaluating the resource.

Contact School of Management Librarian: Helen Rhodes

blogVisit our Unicorns on Level 5 and take one away with you.

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From scrapbooks to death masks: Using archives to teach research

Knowing how to use archives is an important part of research planning and design in the Humanities and Social Sciences, but for the uninitiated getting started can be a little daunting. We’re just coming to the end of a two-year project, sponsored by a faculty teaching development fund grant, aimed at introducing undergraduate students to working with archival material.


The project has been delivered in two parts. In collaboration with Dr Nina Parish and Dr Brad Millington, teaching sessions on using primary sources have been added to second year research methodology units in the departments of PoLIS and Health. Each of the two-hour sessions comprised a lecture followed by a practical ‘hands on’ exercise. Students learned a bit about archival theory, and were encouraged to developed their critical thinking and confidence when handling archival materials.

Alongside the teaching sessions, we’ve developed an online resource to showcase the Library’s archives and research collections and demonstrate the diversity of learning they support and inspire. Archives put researchers directly in touch with their subject in a way that doesn’t happen with secondary sources, offering opportunities to explore and generate new ideas. Building a narrative around a single item from an archival collection, interpreting it as the product of particular set of historical circumstances and assessing its evidential value can be a good way to begin making discoveries.


We invited University Bath students, staff and visiting researchers to choose an item from one of our collections and place it in our digital cabinet of curiosities. The cabinet is a virtual window onto our physical collections and highlights some of our contributors’ research interests. So far it contains scrapbooks, letters from Japan, a shorthand diary, photos of Bristol buildings, guides to gardens, an Olympic track suit top, self-defence instruction manuals, student newspapers and a deathmask. Take a look inside at:

We’re always looking for things to add to the cabinet, so please get in touch if you’d like to contribute ( or 01225 383464).

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New look for the library catalogue

On Monday 2nd July the library catalogue is being updated to have a more modern user interface. This has a responsive design that makes it easier to use on mobile phones and tablets.


Here are some of the other enhancements being introduced with the new user interface:

  • One click from a search result to the online resource.
  • Click on the title in the search results to see all the information and actions on one full record page.
  • Easier to filter out types of records from the results. Click on the “Exclude This” icon to the right of the filter:
  • Keep your filters between searches. For example if you’re only interested in online resources, click “Full text online” and then click on the padlock:
  • Additional search results are appended to the page (“infinite load”.)
  • Send a search result to a Library List in Leganto.
  • Secure connections (HTTPS) to enhance privacy.

You can try out the new look library catalogue now

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