It has been an active few months for the O2OA project. As per our plan, our main activities so far have included:
- Focus groups with university staff (research support and Academic)
- Collation of publisher, funder and data guidelines
- Attendance at OA events
Analysis of the focus group data so far has shown varied understanding of Open Access mandates and processes. More specifically there is confusion over Gold vs. Green routes, which is compounded by limited understanding over how OA is facilitated within institutions. More behaviourally focused analysis has identified a range of barriers and facilitators to OA which will be detailed in the needs assessment report. Data so far suggests there is a considerable gap in academic and research support knowledge of OA, and that this creates problems for informed decision making about routes. In parallel, funders and other’s mandates are sufficiently articulated to support compliance, creating a worrying void between delivery/capabilities and formal expectations. Thus, researchers and support staff need training and support to increase knowledge and awareness – coupled with skills to overcome barriers – to comply with OA more effectively.
A delightful development over the last 3 months has been the links to other pathfinder projects, notably Oxford Brookes ‘Making Sense’ and Northumbria’s ‘Optimising Resources to develop a strategic approach to OA’ projects. Discussions with both projects highlighted several areas of crossover and potential for development. The key link drawn between all three was the challenge of complying with OA in a Modern University setting, and doing so without block funding. We are planning to meet to combine our learning so far during the autumn and generate combined lessons / guidance as a result. Watch this space!!
Even within this short space of time, we have learned a number of lessons. It became clear during the early part of the needs assessment phase that data collection needed to be conducted by staff who understood OA well. Focus groups and interviews have become as much about engaging with our staff about OA as they are about data collection. Thus, our OA specialists have led these groups to maximise the benefit. It has also become clear that staff are keen to know how to comply with OA – for multiple reasons – but that there is an uphill struggle to meet varied drives. Data collection at this early stage has not been without difficulty (especially with reduced staff availability over the summer break) and we have had to extend the needs assessment timescale to accommodate people’s availability. Thus our needs assessment report will be delivered in October rather than September, but we will begin the thinking about the next work package in parallel. On reflection, whilst OA is at the forefront of our (Pathfinder) minds, for many academics is it part of a much larger complex landscape of publishing requirements. In practice, however comprehensive our internal OA systems, unless they are sufficiently communicated and made practical, OA compliance will still be sub-optimal.
Our next steps are to complete the needs assessment with our outstanding interviews and produce our summary report. Beyond this we will then join with the other allied projects and begin working on our workflow planning. Certainly this is already beginning at the institutional level anyway, and we expect to see formal OA policies emerging shortly.