O2OA: Reflections on the process and playdates so far

Well doesn’t time fly! It seems only moments ago we were reporting on the end of the first phase, and now the second is in full swing!

After the challenges and intensiveness of the needs assessment, it’s fair to say stage 2 has felt much calmer so far (naïve, possibly, but a wonderful sense of serenity nonetheless). Joyously it’s also afforded us a little more space to link with colleagues in other Pathfinders. So what have we been up to?

Since the last major update (September 2014), we’ve completed the needs assessment. The final report is available here and includes background, analysis and recommendations for supporting OA. The report concluded (amongst other things) that approaches must include:

  • Clear, unambiguous and well communicated institutional strategies
  • Up to date information on journals, costs and embargo periods
  • Training, guidance, workflows and procedures
  • Data protection safeguards and consent for data release
  • Clarifications of green vs. gold
  • Transparent and consistent allocation of APC fees (where available)
  • Streamlining of processes around depositing, copyright checks and embargo compliance

The needs assessment outcomes form the basis for our subsequent ‘planning processes and workflows’ stage (present – September 2015).   Undoubtedly OA activity is a mix of technical/procedural workflows and individual behaviour; our entire project is underpinned by behaviour change and academic engagement strategies. Much of the needs assessment flagged attitudes, knowledge and motivations which can prevent people complying, even when processes are in place. Therefore for stage 2 we are combining both elements thus:

  • Each partner is mapping out their existing technical processes for OA (gold/green, depositing, copyright etc)
  • We then ‘overlay’ the behavioural findings to determine (i) Likely risks to compliance at key points throughout the process, (ii) The strategies / educational needs to address these issues and (iii) (Technical) process revisions needed

This will give us a comprehensive map to help prioritise our activities, and implement/test in stage 3.

Additionally we’ve joined up more strongly with the projects led by Northumbria  and Oxford Brookes. NB this task made very easy by similarity of topics and very nice people. In late 2014 we attended a Northumbria pathfinder meeting, a session which was jointly valuable and will be leading (eventually!) to a joint ‘Intervention Mapping’ output (*Watch this space…..I’m getting to it…..honest*). In addition to a series of calls with several other groups, more recently we’ve joined with the ‘Sensemaking’ project to become part of their upcoming workshop (May 15). On Friday 13th March I (JB) attended a great meeting with the team at Oxford Brookes where we discussed behaviour change and planned the event. I’m sure the team will update on this more, but my key headlines were:

  • Understanding how people ‘behave’ in OA will help our approaches enormously. (Intervention Mapping seems a very useful approach!!)
  • There is now a wealth of data on people’s knowledge of and engagement with OA
  • The May event will support transfer knowledge from both projects into ideas for strategies, solutions and techniques to support OA.

For us with O2OA there are many lessons, even at this not-quite-midway point.

  • Joining up with colleagues across the sector is proving hugely valuable. Arguably without the Jisc scheme this would not have happened; the Pathfinder programme has enabled the space for (i) cross HEI working and (ii) OA discussions to spread beyond the predominantly library sector. More pragmatically, sharing presentation spaces (e.g. joint events, conference talks) is more cost effective and more comprehensive for the audience. For us, moving from the project into a more ‘programme’ approach is hugely beneficial.
  • The OA landscape is moving fast. Far faster than perhaps our projects were able to predict at the outset. But this is live research and comes with all the joys of managing a coherent project in a changeable context. Certainly the Pathfinder scheme remains extremely relevant and – particularly through collaboration – maintains the space needed to adapt to sector shifts. Within O2OA we made the conscious decision from the start that the project could not and should not delay any emerging good practice in OA. Simply put – the live OA world is priority; the projects should support not drive this. This decision has allowed us to transparently incorporate O2OA learning into institutional strategies and guidance and feed it back into our project outputs. There are clear implications for impact in a changeable landscape – attributing improvements to the projects themselves may prove very tricky. However, there is undoubtedly a meaningful way to account for the benefit the projects have played, and perhaps further discussions are needed on this point.

Next steps for O2OA are:

  • Joint ARMA conference talk (June 2015) with Pathfinder partners. Our section of the talk will be on academic engagement
  • Continued and hopefully strengthened links with other Pathfinder colleagues
  • Production of the interim maps (spring 2015), with final versions and report in September 2015
  • An intervention map of OA changes, with Northumbria, before they tell me off……!
  • A behavioural intervention to use less bullet points

And drink coffee. Lots of coffee……..