Friday, 22 January 2016

Open Access workshop toolkit and the use of pre and post workshop questionnaires for course development

Another posting from Emily Bennett describing the use of of pre and post workshop questionnaires to help modify and tailor monthly workshops to the needs of the academic.

At Portsmouth we run monthly workshops on Open Access, which are delivered by our Research Outputs Manager (ie me!) These workshops are part of our centrally run Researcher Developer Programme and are advertised on our Open Access info web page. The workshops are open to all academics, and hold up to 20 people at a time. We wanted to design these workshops to they were tailored to the needs to academics.

In order to do this, we asked academics due to attend each workshop to complete a pre-workshop online questionnaire. This looks at their previous experience and knowledge, plus whether they have any specific needs, such as whether they have funding from a particular funder. The workshop was then designed / adapted from the previous workshop based on this info. After the workshop, the academics are asked to complete a post-workshop feedback online questionnaire, asking what they found useful, how they were going to change their behaviour and how the workshop could be improved. This feedback is used to inform the design of subsequent workshops.  This pre and post workshop questionnaire approach is repeated each time the workshop is run, so (in theory at least!!) the workshop should improve each time. 

So far the pre-workshop questionnaires have indicated that academics tended to have a broad idea of what OA is, and supported the concept. However, they were unsure of the details and what they needed to do. Feedback from post-workshop questionnaires has been overall very positive, with many academics indicating they are aware of the key issues, e.g. they indicated that they now knew they needed to upload articles to Pure, and  to check a journal's compliance before submitting their work.  Attendance is fairly good, with each workshop having between 15 and 20 academics, from across the University. A copy of the Power Point (June 2016 version) used in the workshop is here. It's released under the CC-BY licence, so feel free to adapt and reuse :)

Open Access workshop toolkit  includes a copy of the presentation and copies of the the pre and post workshop questionnaires.

(The links to the pre and post workshop questionnaires above are to PDFs, however, if anyone is interested in having a copy of the editable Google form to try the same at your University, then please contact

Designing Open Access for academics at University of Portsmouth

Here Emily Bennett from Portsmouth writes about the development and modifications to their promotional Open Access poster based on academic feedback and the need for clear, attractive, easy to use research portals to encourage academic interest.

In response to feedback from academics early in 2015, when interviewing them as part of our Jisc Pathfinder project, we found a clear demand for a one page simple message for what they need to do. This resulted in a promotional poster designed (and re-designed!) in consultation with academics. We originally used a slightly adapted version of HEFCE’s poster. aimed at raising awareness. You may have seen it feature in Jisc’s newsletter.

 Version 1 based on Hefce poster
Version 1 based on Hefce poster

However, by October we had already re-designed this based on feedback to create a much simpler version, which focuses on the one key message.  
Open Access Poster and Flowchart
This is available on our website, and has also been printed and distributed to academics and put up on notice boards within faculties. 

In a similar way, we tried to make sure the appearance of our Research Portal, launched in August 2015, wouldn't put academics off.  This is the public front end to our Pure CRIS, and we worked with Elsevier to ensure a clear and attractive site. It’s far easier to ‘sell’ a website to academics that looks professional and tidy, compared to one that looks dated and cluttered. I know this sounds really obvious, but I get a sense it’s sometimes underestimated. It’s still early days, but feedback so far has been good and the Portal has given us a clear focal point for finding out about Portsmouth research.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Using semi-structured interviews to gain a better understanding of researchers' approach to Open Access (OA)

Ruth Stubbings from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) writes about their use of interviews to gain a better understanding of researcher attitudes and behaviours around Open Access (OA).

The project group at NTU was keen to explore researcher understanding of open access (OA), plus their attitudes and behaviours in relation to OA publishing, in order to provide more targeted and appropriate support.

We chose to investigate researcher attitudes and experiences of open access publishing through semi-structured interviews in the expectation that this would encourage a two way conversation where respondents felt able to express their views in their own words. It also provided a basic framework for the dialogue, allowing us to deviate and probe into different aspects more deeply if when required.

The main topic areas covered by the semi-structured interviews were: how the interviewee decides to disseminate their research results; their preferred methods of publication format, and how they choose where to publish; their understanding of OA; whether they publish their results through OA; and finally how the university could help the interviewee publish their research outputs more regularly via OA.

The interviews lasted between 30 to 60 minutes. Notes were taken during the interviews, and they were also recorded so that we could transcribe the main themes later. The information obtained during the interviews was then categorised and collated in Google forms.

50 research staff were interviewed across all Schools within the University, 23 of which were female and 27 male. 13% of respondents classified themselves as early career researchers, 35% mid-career researchers and 52% as established researchers - we targeted researchers that had submitted to the last REF and so the relatively high number of mid and established researchers was to be expected.

Deciding where to publish: All of the researchers interviewed follow the standard dissemination and publishing practices within their disciplines, with a high proportion highlighting that they have accepted invitations to publish in particular journals or monographs and that they respond to calls for papers. Encouragingly 48% of the interviewees have a strategic approach to the dissemination of their research, although not all of them have formally written it down. Unexpectedly, the impact factor of a journal, reputation and the audience is highly influential when choosing where to publish.

Understanding of OA: All respondents understood that OA allows free access to the reader to material published through this route.  The majority were supportive of OA and saw the main benefit being the ability to reach a wider audience; few interviewees, however, mentioned the potential of OA to increase an author’s citation rates. Just over quarter (28%) of the respondents linked OA with the need for the author to pay for their research findings to be published and the majority did not automatically associate IRep, our institutional repository, with OA publishing. Only a small percentage (mainly established career researchers) could easily articulate the difference between gold and green OA, plus the University and/or the RCUK policy on OA.

Publishing through OA: At the time of the study 64% of interviewees made their research publications available in full text through the institutional repository, IRep. 4.7% had also paid a publisher to make their work available through gold OA.  28% of the respondents had not made their research available through OA.
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Four main barriers to publishing through OA were identified:
- Lack of funding  70.4%
- Lack of time 14.8% (research in general as well as publishing)
- Perceived lack of understanding of copyright and what they were legally allowed to do by
  publishers 14.8%
- The system (IRep) was too difficult to use 11%

How the university can help: The respondents felt the university could encourage authors to publish via OA by:
- Regularly reminding research staff of good practice
- Providing additional funding for publication through Gold OA
- Providing clearer guidance on copyright
- Making the IT infrastructure / systems easier to use
- Producing case studies showing link between OA and improved citations, readership, and to dispel     myth of ‘dodgy’ publishing.

So how has the findings influenced our work and the support we offer?  We’ve formulated a more formal dissemination and researcher engagement plan that has been agreed with the PVC for Research, which has placed a greater emphasis on a multi-pronged approach to communication and advocacy. This in turn has led to the introduction of OA drop-in sessions to supplement the more formal RDF events, and the development of new OA support materials, such as postcards and flyers,and the creation of a short case study video in conjunction with our marketing team. To try to alleviate researcher concerns around copyright and misunderstandings about the need to pay for OA, we have increased the amount of information provided on tools such as Sherpa Romeo and on the differences between green and gold OA. In response to the request to make our systems easier to use, further improvements to our institutional repository submission process will be introduced in the first quarter of 2016.

Links to resources that you may find useful:

NTU Interview Questions

NTU Interview Analysis Form

Uncovering researcher behaviours and engagement with Open Access, 20 May, Oxford Brookes University: presentations

Tools and techniques for effective understanding and communication: resources from Uncovering researcher behaviours and engagement with Open Access