6 February 2015

We now have 5000 items in the repository!

We’ve reached another milestone! We now have over 5000 items in the repository, with a variety of research outputs including theses, reports, books, chapters, journal articles completely free and available for anyone to read.

We have reached this milestone in only 6 months, whereas the previous 1000 milestones took around 12 months. The graph above reflects the recent upsurge in activity. This is largely a response to two recent policies that have helped to reshape the UK higher education publishing landscape. Firstly, Research Councils UK (RCUK) produced an open access mandate requiring RCUK funded authors to make their research outputs open access either by paying an Article Processing Charge (APC) for "gold" access, or by depositing an accepted manuscript in a repository ("green" open access). RCUK later requested a report by institutions who had received a block grant to fund APC payments. They wanted to see where the money had been spent and how much impact the money was having on open access compliance. The library produced a report in September 2014 that showed our compliance rate at 71%, which comparatively speaking was excellent. This involved a lot of communication between the Open Access team and academic colleagues to ensure that those with RCUK grants knew about  the open access requirements. The reaction from the academic community was very positive, and this is reflected in the 71% figure.

The second big motivator contributing to the increased activity is undoubtedly the HEFCE open access policy for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF).  In a nutshell, the policy states that articles and conference proceedings must be deposited in a repository when they are accepted for publication in order to be included in the next REF. Although the policy doesn’t come into effect until April 2016, the Open Access team has been working hard over the past few months promoting the message, and ensuring that the research community is compliant well in advance. The Open Access team have delivered presentations at Physics and Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Economics & Finance, Management, Computer Science, Philosophy, and History. We have also been invited to Earth & Environmental Sciences and Medicine. In support of the presentations we have also been communicating the message through email, having contacted over 80 authors in 16 Schools and Departments across the University.

Copyright Stephen Ritt, CC-BY-SA

We continue to have electronic deposit of our postgraduate research theses into Research@StAndrews:FullText according to University regulations, and the 5000th item in the repository was the PhD thesis A phenomenological-enactive theory of the minimal self, authored by Brett Welch. The thesis presents a fascinating study of self-hood derived from two areas of research: phenomenology and enactivism. To mark the occasion we will be sending a copy of the book Open Access and the Humanities by Martin Paul Eve to Brett at his home in the United States. Martin Eve's book is available open access from the publisher's website and in print form.

The repository holds theses going back to 1949 and, at the time of writing, theses account for 35% of the content, totalling 1,752 items. David Collins is the thesis contact in the OARPS team, and the person responsible for archiving and mediating the deposit of most of the thesis content in the repository. The work involved in obtaining permissions to archive theses is complex and requires a great deal of time and effort. But the rewards for doing so are great as it increases the visibility of the theses and also showcases the high quality postgraduate research the University of St Andrews is famous for.

In the preface to Martin Eve's book, Peter Suber (who's book entitled Open Access is also available freely from publisher) writes about the difference in open access uptake between the humanities and the sciences. He suggests that the reason the humanities have been slower to adopt open access has nothing to do with lack of desire, but is rather because there are fewer working examples of open access in the humanities to prove that it works. We think that it is safe to say that Brett's thesis adds to the body of working examples we have collected in the repository, and, hopefully, it can prove to be an inspiration to others.

Well done to Brett!

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