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Posts tagged research support

About a FAIRy tale and more

I attended the first two days of the IATUL conference 2015, on Strategic partnerships for access and discovery, on July 6 and 7, 2015. It has been a while that I visited an IATUL conference (the last time was in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2008), so it was nice that I was invited by TIB Hannover to give a keynote and be able to attend the meeting in Hannover, Germany.
IATUL celebrated its 60th anniversary, and  last year the General Assembly had decided that members from other university libraries than technical ones are now also welcome to IATUL membership. Though of course at this conference there were still mainly representatives from technical libraries (which I like, perhaps because it potentially can provide a more focused flavour, though in the end we all have the same challenges of course). Let me mention a few observations I made during these first two days:

  • The obvious topic of open access was immediately addressed on the first day by Martin Hofmann-Apitius, who gave a very explicit case and reason why publishers should allow automatic text mining and by doing so would save the lives of cancer patients. In the panel afterwards he said that he thought scientific youth has been spoiled by Google: “We should come back from the hype, and define what solid-based literature search means”.
    José Cotta (from CONNECT, Directorate-General of the European Commission), the second keynote speaker, phrased open science as a “democratisation” of science, and explained that free flow of data is necessary for a digital single market. He divided open science as follows: E-infrastructures for open science; Open access to research results & processes; Evidence-based policy making (Global systems science); and Public engagement (citizen science, crowdsourcing). Cotta further referred to the blogpost Moedas and Oetinger jointly wrote, and ended with his statement that we need to “catalyse a change in culture”. (I had already heard the update on the pilot for research data Cotta gave.)
  • Look out for the English translation of a public paper from ETH Zurich about the strategy for their collections (summary is already available). They identified the following four functions of scientific collections: Research; Teaching; Transfer of knowledge to the public; and Preservation of cultural heritage.
  • Frank Seeliger (from Library TH Wildau, Germany) showed some nice visual presentations in the (digital or physical) library environment, or as he puts it: “making knowledge and science tangible”. They invite their professors to the library with this tagline: “Come to us to play”. Twice these two IATUL days a reference was made to the fluid library, i.e., the library can be where you want it. The tangible example at Wildau: every table in the library has an rfid reader, and when a book is put there, it can stay there, and be available (because it is localised).
  • Simone Fühles-Ubach (Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Germany) explained a model for a library strategy, where the focus is on what the user wants to do instead of what they want. It is called the Openstrategies PRUB-model, because libraries run Projects to produce Results which customers and citizens Use to create Benefits.
  • Wolf-Tilo Balke made it clear that libraries can (or should) connect information science and computer science, and combine this with their knowledge of the subject domain. He believes that this is necessary because otherwise people are lost in the information overflow, and “taking something out of the collection is the same as putting something on the 2nd page of Google”.
  • I have made notes to take a better look at who presented themselves as “a global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals”. I must also investigate the impressive overview of research support services Hester Mountifield (University of Auckland, New Zealand) provided in her talk called “Through power of collaboration. How we increased our impact by helping researchers to increase theirs”. And I should have a better look at the circle (slide 20 in the linked pdf at this page) of the (physical) library functions Brian Irwin showed in his joint talk with Sharon L. Bostick.

The Congress Centre (but we were in a different part!).

I stayed in the Congress Hotel am Stadtpark, near to the Congress Centre. Our welcome reception was at the Zoo, which was very close to the Congress Centre.

Our welcome reception was at the Zoo, which was very close to the Congress Centre.


Wall paper in room at Congress Hotel am Stadtpark.

So enough to get back to when I am in Delft. I did like the meeting and the talks with the attendees I had. The organisation was very “light”, which made it pleasantly informal, and there was also a lot of diversity in the topics, (perhaps some more focus in the total programme would have made it even better).

I have already given some attention to my own keynote via slideshare and twitter, but I would like to repeat very briefly what I feel is important for us librarians. We know why we find open access important, because we want everybody to have easy access to research findings. We should work together to reach this goal, and be Flexible, Assertive, Innovative and Realistic while doing this. If you want to know more, just reach out (and I’ll be there;-).


What you need is a landing page

I attended APE2015 for 75%, i.e., I missed the second afternoon, the sessions I attended got of course my full attention. My report touches upon some highlights, for full coverage, please check the recordings or slides that will be put online later.


And what is Berlin, without its bears?

Open access as a means, not a goal
Quite some presentations made of course reference to open access, starting off with Martin Grötschel, incoming President of the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, who stated that “everything should be available at your fingertips” and that “openness is the best possible way to foster high quality science”. And ending (well at least for me) with Jan Velterop, as independent Advocate and Advisor on open access and open science: “The goal is optimal dissemination of knowledge”. He referred to the term “lamp post research”, because with the publication overload researchers might only be looking where the light is (but not necessarily where the key is). I come back to that later. Celina Ramjoué, Head of Sector, Open Access to Scientific Publications and Data, European Commission, talked about Open Science. She also emphasized the importance of free circulation of knowledge, and explained the actions of her department by four issues, i.e., 1. e-infrastructures (big data); 2. evidence-based policy making; 3. open access to research results and processes;  and 4. citizen engagement .

The dotcoms-to-watch session Eefke Smit was chairing carried the title “sharing is multiplying”, which also nicely catches the goal of open access in it, resembling our library’s vision that “if you share, you grow”. For circulation of samples, Olivier Acher ( wants to connect scientists creating samples with scientists who can use them. Descriptions are put in journal Sample of Science, and each disseminated sample becomes a citable item. I did remember, but I did not realize that there were the launching partner of the shareable, read-only articles that Nature Publishing Group has on its website and that can be used for sharing peer to peer and media referral as Nicko Goncharov (Digital Science) talked about. David Sommer (Kudos): was back from last year, and after their launch in April 2014 they have 29000 author registrations. Authors can explain, enrich,  share and measure what happens with their articles.  New is an institutional partnership and proof that enriched articles are read and cited more.

From knowledge maps to knowledge vault
Hans Uszkoreit, Professor of Computational Linguistics, Saarland University at Saarbrücken, referred to the highest level of offering information resources, with new structured knowledge. Uskoreit, Jan Velterop and David Wade referred to knowledge maps or graphs. How these are already the basis of current Google or Bing services, and how they can be improved or sharpened by adding other “more closed” content. As Velterop put it: “Make sure that we at least get access to meaningful stuff in the articles. The more we have, the sharper the knowledge picture.”  Wade is Director Scholarly Communication at Microsoft Research. He had some advice for the (mainly publishers) audience: “get crawled and indexed, get a sitemaps.xml, and mark up your content”. Interestingly he showed us that Microsoft is using these knowledge maps “behind the screen”, and that a new feature of Word is a direct reference to Word online (a sort of extended autosuggest), and you can also search for online pictures (with CC-BY licenses) in Powerpoint or search for data via an online search in Excel.

Making it happen, reaching our goal
Obviously if you want something, you should try to get there, and there might be more ways to reach your goal than you can think of yourself. In The Netherlands we have just reached an agreement with Springer. At APE Veronika Spinka (Open Access Manager) showed us how Springer is working on automating the process of identification and verification of author/institution for the apc’s deposit. Richard Wynne, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Aries Systems Corporation, explained that we really should leave metadata and business rules separate from each other, as was the case with the subscription model. Strikingly I thought was the author landing page Jake Kelleher (Senior Director of Licensing and Business Development, Copyright Clearance Center) showed us, where an author (or institute) can see what the agreed fee to be paid is, consisting of an apc and all sorts of surcharges (for supplementary data, colour and CC-BY license).

Ramjoué made reference to a possibility the EU now created where apc’s are also applicable for two years after a project has ended (in relation with FP7).

Frederick Dylla (see also last year) updated us on CHORUS: they now have 100 plus signatories and it is growing. CHORUS builds on existing infrastructure, and consists of a landing page (popular term, I must say!) for public access on the publisher’s site and progress can be followed via a live dashboard. In the US they chose the green road, and CHORUS is the publisher’s solution. For the library side of it, there is SHARE (working together, with CHORUS, e.g. on identifiers), the shared access research ecosystem.

(I need to) Come back to this later, or remember these phrases!

  • Research pad (convert all open content to ePub format)
  • (I already heard about it, but should check it again, about “resurrecting knowledge”)
  • Corona, your personal digital research assistant (Microsoft)
  • Uszkoreit : “Owners of the texts do not own the facts”
  • Dirk Pieper referring to an open access clearing centre to pay for apc’s and a landing page for their authors/publications
  • Phil Archer (W3C): “a book is a broken, dead thing for youngsters.” “Semantics matters, otherwise machines cannot read it efficient, if models are different,  again you make it difficult for machines”
  • Kent Anderson about what peer review is about: “Is this new, done well, important? First, best or last?”, and provoking the publishers: “Investing in peer review is investing in your core function”
  • Velterop: “You don’t get answers,  but hints”
  • Follow what happens in the CC-BY discussion, is it true that authors need to pay more in this license? Should we add ND to this?



Where are the librarians?

Together with colleague Alenka Princic  I visited on April 25 the Science Alliance meeting on The Impact of Science. We had our doubts whether it would be worth our money (it was a rather expensive day), but decided that we would like to go anyway. The topic is of course of huge interest for us librarians, because we want to facilitate research groups in their visibility and provide them with the right tools to work on their impact. Apart from us, Wouter Gerritsma from Wageningen  (and the recently retired Librarian Ger Spikman) and Gert Goris from Rotterdam were there. Not that many librarians!

The day started with Donald Dingwell, Secretary General of the European Research Council. He impressed us with high numbers (in total 14000 people are working on ERC grants, on 600 places, producing enormous output, with every week a publication in Nature or Science). Interesting remarks from his part were that the timeline of an ERC-fund (5 years) is too short to see result of impact of research. He emphasized that progress is not “plannable”, and that therefore the ERC organisation is bottom-up, nobody tells somebody what to do.

At the meeting, sponsored by Elsevier and CWTS, Nick Fowler, Managing Director Academic & Government Institutions at Elsevier, also held a presentation. Apart from a sales talk about Scopus, he showed us some impressive slides. The reason that The Netherlands has a relative high number of publications output and citation impact lies, according to Fowler, in the fact that we have much collaboration and mobility. So the word brain drain is now being replaced by brain circulation or researcher mobility.

Erkki Ormala,  now at Aalto University, but formerly with Nokia, also gave us some food for thought. Scientific progress is the key driver for innovation, economic growth and social development. This was a recurring topic of the day: do not just focus on academic excellence if you think of impact of science, but also involve the socio-economic impact. Nowadays companies seek engagement from 3rd parties via open innovation. The role of universities is apart from research and education, also knowledge sharing (rather than transfer!). (Later Carl Johan Sundberg,  Bio-entrepreneurship, Karolinksi Institutet, referred to this as the “The 3rd task”, i.e., to collaborate.) Ormala continued: People need to think beyond the routine, and need to have the ability not just to adapt to change, but to create it. Universities should provide the intellectual capacity. We require a fundamental change in our thinking. So develop a globally leading university with a strong knowledge sharing culture. And Ormala put it clearly: Do it now, the world won’t wait!

The report Shirley Pearce, as next speaker, referred to, is probably pretty good reading. One of the recommendations that have been taken up by her taskforce is the creation of a National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), because overall the conclusion of their research was that university business interactions need strengthening and we should try to understand the sector differences.

Reinhilde Veugelers, in her role of Professor of Managerial Economics, KU Leuven (she is also scientific council member ERC), had another observation. She said that we are missing yollies, new high-tech, high-growth sectors, often university origins (graduate spin-offs), though ollies are increasingly open-innovative.

The remainder of the day consisted of a plenary forum, a few parallel sessions in the afternoon (we attended Research management) and the day ended with a plenary session again, chaired by Michiel Kolman, Elsevier. In his stakeholders’ map of Science marketing I missed the libraries. An observation from my side – we were not the intended target group of the day. The support that libraries provide for research management is apparently not recognized (intentionally or not). Most challenging part of the plenary forum was Frank Miedema, Dean of UMC Utrecht. He took as an example the new MRI-guided radio therapy which has a huge societal impact, but no big publications. He stated that grants and proposals should be really read again, that other stakeholders should be involved in the reviewing and that we should change our backward looking reviewing to forward looking actions. I liked the comment Wouter Gerritsma tweeted during his session: “Miedema actually tells the audience that scientists should tell stories. Storify your research! Valuable impact.” A countercomment was made quoting Pasteur: “However, chance only favours the prepared mind”, so how would you prevent bias?

Of course there was also some information about CWTS and the recent published Leiden ranking, and the U-multirank, presented by Ben Jongbloed.

Lisa Colledge (again Elsevier) also took the opportunity to tell something about Pure, and their work in the UK following the demand for comparative data & research metrics referred to as snowball metrics.

Cornelis van Bochove, now with CWTS, tried to model the prospect of economic growth in comparison to investment in research. An important phenomenon he referred to was the rate of learning. If the rate of learning is high, your growth is higher. According to Van Bochove the rate of learning in basic research is higher, so your return on investment is higher. There was some discussion whether his quantitative numbers were correct. He stated that one euro applied R&D generates about 15 euro and one euro basic research generates 50 euro extra national income. So he claims that topsector policies are harmful for Dutch economic growth, and that such approach is more appropriate for transitional counties. Interestingly he also claimed that government should pay for open access to publications and data, because it is needed to raise the rate of learning.

Though there was more material presented I would like to end with the contribution of Marja Zonnevylle (Shell). Instead of talking about marketing your research, she prefers that university and business should start talking together, at an early stage. Shell has a few deep and long relationships with universities (she mentioned ETH Zurich and our own TU Delft). Furthermore Zonnevylle stated that it is not the technology that is the most difficult to tackle: “You can always fix something, it is the other thing that is difficult (economy, politics).”Also Zonnevylle mentioned that Shell’s approach to intellectual property is changing. She says it is good to make things in open literature, because if there is more out there, the more there is to do and learn.

So did we get enough back from this congress, what was our return of investment? Also here I guess you cannot always quantify the impact you get out of it. One learning element for me was that obviously our Deans (two were present, from Industrial Design Engineering and Civil Engineering & Geosciences) had not approached us from the library, when they received their invitation, to ask whether we would be going. So still much work to do!

With courtesy to


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Van alle markten thuis

Vandaag hadden we binnen de TU Delft Library onze halfjaarlijkse projectenmarkt. Projectleiders presenteren daar aan de interne organisatie de voortgang van enkele van de lopende of te starten projecten. Het gaf een goed gevoel te zien hoe divers en toch ook eensgezind we bezig zijn.

Inventarisatie gebouwen TU Delft
We treffen wat aan! Van schilderijen, papierpers, beschimmelde ordners tot kasten vol dia’s. Het is goed dat we deze inventarisatie zijn gestart. Over een maand zijn we klaar en dan gaat het werk pas beginnen natuurlijk.

Geïntegreerde onderzoeksondersteuning: Research support
Al een paar jaar draaien we er om heen en nu gaat het lopen. We zijn bijna klaar om door middel van interviews scherp te krijgen waar onze onderzoekers behoefte aan hebben. Geïntegreerde ondersteuning van de onderzoekscyclus: van ideevorming, het vinden van geld, het doen van onderzoek naar het uiteindelijke publiceren van de resultaten.

Nieuwe medewerkers’ pagina’s
Het koppelen van systemen bleek toch nog niet zo eenvoudig als het leek – binnenkort tonen we alle relevante en te delen informatie die we hebben over ons wetenschappelijk (en ondersteunend) personeel met de buitenwereld.

En tenslotte een te starten project waarbij we hopen het gedrag van onze gebruikers in het zoeksysteem Discover te volgen en hun commentaar te ontvangen en terug te geven aan andere gebruikers. Heel spannend. Projectleider Karin Clavel vertelde over de gebruikersprofielen en de verschillen tussen de “filers” en de “pilers”: de eerste categorie houdt van mapjes en ordening, en de tweede categorie kan de weg prima vinden in de eigen chaos of “piles”. Je zou in feite beide categorieën gebruikers willen faciliteren in de functionaliteit die je biedt.

Het viel me op dat het thema “koppelen” als een rode draad door drie van deze projecten loopt. Het koppelen van ondersteunende diensten tbv onderzoeksondersteuning en van gegevens bij de medewerkers’ pagina’s en Discover. Als ik erover nadenk en naar ons totale projectenportfolio kijk, dan is deze rode draad nog wel verder te volgen, denk maar aan een samenwerkingsomgeving met behulp van Sharepoint of “het nieuwe werken” project Ik werk (koppelen te lezen als ontmoetingen faciliteren). Dat vind ik nou leuk!


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