ArticlePeter Burnhill on Open Access in the UK

Peter Burnhill

“A scholar’s positive contribution is measured by the sum of the original data that he contributes. Hypotheses come and go but data remain.”
in Advice to a Young Investigator (1897) Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Nobel Prize winner, 1906)

2 traditions/mentalities co-exist in Information Science:

  1. Document tradition: signifying record-ness
  2. Computational tradition: various uses of formal technique

There are non-convergent mentalities working to build the ‘digital library’: modernisation of library services  and infrastructure to access complex databases.

Emergence of Digital Library: Information Science
“Approaches based on a concern with documents, with signifying records: archives, bibliography, documentation, librarianship, records management, and so forth
“approaches based on uses for formal techniques, whether mechanical (such as punch cards and data-processing equipment) or mathematical (as in algorithmic procedures).”

Semantics of Open Repositories & Interoperability
R is for Repository

  • “university-based institutional repository is a set of services … for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution & its community members. … organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access … (C. Lynch, 2003)
  • Digital repository differs from other digital collections in that content is deposited, whether by content creator, owner or third party; architecture manages content as well as metadata; repository offers a minimum set of basic services; must be sustainable & trusted, well-supported & well-managed. Digital Repositories Review (R.Heery and S.Anderson, 2005)

O is for Open

  • OA (for publications) not the only ‘open’ policy:
  • OER: Open Educational Resources
  • Open means ‘not closed’: making teaching & learning materials visible
  • Open CourseWare – often as open stack of webpages
  • Open Data
  • Datasets tradition (IASSIST); ‘open/privilege access to databases; open
  • Open Source Software
  • OSS has its own way of doing things

Key questions

  • Are Repositories the (only) way to support an Open Agenda?
  • Is Open really what Repositories are for?
  • Is this usage just intended to help us avoid issues of IP and access management?

Should the focus be on:

  • Interoperability between Repositories?
  • Interoperability of Repositories with the wider Internet?

Interoperability Challenges & Strategies

  • Whose strategy, and towards what purpose?
  • ‘within & for the research & education sector’? Or beyond?
  • For the institution, the UK, EU, global anybody; for the researcher?
  • For the machine as user [“Provider/Consumer”]?

The talk is available on the dedicated web page.

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