October 24, 2016, by Radoslaw Pajor
5 minutes with… Tony Simmonds, Senior Research Librarian (Social Sciences)
Welcome to our series ‘5 minutes with …’, where we introduce staff working within the Libraries Research and Learning Resources at the University of Nottingham. Tony Simmonds has kindly agreed to talk to us about his role and open access at the University.
Hello Tony, could you tell us more about your role?
I’m part of the Library’s Research Support team. This means working with seven Schools across the Faculty of Social Sciences to provide the right information resources and tools to support research, and equip people to use them. An especially rewarding aspect of this is helping researchers make choices about communicating what they discover.
It’s Open Access Week, can you tell us what open access is?
It’s a way to liberate and democratise access to research findings. The established publishing model can be summed up as pay-to-read. Digital technology opens exciting alternatives. Publishing open access means no more paywall between readers and the fruits of academic curiosity.
As a librarian why is open access important to you?
Librarians want to connect people with the right information. There’s something so gratifying about doing this for a living that you get seriously intolerant of things that get in the way. Even in universities in richer countries, the increasing cost of research publications is getting in the way. For developing countries, the impact is multiplied many times. I was lucky enough to visit the University of Khartoum in 2015. I spoke to library staff who have been able to add little to their collections for decades. Open access offers game-changing possibilities to level the playing-field of learning.
Can you explain what role open access will play in the next REF?
For the first time, REF eligibility for certain forms of output (journal articles and some conference papers) now depends on open access publication. This needn’t cost authors or their institutions anything. All that needs to happen is for each output to be archived in a repository within certain rules that HEFCE have outlined. The vast majority of publishers have adapted their approach to facilitate this.
Who will benefit from OA? (PHD students, UGs, researchers etc.)
Consumers of research literature – all our students and staff – are clearly beneficiaries. There’s evidence of less obvious benefits to authors too, by way of increased visibility for their work, which tends to boost citations and sometimes even forges unexpected partnerships for future collaboration. And librarians benefit too – we really don’t like disappointing potential readers!
What support can researchers expect in terms of OA at the University of Nottingham?
The Research Support team, supported by library colleagues in other sections, is used to answering all sorts of questions around open access. Don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We also maintain pages of guidance and FAQs at: http://nottingham.ac.uk/library/research/open-access/index.aspx . And we offer face-to-face training, visiting Schools on request to talk to staff and scheduling training courses for PhD students.
People are sometimes surprised to learn that all the University’s different open access repositories are managed by library staff. For academic staff outputs, we also offer a full mediated deposit service: just email your text to us, we’ll do the rest. The REF mandate coming into force this year has seen library colleagues reckoning with a spike in deposits to Nottingham ePrints to more than 500 per month – a challenge, but one we’re glad to have!
Thank you for your time, it was a pleasure to talk to you!