Introducing Jisc Monitor

Following on from the Jisc APC pilot project, which officially concludes at the end of July, the Jisc-funded Monitor project officially began on the 19th of May 2014.  It aims to come to terms with many of the needs and requirements identified during the year that the Jisc APC pilot ran.  Jisc Monitor has synergies with and complements Jisc funded work around the Open Mirror, Institutional Repository support projects, work with HEFCE and Research Councils around Open Access reporting requirements for institutions and ORCID pilots amongst others. This suite of services supports understanding of OA requirements and delivers practical solutions to address key concerns for the community.

The purpose behind the Jisc Monitor project is to explore how a community-led, user centred, shared national service could help institutions manage their Open Access activity. Managed by Jisc Collections, its technical development, undertaken by the National Data Centre, Mimas, along with Sero Consulting, Cottage Labs and Knowledge Integration, will be supported by a collaborative approach with a focus on open source, open standards, interoperability, and linkages with international initiatives.  By listening and applying feedback, we will seek to find ways in which a potential Jisc Monitor national shared service may introduce efficiencies, propagate best practise and the development and application of standards facilitating data and system interoperability; assist in coordinating intelligence on institutions OA publications activity including compliance with funder mandates; and embrace the requirement that institutions have to manage and collect information across all their published material, including the monitoring of spend.

To be successful, the whole project approach, from data modelling to development and deployment, is based on three key principles:

•             Open – Mimas is committed to using and contributing back into Open approaches

•             Secure – At the same time, the approach enforces security where applicable, bearing in mind that the Monitor problem space involves confidential financial data as well as obligations under DPA legislation.

•             Service Based – Its design will be a distributed ecosystem (distributed in terms of business processes, software services and data, as well as organisational roles).

By working hand-in-hand with Jisc, the aim is to support a user-centred process that achieves optimum results within the time available. The team combines Jisc Collections, as well as the domain expertise and technical strengths of Mimas, Sero Consulting, Knowledge Integration and Cottage Labs, thus providing a breadth of hands-on technical and domain experience to provide flexibility of resourcing and direction.

In terms of the overall context of Jisc Monitor, the concept will be based on critical reflection on the outputs of Jisc APC and will seek to address the HEFCE policy from January 2016 that mandates OA availability for all journal publications and conference proceedings submitted to the 2020 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2020).

The outputs will consist of prototypes mapped onto the four uses cases envisioned in the figure below, and released as free and open source software by May 2015; these will be supported by user feedback and a critical assessment of opportunities, challenges and dependencies which could have an effect on impact development, as well as recommendations for additional work on related components.

The four primary use cases which will be used to develop prototypes for Jisc Monitor have been identified as the following:

Use cases image

  • “Monitoring all publication activity to ensure compliance” was targeted by institutions participating in Jisc APC as one of the most significant issues that they dealt with; RCUK and Wellcome both specify the use of CC BY, the Creative Commons Licence which allows for re-use on the proviso that the material is not altered in any way and that attribution is given.  Many institutions said that academics were rarely sure what the CC licences were, and that along with somewhat confusing publishers’ sites, easily understood and straightforward explanation was needed, as well as some means of keeping track of whether or not compliance with those mandates was being met on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to chasing up after the fact.
  • “Monitoring all publication activity” was something which was identified in a Jisc Monitor workshop as the second most important issue institutions are facing, particularly with the HEFCE mandate that all submissions to the REF 2020 must be OA.  Institutions pointed out that they have almost no ability to determine what is being published at all with any accuracy, let alone what is being published as Open Access.  Thus, to measure impact for the REF in general, and now with the OA mandate, this recording of data is a very high priority and one which Jisc Monitor hopes to develop as one of its earliest outputs.
  • “Standards development to enable efficient data exchange” was equally addressed at the Jisc Monitor workshops and points to the need for constructing uniform and consistent standards which would allow information to be shared among a range of systems, such as institutional repositories, subject repositories, intermediary platforms, CRIS systems and library structures.
  • “Monitoring spend on all items” is obviously important from nearly every facet of creating a sustainable environment, one which will allow high-quality research to be made available and shared across the landscape as OA.  Since OA and APCs alter the traditional publication model, being able to determine what is being spent and where, as well as also contributing to the means of evaluating usefulness and efficiency of various publication offerings, is integral to all stakeholders involved, as well as the general public, whose money directly pays for the research activity.

Throughout the development of the Jisc Monitor pilot, collaboration with those key partners, as well as other stakeholders is paramount, and we are currently working on user consultation and requirements-gathering.  We will need to engage with a range of institutions and other organisations as part of its user-centred development, but it will employ an agile approach, to allow for the greatest flexibility.  Initial conclusions from the funder compliance and publication activity use cases will be available from September 2014, with systems interoperability and publication spend use cases available later in the same year.

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