Author Archives: Neil Jacobs

About Neil Jacobs

JISC Programme Director, Digital Infrastructure (Information Environment)

Confederation of OA Repositories

Today I signed JISC up as a founder member of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories, COAR (interim website here). There are members from North America, China, Japan, as well as Europe, and, so Norbert Lossau and Dale Peters from the DRIVER project, who have done the initial set-up work, are to be congratulated on getting us this far. For the remainder of 2009 you can still join COAR for the very reasonable price of 100 euros. The fees thereafter have not yet been set, but are likely to be higher, especially for members from rich countries.

The aim of COAR is “to enhance and progress the provision, visibility and application of research outputs through global networks of Open Access digital repositories”. This is clearly a key aim of JISC too, and so we are very pleased to be a founding member.

So, why might you want to join, especially when it’s not yet clear exactly what COAR will be doing in practical terms? I think that may be a good reason; early members will have a chance to shape the organisation’s direction and initial objectives. I’ll be honest and say that is one of the reasons that JISC has joined now, apart from strongly supporting the organisation’s aim of course.

To give you a flavour of the anticipated direction, key words in the discussion seemed to be interoperability, raising awareness, promoting OA and repositories, support for the repository community, and working with partners in closely related fields (research management and publishing, to name but two). What that will mean in practical terms, we have yet to see.

There was an extended discussion at the meeting about who can join COAR. If you’re interested though, I suggest you email Dale Peters .

Neil Jacobs

Students’ use of research content

Students use research outputs; papers, books and so on. However, students are – like many other actual and potential users of research outputs – not familiar with the landscape of academic research, and the ways in which one can discover resources that are useful and relevant. (It is worth noting that the recent PRC report on SMEs access to research output cites sources suggesting that even professionals working in hi-tech SMEs have the same trouble.) A recent JISC report by a team at UCLAN led by Stuart Hampton-Reeves sheds some light on how students discover and access research outputs. The report tells us a little more about the “Google Generation”, noting that “most students will go to their library catalogue first, then Google” (and not social networking sites) to discover research, and that they do not generally have a sophisticated understanding of peer review. The report adds to a growing body of evidence, including that from UCL’s Ciber group and an ongoing user observational study, on how we can improve the “discover-ability” and accessibility of research outputs. It certainly seems that there are ways in which both tutors and libraries might better help students act as “apprentice researchers”, navigating the unfamiliar research landscape more effectively. Perhaps more fundamentally, infrastructure – including repositories – is making it possible to add more research outputs to the open web, which is where these users are.


This is the JISC blog for research, or scholarly, communications. By this we mean the ways in which academic researchers share their findings with each other and with the wider world, including aspects of dissemination, access, certification, quality control, preservation, and approaches to recognition and reward. The blog’s authors are Bill Hubbard (JISC Research Communications Strategist), Fred Friend (JISC Scholarly Communications consultant) and me, Neil Jacobs (JISC Programme Manager). We look forward to using this blog to let you know about some of the work JISC and others are doing in this area, and to encourage informed debate of the many issues that arise.