Carrots & Sticks: Encouraging self-archiving in an IR. C-EBLIP Journal Club, Mar 31, 2016

by Shannon Lucky
IT Librarian
University Library, University of Saskatchewan

Article: Betz, S., & Hall, R. (2015). Self-Archiving with Ease in an Institutional Repository: Microinteractions and the User Experience. Information Technology and Libraries, 34(3), 43–58. http://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v34i3.5900

One of the things I love about the C-EBLIP journal club is the ease of having one of my colleagues pick out an interesting article from their area of specialization so I can poke my head into their world for an hour and see what ideas they are wrestling with. As an IT librarian, picking an article creates some anxiety because systems and technology aren’t always that accessible (or interesting) for a diverse audience. I was happy to see Sonya Betz and Robyn Hall’s article pop up on a library tech listserv as it was a great fit for our group.

The University Library currently doesn’t have an institutional repository (IR) for the entire campus, but we do have a DSpace eCommons repository for research by UofS librarians. Because we have all deposited our own work into eCommons our conversation started with a unanimous (good natured) rant about how hard it is to do self-archiving. It is time-consuming and the technology was deemed to be frustrating and unsatisfying. Like other tedious institutional reporting systems, we assumed this was the only way. As one member put it, “I didn’t know we could expect better”.

While we talked about how frustrating the process could be, we also wondered just how much effort, time, and money should be invested in improving a system that we all have to use, but that our library users will never see. When do we make the call that something is good enough and we, or our fellow faculty, can suck it up and figure it out or ask for help? One of my favourite suggestions was that a “good enough” scenario would have the user feeling “the absence of anger”. Apparently the bar is quite low. Betz and Hall talk about some of the barriers to self-archiving but don’t ask why, when contributing to IRs is so difficult, many academics voluntarily submit their work to sites like academia.edu and ResearchGate – what is it they are doing right that we could learn from?

This led to a discussion about what libraries could do to encourage faculty, both within and outside the library, to deposit in an IR. We saw two routes: the carrot and the stick.

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Carrots:
• Link academic reporting systems together to cut down on the number of places this information needs to be input (e.g. have citations from the IR export to formatted CVs, link ORCHID accounts with IR entries for authority control and better exposure, etc.)
• Group scholarly output for colleges, departments, or research groups together in the IR to show the collective impact of their work
• Gamify the submission process with progress bars, badges, and the ability to level up you scholarly work

Sticks:
• Money. Canada Council requires submission to an IR as a part of their funding model
• Librarians armed with actual sticks going office to office “persuading” scholars to deposit their research

We agreed that libraries don’t wield an effective stick in this scenario. Research services, colleges, and departments have to be the ones to put on the pressure to deposit. Librarians can help make that happen and (hopefully) make it as pain-free as possible.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

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