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The OpenAIRE Good Practice Exchange at the SUB Göttingen


The blog post is authored by all participants to the GPE programme: Jiří Marek, Gina Pavone, Ajia Uzula and Obrad Vučkovac 

The Göttingen State and University Library (SUB) was founded in 1734, two years before the University of Göttingen. The SUB is one of the first research libraries in Germany and in Europe, pioneering cataloguing systems in the past and, nowadays, intensively working to offer up to date services to students and researchers.

The OpenAIRE Good Practice Exchange Programme took place on March 3 and 4, 2020 at the SUB. It was dedicated to the theme of embedding Open Science practices and Research Data Management in an institutional context. After the first round in Bielefeld, this was the second meeting with a limited number of NOADs, four in this case: Jiří Marek, from Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic; Gina Pavone, from the Italian Research Council in Pisa, Italy; Aija Uzula from the University of Latvia in Riga; and Obrad Vučkovac, from University of Belgrade, Serbia.

"Libraries have a tendency to be persistent" - was pointed out at the very beginning of the meeting. "A project will be forgotten in 40 years, the library will very likely still exist then". But to survive while remaining useful, for libraries some relevant changes were needed in the past while others are on the way.

How to adapt the typical services of a library to the digital era? How to keep up with more and more data-centred research? Between the answers, the eResearch Alliance (eRA) is inevitably to be mentioned. eRA is a service unit for Göttingen Campus which is jointly operated by SUB and the university Computing and IT Competence Centre (GWDG), and it was presented by Timo Gnadt in the first day of the GPE. eRA activities vary from the support to researchers for any digitisation driven research question, to practical help in data management, from assistance or co-creation in the projecting phase, to networking - offered for example when a discipline-specific help is needed. Besides, eRA training activity was showcased with a sample of a typical training session, addressing themes like data sharing and storage, licences, ethical aspects and so on.

On different occasions, Timo pointed out the importance of motivating researchers during training activities about the value of all Open Science, but in particular about the value of taking care of a good Research Data Management.

The University of Göttingen approved an institutional policy on Open Science and Open Access in 2014 - one of the first released in Germany - but it is set on the idea of not over-regulating research and the Data Management Plan is recommended but not mandatory.

Another tool to facilitate the use of resources and services for digital research is GRO (Göttingen Research Online). GRO has many goals: for example, the instrument section is a resource for campuses and researchers, so that the service offering is easily administered or, on the other hand, found. Worth mentioning also Open IRIS, a free platform to enable resource discovery and sharing, with many features available, all put together to strengthen collaboration between researchers or institutes on campus. The available information can be used for example for planning and realising funding proposals more effectively.

On the side of data managing and sharing, SUB institutional data repository has to be mentioned with its usage and settings. Built with Dataverse software, which includes a user guide where beginners can explore all the possibilities of depositing, sharing or consulting datasets (or advanced users can clarify more specific doubts). As for code, at the moment GitHub is used, but probably in the future, the need for building an institutional code repository could emerge.

In the afternoon, a tour of the historic library building was the opportunity to meet with many persons involved in various projects developed or in progress at SUB. And there are many international projects on the field of Open Science being developed by SUB, for example, GRAcE, Dariah, Foster, Fit4RRI to mention just a few, in addition to OpenAIRE.

"You can't survive without a rich metadata schema", observed Margo Bargheer of the SUB university press, talking about all the changes and challenges that small university presses face to survive. What new models and workflows can a small university press propose and support in the context of OA and OS? How can it adapt to all current changes? Margo exposed the difficulties for books in the current landscape of scholarly communication - in particular for small ones - and how to combine physical and digital survival for research books.

Probably, small university presses can only survive by going digital, but even without having to give up work with printed paper books.

And all the steps small presses are taking into the digital world of scholarly communication is somehow blurring the line between the publication of the written paper and the data. And this is why organizing the distribution of data is one of the challenges mentioned by Margo for the future of university presses. But also trying to change political expectations - still focused only on paper journals - is a challenge for their survival.

Hybrid publishing has also been discussed, albeit indirectly, talking about data analysis and visualizations. This task was illustrated by Najko Jahn, co-author of the blog "Scholarly Communication Analytics with R" with the analysis of Elsevier invoicing data, the only data publicly available and machine-readable on the subject, which was integrated with metadata from Crossref and information retrieved from open access full-texts. An attempt to shed a light on the monitoring of spending for open access publishing in hybrid journals, which resulted in the evidence of a majority of funding sources for hybrid open access still unclear.

The last stage of the GPE was the OS meetup, a monthly event this time dedicated to a topic of growing importance: preprints, with their opportunities and pitfalls. After the introduction, different examples and stories of preprint use in different disciplines were presented, with an interesting overview of the preliminary results of research on citation advantages for preprints in bioRxiv.

The advantages of preprints are particularly evident in this precise moment, with the urgent need of scientific knowledge for the ongoing pandemic and in fact this was one of the specific themes proposed for group discussion in the second half of the meetup. But together with early access and diffusion of studies, also risks and possible drawbacks were discussed.

"In the whole world of Open Science, what's in it for you?", is the question that Birgit Schmidt - head of WAG, a working group that in English can be translated with knowledge as a common good - asks researchers to help them not to feel disoriented. In this vast world, many of the most intriguing and actual aspects are of course being tackled in SUB Göttingen; and some of them were exposed during the Good Practice Exchange programme.

Altogether, the two days at the University of Göttingen were an invaluable experience for all of the participants of the Good Practice Exchange programme. The lessons learnt will be of great importance in embedding Open Science practices in their organizations. And most importantly, this program proves that one of the most powerful ways of knowledge sharing is through socializing and conversation.

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