We’re delighted to bring you an interview with Dr Danny Kingsley published author, open access advocate and Head of Scholarly Communication at the University of Cambridge. Danny tells us about her role and a message that shines through is the importance of making contacts, and of collaborating in her work: with other library staff and other departments, but also of course, with the researchers themselves.
What does your role as Head of Scholarly Communication at the University of Cambridge involve?
It’s a new role which I began last year. It involves leading a team which is responsible for compliance with funders’ Open Access (OA) policies, but more than that, it is about supporting researchers and getting them to engage with scholarly communication issues.
Our goals fall in to three primary areas:
- Open access and open data requirements, which is the area where the majority of my team are working and which is at the core of our work.
- Outreach across the university, including offering development opportunities for librarians on scholarly communication themes. There are over 100 libraries in the University of Cambridge and so library staff are distributed and have a wide range of roles and responsibilities. Many will be building collections, interpreting licenses and working with researchers, and so will be interested in the changes to scholarly communication and the dissemination of research with which our team is involved. In a research university this large there are also departments who are running their own journals or monograph series, and we can help them to disseminate and publicise their publications: we work with Cambridge University Press in this area.
We’ve also spoken to over 1700 researchers and administrators on themes around open access and data management, including managing your online presence.
- Outreach and contribution externally to the university. I recently contributed to the first Open Scholarship Initiative workshop in the US, for instance, which I blogged about. We use social media channels like our blog and Twitter for both internal and external reach. We have organised events, like a debate during Open Access week which you can see on YouTube, which was held here during the Cambridge Literary Festival, and which we ran jointly with Cambridge University Press. We are very lucky to have a prestigious university press to work with in this way and a collection of unique materials including theses, data sets and reports of various kinds.
What development(s) in the world of scholarly communication do you think could be a big game-changer?
I’m interested in alternative ways to reward researchers, because this is the way to initiate change and a real opportunity to address some of the problems of scholarly communication, like the reproducibility crisis. The University of Cambridge offers a unique environment to try out a proof of concept in how researchers are rewarded. We have truly world-class research, a renowned university press and many excellent start-up companies, so the opportunity is really there to support researchers who use alternative dissemination and publication channels. I think that we need to do something different because the increasing retraction rates that we see and the reproducibility crisis are a sign that something is wrong with the way that research is being published, and the enormous pressures that researchers are under.
What role can the library and librarians play in scholarly communications?
We work with librarians: we are running a “Supporting researchers in the 21st century” programme and we also have a team of Research Support Ambassadors from amongst library staff. What we’ve found is that librarians and information managers are not always good at marketing themselves, and as this field is so fast-moving, it is necessary to constantly work on keeping our community up to date. Libraries may traditionally have focussed on information gathering activities, or collection development (especially with all the valuable special collections here at Cambridge) but librarians are also embedded in the research process, as we saw when we looked at the research lifecycle and all the places where a library or librarian is involved. (You can read about this and about our Research Support Ambassadors on our team blog)
We identified that the library is integral to the research process but it is working behind the scenes, and not obvious. For instance, it is one of the overheads covered in research grant bidding process, along with gold OA fees and research data archiving. If researchers could see actual sums of money being dedicated to this kind of support then perhaps it would not go so much under their radar and they would be more engaged.
Can you share some key ingredients to success in your area of work?
Open Access should not be seen as something that is purely about compliance, although researchers might come to the topic through this route in the beginning. The key is to talk to them about the need to share research findings effectively, demonstrating that we understand their need to reach other researchers and to make their own research findings accessible. We have to start with the benefits first, and talk about requirements second, and we have to show that we are coming at the subject from a researcher’s own perspective. We can use our own research work to demonstrate our competencies, and to this end we are interested in setting up a writing club for librarians, to support them in getting published too, and perhaps even collaborating with a researcher in this. I’m a great believer in learning by doing, and there is nothing that shows your understanding of the issues involved with scholarly publishing so powerfully as having been published in a scholarly journal yourself.
Thanks for sharing all this with us! I have one final question: what do you like to do when you are not working?
I competed in the Wings for Life World Run recently: it was a real summer’s day which is unusual in England and so plenty of people were suffering in the heat. I even had to administer first aid to someone! In the past I’ve worked as a fitness instructor, so this is definitely an important past-time for me.
If you enjoyed reading this blogpost then you can read a lot more about Danny’s work over on her team’s blog, especially her review of 2015! You might also enjoy our interview with Miggie Pickton, earlier this year, or some of our interviews with ARMA members from last year. Would you like to be interviewed for our blog, to showcase your research or one of the many professions that support researchers? If so then please get in touch…