UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for February, 2013

Naming Conventions For Institutional Repositories: Lessons from CORE

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 February 2013

The CORE (COnnecting REpositories) Project

Whilst preparing a follow-up post on institutional repositories I started to explore the data which has been collected by the JISC-funded CORE project. The CORE (COnnecting REpositories) project aims to “facilitate free access to scholarly publications distributed across many systems“. The CORE Web site, which was developed at the Open University, provides access to four applications including:

Repository Analytics – A tool that enables to monitor the ingestion of metadata and content from repositories and provides a wide range of statistics.

I wanted to use this service to find information about the repositories provided by the 24 Russell Group universities. However, as can be seen from the accompanying screenshot, it was not easy to associate a repository with its host institution.

CORE projectThe first four examples illustrate the difficulties I had in using the information. The first entry, for the Aberdeen University Research Archive, gives a clear indication of the host institution. The second example, Abertay Research Collections, is somewhat more obscure, unless you know that Abertay is the name of a Scottish university. However the next two examples, Access to Research Resources for Teachers and Advanced Knowledge Technologies EPrints Archive, give no clue as to the host institution.

This meant that browsing the list was not an effective way of finding the repositories for the Russell Group universities. In addition the search interface was misleading: a search for “Southampton” enabled me to find eCrystals – Southampton and Electronics & Computer Science EPrints Service – University of Southampton – but not the main repository which has the name e-Prints Soton.

Using CORE to Search for Russell Group University Repositories

Despite the limitations caused by the lack of institutional identifiers I felt it would be useful to discover information held about Russell Group university repositories, based on a search of the CORE system using the obvious name for the host institution. The following table summarises the findings for a survey carried out on 21 February 2013 using the search term given in the second column.

(search string)
Repository Metadata
1 Birmingham University of Birmingham
Research Archive, E-papers Repository
    937     928  103
University of Birmingham
Research Archive, E-prints Repository
    828     802   766
University of Birmingham
Research Archive, E-theses Repository
  2,559   2,513 2,133
2 Bristol Bristol Repository of Scholarly Eprints    –        4   –
3 Cambridge Computer Laboratory Technical Reports
– Cambridge University
  3,252      520   440
DSpace @ Cambridge 216,718 192,129 2,847
4 Cardiff Online Research @ Cardiff    31,274     1,647 1,555
5 Durham Durham e-Theses     4,483    4,411 4,051
Durham Research Online     9,062    2,922 2,856
6 Exeter Exeter Research and Institutional Content archive     2,547    2,334      4
7 Edinburgh Edinburgh DataShare         75       75   –
Edinburgh Research Archive     5,769   5,395 1,583
8 Glasgow Glasgow DSpace Service    –   –   –
Glasgow Theses Service     2,682    2,683 2,356
9 Imperial Spiral – Imperial College Digital Repository     8,097    8,094       4
10 King’s College London
(also used King’s and Kings)
None found    –   –   –
11 Leeds leedsmet open search (Incorrect institution)    (-)    (-)    (-)
Leodis – A photographic archive of Leeds     57,998   57,998    –
12 Liverpool Liverpool John Moores University Research Archive
(Incorrect institution)
     (-)    (-)    (-)
University of Liverpool Research Archive       885     810   517
13 LSE LSE Research Online   33,959   6,520 6,463
LSE Theses Online       454     454   424
14 Manchester e-space at Manchester Metropolitan University
 (Incorrect institution)
  (-)    (-)   (-)
Manchester eScholar Services  119,854 119,854   –
15 Newcastle Newcastle University E-Prints    –   –   –
16 Nottingham Nottingham ePrints      1,084    1,026   990
Nottingham eTheses      1,843    1,793 1,757
17 Oxford Oxford University Research Archive    16,215    3,745     98
18 Queen Mary None found
19 Queen’s University Belfast None found    –   –   –
20 Sheffield Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive
(Incorrect institution)
    (-)   (-)   (-)
21 Southampton eCrystals – Southampton      602     602   –
Electronics & Computer Science EPrints Service –
University of Southampton
 15,835    8,947 7,071
22 UCL UCL Discovery          0 245,407       2
23 Warwick EPrints at the Centre for Scientific Computing,
University of Warwick
   –  –    360
Warwick Research Archives Portal Repository    49,469     7,696  7,025
24 York York St John University ArchivalWare Digital Library
(Incorrect institution)
       331          1   –

Note that the Repository Analytics page does not appear to provide a formal definition of the data collected. However from hovering over the accompanying icon for the entries it appears that the Metadata Download column gives the number of metadata records, the Metadata Readable column gives the number of links extracted from the metadata and the PDF Download column the number of PDFs which were downloaded.


It is difficult to interpret the data given in the table: the entry for the UCL Discovery repository, for example, tells us that there are 0 metadata records, with 245407 links having been extracted from these records and 2 PDFs downloaded!

However the table does suggest patterns of naming conventions for institutional repositories, such as the institutional name being provided at the beginning (“University of Birmingham Research Archive, E-prints Repository“, “University of Liverpool Research Archive” and “LSE Research Online”) or end of the repository name (“EPrints at the Centre for Scientific Computing, University of Warwick“, “Electronics & Computer Science EPrints Service – University of Southampton” and “Computer Laboratory Technical Reports – Cambridge University“) together with a large number of examples which use a partial form of the institution’s name (e.g. “Edinburgh Research Archive”, “Glasgow DSpace Service” and “Manchester eScholar Services“).

But of greater interest are the institutional repositories which have been harvested by CORE but are missing from this search such as “e-Prints Soton” and the “White Rose E-theses Online” and “White Rose Research Online” repositories which are used by the universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield.

Whilst the ownership of a repository will be apparent to the end user who access the service via the main entry point (perhaps from the institution’s Library Web site) in a number of cases such information is not apparent when the repository has been harvested and accessed using other systems such as, in this case, the interface developed by the CORE project.

In light of the findings from a survey of Russell group Universities, I would make the following simple recommendation:

Institutional repositories should contain the name of the host institution.

In order to illustrate the need for such a recommendation, here are a list of repositories which have been harvested by CORE:

Access to Research Resources for Teachers – Department of Computer Science E-Repository – Enlighten – Modern Languages Publications Archive – Online Publications Store – Open Research Online – Pharmacy Eprints

If you are unfamiliar with these repositories, would you to able to guess who owns them?

Or, to put it another way, meaningful metadata is important for repositories!

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“Advertising and branding matter more than ever”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20 February 2013

THE leader article“Advertising and branding matter more than everannounced the leader article in a recent issue of the Times Higher Education (7 February 2013).

The article described how:

This week we report on a 22 per cent rise in the sums spent by universities on direct marketing to students in 2011-12, with many planning to increase this further.

and went on to draw comparisons between the changing funding environment in the UK’s higher education sector and the US higher education marketplace:

According to a recent estimate reported by Reuters, the for-profit University of Phoenix, whose owner Apollo Group also controls BPP University College in the UK, was at one point spending nearly $400,000 (£254,000) a day on online adverts targeted at students.

In the UK:

There is little doubt that as far as universities in England are concerned, marketing to and competition for students are now far more pressing concerns than they once were. … The vice-chancellor of one Russell Group university confided that his institution had simply not anticipated the rapid impact of the government’s reforms, and had almost expected “business as usual” – a mistake he would not be making again.

In some quarters, some comments would be regarded with misgivings, since it would appear that scarce resources are being diverted from provision of front-line services. However I myself feel that marketing is important. In the context of research, for example we are seeing how social media services can enable researchers themselves to being their research papers to the attention of their peers, and engage in discussions about the ideas provided in the papers. Melissa Terras’s post on The verdict: is blogging or tweeting about research papers worth it? provided concrete advice for researchers based on her experiences:

If you want people to find and read your research, build up a digital presence in your discipline, and use it to promote your work when you have something interesting to share.

But although social media services enable researchers to promote their work with an authentic voice and engage in open discussions with their peers and other interested parties, there are dangers that traditional marketing departments who have a product (the institution) to promote will misuse social media services, in which there may be expectations of authenticity, openness, transparency, engagement and speed of response which may not be the case with traditional marketing channels.

In addition to such concerns I think we should be worried that the financial pressures on the sector will lead to a loss of openness and transparency and the sharing of practices which has characterised working in a public sector environment in which discussions of best practices for developing innovative approaches to teaching and learning and research have helped to develop better understanding and inform the deployment of new practices.

Innovation is defined in Wikipedia as “the development of new values through solutions that meet new needs, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways“. As part of our work with the JISC Observatory we have sought to identify ‘weak signals’ which can help to identify early indications of developments which can be beneficial to the sector. In occurs to me, however, that there is also a need to identify signals which may suggest developments which may meet meet needs which we may question the value of. Is the need for institutions to give a positive portrayal of their activities to be welcomed, if this means that activities which could be improved cease to be discussed? Are we seeing any ‘anti-patterns’ in which marketing activities are hindering approaches to openness?

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Profiling Use of Third-Party Research Repository Services

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 February 2013


How significant is use of third-party repository services?

How significant is use of third-party repository services?

In a recent post I explained Why I’m Evaluating ResearchGate. In the post I summarised the reasons why I felt that could provide an additional service for depositing research papers which would complement Opus, the University of Bath institutional repository. But what others services might also be relevant? And which services are hosting the largest numbers of research papers?

In order to seek answers to these questions, I used Google to provide a measure of the size of a number of hosting services for PDFs and the number of PDFs they host. The services I analysed were:

  • This site is described in Wikipedia as “a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. The site has been described as a mash-up of “Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn” that includes “profile pages, comments, groups, job listings, and ‘like’ and ‘follow’ buttons”. Members are encouraged to share raw data and failed experiment results as well as successes, in order to avoid repeating their peers’ scientific research mistakes.
  • This site is described in Wikipedia as “a platform for academics to share research papers. It was launched in September 2008. Currently the site is approaching 2 million registered users.[2] The platform can be used to share papers, monitor their impact, and follow the research in a particular field.
  • Thus site is described in Wikipedia as “a desktop and web program for managing and sharing research papers,[2] discovering research data and collaborating online. It combines Mendeley Desktop, a PDF and reference management application (available for Windows, Mac and Linux) with Mendeley Web, an online social network for researchers.[3][4][5] Mendeley requires the user to store all basic citation data on its servers – storing copies of documents is at the user’s discretion“.
  • This site is described in Wikipedia as “based on the principle of social bookmarking [the service] is aimed to promote and to develop the sharing of scientific references amongst researchers. In the same way that it is possible to catalog web pages (with Furl and or photographs (with Flickr), scientists can share information on academic papers with specific tools (like CiteULike) developed for that purpose“.
  • This site is described in Wikipedia as “a document-sharing website that allows users to post documents of various formats, and embed them into a web page using its iPaper format“.

Many researchers will probably be familiar with the first four services listed. The fifth service,, is included in order to explore whether a general-purpose PDF repository service could have a role to play in supporting the sharing of research publications.

Findings for the Coverage of the Services

Google was used in order to provide an estimate of the coverage of the services, including the total number of resources which have been indexed by Google and the number of PDF files. The findings are given in the following table. Note that the figures were initially collected on 6 February 2013. In order to check the volatility of the findings the searches were repeated on 11 February.

Search for Search Term Nos. of results Date
Total number of resources 55,300,000   6 Feb 2013
56,100,000 11 Feb 2013
Total number of PDF files filetype:pdf   2,980,000   6 Feb 2013
  2,910,000 11 Feb 2013
Total number of resources 12,500,000   6 Feb 2013
 12,400,000 11 Feb 2013
Total number of PDF files filetype:pdf           4,930   6 Feb 2013
         4,740 11 Feb 2013
Total number of resources   3,310,000   6 Feb 2013
  3,150,000 11 Feb 2013
Total number of PDF files filetype:pdf          3,840   6 Feb 2013
         4,020 11 Feb 2013
Total number of resources  35,600,000   6 Feb 2013
 35,700,000 11 Feb 2013
Total number of PDF files filetype:pdf              244   6 Feb 2013
               30 11 Feb 2013
Total number of resources   61,300,000   6 Feb 2013
166,000,000 11 Feb 2013
Total number of PDF files filetype:pdf                  – 6 Feb 2013
371,000,000 11 Feb 2013
Total number of resources 10,300,000   6 Feb 2013
26,100,000 11 Feb 2013
Total number of PDF files filetype:pdf        48,800   6 Feb 2013
       48,800 11 Feb 2013

It seems that Scribd hosts a very large number of resources (although a finding of 3 PDF resources originally found was discarded as the results seemed to be unreliable).

However since Scribd is a general purpose repository service, it was felt that ResearchGate provides a repository of a large number of PDFs resources which are more relevant for researchers. In light of this confirmation of the popularity of Researchgate an additional survey was carried out which reported on use of the service across Russell Group universities.

Findings for Institutional Use of and Researchgate

On 1 August 2012 a Survey of Use of Researcher Profiling Services Across the 24 Russell Group Universities was published on this blog. This survey has been repeated in order to detect changes in the use of ResearchGate. Since the original survey also provided an analysis of, this was also included in the current survey. The results are given in the following table. Note that the data is also available in Google Spreadsheets.

Institution (members) ResearchGate
Aug 2012 Feb 2013
Members Publications
Aug 2012 Feb 2013* Members Publications
1 University of Birmingham 1,210 1,562  782 19,515 1,439 22,068
2 University of Bristol  1,018  1,189   641 21,249  1,251 
3 University of Cambridge  3,020  3,439   972 39,713 1,699 42,419
4 Cardiff University     906  1,071   646   9,596 1,272 10,696
5 Durham University  1,001 1,189  273  1,151    662   7,152
6 University of Exeter    919 1,106   269  5,150   652   6,191
7 University of Edinburgh  2,079 2,479
1,181 25,918 2,065 28,486
8 University of Glasgow 1,004
 1,212    613 20,041 1,224 21,733
9 Imperial College    798     896 1,096 30,404 1,377 34,202
10 King’s College London 1,420  1,748 1,406 18,264 2,241 23,391
11 University of Leeds 1,657  1,871    848  16,944 1,455
12 University of Liverpool   866     989   582  16,475 1,146 18,749
13 London School of Economics 1,131  1,354    191    1,838    407   2,449
14 University of Manchester 2,279  2,590 1,113  25,139 2,188 29,675
15 Newcastle University    906  1,039    704  17,307 1,348 17,376
16 University of Nottingham 1,299        1,529    970  20,513 1,559 20,145
17 University of Oxford 3,842        4,469 1,221  38,224 1,967 39,861
18 Queen Mary    715           849   228    5,232    898
19 Queen’s University Belfast    689           774   479 10,750    864 11,699
20 University of Sheffield  1,082        1,235   823 18,127  1,659 20,149
21 University of Southampton  1,083        1,265   670  16,887  1,371 18,325
22 University College London  2,776        3,162 1,624  35,035  2,878 38,550
23 University of Warwick 1,143        1,349    448
  8,098     873   9,334
24 University of York    986        1,180    386   4,841    696
TOTAL    33,829 39,546 18,166   426,414  33,191 477,103
Increase (%)    
  14.5%  82.7%    11.9%

Note: *  As described in the previous survey the numbers of members is obtained by entering the name of the institution in the search box.


Nos. of Researchgate publications

Nos. of items deposited in Researchgate in Aug 2012 (blue) & Feb 2013 (red)

Nos. of Researchgate Members

Nos. of Researchgate Members in Aug 2012 (blue) & Feb 2013 (red)

As illustrated in the accompanying diagrams it seems that the numbers of researchers who have signed up for a ResearchGate account has grown significantly over the past six months, and now stands at over 33,000 users, a growth of 82.7%. The numbers of papers which have been deposited by researchers at Russell Group universities has also grown to a total of over 477, 000 items. However since this represents a growth of 11.9% over six months it suggests that new members are providing metadata records only and not depositing the full text.

I therefore conclude that the conclusions I reached in my post which explained Why I’m Evaluating ResearchGate were correct and ResearchGate is a service which I should use not only to provide a presence about my research activities but also to host my research papers. I do wonder, though, whether the large numbers of items which have been deposited in ResearchGate is due to promotion of the service with the Russell Group universities or represents a bottom-up approach, in which researchers have recognised the benefits of the service and recommended it to their peers?

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Reflections on the Inside-Out Library on National Libraries Day (#nld13)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 February 2013

Lorcan Dempsey's slidesToday is National Libraries Day – a “culmination of a week’s worth of celebrations in school, college, university, workplace and public libraries across the UK“. This morning I woke up to steady stream of tweets using the #nld13 hashtag from the people I follow on Twitter, typified by this one which I spotted at about 08.30:

I #lovelibraries because they welcomed me as a child, educated me as a teenager and sustain me as an adult. #NLD13

Since it is National Libraries Day it was appropriate to see see a tweet which referenced a recent talk by Lorcan Dempsey, former UKOLN Director. In a recent talk presented at the Bobcatsss 2013 conference in Ankara last month Lorcan Dempsey revisited the concept of the Inside Out Library. Lorcan described how this was an idea he has spoken about previously, and cited his presentations on “The Inside Out Library: Libraries in the Age of Amazoogle” (MS PowerPoint format) presented at the 34th LIBER Conference in July 2005 and “The Library and the Network: Flattening the Library and Turning It Inside Out” (MS PowerPoint format) presented at the ACCESS 2005 Conference in October 2005.

In the slides Lorcan provided the following quotation from Seán O’Faoláin written in 1994:

 People should think not so much of the books that have gone into the National Library but rather of the books that have come out of it. A library, after all, feeds the people that go in there. 

A little research showed that Lorcan used this in a paper on Library places and digital information spaces: reflections on emerging network services in Alexandria, 11(1), 1999 – and a preprint of the paper is available on the UKOLN Web site.

Although it is 19 years since Seán O’Faoláin made this observation, Lorcan’s thoughts on the importance of revisiting not so much the resources in the library (which were physical objects in the 1990s) but on the ways in which the needs of library users are being addressed is particularly true in today’s political, economic and technical environment.

It is now several years since the “Library 2.0” term was coined but I do wonder the extent to which Library 2.0 which have been adopted in libraries are restricted to syndication technologies, such as RSS, and the notion as “the Web as the platform” is being lost, as libraries seek to replicate functionality at a local level and fail to gain the benefits of scale which working at a global level could provide.

To updated Seán O’Faoláin quotation for National Libraries day in 2013, should we not be saying:

 People should think not so much of the technologies that have gone into the Library but rather of the global technologies that come out of it. A library, after all, feeds the people that go in there. 

I should add that I appreciate that for public libraries in particular there will be a need to ensure that appropriate physical resources are provided. But aren’t things different in academic libraries?

Lorcan’s slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below:

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Why I’m Evaluating ResearchGate

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 February 2013

A PDF Repository for my Research Publications

In a recent post which explained Why I’m Now Embedding ORCID Metadata in PDFs I described my intentions to ensure that my research papers contains rich embedded metadata to held enhance the discoverability of the publications, ensure that authorship is asserted (by embedding the ORCID ID of the authors of the papers) and ensure that embedded images contain descriptions which help ensure that the content can be understood by visually impaired readers. In addition I wish to ensure that the PDF is stored in PDF/A format which provides a more preservable format.

In light of discussions on the blog and on email I have decided to embed the ORCID IDs for co-authors of my peer-reviewed papers although, as suggested by Geoffery Bilder, I will be embedding the HTTP URI version of the ORCID IDs (e.g. rather than just the ORCID ID itself (0000-0001-5875-8744). In addition I will also be embedding the DOI for papers which have been assigned a DOI.

But I am now faced with the problem of where the paper should be hosted. This post summarises the processes I am using in the selection of an appropriate repository service to complement my institutional repository.

Selection Processes

As described previously workflow processes used in the creation of cover sheets for items hosted in our repository means that metadata embedded in PDFs is lost. Although we’re having discussions with repository staff about this, it occurred to me that I now have an ideal opportunity to make use of a third-party repository service.

In the past I have normally deposited papers in my institutional repository and used third-party services (such as ResearchGate and to host the metadata, with links being provided to the full-text of the papers hosted in the institutional repository. The main reason for doing this was to ensure that usage statistics for accesses of the full-text was available in a single location rather than being fragmented across a range of services. There was a need to minimise the effort in collating such statistics for the product of evidence reports of our work which our funders have required in the past. However in light of the recent announcement of the cessation of core-funding for UKOLN, this is no longer a priority! Indeed it is now important to ensure that ideas described in peer-reviewed papers are widely disseminated.

Using ResearchGate

Having recognised the value of hosting PDF copies of my papers on a third-party repository service the question then was which one to select. The key criteria used in the selection were:

  • Easy to upload files.
  • Popular with readers.
  • Resource is easily found using Google.
  • PDF files preserved intact.
  • Service appears to be viable.

Researchgate: University of BathOn 25 December 2012 I received an automated email from ResearchGate which informed me that “28 of your colleagues from University of Bath have joined ResearchGate in the last month“. On 24 January 2013 an automated message announced “44 of your colleagues recently joined ResearchGate“. As illustrated the University of Bath”s entry of ResearchGate shows that there are currently researchers from 26 departments who have uploaded a total of 7,263 publications. It seems ResearchGate is growing in popularity, at least at the University of Bath.

On 20 December 2012 I was notified of the numbers of views of my papers (or, more accurately, the numbers of views of the metadata for my papers): “Your published research was viewed 1,678 times in 2012” so perhaps ResearchGate is popular beyond the University of Bath!

In light of the apparent popularity of the service I decided to upload one of my papers to the service: the PDF copy of the paper on “Developing A Holistic Approach For E-Learning Accessibility“.

It was trivial to upload the paper, especially as the associated metadata had been created previously. I then downloaded the PDF and was able to confirm that the metadata was still embedded in the PDF resource.

The paper can be accessed from ResearchGate and the user interface is shown below. I’ll leave others to judge the usability of the service.

ResearchGate page for CJTL 2004 paper

Page on ResearchGate for one of my papers

But in addition to users who are linked directly to the paper or access resources on the ResearchGate service using the Web site’s browse and search functionality, what of the discoverability of resources using Google.

ResearchGate, Google and Embedded Metadata

The PDF version of the paper now contains content which will not be widely used elsewhere: a combination of the authors’ names and their ORCID ID. A Google search for “Brian Kelly ORCID: 0000-0001-5875-8744“, “Lawrie Phipps ORCID: 0000-0002-0834-273X” or Elaine Swift ORCID: 0000-0002-6101-6861” should initially find information about the paper hosted on the UKOLN Web site, the UK Web Focus blog and other services which may be used by the co-authors, although not the institutional repository as this does not currently provide ORCID information (understandably, as ORCID is so new).

I have therefore provided links to the following Google searches which I will monitor to see when Google has indexed the PDFs hosted on ResearchGate:

Search Term Findings Date
Brian Kelly ORCID: 0000-0001-5875-8744 Large number of hits from UK Web Focus blog
together with ORCID, UKOLN and Slideshare Web sites
27 Jan 2013
Lawrie Phipps ORCID: 0000-0002-0834-273X 5 hits (ORCID and UKOLN Web sites and UK Web Focus blog) 6 Feb 2013
4 hits (ORCID Web site and UK Web Focus blog) 27 Jan 2013
Elaine Swift ORCID: 0000-0002-6101-6861 3 hits (ORCID and UKOLN Web site and UK Web Focus blog) 6 Feb 2013
2 hits (ORCID Web site and UK Web Focus blog) 27 Jan 2013

It appears that over a period of a week the ORCID metadata is being found from citation records hosted on the UKOLN Web site together with the citation records already indexed on the ORCID Web site and this blog, but not yet the PDF files hosted on ResearchGate. Might this be due to Google not indexing the site? In order to answer this question Google was used to provide information on the total number of resources on the service and the total number of PDF files. The results are given below.

Purpose Search Term Nos. of results Date
Total number of resources on site 24,100,000 –
55,300,000 *
6 Feb 2013
Total number of PDF files on site filetype:pdf 2,980,000 6 Feb 2013

* The numbers of search results have fluctuated from 24,100,000 – 55,300,000 during the last few days.

It seems that a large number of PDF files hosted on Researchgate have been indexed by Google, but it takes longer than a week for new resources to be indexed and the results found using a Google search.

Sustainability of the Service

Numbers of ResearchGate usersWhat Does The Evidence Say?

The home page for the service displays a graphic (to users who are not logged in) of the numbers of the service. It seems that 2.4 million users have subscribed. Since there are likely to be researchers, this does appear to be a significant number.

But what else do we know about the service and the company which provides the service? TechCrunch provides a handful of posts about the company together with the following summary:

ResearchGate is the leading social network for scientists. It offers tools and applications for researchers to interact and collaborate. ResearchGate offers a social, crowdsourced platform designed for researchers. The platform provides a global scientific web-based environment in which scientists can interact, exchange knowledge and collaborate with researchers of different fields.

The results of ResearchGate’s new search engine, called ReFind, are not merely based on keywords, but selected in an intelligent way based on semantic, contextual correlations.

Researchgate: numbers of users in 2012In addition the article also provides a graph showing the numbers of users over the past year, based on figures provided by Compete.

As can be seen, the numbers of unique visitors seem to be growing significantly, from 61,640K in December 2011 to 236,170K in December 2012.

MajesticSEO figures for ResearchgateI also used MajesticSEO to report on the SEO characteristics of the service (note free subscription required in order to view findings). As can be seen there are 7,459 domains which have links to and a total of 177,945 backlinks. Although such figures need to be regarded with caution (for example, they can be skewed significantly by link spam) the number of links from educational domains (3,241) and the numbers of educational domains (551) may be more appropriate to measure, due to the difficulties in creating educations domains to host link farms. This snapshot may therefore provide a useful baseline for measuring changes in the link popularity in the service.

Terms and Conditions

It should be noted that looking at the ResearchGate terms and conditions I found no suggestions that the company claims rights to sell my data or my attention data to others (although I haven’t studied the terms and conditions in great detail). Although some may welcome this, others may wonder what the business model for the company is. An article entitled ResearchGate Wants To Be Facebook For Scientists published by Forbes in March 2012 described how:

ResearchGate will also be looking into ways to monetize its platform. The “no-brainer” way to do that, in Madisch’s words, is to provide job boards for scientists looking for jobs. Universities and companies would pay the site to place listings. The company is also looking for ways to partner with other companies that manufacture and sell biotech lab equipment, as well as several other different programs.”

 Perhaps this is an appropriate business model which will accepted by researchers who normally shy away from free services on the grounds that “If You’re Not Paying for It; You’re the Product“.

Interest in UK HE Sector

Although ResearchGate seems to be growing in popularity globally (and in the University of Bath) is there any evidence of interest with the UK’s higher education community? For me this is not necessarily a significant issue (it can be fine to be an early adopter) but it would be interesting to see what others in my community are saying about the service.

Using a Google search for “researchgate terms and conditions I found that the DCC have provided a summary of ResearchGate in its list of resources of digital curators with a similar resource being provided by the University of Edinburgh’s College of Humanities and Social Science. A Google search for “researchgate UK finds a number of additional resources from the sector including pages provided by the University of Leeds (PDF format), the University of Leicester, the University of Liverpool (PDF format) and the University of Gloucester together with blog posts at the University of Loughborough and the University of Warwick.

My Decision

In light of these figures and my experiences in using the service I am happy to use the service to provide additional exposure to my research papers which complements the master copy of papers which are hosted on my institutional repository. Are other researchers making similar decisions or are alternative services felt to provide better options?

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UK University Home Pages: (Remember) The Way We Were

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 February 2013

The Way We Were

University of Bath home page: 1997Back in July 1997 UKOLN held the first IWMW (Institutional Web Management Workshop) event. The event aimed to share examples of best practices and innovation for those involved in providing institutional Web services.

D0 you remember what your institution’s home page looked like in 1997? Back in 2002 we set up a service which provides a rolling display of University home pages. We subsequently used the same tool to provide a rolling display of University home pages taken from the Internet Archive.

It is therefore possible to see how University home pages looked before the first IWMW event took place and to compare this with how the pages look today.

How We Are Today

The following rolling displays show how Web sites look today:

Note that if links are broken this indicates that the URL of the original Web page no longer exists. It is interesting to note the high profile that was given to the provision to institutional Web gateways ten years ago; nowadays institutional Web sites are more likely, I suspect, tow ish visitors to stay on the Web sites with links to interesting resources elsewhere being minimised.

I should also add that historical displays which show the evolution of the home page are available for the following institutions:

Looking Forward to the Future

IWMW 2013 home pageThe theme of the IWMW 2013 event is “What Next?“. We are currently inviting submissions for talks and workshop sessions which will be of interest to those involved in the provision of institutional Web services. Participants will be interested in looking to the future and to hear about approaches to the management of large-scale institutional Web services which are applicable in today’s environment.

It seems to me that it would be useful to look into the lessons which can be learnt from the history of institutional Web development when making plans for the future. I hope the resources mentioned above will be useful for those who wish to travel back in time and see how Web sites have evolved over the past 17 years.

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