Comprehensively collecting and making available institutional research and grey literature
What is it?
Wageningen is a Dutch university with a specific focus on the life sciences and “healthy food and the living environment”. It is also home to a groundbreakingly comprehensive institutional repository, Wageningen Yield, that covers not only all the scientific output of the university but also collects grey literature and makes it available to the rest of the world. In addition to its comprehensiveness, the repository is leading the way in providing user statistics and citation reports to its researchers – which in turn encourages greater involvement in the repository by the institution’s academic staff.
How is it a success?
Wageningen Yield is a comprehensive, total output bibliographic database of all the research of the university. The metadata for every article is as complete a description as possible. If an article is open access it is made available, so Wageningen Yield is both a complete academic bibliography and an open access repository. The coverage goes back to 1975.
“Our success lies in the 100% coverage and the large share of open access publications. We’re making reports and proceedings more visible and accessible,” says Peter van der Togt, the
former manager of Wageningen Yield.
The repository currently contains over 183.000 metadata records, 44,000 open access records and 39,000 records for e-harvesting (not including Powerpoint presentations and posters – only “real publications” such as articles, reports and proceedings are counted for e-harvesting).
“What we see is that a lot of repositories containing only formal academic outputs, only peer reviewed journal articles published by PubMed or the Web of Science,” says Wouter Gerritsma, bibliometrician at Wageningen library. “But academic output is far more than that, especially if you have agricultural research stations as part of your organisation. They publish a lot of reports in all kinds of trade journals, such as Farmers’ Weekly, and, in most circumstances, these are open access publications. So this is where we have a head start on all the other universities because we cover these publications as well and so we cover the complete, comprehensive academic output. We collect grey literature and we make it available to the rest of the world through the repository.”
It sounds like a huge task for the library, so does it work in practice? For a start, it’s mandated. But it’s also deeply embedded in the university’s administrative system. Secretaries log the output of professors in the research information system then the library staff check the data – ensuring, for example, that the right distinction has been made between book chapters and conference proceedings, open access peer reviewed journals and professional body journals. If the publications are in open access journals or the researchers provide post-prints, they are published on the web and made freely available.
“It makes a really big difference having the extensive network of data entry within the university. Otherwise you only concentrate on the peer review journal output because that is collectible, the reports and grey literature would be completely missed,” comments Gerritsma
The library staff also teach the researchers about publication strategies, having discovered during their harvesting of metadata while first populating the repository that Wageningen research was not always easily identifiable – simply because the university name is difficult to spell.
“Sometimes researchers will use Dutch rather than English or go for the lowest common denominator such as the lab or research groups rather than the name of the university,” explains Gerritsma. “But people who do searches for university rankings will do it on the name of the university and so this is a strong message to pass on to our researchers. Because we are so attentive to this area I suspect that the ranking of our name in publications has greatly improved. We also encourage people to publish in high quality journals to improve the performance of Wageningen university and enhance the performance of the research.
And Wageningen’s academics can see exactly how well their research has performed – because Wageningen Yield tells them.
The library calculates citation scores for each academic group and takes full citation information from all the publications in the repository. It’s not publicly available but it’s accessible for any member of staff at the university.
“Because the database is comprehensive we can slice and dice it any way we wish – for a person, a group, a graduate school, a project – so we have various ways of looking at the impact of groups and groups of people. It is used a lot. There are benefits in this area for the whole institution. We have given a lot of presentations about how we calculate these things,” says Gerritsma.
The citation tools are also very important because they are used to work out the research bonuses of the groups for each year, based on the information the library gives. If the metadata is not in the repository it’s not included in the validation reports. As a result, researchers are eager to add all their work to ensure it’s visible in the validation reports.
“It also saves the university money by making the lists easier. We’ve improved the infrastructure. Researchers have to register the metadata once then reuse as often as they like. For them it’s very easy – and if it’s easy they will do it,” concludes Gerritsma.