Etching test, Jessica Turrell

Etching test (Focus artists: Jessica Turrell - jewellery, 2010)
Jessica Turrell
Courtesy of UWE Research Repository

This toolkit is made available under a Creative Commons License:

Creative Commons Licence

Why is advocacy important?

"A successful advocacy strategy can lead to positive and fruitful results. If a European wide repository management and user community can be established that is active, engaged and committed to the use and growth of repositories, then demand-led technologies will be supported and will develop. Without such a community, even the best technologies will find it hard to become adopted."

(DRIVER, 2008)

The quote above expresses what the Kultur II Group is trying to achieve at a community level, and what repository staff are doing at an institutional level. Advocacy is key to building, developing and enhancing the institutional repository; successful advocacy will reap benefits for the institutions, researchers, students, and users in the wider community.

"Clearly digital repositories for research output are on their way to becoming a permanent part of the infrastructure of scholarly communication."

(Graaf and Eijndhoven, 2008:88)

Advocacy is important, not only for scholarly communication, but because academic institutions are using repositories to manage and disseminate research outputs. Institutional repositories within an arts environment can, by the very nature of research work in the arts, create a very visual impact, an added benefit in raising the profile of both the researchers and the institution. Increased visibility in the current climate of cuts and student fees, is more important than ever in order to showcase the work which is conducted at the institution. The high profile of researchers and the visibility of their work is just one reason why students could choose to apply to your institution above another.

Why create an advocacy plan?

This toolkit provides a sample Advocacy Strategy document in the Resources section. It is clear from the responses to the question in the Kultivate survey 'Do you have an advocacy policy or strategy?' that 42% of participants already had a strategy and 23% were developing a strategy. This indicates that it is certainly considered a key part of the development of their institutional repository.

An advocacy plan is a vehicle to:

  1. raise the profile of the institutional repository
  2. initiate cultural change
  3. encourage and facilitate deposit of material
  4. provide advice on issues surrounding IPR and copyright

Bibliometrics could be added to this list as they will be a key factor for the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014). It may also be useful to consider publisher policies. There is a growing demand for quantitative indicators of success for those seeking funding or other opportunities. For example key performance indicators can be used to show how repositories demonstrate value to an institution.

1. Raising the profile of the institutional repository

There are benefits to raising the profile of the institutional repository for researchers, the institution and the wider community. Researchers can benefit because their work is more visible, liaison with the Research Office can provide a cohesive approach to the management of research outputs along with a standardisation of institutional records and information for the REF can be more easily collated. For the institution repository content is readily available both locally and globally creating increased visibility and prestige. Generally it is a requirement that publically funded research should now be made publically available and repositories are one way of disseminating this information which aids in the public understanding of research endeavours and activities.

2. Initiating Cultural Change

This is important to ensure a steady increase of deposits and avoid peaks and troughs associated with RAE Research Assessment Exercise (now replaced by REF) and REF.

3. Encouraging and facilitating deposit of material

"Improving work flow in the system is important; if it is difficult to deposit it won't matter how good your advocacy is."

Jackie Wickham, RSP, Kultivate Advocacy workshop, 28th February 2011

Talking to researchers, who are, or will be, depositing, is key to improving services and developing the institutional research repository and its workflows and procedures.

4. Providing advice on issues surrounding Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and copyright

This was an area highlighted in the survey; respondents were asked what researchers perceive as barriers to deposit, and clearing copyright with the publisher was listed ahead of uncertainty in depositing complex multi-media items, copyright issues regarding third party, and the use of their work by others.