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Archive for the 'European Developments' Category

Director’s View: Marketing UCL

Paul Ayris21 September 2016

UCL Library Services and UCL Press in central and eastern Europe

12-15 September saw me give three talks in central and eastern Europe on aspects of our work in UCL. In particular, I spoke on two topics – the Library of the Future and the work of UCL Press.

BudapestThe first talk was in Budapest at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and I gave detailed examples of how UCL Library Services is tackling the Open Access agenda in Europe. Principally I spoke about UCL Press, the 13 research monographs which we have published in our first year of activity, our first Open Access textbook and our journals offerings.

The download figures from UCL Press caused particular interest, and I was able to show that in the first twelve months the Press had received over 40,000 downloads of books from UCL Discovery from over 150 countries. In the commercial market, a book which sells over 400 copies is reckoned to be a good title. UCL Press is already outperforming in this metric.

Ljub LogoThe second set of talks took place in Ljubljana in Slovenia. I repeated the talk about UCL Press, but also gave a presentation on the future of academic libraries. In this talk, I used a lot of examples from the innovations which we have delivered in UCL Library Services.

I talked, for example, about the UCL Cruciform Hub and the planned New Student Centre. I explained how these digitally-enabled learning spaces, with their 24-hr opening, had and would transform the way that students work in UCL. I surveyed the pan-UCL implementation of RFID for self-issue and self-return, and described how this was led by the Library Strategy and its emphasis on the Student Experience.

sicisl161In this talk, I also gave more detail on UCL’s engagement with Open Access. I illustrated this with the DART-Europe portal, which opens up 704,265 full-text research theses from 595 European universities in 28 countries. This is a major contribution to making research outputs discoverable and usable. Download statistics from UCL Discovery show that PhD theses are some of the most downloaded content. In July 2016, 4 of the top 20 most downloaded items were research theses.

I greatly enjoyed my time in Hungary and Slovenia, and the ability to meet colleagues from other universities and research organisations. All those I met were very impressed by the developments in which UCL Library Services is engaged, the professionalism of our staff and the impact we are having on UCL as a whole. I was proud to speak on behalf of so talented a Library organisation in so innovative a university.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services


What will Brexit mean for UCL? – a forum for the UCL Community

Benjamin Meunier5 September 2016

After the forum on Brexit implications hosted by the Provost on 12/07 (you can watch the event in full here), you are invited to this follow-up event:  What will Brexit mean for UCL? – a forum for the UCL Community. The forum will be taking place Monday 12 September 2016, details and registration link below:

Timings: 11:30am – 1:30pm (registration from 11am)

Venue: Darwin Lecture Theatre


Panel Introduction and Q&A chaired by Lori Houlihan, Vice-Provost (Development)


Panel membership:

– Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs)

– Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International)

– Michael Browne, Head of European Research & Innovation


Registration link and agenda: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/what-will-brexit-mean-for-ucl-a-forum-for-the-ucl-community-tickets-27305028074


The Director’s View: UCL Open Science Platform

Paul Ayris29 July 2016

Open Science

Summer 2016 will see the creation of a new Working Group of Library Committee – the UCL Open Science Platform.

Open Science (perhaps more accurately called Open Scholarship) is a global movement looking at ‘open’ approaches to making the processes of research and education and their outputs more open and available for legal sharing and re-use.

King's College Cambridge: Chapel

King’s College Cambridge: Chapel

Open Science is a term which embraces a large number of issues in the ‘open’ agenda, spanning the horizon as far as the eye can see – a concept which also influenced John Wastell, the last and perhaps most brilliant master mason who worked on King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, and who took charge in 1508. He is the architect of the beautiful fan vaulting – ‘the noblest stone ceiling in existence‘ – which was built in just three years between 1512 and 1515 and is the largest fan vault in the world. The supporters of Open Science have similar aspirations for their agenda too.

Open Science encompasses movements such as Open Access to publications, well-founded research data management, and open data. These are the best known features of the movement, but there are other activities too – metrics (how do we measure success in open approaches to scholarship?), reward and recognition systems (payment, promotion), Citizen Science and public engagement. And, of course, funding streams have to be identified/re-directed to fund investment in resources, services and developments.

It is planned that the UCL Open Science Platform will meet three times a year, chaired by the Vice-Provost (Research), and act as a co-ordinator and advocate for Open Science to UCL’s Schools, Faculties, Departments, Committees and Working Groups. It will also act as a beacon of good practice to international groupings, such as LERU (League of European Research Universities).

UCL Press: 1st birthday

UCL Press: 1st birthday

UCL Library Services is well-placed to influence the development of the Open Science Platform. The Library runs UCL Discovery and has established UCL Press as the first fully Open Access University Press in the UK. We are the Principal Investigator in the LEARN project on research data managament, which includes a strand of thinking on open data. And we have amongst us UCL’s Research Data Advocacy Officer, Myriam Fellous-Sigrist. The Library also makes a major contribution via the UCL Publications Board (which oversees UCL’s work on Open Access) and the Bibliometrics Working Group.

UCL Library Services is thus re-defining the role of library services in the twenty-first century, offering a lead which places it at the forefront of such developments across Europe.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services

The Director’s View: LERU Doctoral Summer School

Paul Ayris20 July 2016

LERU Doctoral Summer School

On 15 July, I gave a keynote address to the LERU Doctoral Summer School in Leiden, The Netherlands; every year LERU organises a high profile Summer School for PhD students from LERU institutions.

Doctoral School 2016This year, the theme of the meeting was Data Curation – addressing how early career researchers should tackle the need to collect, store, describe, use/re-use and archive the research data they are collecting. My task was to set the concept of data curation in the more general context of Open Science – or Open Research, as it is better described, since it covers all academic disciplnes from Art to Zoology.

I explained to the students, amongst whom were 2 UCL PhD students, that the two main building blocks of Open Science were (1) Open Access to publications and (2) proper management of research data.

I started my talk with a review of Open Access developments in Europe. Here UCL is one of the leading universities and we are proud to LER Doctoral School2note that it is UCL Library Services which leads on Open Access for the University. I was able to point out that Europe has got itself into a bit of a lather about Open Access policies – there are 461 of them, more than in the rest of the world put together. I explained how the current model of publishing goes against the Open agenda – authors assign their copyright to publishers, universities offer (free) peer review and Editorial Board services. Universities pay academics to do research, which is then handed over to publishers for free and we have to buy it back through subscriptions and purchases – a publishing system which is not intuitive. The students got very engaged on this subject and we had a great session with frank exchanges of views.

After publications, I talked about the role of research data in the Open agenda, and demonstrated how the projected European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) could help create a level playing field for all European researchers to re-use resources and services which were meant for sharing. There are clear academic advantages in working like this, since sharing will speed the discovery of new cures/solutions to global societal challenges such as ill health, poverty, drought, global warming. There is also an economic advantage to sharing, since this enables new tools, services, and drugs to come to market sooner, creating new jobs and industries in the process.

The Summer School ended with an hour’s feedback session from the students, where they commented on what worked for them, and what did not. It is clear that they want to continue to be involved in Open Science discussions now they have returned to their Universities. A follow-up seminar is already being planned where the speakers and students from Leiden can look in more detail at some of the questions raised in the Summer School this year.

Open Science is a really important agenda for research, and it is equally important that research-led libraries such as UCL’s have a cogent offering to make.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services


The Director’s View: Innovation in practice

Paul Ayris13 July 2016

Sharing innovation across UCL Library Services

On 12 July, I attended the Staff Afternoon at the UCL Institute of Education’s Newsam Library and Archives. This is based on an event which the IOE has run in previous years, which gives staff a chance to tell colleagues about their work. The IOE used lightning sessions (10 minute informal presentations) to do this and the emphasis was on making them both informative and light-hearted.

What did I learn? Well, amongst many things, I heard about a year in the life of the IOE Library and Archives; and quite a lot about detective fiction which is set in educational establishments. I saw how useful the Erasmus program is, enabling members of staff to travel to other European countries to learn best practice. The ORSEM database, of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine) exam papers, was described in some detail. This was very timely, because I had just answered a copyright query for the IOE Library and Archives on the ORSEM database. 2012nov-ug13-d2-089External speakers from elsewhere in UCL Library Services were also invited to speak. We had a demonstration of contrasting forms of library video from across UCL; a detailed look at important research in the UCL Records Office about the early history of race and religion amongst University College’s first students; and an overview of the first year of publishing activity from UCL Press.

The afternoon was an excellent example of how to highlight best practice and build teams. Congratulations to Bernard Scaife and his colleagues for an enjoyable day, where I saw how innovation in practice can help shape the future development of libraries.

WhyWePostThe theme of innovation was continued in the evening when I attended the Chair of UCL Council’s Dinner in the Jeremy Bentham Room. This is an annual dinner hosted by the Chair of Council, Dame DeAnne Julius. The Chair of Council highlighted a number of developments across the whole of UCL, which she felt contributed to the growing success and importance of the University to Higher Education across the globe. To my great delight, one of the innovative initiatives to which the Chair drew attention was the first year of publishing in UCL Press. DeAnne underlined that the Press was the UK’s first fully Open Access University Press and that this was in the spirit of UCL’s tradition of radical, disruptive thinking. She highlighted the number of downloads that UCL Press monographs are receiving – over 30,000 in year 1 – and the large number of countries – over 160 – in which these downloads are being made.

The new Student Centre: Nicholas Hare Architects

The new Student Centre: Nicholas Hare Architects

In his response, the Provost also highlighted a number of important developments which will contribute to the growing success of UCL. One of the most significant is the creation of the new Student Centre, which is timetabled to open in the academic session 2018-19. This will deliver an extra 1,000 learning spaces into UCL and these will be managed, as all centrally-provided learning spaces are, by the Library. The Provost highlighted just what a tremendous impact the new Student Centre will have on the Student Experience.

12 July 2016 was a memorable day for me. Earlier that morning I had watched the livestream of the Town Meeting discussing the impact on UCL staff and students of the recent EU Referendum result. UCL is providing copious information, which I have shared here on the LibNet Blog. UCL truly values all its staff and students and will fight for the best outcome in the forthcoming negotiations. The IOE’s Staff Afternoon underlined the importance of innovative staff development and sharing ideas – a great model for everyone to follow. The Council Dinner in the evening made me realize once again just how valued UCL Library Services is in the UCL community and how proud I am to be a small part of the work which all colleagues in the Library contribute to our success.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services


The Director’s View: EU Referendum follow-up

Paul Ayris12 July 2016

EU Referendum news

I want to write to share further information with you on how UCL is managing the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union following the Referendum of 23 June.

Some days ago, I shared with the UCL Brexit Working Group a list of 13 questions which had been raised by members of Library staff about the implications of the Referendum result for them and their careers. These questions have been used to help formulate new information for EU nationals and students in UCL. These appear as a list of Frequently Asked Questions in a new webpage, which includes FAQs about the impact of the Referendum outcome on our staff and student community, including information about applying for UK citizenship: look here. UCL has also set up a helpline to provide information. If you have any queries which are not answered by the text on the website, please direct them to: eustaffqueries@ucl.ac.uk

Big Ben 558619_448617221849848_1734285370_nThree of the original questions from Library colleagues refer to local issues and I am happy to give answers to these questions here:

Question: Will UCL HR and the Library Services Personnel Team have the appropriate resource (staffing and financial) in place to deal with all the extra work in checking statuses, dealing with queries, and applying for work permits if and when necessary? Will UCL be prepared to apply for work permits if it becomes necessary for professional services staff?

Response: To ensure adequate resource allocation and process efficiency, the Personnel Team will work in partnership with HR Advisory to meet the requirements of any possible change in the visa processes.

Question: Will UCL be able to issue proof of employment, including contracts for those staff who do not have them, to all EU staff – especially those who wish to apply for residency or citizenship? NB: some staff are reporting that they do not have a formal contract.

Response: Any staff members who state they do not have a formal contract are to contact the Personnel Office who will follow up with HR Advisory to provide staff with a copy of their employment contract.

Question: Could guidance be issued to all recruiting managers as soon as possible to instruct them that there must be no discrimination against EU citizens applying for a job?

Response: Recruiting Managers are unaware of an applicant’s immigration status at the time of recruitment.  There is no possibility for the recruitment and selection panel to discriminate on the basis of immigration status.

Colleagues should know that the Provost is writing individually to each (non-British) EU member of staff in the coming days to re-assure them. If colleagues have not received a letter by Friday, I would recommend that they should contact the email address eustaffqueries@ucl.ac.uk

Also, there is a Town Hall meeting today (Tuesday) at 11.00: bookings can be made here.The event is also being livestreamed and the link is here – the Provost, Professor David Price and Wendy Appleby as well as Dame Nicola Brewer will be there to take questions on what Brexit means for UCL staff.

Let me re-assure colleagues once more that no changes will take place in the next 2 years, whilst details of the discussions between the UK and the European Union on their new relationship are agreed. UCL understands how sensitive these issues are and is lobbying hard for the best deal for EU nationals working in UCL, who are trusted and valued as an integral part of the UCL family.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services

The Director’s View: EU Referendum follow up

Paul Ayris1 July 2016

Procedures to follow in cases of alleged discriminatory behaviour

I am posting these lines following a request from colleagues to spell out what procedures should be followed in cases of alleged discriminatory behavour.

Jeremy Bentham, who invented the word 'international'

Jeremy Bentham, who invented the word ‘international’

First, I reiterate the statement UCL’s President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur has made that we have a zero tolerance approach to behaviour or incidents of a discriminatory nature.

Any incidents of a racial or other discriminatory nature within UCL are dealt with via UCL’s Dignity at Work statement.

Staff are welcome to discuss any incidents with their line manager or with the Library Services DEOLOs Breege Whiten (x31342) and Grazia Manzotti (x42156). You can raise incidents or behaviour that you have been directly involved in or incidents that you have witnessed.

Guidance can also be sought from the Library Services’ Personnel Team by contacting Margareth Ainley, Interim Departmental Personnel Manager. All incidents raised will be handled professionally and confidentially.

Incidents outside UCL can be reported by calling the police on 101, contacting Crimestoppers or using the True Vision website. True Vision (Association of Chief Police Officers) provides information and further guidance on identifying and reporting incidents of discrimination or hate crimes.

Colleagues should know that UCL has established a top-level Brexit ‘task and finish’ group, which is attended by the Provost. The role of this ‘task and finish’ group is to advise the Provost and guide UCL through the short-, medium- and long-term implications of Brexit, with a particular immediate focus on internal and external communication. I, as Head of the Division of Library Services, will be the contact between the group and the Library. I will share with you all pertinent news, alongside the group’s own public communications, and also discuss with the group pertinent issues of concern to Library colleagues.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services


From Rex Knight, Vice-Provost (Operations)

Paul Ayris29 June 2016

From the Vice-Provost (Operations): EU Referendum

Dear colleagues

I am writing because I want to reinforce some of the key messages that UCL has been communicating to staff and students in recent days.

EC-10847210_917071835004382_3074128324967377870_oFirst of all, we are all very conscious that we are entering on a period of uncertainty and the potential for major change. We will do our best to keep you informed as and when we know more about what the implications for UCL will be. We will be using The Week and our website for communication so please do look at them. If you haven’t seen the Provost’s video, which you can access from the home page, I would encourage you to do so.

Change is clearly on the way, but it is not coming quickly. Once a new Prime Minister is appointed and has appointed their Government, time will be  needed to decide a negotiating position, and the exit process from that date will take two years to negotiate and then several years (ten years has been suggested) to implement. So, nothing will change for the next two and a half years at least, and changes will not be immediate thereafter.

There are some obvious implications for UCL in terms of staff recruitment, student recruitment and access to research funding. As I have already said, we will have time to plan for change. I don’t believe that any Government will want to harm the UK’s world-class universities, so I am sure that in the negotiations steps will be taken to protect the interests of universities, and through UUK and the Russell Group we have effective mechanisms for lobbying. Given the strength of UCL, our reputation and world-leading performance, I am confident that we will be able to anticipate, plan for, and deal with the challenges ahead, so I am confident that we will be able to deal with any challenges we face without a major impact on us.

As with the rest of the UCL community, the fact that Professional Services at UCL attracts staff from around the world is a source of our strength, and something that we celebrate. It has been saddening to see recent reports from around the UK of an increase in reporting of racist incidents and comments. I have no reason to expect that this will be an issue at UCL, but I would like to send a clear message to all staff that any such behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. If any colleague is subject to such unacceptable behaviour I would encourage them to report it, and it will be taken seriously. Whatever happens with our relationship with the EU, we are all committed to tolerance, respect, and fairness for all.

Best wishes

Rex Knight

Vice-Provost (Operations)

The Director’s View: European Open Science Cloud

Paul Ayris29 June 2016

EOSC – European Open Science Cloud

On 20 June 2016 the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on the European Open Science Cloud, of which I am a member, published its draft Report. This is the product of months of deliberation and discussion amongst the Group’s international membership.

The UNIMAIL, University of Geneva

The UNIMAIL, University of Geneva

The aim of the Report is to look at the emerging concept of Open Research (known rather confusingly in English as Open Science) and to see how European countries can work on this collaboratively. Open Science covers many different topics – the two most prominent ones are Open Access to publications and Research Data Management, with a preference for Open Data. UCL is seen as a European leader in Open Access. With our EU-funded LEARN project, we are aiming to do the same for Research Data.

As Professor Barend Mons, our Chair, has written in the Preface to the Report:

‘The title of this first report may have a slightly threatening ring to it and indeed, if we do not act, there might be a looming crisis on the Horizon. The vast majority of all data in the world (in fact up to 90%) has been generated in the last two years. Computers have long surpassed individuals in their ability to perform pattern recognition over large data sets. Scientific data is in dire need of openness, better handling, careful management, machine actionability and sheer re-use. One of the sobering conclusions of our consultations was that research infrastructure and communication appear to be stuck in the 20th century paradigm of data scarcity. We should see this step-change in science as an enormous opportunity and not as a threat. The EOSC is a positive ‘Cloud on the Horizon’ to be realised by 2020. Ultimately, actionable knowledge and translation of its benefits to society will be handled by humans in the ‘machine era’ for decades to come, machines are just made to serve us.

But let’s not ignore the facts: the science system is in landslide transition from data-sparse to data-saturated. Meanwhile, scholarly communication, data management methodologies, reward systems and training curricula do not adapt quickly enough if at all to this revolution. Researchers, funders and publishers (I always thought that meant making things public) keep each other hostage in a deadly embrace by continuing to conduct, publish, fund and judge science in the same way as in the past century.

So far, no-one seems to be able to break this deadlock. Open Access articles are indispensable but solve only a fraction of the problem. Neither ‘open research data’ alone will do. We still try to press petabytes of results in length-restricted narrative, effectively burying them behind firewalls or in supplementary data behind decaying hyperlinks and then trying to mine them back again. Computers hate ambiguous human language and love structured, machine actionable data, while machine readable data are a turnoff for the human mind. As computers have become indispensable research assistants, we better make what we publish understandable to them. We need both in concert to form social machines; in order to do pattern recognition in complex, interlinked data as well as confirmational studies on methodology and rhetorics in plain understandable human language.

We hope that this report will be part of a game-changing effort of all European Member States and our international partners towards true Open Science.’

Paul Ayris
Director of UCL Library Services

The Director’s View: EU Referendum and a Statement from BIS

Paul Ayris28 June 2016

Statement from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science

Following on from my posting of earlier today, I would like to share with you a Statement from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, which addresses the issues which are of importance to UK universities going forward:

‘EU and international students make an important contribution to our world-class universities, and our European neighbours are among some of our closest research partners.

European ParliamentThere are obviously big discussions to be had with our European partners, and I look forward to working with the sector to ensure its voice is fully represented and that it continues to go from strength to strength.

EU students who are eligible under current rules to receive loans and grants from the Student Loans Company will continue to do so for courses they are currently enrolled on or about to start this coming year. The Master’s Loans launched today are also still available to eligible EU students. EU students will continue to receive funding for the duration of their courses. Information on the eligibility criteria, including residency rules, is available. The SLC have provided more information at ‘EU Nationals and Student Finance in England’

Further future funding arrangements with the EU will be determined as part of the UK’s discussions on its membership and we will provide what updates and clarity we can.

As the Prime Minister has stated, there will be no immediate changes following the EU Referendum, including in the circumstances of British citizens living in the EU, and European citizens living here. This includes those studying or working at UK universities.

For students, visitors, businesses and entrepreneurs who are already in the UK or who wish to come here, there will be no immediate change to our visa policies.

The referendum result does not affect students studying in the EU, beneficiaries of Erasmus+ or those considering applying in 2017. The UK’s future access to the Erasmus+ programme will be determined as a part of wider discussions with the EU.

More broadly, existing UK students studying in the EU, and those looking to start in the next academic year, will continue to be subject to current arrangements.

Horizon 2020 research funding
The referendum result has no immediate effect on those applying to or participating in Horizon 2020. UK participants can continue to apply to the programme in the usual way. The future of UK access to European science funding will be a matter for future discussions. Government is determined to ensure that the UK continues to play a leading role in European and international research’

I hope this is helpful, and I will continue to share news with you as things develop.


Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services