Relationship building

Technical integration may be challenging, but a precondition of its success is that the requirements of all the potential users of integrated systems are properly understood. All the stakeholders must be involved and indeed the shape of the project itself will be misconceived if it is not built on such an understanding. Planning and managing a project to embed the repository or participating in a much wider project to overhaul research management systems requires good working relationships with people in other parts of the university. The repository manager may also be instrumental in ensuring that the benefits of a more efficient research management system are actually fully realised, for example by highlighting the importance of search and discovery to maximising the impact of research outputs.

Mapping internal systems includes understanding who it is that has ownership of these systems and databases and where in the organisational structure they sit. For example, converged Library and IT Services structures may provide a way for repository managers to influence developments, but even if the services are separate, there are certain to be connections which have been made over the years, perhaps over the development of Library systems, which can be built upon. Institutional website managers may or may not sit within a central IT function; they are certainly stakeholders in any embedding strategy as the repository can provide links to outputs which will enrich research staff profiles. It is also important to know who sits on which committees and understand any routes of influence from the repository or Library team into those committees.

It is likely that the repository manager has already established – or tried to establish – some influence over the university’s research policy in terms of encouraging or mandating self-archiving and has therefore made contact with, for example, pro-vice chancellors for research or directors of research and enterprise. The degree to which Open Access has been endorsed will often depend very much on how important it is perceived as being by those individuals. However, pitching the need to embed the repository is a different and potentially more rewarding exercise as the benefits of doing so are more tangible and more central to the institution’s own missions. It should also not be forgotten that there is turnover in posts – there may be opportunities to influence an incoming person where their predecessor was indifferent or hostile. Conversely, a strong champion may move on, requiring renewed efforts to ensure that their replacement understands and supports the role of the repository.

Relationships with peers in other departments, such as the research and enterprise offices, will be critical to successful embedding. Again, establishing such relationships is best achieved through the medium of having a common endeavour, whether it is about managing research assessment or presenting information about researchers and research outputs efficiently on the university website. Inviting people from the research office to attend workshops and events relevant to their concerns as well as the concerns of repository staff could be a way to start a dialogue Establishing a research systems user group (as at Glasgow) is also an excellent idea. This is best initiated by the research office, but then it is important to get the users to take ownership of the group.

Relationships with researchers and heads of department/schools/faculties can often be forged through advocacy processes, whether on a one-to-one basis or through events such as workshops. Any pre-existing relationships between other Library staff and researchers should also be built upon; for example the connections between subject librarians and researchers.

In general, anything that increases the knowledge of the overall research process by members of all the different departments and functions – whether research or enterprise office, library/repository team, finance etc – will help everyone to understand what each area does and how they complement each other. This will help researchers to get the best out of central services.

In all these areas, it is important to listen and understand the point of view and priorities of the particular person and/or department, rather than simply trying to push an agenda. Language can often be a key issue. Every group within an institution has their own private jargon, reflecting their own concerns and position, and sometimes things really do get lost in translation. Fortunately, librarians tend to be good at listening!

However, there can be times when all the positive peer-to-peer approaches are not working and where it is critical that another department delivers something. This can often be the case with IT services, for example. So relationships and support higher in the organisation are also vital and can be harder to establish. Even in that case, the more horizontal connections are established, the more likely it is that routes can be found to champions in more senior positions.

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