Editorial Introduction to Issue 59: The Loneliness of the Long-distance Worker
I am grateful to Marieke Guy not least since she still manages to write for Ariadne when she has her own blog  on remote working to maintain. Having begun her series of articles with A Desk Too Far?: The Case for Remote Working, a treatment of the organisational issues surrounding the suitability of remote working as a business case, which she followed with a wealth of information on supportive technologies entitled Staying Connected: Technologies Supporting Remote Workers, Marieke returns, not exactly full circle, but back to an organisational perspective in her third contribution A Support Framework for Remote Workers. Benefitting from further discussion and sheer experience, Marieke proceeds to outline an evolving structure to ensure that remote-working colleagues enjoy a consistent degree of support from the host organisations. She takes as her text the developments within UKOLN itself and how things have progressed since the initial instance of remote working in 1997. The central thrust of this article is that like any project, improvements in remote working will not occur consistently without some form of structured process and Marieke details the iterative cycle of development which has emerged here. She provides concrete examples of how one thing has led to another with specific and tangible gains that benefiot not only remote workers but in-house-based colleagues as well. More strategic benefits are evolving as the increased profile of remote workers is acknowledged in organisational policy. As readers unwise enough to read my editorials will allow, the topic of how information professionals relate to their technologies is a source of frequent fascination. Most people in this airspace will recognise the loneliness of the long-distance worker, whether working in-house or remotely. It is my view that pro-active thinking such as Marieke and her colleagues have generated, near and far, can only benefit practitioners as a whole.
In asking us to Publish and Cherish with Non-proprietary Peer Review Systems, Leo Waaijers points to the increasing complexity of the scholarly publishing scene, not only in terms of the more complex nature of the published content but also the change in attitudes to Open Access publishing. With the American Congress and the European Commission (EC) inclining more favourably towards Open Access, and a growing tendency of funders to make it a condition to publish research in open access publications, the need for non-proprietary review systems grows ever-pressing. As so often arises, the difficulty originates in the matter of copyright. Traditionally, peer review is conducted through a system in which the expectation is to assign copyright over the reviewed item to that peer review system's owner - the publisher. Yet with so many more funding bodies mandating publication in open access journals, Leo points to an increasing imbalance between supply of non-proprietary peer review and research in need of open access publishing. Leo proposes that the EC should considewr how it must resolve this failure of supply and in his article offers a solution for consideration.
The shifting sands of Open Access publication do not confine themselves to the European Union. I note from their article in which Heila Pienaar and Martie van Deventer ponder whether To VRE or Not to VRE?: Do South African Malaria Researchers Need a Virtual Research Environment? that our colleagues in South Africa must wait while the competing demands and interests associated with Open Access are mulled and occasionally fought over by their politicians too. However this article will be of particular interest to readers charting the progress of eReseach initiatives across the world. It provides us with insights as to how far eResearch has begun to emerge in terms of cohesiveness through an overview of the developments nationwide, supported by the example of one particular malaria research project and its uptake of supporting ICT technologies. The authors detail for us the relationships these technologies and the discrete components of the cycle of research activity - and the degree to which these technologies have been adopted. Readers who are particularly interested in research developments of this nature in this region may well have already seen the authors' contribution on South African Repositories.
I am also pleased to be able to offer a further contribution on the story of institutional repositories in the European context. Marjan Vernoy-Gerritsen, Gera Pronk and Maurits van der Graaf have provided us with the most significant results from two recent and related surveys on developments in, ultimately, 178 institutional research repositories from across 22 European countries. Three Perspectives on the Evolving Infrastructure of Institutional Research Repositories in Europe not only considers what effect these repositories are having upon the scientific information infrastructure, but also examines what effects such repostiroies have upon the institutions which develop and maintain them, the authors who contribute to them and the researchers who use their material. The authors moreover point us towards what they see as a representative model of research repository development which comprises a series of stages in a process of innovation, adoption and implementation. They also describe how action by different actors in this domain will serve to hasten the process they have identified.
Despite changes to the machinery of government in one half of the original Australia-UK partnership, the e-Framework Partnership for Education and Research has expanded its partnership and has embarked on a a service-oriented approach to software analysis and design in the broader context of learning, teaching, research and administration. In their article e-Framework Implements New Workplan, Ian Dolphin and Phil Nicholls examine the benefits of a Serivce-oriented Architecture in a general business sense, particularly in terms of the potential for increased reuse of assets and services together with anticipated reductions in cost and duplication of effort. They then compare this with the (lower-case) concept of a service-oriented approach particularly across the contrasting environments and requirements of the education and commercial sectors. The authors point to the emerging and differing strands within the e-Framework's strategic partnership and describe their potential to sustain the initiative in the current economic climate.
In their article on Spinning a Semantic Web for Metadata: IEMSR Development Report, Emma Tonkin and Alexey Strelnikov provide a reflective contribution on the development of components for the Information Environment Metadata Schema Registry (IEMSR) and explain the principal concepts involved such as the Application Profile (AP). The IEMSR is considered in terms of the Semantic Web technologies it adopted in its early stages and within the general context of the role of registries and how far, among other things, they can serve to support AP development. The authors examine the project's adoption of the Semantic Web and analyse both the pros and cons of the approach adopted, including the ultimate value of SPARQL to the project. Emma and Alexey describe the various components of their work on IEMSR from defining a data model, building a desktop client and a Web site to browse IEMSR data. They conclude with a summary of their reactions and where their work is likely to head next.
In The REMAP Project: Steps towards a Repository-enabled Information Environment, Richard Green and Chris Awre provide an analysis of how their project has contribute to wards a larger vision of the role a repository can play in supporting digital content management for an institution. Many will perhaps recall their contribution on RepoMMAn which is integral to this story. They outline for us how REMAP has taken the programme forward from 2007 and its contribution to continued and better management of repository content, in particular, but not solely, with regard to the publishing of content; the project also encompasses Records Management and Digital Preservation (RMDP). Moreover Richard and Chris provide us with a taster of a further chapter to this story in the form of the recently established HYDRA Project, a collaboration of Hull, Standofrd and Virginia, with the active co-operation of Fedora Commons, or perhaps I should say Duraspace. Certainly a space to watch.
I am indebted to Jill Russell for her description of EThOS: From Project to Service and the impact the service is making on the availability of UK doctoral theses. Jill points out by way of introduction the long-standing need that EThOS now addresses by providing access through an electronic document delivery system to doctoral theses which were once very difficult to get hold of. To date some 100 British HEIs are now participating in EThOS. Not for the first time we discover that the principal barriers to institutional participation relate to the management of the risks associated with IPR but that the service recommends processes which seem to earn participants' confidence. Jill provides information on the latest effort within the service as well as how it is coping with the vastly increased demand for theses.
In Encouraging More Open Educational Resources with Southampton's EdShare, Debra Morris describes EdShare, an educational learning and teaching repository has been developed within the University under the auspices of a JISC-funded institutional exemplars project. She details its development thanks to the collaborative efforts of a range of Southampton staff and the flexibility required to move with the pace of technological change in HEIs in this decade. Debra details for us the relationship of EdShare to the institutional VLE and the approach adopted in order to embed the EdShare resource in the operational culture of the institution. She concludes with plans to enhance the resource to ensure it operates in a manner that explicitly meets of its principal users, the students themselves.
As usual, we offer our At the Event section, as well as reviews on: a study of the cultural terrain of modern institutions, where digital and analogue objects co-exist; managing electronic government information in libraries; a varied collection of approaches to the topic of reader development; and the social dynamics of Information and Communication Technology. In addition of course we provide our section of news and events.
I hope you will enjoy Issue 59.
- Ramblings of a Remote Worker, Marieke Guy http://remoteworker.wordpress.com/