, 18 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
While reviewing my usual data on usage, discoverability, visibility, etc. I was motivated to look at the usage impact experienced by institutions which have retired their repo in favour of the Pure Portal product. I am shocked at what I found. /Thread/
All data is open from @IRUSNEWS but I haven't labelled these charts to avoid instiutional embarrassment. I am also acutely aware that it isn't always those who are best qualified to make decisions about these systems that ultimately make the decision to retire a repo.
Such decisions are often made in a fact-free vacuum by groups far removed from the coalface. This is an important caveat to make. Note too that whilst data are open you need to know which institutions to look at, so some knowledge of which systems instiutions are using is needed.
Suffice to say, what we observe is a catastrophic decline in usage for those institutions which have retired their repo, with only very modest signs of improvement thereafter.

Here are 3 examples:
Example #1:
Example #2:
Example #3.
Of the 3 here, example #3 is probably worst overall. This institution has experienced the most dramatic decline in usage. With usage prior to retirement at circa 80K COUNTER downloads. Now 20K, after some recovery over a 12 month period.
I said at the outset that I was 'shocked' at these findings. In one way I was not -- a significant drop in usage was predictable based on what is known about the Pure Portal. What I hadn't predicted was the severity or the universal nature of these usage declines.
There is an irony in all of this, of course -- and that is that the @REF2021 policy on #openaccess is ultimately about improving the openness, research impact, discovery potential of UK research.
Yet, the REF itself has clearly motivated institutions to priortise research management & the systems that support it at the expense of repository standards & functionality which, in turn, has jeopardised #openacces.
In fact, the goals of REF have, in a perverse way, actually undermined the objectives of the REF policy on #openaccess.
For these institutions their research has never been less visible. Take example #3 as an indicator, this institution now enjoys a mere 25% of the usage it once enjoyed prior to moving to the Pure Portal. Much lower % decreases can be observed from examples #1 & #2.
Some institutions have taken action to address this phenomenon. A fascinating paper at #OpenRepo2019 by Leigh Stork from @Astonopenaccess discusses the re-animation of their @EPrints repo since their Portal failed to bring home the bacon: conftool.net/or2019/index.p….
But ultimately I think there needs to be a re-evaluation of the systems & tools used by HEIs to deliver #openaccess in the UK. 'Re-evaluation' is too tame; Soul searching is better!
Because #openaccess is about more than simply mounting files on what is essentially a vanilla flavoured website. And it is about more than simply doing what is 'convenient' for an HEI. And it is more than an instrument in a wider research assessment exercise.
#openaccess is actually about promoting the spread of knowledge & promoting its application in creating new knowledge & discoveries.
Delivering this might be inconvenient for some HEIS for a whole host of reasons, but a failure to deliver something meaningful will be even more inconvenient for scholarship & knowledge. What are universities if not about the creation & dissemination of new knowledge..? /end/
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