Spreading the word

Manchester eScholar went live in September 2009 delivering institutional repository (IR) services to The University of Manchester. Since then we've successfully embedded the IR into the publication workflow for the majority of our researchers, in the process achieving virtually 100% deposit rates for all research outputs created since 2005.

Of course we can't be complacent; the web doesn't stand still and nor does the scholarly communication landscape. To sustain this high level of engagement we know we must deliver new and useful functionality whilst continuing to improve existing services.

Whilst we're confident that we're on the right road to delivering high quality IR services we recognise that it's all for nothing if we don't let people know about what we're doing. So we sat down and wrote a Manchester eScholar Communication Strategy. Our aims for the strategy are to:

  • sustain and enhance awareness of Manchester eScholar Services within our institution's research community
  • promote support for scholarly communication across our institution
  • increase the exposure of Manchester eScholar to external audiences including the global repository and open access (OA) communities

Institutional repository's have different categories of users so within the strategy we've identified a number of different communication channels. Establishing communication channels alone won't guarantee that the right message reaches the right audience; we have to commit to regular and frequent communications and to get into the habit of thinking, 'Would that make a good blog?', or, 'I must tweet that!'.

In line with our communication strategy here are some of the key communication activities that we'll be undertaking over the coming months:

Establish this blog

We'll use this blog to announce new releases and bug fixes but we'll also use it to write about the hot topics in open access and digital repositories. And we won't be too hurt if our readership doesn't extend into the thousands, the process of writing down our thoughts and opinions should be a useful exercise in itself.

We all know the blogosphere is littered with abandoned blogs that haven't been updated or visited for years. To prevent the same fate befalling this blog we aim to post at least once a month and we are encouraging all eScholar team members to contribute.

Establish a Twitter account

There are plenty of active Twitterers in the global repository community so hopefully by starting an account we'll be able to join in with some of the really interesting conversations going on out there. It's also a good way to keep up to date with the latest news and events. And anyway no communication strategy would be complete these days without a Twitter account. Our Twitter name is @_escholar so please follow us.

Establish a Manchester eScholar email mailing list

This mailing list will just be for our colleagues from The University of Manchester. Hopefully the posts will be useful and interesting for staff who provide scholarly communication support to researchers or those who want to keep up to date with the latest developments in OA and digital repositories. By establishing this channel of communication we hope to more effectively cascade key information out across our institution.

'Showcase' research publications

We've already begun to liaise with our colleagues in the University's Communications, Media and Public Relations division to showcase the noteworthy publications stored in Manchester eScholar on University websites. Whenever a research output from the University gets 'media buzz' we want to ensure that links are in place to point people towards a high quality Manchester eScholar record containing full metadata and a copyright-cleared version of the full-text.

As well as the above activities we'll also be running Manchester eScholar workshops throughout the year, submitting an article to UniLife, the University of Manchester's monthly glossy magazine, and hopefully publishing our work at national and international events and in peer-reviewed journals. So plenty to be done!!

We'll be regularly reviewing our progress as we move through the year and asking ourselves how effective our activities are being and what we might be able to do to be more effective. Only time will tell. So stay posted.