Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Trove's treasures - scholarly gold

One of the career achievements which gave me great satisfaction was Australian Research Online, ARO, named for the project which spawned it [Australian Research Repositories Online to the World]. Using a modest technical platform, ARO garnered the interest of almost all 40 of Australia's universities in depositing their academic research metadata in one finding place.

While ARO was established with funding from the higher education sector - appropriate given that the service was predominantly created to promulgate unique tertiary research globally - as a product of collaboration it has generated unanticipated benefits for others too.

ARO was the logical successor to the Australasian Digital Theses (ADT) Program, a joint initative established in 1999 by the late Marian Bate, then University Librarian at the University of NSW, to corral original research from around the country for easier discovery. Resolving the issues surrounding curating and disclosing digital theses before taking the usual step of traditional-style publication pushed forward the ground-breaking open access agenda.

Trove logo large colourGovernment funding exigencies can override success. Both ADT and ARO were merged into Trove in 2011. Since then, new open access academic journals have been surfaced through Trove and the quantity of contributions will increase dramatically in 2015. The volume of usage traffic ensures that  
Trove maximises the exposure of original Australian research.

But what does this mean for the public, who funded the research in the first place? High quality resources which they do not have to replicate and an instant understanding of the value higher education offers? The Mackay Family History Society links to an excellent example of a resource which is scholarly gold:

The Society also provides better metadata than the University itself, appreciating the broader appeal of the research.

As Lorcan Dempsey explains, university libraries have become "inside-out libraries", where their constituencies are now both local and external. Trove facilitates this by pooling all of their print publications with the research collected from university researchers and post-graduates into a single point of discovery. In return, through the digitally accessible newspapers of record, it provides historical contexts back to scholars for further lines of social and scientific enquiry.
An extraordinary return on information infrastructure investment.

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