Home and Away: The management of Non-traditional research outputs as observed from a UK and Australia perspective

Dr Robin Burgess, University of Sydney Library

Poster Presentation

Thursday 16 February 2017, 12:15pm - 12:45pm


The objective of this paper is to illustrate the observations I have made regarding the different approaches to the recording, management and assessment of non-traditional research outputs (NTROs). Having moved to Sydney (October 2015) to take up the position of Repository and Digitisation Manager at the University of Sydney, from the UK where I was the Research Information Manager at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA), I have already observed some significant differences in how non-traditional research outputs are viewed, recorded and managed. This paper will compare the way in which non-traditional research is collected at University of Sydney and GSA, the way it is assessed (ERA in Australia and REF in the UK), and the value placed on the research from an institute and researcher perspective.

Non-traditional research comprises of exhibitions, performances, art works and artefacts to name a few. By its very nature, NTROs are highly complex and varied, often comprising a wide variety of outputs and formats which present researchers, information managers and technology teams with many discipline specific issues. The methods and processes which generate this research information are just as varied and complex. NTROs rely heavily on sketchbooks, logbooks, journals and workbooks. The often physical nature of research and its security and preservation also presents researchers and curators with significant problems and greatly increases the risk of data loss and deterioration. Alongside this data, a wide range of related research documentation and protocols are also created. Research repositories are therefore integral to the process of data management and storing of outputs created from this research. It can be said though that more traditional forms of outputs can also be derived from non-traditional research such as journal articles and conference proceedings.

Current observations show that Sydney University has quite prescribed protocols for collecting and managing NTROs. Much of this is determined by the way in which DSpace and IRMA (the platforms used for the repository and collecting NTRO data) function. At GSA EPrints was the repository platform and this was much more open when it came to collecting data on NTROs and the EPrints team has engaged with arts institutes to make their software more amenable to NTROs as demonstrated by the KULTUR project. Both the ERA and REF assessment processes collect NTRO data. However the ERA appears more focused on traditional research, while in recent years the REF process has embraced the need to include NTROs in its assessment process.

It can be stated that many people put less value on the contribution that non-traditional research provides for society. It might not be ground breaking scientific research, but what it can be seen as doing is enriching our lives and improving our wellbeing, providing us with an alternative way of thinking and invoking conversation. And therefore it needs to be valued equally to the STEM subjects and for those researchers working within the field of non-traditional research, be equally recognised for their contribution to scholarly communication. 

Poster - Not available.


Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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