My last blog post was sent out via email, to the Australian Open Access community by Dr Danny Kingsley, Executive Officer for the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG), ahead of International Open Access Week. The topic of the blog was the discoverability of research output in Australia; it gave a very brief introduction of search engine optimization (SEO) and asked for feedback from the Australian Institutional Repository (IR) community regarding their experiences with harvesters and search engines like Google Scholar.
Some institutions are pleased with their presence in Google Scholar and have recently configured their IR software for Google Scholar inclusion. Alternatively others are not exactly sure what being indexed means and are not aware of explicit instructions; posing a problem when communicating with their IT department.
Another topic which surfaced in the responses, was repository rankings and world university rankings. “University rankings are here to stay” (UNESCO 2013). Rankings are used to influence consumer choice, guide prospective students, attract industry funding and inform government decisions around the allocation of funding (The Group of Eight 2012).
Australia has world class IR’s and a passionate IR community, however recent news reveals that “Australian universities have fallen in the latest THE Times Higher Education World University Rankings” (Australian Education Network 2013).
I propose playing to our strengths and believe that “one university’s position on the rankings cannot be managed simply by its own efforts” (The Group of Eight 2012).
“I imagine a central service and knowledge base that identifies various ranking systems, their ranking processes and algorithms. A service that provides documents on various search engines and harvesters, listing their inclusion guidelines and harvesting protocols. This service would include a web presence and purposeful communication to assist the Australian IR community in understanding how information is collected by ranking systems, search engines and harvesters. It would provide knowledge on how to test and measure visibility, ensuring optimal discoverability of Australian research output.” – Tim McCallum
Below is a list of burning questions:
- What search engines and harvesters are out there?
- What are the differences between them?
- How do I know if I comply with them?
- To what extent am I being harvested/indexed?
- How do I compare to other Universities?
- Do search engines have a bearing on ranking systems?
- How many ranking systems are out there?
- What are the ranking processes and algorithms in the various ranking systems?
- How can we measure and improve our ranking?
Any additional questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or left in the response section below. Look forward to hearing from you as always.
UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization “University rankings are here to stay – so how can we improve them?” Available from: < http://www.unesco.org > [26 June 2013]
The Group of Eight “World University Rankings: ambiguous signals” Available from: < http://www.go8.edu.au/__documents/go8-policy-analysis/2012/go8backgrounder30_rankings.pdf > [October 2012]
Australian Education Network “Australian Universities Rankings” Available from: < http://www.australianuniversities.com.au/rankings/ >