Publishing and Curation Services Vision and Policy, Part 1

In Patricia’s last blog post, she discussed how we are engaging stakeholders to define our repository services.  As that work has progressed, we have begun to bump up against questions that often lead to a call for the development of a policy.  For example: 
  • How will we decide what material to accept?  “That depends upon our collection policy.”
  • What file formats are okay? How long are we promising to keep this stuff? “That depends upon our digital preservation policy.” 
  • What rights clearances do we need people to provide?  “That depends upon our copyright policy.” 
These are important questions, and they are just samples of what has come up. We have many more to ask and answer.  One thing that bothers me, however, is that these questions imply hurdles, or barriers that we have to put in place.  They begin with exclusion: We will not accept some things; we will reject file formats; we will not handle things if rights aren’t cleared.   Furthermore, they are almost showstoppers that lead to more hard questions:  “Who’s going to develop that policy?”  “What do you mean by collections?”  “How can we establish preservation policy when we don’t have infrastructure in place?”   
Policies must be guided by a strong sense of purpose: they should be designed to help you achieve your goals.  Program Sigma is the handle we’ve adopted to refer to a number of activities we’re undertaking this year, and elsewhere we have said that Sigma is aimed at the “development of new services that leverage existing infrastructure and … the design and development of a repository services platform to support the ingest, management, and delivery of digital library collections, student and faculty papers, research data, and electronic business records.”  
That’s good enough for our internal audience, but we need to be able to describe our vision for ourselves and others, and in language that is generally understood.  So, as a starting point, I offer up a vision statement that I have adapted from previous work: 

Penn State Publishing & Curation Services (PCS) organize, publish, and distribute the results of our community’s research and scholarship, allowing our faculty and students to reach a worldwide audience of scholars.   PCS gives researchers the ability to create new publications, to distribute their papers, presentations, publications, datasets* or other creations, and to comply with policies that require and encourage public access.  Academic departments and colleges will use PCS to collect students’ work to create a record of academic achievements and enable future research.  Readers and researchers worldwide will access our researcher’s work via popular web-based discovery tools such as Google and Bing, as well as library-oriented discovery tools and catalogs, e.g., WorldCat, while Penn State users will also use local tools such as the CAT or LIONSearch.  PCS will provide these users with state-of-the-art interfaces and functionality designed to integrate smoothly into their various research and work environments.  The PCS suite of services provides the Penn State community with a powerful publishing platform, one that will help the University meet the goals of the 21st Century Land Grant University by extending the audience for and application of knowledge.

That still has a way to go, and I welcome it being picked apart and re-drafted.  Does this ring true?  If so, does this help us to lay the ground for further service description and development? 
In an upcoming blog post, I will return to this vision statement and try to articulate a few policies that I think are implicit within it.  If you want to play along, you could start to identify those yourself. 
*Note:  Added “datasets” to vision statement at suggestion of D. Salo after initial publication. I’m glad she pointed out that was missing. 

One thought on “Publishing and Curation Services Vision and Policy, Part 1


    Posting for John Meier:

    ‘I see the advantage to creating a welcoming service that has a purpose, m uch like your vision statement. Perhaps the way to craft policies or at least standards are to use use cases and examples of good practice. For an easy example, you can require that projects support the vision statement or that there are quality criteria more general like “a researcher cooperatively engaged in the application process” instead of saying something like “applicant is required to check in every month…’

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