As I blogged a few days ago, my PhD thesis has now been accepted. One of the things that I promised several people I would do as soon as this happened was to upload it to the institutional repository at Cambridge. It may be against the idea of Open Data but I was against depositing it before it had been examined/defended and corrected because I did not want to publish false information.
Be that as it may, I signed into the repository (creating an account with a current University of Cambridge email address). This process was not painless; firstly they tell you to log in to use the functionality but don’t actually give you any way to do so other than clicking on a link which leads to pages that require you to be logged in. Then you get a prompt and a chance to register. Not a great start, but eventually you get going and I decided to start a new submission. The fact that the submission process can be so long and arduous that you have to be given the option to save your progress and come back to it later does not fill me with confidence. Finally the coup de grace; I am not authorized to start a new submission anyway.
OK I think to myself, let me have a look at the help page and see what they have on submission. Lots is the answer – including a link to send a message to the administrators if you are not authorized. So off I go, except that I am presented with a non-scrolling web page where I can type in something to the admins – trying to find the button to actually send the message requires you to go looking for it as it isn’t visible on the tiny pop up page visible.
I’m currently working on trying to extract data from theses deposited in institutional repositories (the SPECTRa-T project) and was disappointed to see how few were available. Having gone though this I am amazed that we found anything. I can understand a Cambridge deposition site not wanting people using external email addresses depositing items – but current members? Deposition of data is becoming increasingly important and alienating users so that they shy away at the first hurdle can’t be the way forward.