Approaches to Deposit Case Study: University of Sheffield


There are approximately 1300 research active staff and 2500 research students at the University of Sheffield. The annual research output is approximately 6000 publications and these are stored in an Eprints repository, White Rose Research Online (WRRO).

The University’s Research and Innovation Services (RIS) team use Symplectic Elements to manage research. The University of Sheffield is part of the White Rose Consortium and WRRO is managed by the White Rose Executive.

Open Access governance

Sheffield has an Open Access Advisory Group which is chaired by the Library’s Deputy Director and includes library Open Access staff, academic staff and representatives from RIS and Computing and Information Services (CICS). The Library leads on the implementation of Open Access policies, recommending approaches to RIS and the University Executive Board (UEB).

In November 2013 the Open Access Advisory Group approved a position statement on Open Access. This requires that authors record research outputs in Symplectic and upload papers to WRRO wherever possible. Sheffield decided not to introduce a mandatory policy: the expectation was that the Open Access requirements for RCUK and HEFCE would have a greater impact on researchers than an institutional policy. However, some departments do not consider outputs that are not recorded in Symplectic and WRRO during academic annual reviews and promotions bids.

Decisions relating to WRRO are made by the White Rose Executive board in consultation with stakeholders, ie, senior staff from each professional service from each university.

Open Access Team

There are currently 5 members of staff working on Open Access in the newly created Research Support Unit:

Open Access Co-ordinator (0.75 FTE)

Senior Open Access Assistants (1.5 FTE)

Open Access Assistants (1.2 FTE)

In theory, the Senior Open Access Assistants oversee the APC service for RCUK/COAF authors and the more complex deposits into the repository.  However, due to the rapid increase in deposits to the repository driven by the HEFCE Open Access policy, their time is currently allocated mostly to processing the deposits, with the Co-ordinator handling the majority of APC requests.

One technical specialist provides support for WRRO across all the White Rose universities.

Approach to deposit for HEFCE’s Open Access policy

The Library has designed a new workflow that is as simple as possible for authors, in order to maximise uptake.  Previously deposits were made after publication, when Scopus records were available in Symplectic. The workflow has been tested in the run up to the policy launch and will continue to be monitored to measure effectiveness and amend processes where required.

Authors or an administrative ‘delegate’ are required to create records in Symplectic with minimal mandatory metadata fields including author, article title, journal and either a date of acceptance or, for the first year of the HEFCE policy, a date of publication.

Sheffield recommends that authors who are planning to make their paper Gold Open Access deposit the AAM on acceptance; authors can then submit the PDF of papers that are published as Gold Open Access.  Authors are encouraged to deposit papers to WRRO even if they also deposit to a subject repository.  If authors provide a link to another repository the Open Access team will normally deposit the paper to WRRO.

Following deposit, the Senior Open Access Assistants categorise and validate records in WRRO.  This categorisation allows staff to ‘triage’ the deposits and ensures that articles affected by the HEFCE Open Access Policy can be processed within the required timeframe, even if deposits are at higher levels per day than library staff can deal with.  This system also helps the Open Access team manage this work, eg, processing work can be divided between straightforward papers and more complicated ones, detailed instructions have been written for each category, and staff can be trained and assigned accordingly.

The Open Access team only exceptionally create records in Symplectic on behalf of authors.  This approach is partially due to staffing resource – Sheffield believe that inputting all papers for all staff would require a significant increase in the number of staff needed in the Open Access team.  Another reason for this approach is that Symplectic has been in place for some time at the University and researchers are encouraged to engage with its full range of functionality, eg, the ability to link outputs to grants and record impact activity as well as submitting papers to the repository.

However, university departments are currently free to determine how publications are deposited to the repository.  Some departments expect academics to take full responsibility for deposit.  This approach is driven by the institutional expectation that researchers should engage with Symplectic, the availability of departmental staff resource or because it is the author themselves who has the paper.  Other departments have nominated administrative assistants to deposit papers on behalf of authors and to chase authors for papers.  The University REF management groups will monitor and compare the effectiveness of both approaches.


Sheffield has undertaken a range of communication activities to raise awareness of the HEFCE policy. The Library has asked departments for an agenda slot at research committee meetings or to speak at research away days. There is an Open Access session on the doctoral development programme and one-off sessions have been delivered, including during Open Access Week. Email messages have been distributed and the Library’s website has been updated. The Library’s key messages in conversation with researchers have emphasised the manuscript version to deposit into the repository and that the Library will carry out the necessary checks.

During March 2016, the Open Access team launched a ‘Ready for REF’ marketing campaign. Activities included highlighting the launch of the new webpages, sending a postcard outlining the key messages sent to every member of research staff, distribution of an email message from the Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation outlining the REF requirements, and a number of presentations open to staff and/or PGRs.


Step 1

On acceptance author creates publication record with minimal metadata and deposits manuscript in Symplectic and uploads file to Eprints.


On acceptance delegate creates publication record with minimal metadata and deposits manuscript in Symplectic and uploads files to Eprints.

Symplectic creates publication record in EPrints repository;

file is deposited in buffer/workspace area

Step 2

Senior Open Access Assistants quickly check all records deposited each day and categorise them according to the following criteria:

Cat 1: Journal articles that have been accepted after 1st of April 2016 and are part of REF policy but are awaiting publication (in press), with correct version submitted
Cat 1b: Journal articles that have been accepted after 1st of April 2016 and are part of REF policy but are awaiting publication (in press), with incorrect version submitted or no file uploaded
Cat 1c: Journal articles that have been accepted after 1st of April 2016 and are part of REF policy, already published, with correct version submitted
Cat 1d: Journal articles that have been accepted after 1st of April 2016 and are part of REF policy, already published, with incorrect version submitted or no file uploaded
Cat 1e: Conferences accepted after 1st of April 2016

Category 2a: Outputs accepted between 1/1/14 and 31/3/16 (REF eligible), accepted but not published online, with correct version submitted
Category 2b: Outputs accepted between 1/1/14 and 31/3/16 (REF eligible), accepted but not published online, with incorrect version submitted
Category 2c: Outputs accepted between 1/1/14 and 31/3/16 (REF eligible), published online, with correct version submitted
Category 2d: Outputs accepted between 1/1/14 and 31/3/16 (REF eligible), published online, with incorrect version submitted

Cat 3: Outputs that are published gold open access
Cat 4: Outputs that fall outside the REF and are the correct version
Cat 5: Outputs that fall outside the REF and are the incorrect version
Cat 6: Outputs that fall outside the REF and publisher policy is unclear.

Step 4

Library carries out checks on WRRO record:

Is publication metadata accurate? If not, Open Access Assistants check and update, contacting author only as a last resort.

Does journal comply with HEFCE/REF OA policy? If not, contact author or depositor.

Can submitted manuscript be deposited? If not, contact author.

Library sets indefinite embargo period for manuscript and makes metadata record live.

Library asks authors to inform them of publication and provide DOI.

Library checks publication status of ‘In Press’ items intermittently.

On publication

Stage 5

Library curates metadata in WRRO.

Library sets embargo period.


The Symplectic Open Access plug-in (OA Monitor) has just been implemented to aid reporting on compliance with the HEFCE policy.  The intention is that reports will be set up that departments can then extract themselves.  These will identify which researchers haven’t deposited papers and any publications recorded as exceptions.  RIS will also monitor activity levels in My Publications.

Reports will be provided to the Open Access Advisory Group in the first instance and RIS is currently finalising report templates.

Open Access staff are keeping daily records of how many records are deposited into WRRO, how many papers are processed and how much time staff have spent processing those records to monitor workloads and assess how much staff resource is likely to be needed in the future.


At Sheffield a high number of items deposited over recently months are outside the scope for REF. Academic staff have deposited not only current publications but their entire publication output, items that are typically the most difficult to process.  This was a key driver in the decision to categorise the deposits prior to processing.

Data for deposits in January/February 2016 shows that 773 items were categorised in total, of which just under half were within the REF scope, ie, a journal article or conference paper published since Jan 2014.  Of these, 15% of papers deposited were the incorrect version.


The Library wants all REF eligible papers deposited to WRRO to be processed as soon as possible after deposit.  Sheffield believes that the perfect approach to deposit model won’t emerge for some time and are working closely with Open Access staff at York and Leeds to try and establish best practice.

Open Access staff are recording the number of deposits per category to establish the proportion of items deposited that are affected by the HEFCE policy and have the correct file on initial deposit.  Figures for Jan/Feb 2016 will be compared with March/April 2016 to determine whether the marketing campaign helped to increase the number of REF-eligible deposits, and whether authors have understood the need to deposit the AAM and deposited the correct version.

Cost of approach to deposit

The time for a publication record to be created and a full-text attached is estimated to be between 3 and 10 minutes, depending on how familiar the depositor is with the system.  Experienced delegates are likely to take less time to deposit papers than academic staff.  However, on the assumption that academic staff carry out this task and take the longest time the cost per paper is estimated to be £5.49.

Papers are categorised by Senior Open Access Assistants.  The categorisation process takes about 2 minutes per paper but increases efficiency as papers of similar type can be dealt with in batches.  The cost of categorisation is £0.88 per paper.

The time to manage a deposit for a problem-free paper is estimated to be 5 minutes.  These papers have usually been identified as such in the categorisation process and can be treated by the Open Access assistants. The cost of managing problem-free papers is £1.47.

The time taken to process problematic papers varies but on average is likely to take four times as long as a problem-free paper, due to need to liaise with author/depositor and if necessary the publisher.  These papers are usually handled by Senior Open Access Assistants at a cost of £5.88.

To calculate the estimated annual total cost of Sheffield’s deposit workflow it is assumed that 80% of papers will be problem-free and 20% of papers will be problematic.

(4800 problem-free papers @ £7.84) + (1200 problematic papers @ £12.25)

= £52,332.

Next steps

The process for monitoring the publication of accepted papers is still evolving. Sheffield are currently considering how often to run reports on ‘In Press’ items in order to update publication records in line with HEFCE requirements whilst avoiding wasting staff resource.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s