Using thematic analysis in psychology, published in the Qualitative Research in Psychology journal, is the most downloaded publication from the UWE Research Repository. It has been downloaded over 9,000 times in total – approximately 30 times a day. The paper was written in 2006 by Dr Victoria Clarke, a Reader in the Psychology department at UWE, and her colleague Virginia Brown, from the University of Auckland.
We talked to Victoria about the paper and her attitude towards the repository and open access more generally.
Victoria’s research and teaching specialises in sexuality and gender, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender psychology, human sexuality and sexual practices. All her research is qualitative, and this is what the paper above is about:
It was written with my colleague Virginia Brown. We’d both taught thematic analysis for a number of years to undergrads and postgrads and we just thought ‘well let’s write a paper about it’, because there’s not really a good, accessible paper out there that reflects the way we teach thematic analysis to students.
She thinks ‘it’s amazing that it gets so many hits, views’.
When asked why she thought her paper had been downloaded so much, Victoria answered
I think it’s because it’s trans-disciplinary, trans-topic, so it’s not a paper that’s about a particular topic, it’s about something that an awful lot of people do. A vast number of social science disciplines do qualitative research and there’s no one paper that talks about this approach. I think we just found a gap in the market. We did write it with students in mind and I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s hugely popular and probably downloaded a lot from the repository - students are reading it and using it in their studies.
Repositories can certainly be
a great resource for students, in terms of being able to access papers beyond what’s available in the library. It really opens up the universe for them, because traditionally they’re limited to what they can find in the library or on the web. If they know that these things are out there it’ll help them access an awful lot more information than what’s available in the library.
It’s not only students that can benefit from all the research that is now placed on open access. Victoria has
really noticed over the last couple of years, every time you search for something it’s more and more likely that you will find a version of it. And I’m seeing stuff from repositories from other universities more and more frequently… which is great because it means that you can get far more stuff than you used to.
The fact that so much more research is now available for free really benefits Victoria as
it just increases my ability to find the research I need, which is fantastic. The ability of the world and all its research to come to you is just brilliant; it makes life a lot easier. Obviously it saves time because you don’t have to fill in inter-library loan requests, or you don’t have to go searching for things. It opens up a whole lot of research that the library doesn’t have access to through journal subscriptions.
Having your work on the repository also benefits UWE, because ’it raises our profile… the more people at UWE that put their research in the repository the more our profile as a research institution is raised’.
Like many other researchers at UWE, Victoria first added her research to the UWE Research Repository during the research review in 2010. She admits that this wasn’t in the most positive of circumstances, and it took some time for her to realise how positive the idea was. Once she did realise, she
got very enthusiastic and put up everything I could find. I spent a good few days trying to, because trying to go through your entire back catalogue of publications and find your final manuscript version of everything, it took quite a while.
Although it can take some time to add all your past papers to the repository, the Repository Team can help with this by adding the bibliographic data for you. And as Victoria says, once you are just updating papers as they are published, 'you update your CV and you put it in the repository as well', making the process much faster.
Now, Victoria has
put loads of my stuff in the repository and I would really encourage other people to do the same, because it’s brilliant when people have put loads of stuff up there. It means you can get pretty much anything you want really. The thing that makes you realise how positive it is, is when you can find stuff because other people have put it in their repositories. It’s that kind of reciprocal thing, basically. It’s being able to access stuff at other universities that makes you realise how important it is, and how valuable it is.
Adding your research to the UWE Research Repository also has benefits for your own work as well, including
extra visibility - definitely it means more people can gain access to and read about your research… getting feedback, not just directly from the repository; I’m being told about the number of downloads through other websites that use repositories. That’s really useful because you don’t normally get that kind of feedback.
One website which provides this kind of feedback is http://academia.edu, which
pulls things in from repositories. It generates statistics for the number of views and downloads, giving you a sense of what research is having an impact; and it’s often not what you anticipate is having an impact. That’s another reason for putting stuff in repositories because then those kind of websites can give you useful information about who’s reading things and who’s looking at things and who’s downloading things… the trail starts from the repository and then generates all this interesting feedback for you.
The UWE Research Repository can also provide statistics on how often your paper is being downloaded from the repository. See https://blogs.uwe.ac.uk/teams/research-repository/archive/2011/10/10/september-2011-statistics.aspx for stats on whose articles were most downloaded in September 2011.
In conclusion, Victoria sums up how well open access could work if all researchers engage with it:
It is so brilliant to able to access stuff. If it got to the point where anything you search for you could find in one format or another it would be really good. What would be great is if academics in other countries start to notice how easily they can access research and then it starts happening globally.
Or to ask any other questions, get in touch with the Repository Team: firstname.lastname@example.org