The Publishing Trap at Leeds Beckett

Rachel Thornton

Rachel Thornton is the Copyright Clearance Officer at Leeds Beckett University, based within Libraries and Learning Innovation (LLI). Rachel’s role includes providing copyright advice to staff and students, writing guidelines, requesting accessible formats, managing the Digitisation Service and contributing to training on the University’s Research Training Programme. In this blog, Rachel describes introducing The Publishing Trap to fellow library staff.

When I first suggested using a board game as a learning tool to my colleagues in LLI’s Research Services Team there was some trepidation, but also a surprising amount of excitement at the idea. Encouraged by the level of enthusiasm, I proceeded to download the resources for The Publishing Trap from the UK Copyright Literacy’s website and order the coloured counters used to reward the players. A colleague was able to provide a professionally printed copy of the board and then the team was all set to test out the game.

I played host at the event, and inspired by Kat Sundsbo’s blog, I made sure that buns and nibbles were on offer as an added incentive! It was interesting to see how well the players engaged with the game, with some displaying a strong competitive streak. Each participant already had a good knowledge of research and publishing, provoking lively debate on how well the game reflected the choices a researcher might make in real life, and the consequences of those decisions. I was able to gather some useful feedback at the end of the session.

Our experience of playing the game is described in more detail in my article “A review of The Publishing Trap as a training tool for researchers, doctoral students and academics” which is published in the third issue of Collaborate: Libraries in Learning Innovation. This is an open access journal published in-house by Libraries and Learning Innovation (LLI) at Leeds Beckett University, highlighting the work of colleagues across LLI.

Further encouraged by the fun I had at Ice Pops 2018 at the University of Liverpool, I next asked for volunteers to play the game from amongst colleagues in our Library Academic Support Team. Although the Academic Librarians each expressed a dislike for board games in general, they had a willingness to “give it a go” -again the supply of buns might have been a deciding factor! On this occasion, the session began rather slowly with a muted level of enthusiasm but the players soon entered into the spirit of the game as they got into character and their “careers” took interesting turns or wild cards threw something unexpected in their paths.

The game did attract some criticism at each session, such as the lengthy duration of play, a lack of clarity over some of the choices on offer and the need for a glossary of terms. However, the potential of The Publishing Trap as a fun and stimulating learning resource is recognised in comments such as:

I think the idea of using a board game to learn about scholarly publishing really brave and interesting and the game does introduce important and complex real-life issues faced in academic publishing

Jane and Chris have received a summary of our feedback, which I hope will prove useful as they develop version 2 of the game (with a potential launch at Icepops 2019). At Leeds Beckett, our future plan is to offer the game to our researchers and academics, either as part of an informal Research Café or as a bookable training session. Interesting times ahead!

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