New interface for submitting in HAL: a first assessment

Written by Agnès Magron

Last september, you discovered the new simplified procedure for submitting in HAL: a new design, fewer required metadata and an improvement of the retrieval of metadata. Since then, more than 63 000 submissions have been done. This represents an increase of 29 % compared with the same period of the previous year.

Satisfaction survey

As part of a project of the License DIST (Data and Scientific and Technical Information) of the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, a group of four students surveyed last March researchers working in laboratories attached to this university. The results are rather positive: a majority of the 82 respondents feel satisfied with the new interface.

On the whole, it is considered easier to use and appreciated for its new ergonomics and the fluidity, including the free navigation between sections. The submission is considered simpler and faster.

The new interface opens by default on the simplified view which displays only the required fields. This novelty is widely appreciated even if less than one in five survey respondents uses this simplified view exclusively. It is considered easy to use. The detailed view remains, for its part, well evaluated for its completeness. However, the features related to these 2 views certainly lack visibility:

  • Switching from one view to another is rarely used: less than 50% of respondents say they use the both views. According to the comments, some respondents have not noticed the possibility of switching to the detailed view with a single click (some respondents admit to having discovered it by answering the survey),
  • The setting of the preferred view in « Submission preferences »: some users regret that they do not have access to the detailed view by default. Let’s recall that those who wish it can set their favorite view in « My profile/Submission preferences ».

Overall, our users appreciate the new ergonomics and some would even like to customize the simplified view according to the fields they have to fill more often (ex.: ANR project, Labex, etc.).

Submission preferences: available in My space/My profile, the submission preferences are generally appreciated because they save time especially when there are a lot of submissions to do. However, they certainly deserve to be more visible. Some survey respondents suggested a redirection to these preferences displayed early in the submission process. It was also suggested to go further in customizing preferences by allowing to refine the indication of scientific fields, to inform recurring ANR projects or a list of collaborators.

Automatic retrieval of metadata: what users most appreciate is probably the automatic retrieval of metadata from the PDF file or document IDs like the DOI. Although it remains essential to check the informations retrieved and sometimes correct them, this automatic retrieval significantly reduces the work of submitters, especially to fill in the author data.

The suggestion of a probable affiliation is also a novelty intended to simplify the submission. Most users surveyed are satisfied and confirm that there is usually no error. Some even rejoice that sometimes « there is nothing more to do ! »


However, the survey shows persistent difficulties:

  • The affiliations of foreign co-authors are problematic. Some foreign institutions and laboratories are admittedly present in AureHAL, and some of them have validated entries, but this is the exception.
  • The order of the authors is sometimes changed if the data is automatically retrieved via the DOI.
  • The correction of the author data is considered complicated and too long if one uses the form « For this author » then « to modify » and that does not make it possible to obtain the validated entries attached to an IdHAL (color code « green »).

E-mail alert preferences and shared ownership: if the submission is considered faster it is largely thanks to the simplification of the process. Let’s recall that now the affiliation of a single author is sufficient to validate the submission. In return, the new alert system allows each user concerned by a submission (co-author, referent structure, etc.) to obtain, in a simple click, the property sharing. Each can thus be notified and come to view and complete the metadata.

Users can choose whether or not to receive these notifications by setting their e-mail alert preferences (in « My space » and then « My profile »). This new feature is very well received: more than 92% of survey respondents believe that receiving an alert when identified as a co-author is very useful. Some respondents, however, note that modifying an old submission created by others remains difficult. Indeed, notifications and automatic property sharing only apply to submissions made since september.

It is therefore a first positive overview that researchers from Lyon1 University gave to us. We thank them very much for their participation in the survey. We also thank them, for their availability, the administrators of the portal HAL Lyon 1, opened in January 2018

Dhia Bedoui, Mélina Duchamp, Marion Mateo et Dorothée Ravat