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New Open Science resources

Paul Ayris27 September 2022

Open Science strides forward

For the start of the academic year, the UCL Office for Open Science has prepared two outputs which can be used for training. These will be of interest to those starting on their Open Science/Scholarship journey and for early career researchers.

The first is a video, produced with funding from Research England, which introduces the concept of Open Science/Scholarship to those new to the idea. It lasts for some 40 minutes and describes the 8 pillars of Open Science, by which the concept of Openness is defined in Europe. The video can be seen on our Open Science web pages. Each section is introduced by a member of UCL staff. At the end of the video is a short Quiz, which we invite all viewers to take, to test their knowledge and understanding of Open Science/Scholarship. The Quiz returns a score for you at the end of the session, which is confidential to the individual viewer. I encourage you to watch the video and then to take the Quiz as part of your in-house training. The whole session would take just 40 minutes.

The second resource which the UCL Office for Open Science is providing is a Guide to Open Science/Scholarship for early career researchers. It has been produced with input and a scholarly Preface from the UCL Doctoral School. The Guide is closely based on a French original, which has been adapted with permission to suit the UK Higher Education sector. It is a remarkably clear introduction, easy to grasp by research students and early career researchers, librarians and Professional Services staff, at whom it is aimed.

Webinar

Finally, today (27 September) was the day I helped deliver chapter 38 of the series Focus on Open Science webinars, once again with funding from the Cities Programme from UCL Global Engagement.

Today’s webinar was conducted in partnership with the University of Nanterre in Paris. I spoke for 20 minutes about the UCL Office for Open Science and how we co-ordinate activity in UCL across all 8 pillars of Open Science.  The extended Q&A session at the end of the day offered many questions on the undoubted success of UCL Press, which I gave as an exemplar of change at a European level. The University of Lorraine is converting its traditional Press into an OA Press. I look forward to exchanges with them on Best Practice in OA publishing as their work progresses.

I wish all my colleagues in LCCOS (Library, Culture, Collections, and Open Science) the best at the start of the new academic session. I am proud and privileged to be here and working with you all.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost LCCOS

Meet the Team: Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science (LCCOS)

Benjamin Meunier19 May 2022

In early Spring, Prof David Price facilitated a series of virtual “Meet the Team” events to help colleagues in different parts of Research, Innovation and Global Engagement (RIGE). One of these events, held on 10 March via MS Teams, focused on our work in Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science (LCCOS), to familiarise colleagues in other parts of RIGE with the role of LCCOS.

In order to provide all staff in LCCOS with an overview of our department, this blog post provides a short summary of the session. The slides are available at LCCOS Meet the Team.

Martin Moyle, Director of Services, opened the event, explaining that the LCCOS presentation would comprise a very brief overview of LCCOS and Library Services, followed by five short presentations highlighting specific areas of LCCOS likely to be of particular interest to RIGE colleagues.

He then gave a short introduction to LCCOS, which since December 2021 has brought together Library Services, UCL Culture, Research Integrity, Research Culture and Open Science.  He highlighted the size of the new  department – with 440 staff, by far the largest constituent part of the RIGE portfolio.

Martin went on to introduce Library Services, highlighting the fact that with 4.8 million annual visits to our libraries, UCL is the busiest university library service in the UK. He also emphasised UCL’s internationally important collections, the innovative services which Library staff provide (for instance ‘Click and Collect’ introduced during the pandemic) and the sheer scale of both physical and digital resources. We hold over 2 million print items and provide access to over 1.1 million e-books, plus 86,000 e-journals and 800+ databases! On Special Collections, Martin presented the team’s role in managing, conserving and making accessible 10,000 linear metres of rare books, archives and records. He emphasised that we hold one of the foremost collections of such material in the UK, and emphasised that they are not simply kept under lock and key, but are well used for teaching, research and outreach.

Charting the Library’s performance, Martin presented key metrics (National Student Survey, Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey, Postgraduate Research Experience Survey) which showed how UCL has outperformed other UK libraries in supporting users during Covid, although our NSS scores dropped to 79.9% from 88.5% pre-Covid. Surveys shows consistent high satisfaction with the online library and lower scores for the physical library, which we know is due to historic under-investment in physical spaces and ongoing challenges in providing enough study spaces for our ever-growing student cohorts.  He also highlighted the latest UCL faculty compliance with REF OA Policy at 88-96% as a measure not only of the OA Team’s success, but as a mark of successful partnerships across RIGE.

June Hedges, Head of Liaison and Support Services, amplified Martin’s introduction with a more in-depth overview of Liaison and Support Services, which includes Open Science, Research Data Support, Bibliometrics Support and Research Integrity as well as Academic Engagement, Library Skills, Teaching and Learning Support and Open Access Services. In essence, Liaison and Support Services are all about enabling the learning and research of the UCL community, whether that is introducing new undergraduate students to UCL’s libraries and our services during the induction period, or providing support for seasoned researchers when they come to publish their outputs. Teams within Liaison and Support Services. The teams within the group vary greatly in size, from a “team” of one supporting bibliometrics, to the many in the Open Access Team, but all of them actively collaborate and work with colleagues across RIGE and the whole of UCL. June briefly introduced each team and pointed to more information about their work (via web links).

Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost (Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science) then presented on Open Science, setting the international context and outlining UCL’s strategy and the role of UCL’s Office for Open Science. Paul set out the 8 pillars of Open Science, and described how LCCOS was able to support all of these through leadership, advocacy and engagement. Detailed information on the Office for Open Science and Scholarship is available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/open-science-research-support/ucl-office-open-science-and-scholarship. Paul also illustrated UCL’s position as a leader in Open Access since 2000, based on a chart showing research output and the percentage of OA publications within each institution in the Russell Group. UCL has consistently topped this chart over two decades, with Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial jostling for the remaining top 3 places. Finally, Paul presented UCL Press as an example of the impact of Open Science: with over 5m downloads from 246 countries, the research published through the UK’s first fully Open Access university press is reaching a truly global audience. The success story of UCL Press contributes to UCL’s leadership role in Open Science and LCCOS will continue to develop this agenda over the coming years.

Frank Penter, Director of Operations (UCL Culture) gave a sweeping overview of Museums, Collections, Public Programme, Theatre and UCL Engagement. The team manages 8 cultural venues, including 3 accredited museums and the Bloomsbury Theatre as well as collections which encompass over 160,000 objects ranging from Ancient Egyptian dresses to Jeremy Bentham’s head! Frank presented how UCL collections are embedded in teaching, with over 5,000 student uses of collections per year (and 3,100 specimens used in the Grant Museum in term 1 only!), and in research. For instance, the Petrie received 32 researchers from 5 different countries in Term 1 of this academic year.  Pre-Covid around 1,300 research visits were handled annually.  In addition to these ‘standard’ research support activities, the team also work on a number of funded projects with external and internal partners. Frank also explained that the Bloomsbury Theatre is actively used for student co-curricular activity, UCL academic and research activity as well as its range of commercial productions. Frank explained the work of the Programmes and Exhibitions team and their role in working with academics to develop activity and exhibitions in our museums and the Octagon/Cloisters. Frank presented UCL Engagement, who are here to spark connections between people and ideas. Frank illustrated what the team can help with, including advice and support, training (such as an Online Public Engagement course, or Public Engagement Skills and Practice for researchers and PhD students) and funding (such as Beacon Bursaries, Train and Engage, or Listen and Learn funds).  Finally, Frank presented the ground-breaking work of the Co-production Collective.

Emma Todd, Head of Research Culture, then presented work she has been leading on a wide-ranging transformation project. Research culture describes the environment in which research and innovation happens. It is made up of the expectations, values, attitudes and behaviours of our research communities and it shapes how research is created, how it’s stored, shared and the outputs that are delivered. Emma explained that there is an increasing focus on Research Culture within the sector – from Government and funders and also across peer institutions. Culture really does eat strategy for breakfast, as the famous quote goes from management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. If the culture isn’t right, we can’t fully deliver on UCL’s ambition. It is widely accepted in the sector that current research culture is not effective in helping sustain research excellence or the wellbeing of the people who deliver the research. Emma noted that there are also financial and reputational reasons why it’s important – funder requirements (including for quality-related research (QR) funding through REF) and our ability to attract the best researchers depends on UCL doing more to enhance its research culture. Wholesale change will require research organisations, funders, publishers and government to coordinate and consistently apply practical actions across the research community. But in the meantime, this complexity should not stop UCL from making progress on an institutional basis. Emma described what we’re doing at UCL, broken down into 3 parts. The first part between April – Aug 2021 was consultation with the research community. Part 2 is ongoing short term action in the form of a 6-month £1m+ Enhancing Research Culture Programme – ERCP (Feb-Jul 2022). Finally, Part 3 will be to develop a roadmap for cultural change (Apr – Sep 2022). Emma explained that she and her small temporary team (currently funded until 31st July) will deliver this project by working across UCL, with Faculties, colleagues in RIGE and in central Professional Services, and by integrating existing activity – of which there is a lot. A Research Culture Operations Group will oversee the ERCP and roadmap development and  report into RIGE Committee, which will have strategic oversight.

Finally, as Director of Operations, LCCOS, I spoke briefly about space strategy, focusing on library spaces. Whilst further work would be needed to establish a space strategy after UCL’s institutional strategy was more clearly defined, I indicated that libraries and learning spaces would aim to provide a range of interrelated learning environments, offering spaces with a clear identity, fostering sense of belonging for students (for postgraduate students, for instance), but also encouraging cross-disciplinary working. I added that space would also be develop to help extend the shared services model based on hubs, the Student Centre and UCL East approach, creating a local hub for students, e.g. within each Faculty​. I also noted that, as noted in previous Strategic Operating Plans, LCCOS would explore the feasibility of concentrating print stock in fewer sites to allow world-class user experience (24-hour opening, faculty identity, access to specialist services and resources including unique print collections) and improve financial and environmental sustainability. This could be complemented by Library-managed learning spaces​. This piece of work would follow from the UCL strategy and Estates masterplan, when those institutional plans are developed. I highlighted the ongoing work to establish a UCL Special Collections facility to exploit the exceptional institutional assets, particularly for cross-disciplinary research work. This could be linked to a wider Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences hub​, potentially in partnership with other academic institutions in London. Finally, I outlined potential for developing libraries further as portals between UCL and local communities​, which presents a great opportunity to work with colleagues in museums, collections, public engagement and Open Science.

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris29 January 2020

The Sorbonne Declaration on Data Rights

27 January 2020 saw a number of global university networks assemble in Paris under the chairmanship of LERU (League of European Research Universities). The international Research Data Rights Summit was dedicated to a discussion of Open Data and national/regional legislative frameworks to support research data management, research data being the building blocks on which publications (such as journal articles) can be based. The meeting was called under the aegis of the Sorbonne University, the University of Amsterdam and UCL (University College London).

The Sorbonne Declaration is signed

Following intensive discussion, 8 global university networks signed the Sorbonne Declaration on research data management and research data rights. These networks are: the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Coordination of French Research-Intensive Universities (CURIF), the German U15, the Group of Eight (Go8) Australia, the League of European Research Universities (LERU), RU11 Japan, the Russell Group (UK), and the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities. This Data Summit was unprecedented in its scale, with networks representing more than 160 of the main research-intensive universities in the world actively involved.

Research data is the new currency in the age of Open Science/Scholarship. This is an essential issue for the quality and transparency of research. It is also a crucial economic issue: funded largely by public money, research data represents tens of billions of euros worldwide. The objective is therefore to make these data accessible in order to accelerate scientific discoveries and economic development. For example, in Europe, according to a recent report produced by the European Commission, sharing and better managing research data would save 10.2 billion euros per year in Europe, with an additional potential of 16 billion euros of added value by the innovation generated. With the current global concern over the coronavirus, the sharing of research data can only help lead us faster to finding effective treatments. The Sorbonne Declaration is therefore set against the background of the growing importance of research data as a key scholarly output which can benefit society and address the global challenges which face humankind.

Zamansky Tower, Sorbonne University

The Sorbonne Declaration acknowledges a number of principles which underpin research activity in the age of Open Science/Scholarship, such as: research data should be openly shared and re-used as much as possible and it is the academic community which can identify the complex conditions for such re-use.

The university networks commit to a number of actions, such as: research data should be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable); and changing reward schema to acknowledge FAIRness and Openness.

The Declaration calls on the global research community to build the necessary environment to encourage data sharing and makes a number of requests of funding agencies, such as to consider the full costs of research data management as eligible costs for funding; and of national jurisdictions, to ensure proper legislative frameworks to support openness and sharing, avoiding ‘lock in’ to commercial services.

Open Science/Scholarship is a force for good in the world, leading to better research methodologies and the global sharing of research publications. With the possibility to share research data, Open Science/Scholarship offers the potential to provide new routes for discovery and the creation of knowledge and understanding. This is what the Sorbonne Declaration aims to do – to create a scholarly landscape from which the whole of society can benefit.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Research IT & Data Management drop-ins – autumn 2019 dates

t.johnson10 September 2019

The Research Data Management team and Research IT Services jointly run regular drop-in sessions.  These sessions are open to all UCL research staff and students. 

Someone from the Research Data Management team will be there to help you with:

– at all stages of the research lifecycle.

If you’d like to come along to one of our drop-in sessions, please contact the RDM team at lib-researchsupport@ucl.ac.uk with a summary of your research data query beforehand.

Representatives from all of the RITS service areas teams will also be on hand to answer questions or problems related the following areas:

  • research programming
  • workflow automation
  • finding tools and services for your research programmes
  • high performance computing
  • handling large datasets
  • handling personal and GDPR special category data
  • data storage

For RITS queries, there’s no need to book, but the RITS team can make sure there’ll be someone there to help with your problem if you email rits@ucl.ac.uk, ideally two days before the session.

Researchers are encouraged to attend however small their query. The sessions will also be a good opportunity to discuss research funder requirements, find out about services available at UCL and to get support with particular issues you are having.

Upcoming sessions

Date Time Location
Thursday 19 September 10am-12pm Common Ground, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, UCL Main Building (www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/south-wing)
Tuesday 1 October 10am-12pm Common Ground, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, UCL Main Building (www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/south-wing)
Thursday 17 October 10am-12pm Common Ground, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, UCL Main Building (www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/south-wing)
Tuesday 5 November 10am-12pm Common Ground, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, UCL Main Building (www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/south-wing)
Thursday 21 November 10am-12pm Common Ground, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, UCL Main Building (www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/south-wing)
Tuesday 3 December 10am-12pm Common Ground, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, UCL Main Building (www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/south-wing)
Thursday 19 December 10am-12pm Common Ground, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, UCL Main Building (www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/south-wing)

Updated from the original post by Myriam Fellous-Sigrist, dated 11 December 2018

 

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris13 August 2019

R.D. Laing and UCL’s underground press material

13 August saw a public lecture from UCL Special Collections’ first Visiting Fellow, Professor Adrian Chapman. Professor Chapman is Professor at Florida State University and based in London. He has a PhD from UCL and two English degrees from the University of London. He has publications (academic articles and creative work) in the area of Literature and Psychology / Medical Humanities and a research interest in Rhetoric and Composition. His research is particularly centred on R. D. Laing (the radical Scottish psychiatrist) and his network. For the announcement of his appointment in Special Collections, see here.

Around 50 people, perhaps half of them from outside UCL, attended to hear Professor Chapman talk about the influence of R.D. Laing and his network on psychiatry, using as source material the matchless collections in UCL Special Collections from the underground press. Wikipedia says: ‘Ronald David Laing (7 October 1927 – 23 August 1989), usually cited as R. D. Laing, was a Scottish psychiatrist who wrote extensively on mental illness – in particular, the experience of psychosis. Laing’s views on the causes and treatment of psychopathological phenomena were influenced by his study of existential philosophy and ran counter to the chemical and electroshock methods that had become psychiatric orthodoxy. Taking the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client as valid descriptions of lived experience rather than simply as symptoms of mental illness, Laing regarded schizophrenia as a theory not a fact. Though associated in the public mind with anti-psychiatry, he rejected the label. Politically, he was regarded as a thinker of the New Left. Laing was portrayed in the 2017 film Mad to Be Normal.’

During his talk in UCL, alas cut short in the last few minutes by a fire practice, Professor Chapman gave a number of examples of Laing’s influence, as displayed in the collections on view, accompanied by recorded music of the period. Take, as an example, musical illustration no. 12: The Doors, ‘Break on Through (To the Other Side)’. (The Doors, Elektra, 1967). Like Dylan, Jim Morrison was, and continues to be, an icon of the ’60s. The Doors took their name from The Doors of Perception, a book about mescaline and the expansion of consciousness by Aldous Huxley, whose nephew, Francis, was a great friend of Laing. Aldous Huxley found his title in a line from William Blake, the English Romantic poet, who wrote that  ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite’. According to a review in It 39, The Doors’ ‘Break on Through (To the Other Side)’ is ‘very natural, like breathing’. The need to break through convention and the ‘false self’ to a region where one can at last breathe freely – a liberated zone of playfulness, creativity and authenticity – was a desire shared by The Doors, the Laing network and the underground on both sides of the Atlantic (Programme Note from Professor Chapman).

Professor Chapman’s talk was received enthusiastically by his audience and marks a further step in the successful development of outreach and academic engagement activities by UCL Special Collections.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

 

UCL research data repository publishes its first outputs

t.johnson14 June 2019

UCL researchers can now publish, archive and share data, code and other outputs supporting published research in UCL’s new institutional research data repository (RDR).

research data repository

UCL’s new research data repository

First repository dataset published 5 June

On 5 June, UCL researchers, Library Services, ISD and Figshare staff celebrated two years’ preparation and the launch of the new university repository.  The very first upload: an mp4 laparoscopy video of Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica is part of an interdisciplinary Special Collections – Digitisation Suite collaboration.

Main features of the service

The UCL research data repository (RDR) service is free, open access and cloud-based with UCL single sign-on, and offers 10 year preservation in almost any file format.

Other features include embargo and integration with GitHub – and UCL Research Publications Service later this year, saving effort on REF submissions.  The institutional repository offers additional features over the commercial Figshare service: greater storage (50GB for individuals and 100GB for groups), larger file uploads (5GB), team project collaborations and metrics analysis and reporting.

The secret to a fast and painless repository experience

Testers found the repository intuitive: easy to log in, browse, and find, view and download items.  Uploading and describing an item takes minutes once the files and metadata are ready.  The trick is to prepare in advance:  good file names, a summary description, co-authors and their ORCIDs, keywords, the grant code, URLs or DOIs of linked research, and copyright licence codes.  A quick guide, detailed guide and FAQs are available on the Research Data Management webpages.

Once checked and approved (within 3 working days), each published item receives a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to make it easy to share, discover and cite.

Researchers are responsible for compliance with funder policies, intellectual property/copyright and GDPR leglisation.  Personal data is not accepted in the repository at present unless completely anonymised or pseudonymised.

The Research Data Repository service is supported jointly by:

More guidance is available on the Research Data Management Repository webpages and in the Research Data Repository FAQs.

Contact: researchdatarepository@ucl.ac.uk for questions, support, comments and feedback.

Data sharing is necessary for reproducible researchFAIR data and major funder compliance.  The new UCL research data repository is part of the university’s investment in infrastructure to enable Open Science practice across the university.

Join the UCL reproducibility mailing list for news and updates, invitations for input and training.

Further reading

Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris13 June 2019

Visit of Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

On Thursday 13 June 2019, the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, visited UCL with members of his cabinet.

The purpose of the Commissioner’s presence was to re-visit those European universities to which he feels especial affinity. He leaves his position in the autumn of 2019 once the new European Commission takes office.

As Pro-Vice-Provost with a responsibility for co-ordinating Open Science across UCL, I was asked to address him in the Provost’s Office to outline the success that UCL has had in introducing Open Science practice across the institution. I also highlighted the challenges in Europe in moving to embrace Open Science principles. This is the text which I used in my talk, sitting next to the Commissioner as I spoke.

Successes

  1. UCL Press is the UK’s first fully OA University Press. We have published 106 monographs with over 2 million downloads – when conventional sales over the bookshop counter might result in 200 sales per title. Our most downloaded book is from Professor Danny Miller in Anthropology in UCL, How the World Changed Social Media, which has been downloaded over 300,000 times. This shows the transformative effect of OA monograph publishing.
  2. We have also launched a megajournal platform – with the first subject section being the Environment. This has Open Peer review and the submission is made available immediately as Green OA in a Pre-Print repository prior to peer review and final publication.
  3. We have just launched our Open UCL Research Data repository for academics to archive their research data for sharing and re-use.
  4. UCL Discovery is the institutional OA repository. We monitor OA compliance from the Faculties on a monthly basis and have compliance rates as high as 90%. UCL Discovery has just passed the 20 million download mark.
  5. From 2000-2016, Digital Science has shown that UCL is consistently the university in the Russell Group in the UK most engaged with OA.
  6. We have also launched a pilot Open Educational Resources repository to collect educational materials for sharing and re-use.
  7. We have a pan-UCL Open Science governance platform, which monitors the introduction of Open Science principles and practices across the institution; and we lead work in Open Science in LERU (League of European Research Universities).
  8. UCL is one of the first universities anywhere in Europe to include Open Access to publications, research data and software, as a core principle in our academic promotions framework. This policy was signed off and published in 2018.

Challenges and how UCL can help  

  1. Academic concerns with Plan S, not with Open Access, threaten to de-rail the advances made across Europe in Open Science practice. We would like to support Plan S by working with the Commission and others to make Alternative Publishing Platforms, on the model of UCL Press, a reality across Europe.
  2. Those who manage the European Open Science Cloud have not engaged with universities, indeed they ignore my calls for collaboration. UCL would like to work with the EOSC to determine rules of engagement for universities. We have considerable experience, running the DART-Europe portal for OA research theses, which aggregates metadata for 619 universities and provides access to over 800,000 full-text research theses in 28 countries.
  3. The Commission’s Open Science Policy Platform work on Next Generation Metrics is badly stalled and needs a kick for it to produce a set of Recommendations which can be embraced by the global academy. UCL could help as we are out to informal consultation on an institutional Bibliometrics policy, grounded in Open Science principles.
  4. UCL is attempting, with LERU and other partners, to build a pan-European community for Open Science; the Commission could help by providing opportunities for seed funding to encourage growth in community engagement. Open Science, after all, is about people not just principles and practice.

I gave the Commissioner a gift bag from UCL Press containing, amongst other things, a copy of Danny Miller’s How the World Changed Social Media, the most downloaded book from UCL Press. The Commissioner has asked me to follow up with him and his team on a number of the issues I raised. I will certainly be doing that.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Better Science Through Better Data 2018 – Springer Nature in partnership with The Wellcome Trust (Wednesday,14th of November 2018)

Ruth Wainman19 November 2018

This year marked the fifth year that Springer Nature has hosted the annual Better Science through Better Data conference. The proceedings this year were held at the Natural History Museum – an appropriate venue for discussion about open science considering the museum employs around 300 scientists. The talk was kick-started with a welcome from the Head of Data Publishing at Springer Nature – Iain Hrynaszkiewicz – who introduced the key themes for the conference on ‘making data useable’ and creating ‘accessible and reproducible research’. This was swiftly followed by a presentation from Rebecca Boyles advocating the role of the data generalist through a potted life history of her professional journey into science. Data is becoming such a highly valuable resource that it is now even overtaking oil as the world’s most valuable resource. For Boyles, the rise of the data generalist clearly signals a catalyst for change in the sector. Next Maria Teperek from TU Delft turned the discussion towards FAIR data principles and the challenges involved in managing research data.  At TU Delft, part of these challenges are being addressed by the creation of designated data stewards who provide subject-specific support in research data management across the university. Teperek, however, was keen to remind the audience that data stewards are consultants and not police as their main role is to help improve the culture of research. Publishers too have a role to play in helping achieve FAIR principles by enabling researchers to share their data. But still the main obstacle to data management and sharing, at least for Teperek, remain cultural rather than technological.

A series of lightning talks dominated the latter part of the conference. Sophie Adler from UCL gave a talk on how sharing protocols have facilitated the detection of epilepsy lesions. Others highlighted themes such as achieving FAIR data in practice through the development of a web platform (Aliaksandr Yakutovich), the difficulties of gaining consent for data archiving (Jane Seymour) and the pitfalls of achieving open science when the very idea of openness can be called into dispute (Alastair Rae). The lightning talks were followed by further keynote talks from the perspective of those working in publishing and journalism. Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief of Nature, emphasised the role that publishers play in helping researchers to share their data by pointing to the fact that 60% of Springer Nature journals have now adopted a research data policy. John Burn-Murdoch from the Financial Times turned the audience’s attention towards the visualisation of data by providing some useful tips on how to get the most out of reporting statistical research. For Burn-Murdoch, data visualisation is first and foremost about communication and that perhaps most importantly we should always try to aim for meaningful visualisation. The panel discussion that followed gathered together speakers from different roles across the domain of scientific research including funders, research fellows and professors to discuss the pros and cons of reproducible research. The discussion was facilitated by additional questions from the audience who had the opportunity to post questions as well as to vote for other audience member’s questions online. The panellists ended the day by providing a lively debate about reproducibility by raising questions as to whether all studies need to be reproduced and who gets the glory for it but also what reproducibility actually means.

The slides from the conference will shortly be made available online.

Harnessing FAIR Data Conference – QMUL, 3rd of September 2018

Ruth Wainman6 September 2018

On Monday (3rd of September), I attended the Harnessing FAIR Data conference held at Queen Mary in conjunction with UCL and the Science and Engineering South consortium. The event launched with an opening talk from Prof. Pam Thomas – the Pro Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Warwick. Prof. Thomas spoke of her involvement in leading a task force on Open Research Data which will eventually culminate in a final report in early 2018. Whilst the details of the report are yet to be finalised, the talk raised pertinent questions about what will happen to the increasing amounts of openly available research data that the UK universities seek to generate. As one audience member pointed out, there is still a need for specialist software to process this data otherwise it will remain unusable to other researchers in the future. Questions are currently abound as to whether researchers’ data will form part of the REF submission but for the meantime, it will remain more of a gold standard. David Hartland followed by giving an overview of the Jisc funded FAIR data report and confirmed what many in the audience already largely suspected – the difficulties of what adherence to FAIR data principles means in practice.

Another lively talk was given by Dr. Peter Murray-Rust who provided a rallying cry to all researchers to get behind their readers. The fact remains that a vast amount of research can only be accessed via a pay wall. Murray-Rust made the point that closed access data kills especially in countries which do not readily have access to the latest scientific research. Plus, researchers face further problems trying to extract data from articles which continue to be blocked by publishers as a result of access restrictions. Other talks centred more on the individual projects that researchers ranging from doctoral to early career and established are undertaking. Prof. Paul Longley from UCL’s Consumer Data Research Centre provided another interesting discussion about big data analytics. Just think about how much data companies take from our loyalty cards as a way to understand our shopping habits and movements. But how can this be harnessed for the social good? Well, according to Prof. Longley, we might want to use this data to look at people’s mobility around the country. This was later followed by a wide range of researcher lightning talks about their uses of open data. Some disciplines like biology pose more difficulties than others, as Dr. Yannick Wurm from Queen Mary argued, because they are still considered a young data science.

The conference ended with a panel discussion chaired by Robert Kiley of the Wellcome Trust. The panel was interspersed by anecdotes from Dr. Paul Ayris and Prof. Henry Rzepa about their personal experiences of sharing data. Dr. Ayris felt very much that historians continue to be resistant to sharing data. Prof. Henry Rzepa also spoke of his work as a research chemist and how his research later become subject to scrutiny only to discover that there were two ways his results could be interpreted.

All in all, the conference provided enough food for thought about the opportunities and difficulties that lie ahead for making use of researchers’ data in both a FAIR and open way.

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris13 August 2018

UCL Press takes top spot

JSTOR has just published a list of its most downloaded Open Access books. I am happy to report that UCL Press has published 3 of its 10 most downloaded titles, coming in as nos. 1, 2 and 4 in the JSTOR Top Ten List.

JSTOR is a highly selective digital library of academic content in many formats and disciplines. The collections include top peer-reviewed scholarly journals as well as respected literary journals, academic monographs, research reports from trusted institutes, and primary sources. JSTOR has tremendous market penetration worldwide, particularly in North America.

JSTOR houses (13/8/18) 3,091 Open Access books from 42 publishers. One of these publishers is, of course, UCL Press.

How the World Changed Social Media

The most downloaded book in JSTOR is reported here. This is Professor Danny Miller’s book on How the World Changed Social Media, published of course by UCL Press.

Looking at all platforms, where UCL Press books can be accessed, the following stats (up to May 2018) tell their own story:

UCL Press content has been downloaded 1,217,819 times. Downloads have now taken place in 225 countries.

Of the three titles appearing in the JSTOR top 10, these are the total number of downloads recorded by UCL Press from all platforms (to May 2018):

JSTOR no. 1: How the World Changed Social Media – 238,945 downloads from all platforms

JSTOR no. 2: Social Media in Industrial China – 60,707 downloads from all platforms

JSTOR no. 4: Social Media in an English Village – 50,134 downloads from all platforms

There is no doubt that Open Access monograph publishing is changing the way such information is authored, used and disseminated across the world. Under the current publishing model, sales of 200 print copies would be a good result. Open Access monograph publishing, where the default is digital and freely available as Open Access copy, is transformative. And UCL is leading the way.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)