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Research Data at UCL – meet the teams!

Kirsty14 February 2022

Welcome to Love Data Week!

While you have probably heard of the work of the Research Data Management Team, who support you with decisions made during the research lifecycle to handle the data you work with, use or generate, from the planning stage of your project up to the long-term preservation of your data. Good data management practices are essential to meet UCL standards of research integrity.

To summarise, planning Research Data Management effectively helps you to ensure data quality, minimise risks, save time and comply with legal, ethical, institutional and funders’ requirements. The RDM team can guide you in the creation of your Data Management Plan, read and assess your plans when complete as well as advise you throughout the research process.

Contact: lib-researchsupport@ucl.ac.uk.

Outside the RDM team, there are a range of teams across the university that can support you.

The Data Protection and Freedom of Information Team are responsible for providing advice to UCL on data protection issues and handling statutory data protection and freedom of information requests. UCL’s Data Protection Officer leads the team, which sits in the Office of the General Counsel, and we work very closely with the Legal Services team and the Information Services Group.

All research proposals that involve personal data must be registered with the data protection office before processing begins. Further information, including FAQs and guidance notes are also available.

Contact: data-protection@ucl.ac.uk.

The UCL Research Ethics Committee (REC) and Research Ethics Officers facilitate an important function in the assessment of all applications submitted for ethical review and approval. The research ethics team must ensure that all applications have rigorously considered any ethical implications arising from proposed research design, methodology, conduct, dissemination, future use and data sharing and linkage, and how this will be managed should be carefully explained within a research plan. Ethical review of data management and security is a fundamental component of the ethical review procedure and researchers must demonstrate a strategy for data storage, handling of sensitive data, data retention and sharing. The following points are frequently requested:

  1. What type of data will you collect and how will you describe them?
  2. How will you store and keep your data secure?
  3. Will you be allowed to give access to your data once the project is completed? Who will be able to access them, under what conditions and for how long?

More information about research ethics, data protection for researchers and data management tools for handling sensitive and personal/special category data is available online.

Contact: ethics@ucl.ac.uk

The Research Contracts Team sits within Research and Innovation Services. Research Contracts assists Academics by putting in place appropriate agreements for sponsored research on behalf of UCL. This includes reviewing, drafting and providing advice to Academics and Departments and negotiating acceptable terms. This includes material transfer agreements of which data, including personal and pseudo-anonymised data are part. There are current exceptions to our remit which include: Clinical Trial Agreements and EU grants & contracts, procurement agreements and consultancy.

For queries please contact:

Visit their website for more information.

The Information Governance & Compliance team are a part of the UCL Information Security Team, with a focus on research compliance. They provide support for compliance aspects of data applications, such as DARS and CAG for NHS data, also the Department for Education. They also have experience with a wide range of requirement sets ranging from commercial organisations through to public services. However, for data that falls outside of formal external agreements, for example directly collected, they can offer suitable information governance advice that aligns with the Information Commissioner’s Office accountability Framework. Most requirements can be met by using the UCL Data Safe Haven (DSH).

For research that cannot use the DSH, we can help determine suitable technical and organisational measures. We also manage access to the ONS Secure Research Service (see the process section on the left hand side of linked page).

Contact: infogov@ucl.ac.uk

The UCL/UCLH Joint Research Office (JRO) provides research management and governance support for clinical research studies that take place across University College London and/or UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH). Support and guidance are provided to researchers wishing to conduct clinical research which recruits NHS patients and/or uses their tissue or their data.

This includes any clinical research that requires a formal ‘Sponsor’ as defined by the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research (2017), the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004 and subsequent amendments and the Medical Devices Regulations. Sponsor authorisation for these studies are provided by the JRO or one of the UCL clinical trials units (CTU).

The JRO consists of specialist teams who interface with colleagues across UCL/UCLH to support researchers through the research process. This includes guiding researchers through the approvals processes (e.g. NHS REC/MHRA), research contracting, research finance, regulations and compliance, study set-up and conduct, and data management.

More information about the JRO and how to get in touch can be found on the website.

And finally, the Research Integrity Team oversees and supports a broad set of research integrity initiatives at UCL to ensure compliance with the Concordat to Support research integrity support UCL to ‘Pursue a responsible research agenda (UCL 2019 Research Strategy – Cross-cutting Theme A). This includes coordinating periodic audits of UCL’s adherence with research integrity standards, leading on policy matters relating to research integrity, and frameworks for supporting integrity in research, such as the Statement on Research Integrity, the Framework for Research Integrity and the Code of Conduct for Research.  The team also led on the development of training for staff and students and provide advice and advocacy across UCL.

Who knew there were so many wonderful places to get support, and information to support your research data journey! If you are reading this during Love Data Week, don’t forget that we are hosting a Research Data Clinic with members of these teams to answer your questions! Thursday 17th February 2022 at 10.30am – register your interest on the form and we will send you all the information. After Love Data Week, get in touch with the teams directly, comment below or get in touch on Twitter!

New year, new library research skills

Kirsty12 January 2022

Did you intend to make new year resolutions but did not get round to it? Why not resolve to take some time this year to further develop your library research skills and ensure you are following best practices for research? UCL Library Services provides training and support to enable you to carry out your research effectively, including online guidance and self-paced tutorials, live online training sessions, tailored and individual training and specialist enquiry services.

Here are our top 5 suggested resolutions for researchers looking to enhance their library research skills and research practices:

Be FAIR

The principles of FAIR are designed to help lower barriers to research outputs and help other researchers find and understand them in order to reuse and repurpose them. This will in turn build further research opportunities and maximise the potential benefit of resources.

Findable – making research outputs discoverable by the wider academic community and the public.
Accessible – using unique identifiers, clear metadata, use of language and access protocols.
Interoperable – applying standards to encode and exchange data and metadata.
Reusable – enabling the repurposing of research outputs to maximise their research potential.

Practise open publishing

The goal of Open Access is to make all research material openly available online without restriction, to all readers, free from the barriers imposed by subscriptions. Open access is now required by many research funders and for the REF but it also has its own intrinsic benefits such as more exposure for your work, more citations, broader reach and wider readership worldwide.

Get searching

Refine your literature searching skills for reliable, relevant and comprehensive results. Whether you are searching for references to inform your research, as background reading, to scope your research topic, for a literature review or a systematic review, a robust search strategy is essential to ensure you find all the relevant research without having to wade through excessive irrelevant results. Our support for literature searching includes a range of options to support you at every stage of your research:

Organise your references

Get the most out of reference management software such as EndNote, Mendeley or Zotero, which enable you to gather and organise references and full text documents relevant to your research and to insert references in a Word document automatically, generating a reference list in the citation style of your choice. We provide support in using EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero to help you use the software more effectively and to troubleshoot your queries:

Understand bibliometrics

Bibliometrics is concerned with the analysis of research based on citation counts and patterns. The individual measures used are also commonly referred to as bibliometrics, or citation metrics.

 

UCL Discovery reaches 30 million downloads!

Kirsty22 November 2021

UCL Publications Board and the Open Access Team are delighted to announce that on Friday 19 November UCL’s institutional repository, UCL Discovery, reached the milestone of 30 million downloads! UCL Discovery is UCL’s open access repository, showcasing and providing access to UCL research outputs from all UCL disciplines. UCL authors currently deposit around 1,750 outputs in the repository every month (average figure January-October 2021).

by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/gdTxVSAE5sk

Our 30 millionth download was of a journal article:
Huber, LR; Poser, BA; Bandettini, PA; Arora, K; Wagstyl, K; Cho, S; Goense, J; Nothnagel, N; Morgan, AT; van den Hurk, J; Müller, AK; Reynolds, RC; Glen, DR; Goebel, R; Gulban, OF; (2021) LayNii: A software suite for layer-fMRI. NeuroImage, 237, Article 118091. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118091.

This article introduces a new software suite, LayNii, to support layer-specific functional magnetic resonance imaging: the measurement of brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. The software itself, which is compatible with Linux, Windows and MacOS, is also open source via Zenodo, DockerHub, and GitHub. The authors also made a preprint version of the article available via BioRxiv in advance of formal publication in NeuroImage. This demonstrates the combined value of open source software and open access to research publications.

The author of the article based at UCL, Dr Konrad Wagstyl, deposited the article in UCL Discovery in May 2021. Dr Wagstyl is a Sir Henry Wellcome Research Fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, UCL, and co-leads the Multicentre Epilepsy Lesion Detection project, an open science collaboration to develop machine learning algorithms to automatically subtle focal cortical dysplasias – areas of abnormal brain cell development which can cause epilepsy and seizures – in patients round the world.

The UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship recommends that researchers make any software or code they use available to aid others in reproducing their research. The Research Data Management team maintain a guide on best practice for software sustainability, preservation and sharing, and can give further support to UCL researchers as required.

Celebrating Open

Kirsty29 October 2021

Happy Birthday to us!

Birthday candles by synx508 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

To celebrate the first year of the Office for Open Science and Scholarship we decided to throw ourselves a virtual party, its been a year of milestones – take a look at our highlights video below!

This year over 20,000 records were uploaded to UCL Discovery and the combined number of theses hit 21,000! On top of that, UCL Discovery is about to hit 30 million lifetime downloads!

The smaller sibling to Discovery is UCL’s Research Data Repository, specialising in Open Access Research Data and code. It’s only 3 years old but it’s growing fast! This past year the number of downloads has increased by over 700% and the team that supports it is on track to double last year’s record for Data Management Plans assessed, and the year isn’t done yet!

And finally, our good friends at UCL Press hit a huge milestone of 5 million downloads across their 200+ books!

Its been a brilliant year for Open at UCL, and we hope that the office can grow and develop in years to come, and support our community to take Open Science from strength to strength. We hope you enjoy the video!

Open Access week 2021 – Open in Practice

Kirsty6 October 2021

For Open Access week this year we are going to be focusing on the practical side of Open, not just Open Access, but Open Data, Code, Software, Licensing, you name it, we are aiming to talk about it!

We have three events lined up for our UCL audience, you can get full details about those below. They are all very different to each other and we are hoping to see you there! We also have daily blog posts in the pipeline and the latest edition of the Office for Open Science & Scholarship Newsletter coming out during the week too. It’s going to be a busy one so make sure you follow us on twitter or subscribe to the blog for regular updates!

Tuesday 26th October 2-3pm – New UKRI Open Access Policy Briefing

The new UKRI open access policy announced in August 2020 affects academics publishing work that acknowledges UK Research Council funding. The policy requires open access on publication under the CC BY licence (or, exceptionally, CC BY-ND) for articles and conference papers submitted on or after 1 April 2022. It also requires open access no later than 12 months after publication for monographs, book chapters and edited collections resulting from a grant from one of the UK Research Councils, published on or after 1 January 2024. The UKRI policy will inform the open access policy for the next REF.

In this first UCL briefing session on the UKRI policy, Catherine Sharp (Head of Open Access Services) will set out the key policy points and compliant routes to publishing in journal articles and conference papers. Lara Speicher (Head of Publishing, UCL Press) will explore the details of the new UKRI monograph requirements, and their implications for authors. Professor Margot Finn (UCL History and immediate past President of the Royal Historical Society) will also join the session to discuss these changes and the implications for authors of monographs in the humanities and social sciences in particular.

Given the importance of the UKRI policy in shaping UK open access requirements, all researchers who publish are encouraged to attend a briefing on the UKRI policy, and to bring questions from their own disciplines.

Please register online.

Wednesday 27th October 2-3pm – UCL Press as eTextbook Publisher

The debate over access and affordability of eTextbooks is high on the agenda for many institutional libraries and publishers and many are calling for an open access solution.

In response, UCL Press is currently developing a new programme of open access textbooks, for undergraduate and postgraduate courses and modules, across disciplines. The new textbook programme will be the first OA textbook list in the UK and builds on the success of the Press’s publishing output and the significant increase in requirements for digital resources, in a changing teaching and learning environment. The programme offers the Press an opportunity to showcase and promote teaching excellence across a broad range of fields and contribute to the open culture UCL is continuing to build.

In this webinar we will discuss in more depth, why and how UCL Press are creating their open access programme and the opportunities, practicalities, and benefits of committing to, publishing and disseminating home-grown textbooks.

We will also focus on other initiatives and projects from UCL and from around the world to provide a forum for lively discussion about open access textbooks and education resources more broadly.

We encourage you to join us to hearing more about this programme and other OA initiatives, please register online.

Thursday 28th October 4-5pm – Opening data & code: Who is your audience?

To achieve the potential impact of a particular research project in academia or in the wider world, research outputs need to be managed, shared and used effectively.

Open Research enables replicable tools to be accessible to a wide audience of users. The session will showcase three projects and discuss the potentials of reuse of data and software and how to adapt to different types of user.

Join our speakers and panel discussion to:

  • understand the potential of sharing your data and software
  • learn about how projects share their software and data with different audiences and how they tailored their open data & code to different audiences appreciate the needs of different types of user (e.g. industry based, policy maker, citizen scientists)

Please register online.

ORCiDs in RPS: have you added yours?

Kirsty23 July 2021

There are a number of ways that having an ORCiD can be useful:

  • you can use it to distinguish yourself from other researchers, especially if you have a common name,
  • you can use your ORCiD to easily find and connect to your outputs, activities, contributions and affiliations
  • your ORCiD iD can also be used in place of a publications list or CV in applications to present your full list of contributions in one place
  • and finally, you can connect your ORCiD to a growing number of institutions, funders, and publishers, including RPS here at UCL.

Linking your ORCiD to your account in RPS can have a number of additional benefits, key among which is to improve the accuracy of the auto-claiming of your publications. In addition to this, you can also allow RPS to send publications that you claim over to ORCID on your behalf, called ‘Read and Write’ in the table below.

School ORCID Read & Write in RPS
– Jun 21
Total ORCID in RPS
– Jun 21
IOE 42% 77%
BEAMS 30% 73%
SLMS 29% 71%
SSEES 13% 76%
SLASH 22% 66%
Total 29% 71%

Back in January 22% of research staff had linked their ORCiD to RPS and were using it to send content from RPS to their ORCID record. Now, 6 months later that total has increased to 29% with IOE leading the way with an impressive 42% of research staff using this feature.

Overall, over 70% of research staff at UCL have linked their ORCID to RPS in some way, but that means that there are still some people that aren’t taking advantage of this and using their ORCiD to its best effect.

To get more information about how to add your ORCiD to RPS, take a look at the guide provided by the Open Access team, or one of our previous blog posts that outlines more information about the ways to best use your ORCiD.

Introduction to the CRediT taxonomy

Kirsty21 June 2021

The Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) describes 14 roles that represent the parts typically played by contributors to a scholarly output. The CRediT taxonomy has been adopted across a growing range of publishers to improve the visibility of the range of contributors to published research outputs. The established list of publishers and individual journals that use the roles is available online and also includes a few submission, peer review and research workflow tools.

The taxonomy also brings a number of additional practical benefits to the research environment, including:

  • Reduce the potential for author disputes.
  • Enable visibility and recognition of the different contributions of researchers, particularly in multi-authored works – across all aspects of the research being reported (including data curation, statistical analysis, etc.)
  • Support identification of peer reviewers and specific expertise.
  • ​Enable funders to more easily identify those responsible for specific research products, developments or breakthroughs.
  • Improve the ability to track the outputs and contributions of individual research specialists and grant recipients.
  • Easy identification of potential collaborators and opportunities for research networking.
  • Enable new indicators of research value, use and re-use, credit and attribution​.

We have recently added information about the CRediT taxonomy to the Open Access website, to make sure that you can get all information related to publishing your research in the same place, and as always, the Office for Open Science & Scholarship, and the Open Access team are available to answer any questions you may have on this or any other related topic.

CRediT updates

In April 2020 the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announced the formal launch of its work to develop the Contributor Role Taxonomy (CRediT) as a full ANSI/NISO standard.

Later in 2020, CRediT was awarded grant funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Wellcome Trust. The funds will be used to support implementations of the taxonomy across scholarly publishers, and within the scholarly research ecosystem more broadly once the standard is established.

During the early part of 2021, ORCID officially started supporting CRediT. As part of the upgraded API, journals can share CRediT contributions with ORCID and include them in your ORCID record. For more information about ways to automate updates to your ORCID record, check out our blog post on the subject.

Open Access theses

Kirsty31 March 2021

Among the many things that can be made Open Access; publications, data, software, and so many more, it is now increasingly more common for PhD theses to be made Open Access. This can be a great resource when you are undertaking your own PhD to get an idea of scope, structure and can be a great source of ideas.

Finding Open Access theses

UCL Library Services manages the DART-Europe service, the premier European portal for the discovery of open access research theses.  At the time of writing, this service provides access to over one million research theses from 564 Universities in 29 European countries.  It was founded in 2005 as a partnership of national and university libraries and consortia to improve global access to European research theses.  It does this by harvesting data from thesis repositories at contributing institutions, including from UCL Discovery (see below), and providing a link to at least one open access electronic copy of each thesis.  The theses themselves are located on the websites of the contributing institutions.

Users of the DART-Europe portal can search this vast database by keyword, or browse by country or institution, and view the research theses in full, without charge.  New theses are added every day, from doctoral and research masters programmes in every academic discipline.  For more information about the service, please contact the DART-Europe team.  Institutions not currently represented in the portal can view information on how to contribute to DART-Europe.

In normal times, the digitisation of doctoral theses can also be requested on an individual basis through the British Library’s e-theses online service (EThOS).  This is a database of all UK doctoral theses held in university library collections, with links to open access copies in institutional repositories, and hosted directly in EThOS, where available.  If an electronic copy is not available, you can create an account with the service to request digitisation of the print copy: this prompts the institution where the thesis is held to find and check the print thesis, and then send it to the British Library’s facility at Boston Spa for digitisation.  Please note that this process incurs a charge (which is indicated during the requesting process) and is currently suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Your thesis – UCL Discovery

Since the 2008-09 academic year, UCL students studying for doctoral and research master’s degrees have been required to submit an electronic copy of their thesis to the Library as a mandatory condition of the award of their degree.  Students are encouraged to make their theses openly available in UCL Discovery, our open access institutional repository, although in practice access can be restricted for a number of reasons if necessary.  A citation of the thesis appears in UCL Discovery even if access to the full text is restricted.

Older theses have also been digitised and added to UCL Discovery retrospectively.  The bulk of this work has been carried out as part of a specific project covering over 10,000 theses from 1990 to 2008.  This project is ongoing but mostly complete: over 7,000 digitised theses have been added to UCL Discovery during the last twelve months alone by Library Services staff who have not been able to carry out their normal work due to COVID-19 restrictions.

If you cannot access a UCL thesis which is listed online through these methods, please contact the Open Access Team, who will be able to provide advice on options for obtaining access.

Open Access Week: the first ReproHack ♻ @ UCL

Kirsty17 November 2020

The Research Software Development Group hosted the first ReproHack at UCL as part of the Open Access Week events run this year by the Office for Open Science and Scholarship. This was not only the first event of this type at UCL, but the first time a reprohack ran for a full week.

What’s a Reprohack?

A ReproHack is a hands-on reproducibility hackathon where participants attempt to reproduce the results of a research paper from published code and data and share their experiences with the group and the papers authors.

As it normally happens on hackathons, this is also a learning experience! During a Reprohack the participants, besides contributing to measure the reproducibility of published papers, also learn how to implement better reproducibility practices into their research and appreciate the high value of sharing code for Open Science.

An important aspect of the Reprohacks is that the authors themselves are the ones who put forward their papers to be tested. If you’ve published a paper and provided code and data with it, you can submit your papers for future editions of Reprohack! Your paper may be chosen by future reprohackers and provide you with feedback about the reproducibility of your paper! The feedback form is well designed so you get a complete overview of what went well and what could be improved.

Reprohacks are open to all domains! Any programming language used in the papers are accepted, however papers with code using open source programming languages are more likely to be to chosen by the participants as it may be easier to install it on their computers.

In this particular edition, the UCL Research Software Development Group was available throughout the week to provide support to the reprohackers.

What did I miss?

This was the first Reprohack at UCL! You missed all the excitement that first-time events bring with them! But do not worry, there will be more Reprohacks!

This event was particularly challenging with the same difficulties we have been fighting for the last nine months trying to run events online, but we had gain some experience already with other workshops and training sessions we run so everything went smoothly!

The event started with a brief introduction of what the event was going to be like, an ice-breaker to get the participants talking and a wonderful keynote by Daniela Ballari entitled “Why computational reproducibility is important?”. Daniela provided a great introduction to the event (did you know that only a ~20% of the published literature has only the “potential” of being computationally reproduced? and that most of it can’t be because either the software is not free, the data provided is incomplete, or it misses which version of the software was used? [Culina, 2020]), linking to resources like The Turing Way and providing five selfish reasons to work on reproducibility. She put these reasons in context of our circles of influences like how these practices benefits the author, their team, the reviewers and the overall community. The questions and answers that followed the talk were also very insightful! Daniela is a researcher in Geoinformation and Geostatics and never trained as a software developer, so she had to learn her way to make her research reproducible and her efforts in that front were highlighted in the selfish reasons she proposed in her talk.

The rest of the event consisted on ReproHacking-hacking-hacking! We separated into groups and started to choose papers. We then disconnected from the call and each participant or team worked as they preferred over the next days to try to reproduce the paper(s) they chose. At the end of the week we reconvened together to share how far we’d got and what we learned on the way.

In total we reviewed four papers, only one participant managed to reproduce the whole paper, the rest (me included) were stuck on the process. We found that full reproducibility is not easy! If the version of a software is not mentioned, then it becomes very difficult to find why something is not working as it should. But we also had a lot of fun and the participants were happy that there is a community at UCL that fights for reproducibility!

This ReproHack also counted with Peter Schmidt interviewing various participants for Code for thought, a podcast that will be published soon! Right now he’s the person running RSE Stories on this side of the Atlantic, a podcast hosted by Vanessa Sochat.

What’s next?

We will run this again! When? Not sure. We would like to run it twice a year, maybe again during the Open Access week and another session sometime between March-April. Are you interested in helping to organise it? Give me a shout! We can make a ReproHack that fits better for our needs (and our researchers!)

Thanks

Million thanks to Daniela Ballari, her talk was very illustrative and helpful to set the goals of the event!

Million thanks to Anna Krystalli too, a fellow Research Software Engineer at the University of Sheffield as she was the creator of this event and provided a lot of help to get us ready! She’s a Software Sustainability Institute Fellow and the SSI gave the initial push for this to exist. We also want to thank the RSE group at Sheffield as we were using some of their resources to run the event!

I also want to thank the organisers of ReproHack in LatinR (thanks Florencia!) as their event was just weeks before ours and seeing how they organised was super helpful!

Deep Dive: DOIs

Kirsty8 September 2020

In our recent blog post, PIDs 101, we covered a wide range of Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) and looked at how they link together, and what the future holds for them. This week we are drilling down to investigate Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) in more detail.

In the last post we discussed DOIs being a unique registration number for a Digital Object, and the fact that a digital object in this context could be an article or a dataset, but it could equally be any of a number of other item types, such as on this list defined by Crossref.

How do DOIs work?

Each publisher, funder or repository that is registered to provide DOIs is given a unique registration number. This number, along with the ‘10.’ common to all DOIs, forms the first part of a DOI, called the prefix – shown below. Each registered provider is then responsible for choosing their own suffix pattern.

 

 

This is where DOIs get extra clever. Each registered provider can construct the suffixes to their own design, and these can be as simple or as complex as needed. For example, the Wellcome trust uses DOIs for identifying grants as well as publications, and PLOS uses different suffixes to identify which articles come from which journal – for example:

 

 

 

In the three PLOS DOI examples above, the unique registration number is 1371. Each suffix starts by designating the item type: journal, and then follows with an acronym of the individual journals themselves, pbio (PLOS Biology), pone (PLOS one) and pgen (PLOS Genetics). Each journal then uses article numbers in a predetermined sequence for the final part of the DOI. These numbers match the article numbers shown in the article citations. Every registered provider needs a scheme like this that they use to generate their DOIs, as it is essential that each item receives a unique DOI.

For every DOI that is generated, it is the responsibility of the provider to send metadata and a link to the top level webpage for the item to their individual registration agency. In the UK this is most likely to be Crossref or Datacite. This metadata is then made openly available so it can be used to build overarching databases or added into other tools and services like the search interface at doi.org. Crossref and DataCite make the metadata and DOIs registered with them openly available via APIs so that it can be used in databases like Europe PubMed Central.

The different publishers, repositories, universities and funders all have a responsibility to keep the metadata of all of the DOIs they generate up to date. This is important in order for the DOI to be persistent. For example, if your chosen journal changes publisher after your article has been published, it is the responsibility of the publisher to facilitate updating the metadata of every article so that you will still be able to find your article using the DOI.

Why is having a DOI beneficial?

The purpose of a DOI is to accurately identify, link to and discriminate between online works. DOIs are unique to the work they identify and permanently link to it. This means that a DOI must link to the authoritative and authentic web presence for the work hosted on a sustainable platform.

So, having a DOI for your work (whatever it may be) means that it will always be findable: even if the journal where it was originally published no longer exists, there will always be a record of your work no matter how much time has passed. It also helps ensure that your work is cited properly, and that every mention of it is correctly attributed and easy to track. If your work has a DOI, it can be included in other tools like Altmetric or Plum Analytics. These tools track mentions of works in social media, news media, policy documents and other places.

How do I get a DOI for my work?

It is relatively unusual for journals to be unable to provide you with a DOI for your article. If your publisher does not have the facility to give you a DOI, or you wish to get a DOI for another type of material, the simplest way to go about getting one is to create a record in a repository that can provide a DOI for you.

At UCL we have the Research Data Repository (RDR) which can accept a wide range of outputs including data, figures, presentations, software, posters, even images and other media. There is the option in the record creation process to ‘Reserve’ a DOI which will become live once the record is checked and verified by the RDR team.

Outside UCL, there are also independent repositories that are able to give you a DOI. You can choose a subject repository appropriate for your data – there is lots of information available on the Research Data Management team website – or a generic one such as the UK Data Archive, Zenodo, Figshare or Dryad.