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Open Access in Genealogy

By Harry, on 7 December 2022

Post by Marie Dewerpe, Open Access team. Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science.

This blog post relates to personal experiences I have had with open data and open access in genealogy. Besides working as an open access assistant, I am an amateur genealogist. Therefore, I asked myself: what about open access in genealogy?

Family history is bit like a detective work in the archives. You are looking for clues and proof of where your ancestors lived and who they were. To create your family tree, you need to access records. The main records genealogists use are the birth, marriage and death (BMD) and census records collected by the government. They are usually stored by the state at the national, regional or local level.

Depending on the country, the data is archived differently by the civil services. I will be writing about accessing records that do not concern living individuals protected by blanket policies such as the Data Protection Act in the UK.

The field of genealogy has a history of collaboration and volunteering. Fellow genealogists will search on your behalf in exchange for you helping other genealogists. Transcribers, translators and online forums are on hand to provide help. This kind of free support from other genealogists is quite common. But when I started looking into open data and open access in genealogy, I realised there is little information on the topic. From my experience of navigating archives in different countries (France, Estonia and the UK) I also noticed some similarities and disparities in gaining access to genealogical resources.

In France, many genealogical resources are free to access in the public archives. They can be reused under similar terms as the Creative Commons licence. For example, the Office Français De Protection Des Réfugiés Et Apatrides (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons) allows the user to reuse their public data with some restrictions, such as respecting the integrity of information. But these resources are not always easily searchable. When they are searchable you often need to use a private company’s database or a local group database. Furthermore, you must subscribe to the volunteer group or a private company in order to access the transcribed data and their searchable database.

In Estonia, documents like birth, marriage and death certificates are available freely. You can also ask the national archives to digitise their physical records for a small fee. After a while these digitised documents are shared on their website and are also freely available. As with France, it is not easy to navigate the resources when you are not literate in classification. But unlike France, some of the archival material is searchable on the National Archives website. Because France and Estonia are part of the European Union, their approach to public data is quite similar.

In the UK almost all “basic” records such as birth, marriage and death certificates are behind a pay wall. You must subscribe to private companies to access what is available freely to those based in other countries. The information includes census, birth, marriage and death records. Having to pay for these records no doubt affects who can access the genealogical resources. Local libraries facilitate access to family histories, but they also have to subscribe to databases that are originally stored by public entities like the National Archives, but are managed by private companies.

I found one initiative, FreeUKGenealogy, which supports free access to genealogy data without restrictions on its use. As explained on their website, they want to bypass pay walls and allow users to access public data.

To sum up this exploration of open data and open access in genealogy, there are differences in access levels from country to country. When in France and Estonia, the records are freely accessible, in the UK you need to subscribe to private companies. However, free access does not mean easy access. Indeed, it is difficult to use the material without proficiency in archiving. In France, you have the option to access searchable databases, but there are fees involved. These current limitations place financial and knowledgeable barriers on those who wish to consult and use the records. This is where initiatives like FreeUKGenealogy are extremely useful.

Here are some free resources on getting started in genealogy:

https://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/getting-started/best-free-genealogy-websites/

https://ukdataservice.ac.uk/help/other-data-providers/ready-made-statistics/genealogy/

https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/non-conformist-records

More resources:

https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/information-management/reproduction-of-birth-death-marriage-certificates.pdf

https://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/brick-walls-and-lost-ancestors/

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/shows/the-open-source-show/using-open-data-to-build-family-trees

https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/

https://www.ra.ee/vau/index.php/en

https://www.ra.ee/en/the-national-archives-of-estonia-100/

For more information on open data in France, here is a fascinating paper:

https://doi.org/10.4000/communicationorganisation.6766

The open-access subject gap

By Harry, on 25 November 2022

Post by Dominic Allington-Smith & Damian Kalinowski, UCL Library, Culture, Collections & Open Science

A common criticism of the Open Science movement is that it is geared towards the needs of researchers in of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), to the detriment of researchers in arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS).  Not only does the phrase “Open Science” itself have connotations of a subject-based preference in English, hence UCL’s decision to specify “Open Science and Scholarship, but funder and institutional requirements to make research outputs open access also prioritise certain publication types over others, leading to a potential inequality between disciplines.

For STEM subjects, as a general rule, journal articles and conference papers are the most important form of research output.  The two routes to achieving open access: Gold – whereby the publisher makes the content freely available to read and reuse, usually in exchange for a fee – and Green – whereby a copy of the output is made openly available in the researcher’s institutional repository (in UCL’s case, this is UCL Discovery) – are most available to these two publication types: almost all major, international publishers of academic publishers have well-established mechanisms for the payment of Article Processing Charges to facilitate the Gold route, and standard policies for author self-archiving of content that can be followed to achieve the Green route.

Furthermore, funder and institutional open access requirements are also framed with these two types of output in mind: journal articles and conference papers submitted to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) from 1 April 2016 onwards had to be made open access in order to be eligible; this requirement also continues for the post-2021 REF until further notice.  In terms of funders, the current UKRI and Wellcome open access policies also have mandatory open access requirements for funded journal articles and journal articles.

In contrast, AHSS researchers are likely to consider books a comparatively more important class of research output, whether a monograph or a chapter contributed to an edited collection.  The open access landscape for books is considerably less mature than for journal articles and conference papers: publishers are less likely to have mechanisms in place for the provision of Gold open access, and may have more restrictive policies (or no policies at all) that allow authors to pursue Green open access through self-archive.  Elsevier, for example, do not permit book or chapter content to be made available in UCL Discovery at all.

This is reflected in the above-mentioned funder and institutional open access requirements as well: books and chapters are currently not subject to any open access requirements for the post-2021 REF, and the UKRI open access policy for this content does not come into effect until 1 January 2024; Wellcome is the only one of the three to currently mandate open access for funded books and chapters in some form.  The disparity even extends to journal articles by extension: as books are important in AHSS fields, so in turn are the reviews of these books published in journals, but these may not be considered to be “original research” by funders and therefore may not be eligible for Gold open access funding, or not considered necessary to be made open access via the Green route in UCL Discovery.

With all this theoretical inequality in mind, the question to answer is: how is this reflected in the proportion of UCL research outputs that have been made open access across the different subjects represented by our schools and departments?  We can attempt to answer this with some data from two example departments.

Two UCL departments, at the same level within the overall hierarchy, have been selected to typify the worlds of STEM and AHSS: the School of Pharmacy and the History department, respectively.  The publications recorded in RPS from the period 2016-2020 (i.e. the period for which there was an open access requirement for the submission of journal articles and conference papers to REF 2021) are analysed:

UCL Department Total outputs (2016-2020) Journal articles and conference papers Books and chapters
School of Pharmacy 2348 1756 (74.79%) 94 (4.00%)
Dept of History 534 249 (46.63%) 219 (41.01%)

 

The proportions are strikingly different: the School of Pharmacy’s research outputs are dominated by journal articles and conference papers, constituting almost three-quarters of the total recorded outputs, whereas books and chapters form a paltry four percent.  In contrast, the two groups of publication have an almost equal share of the total within History.

The next step is to analyse the proportion of these outputs for which the author has uploaded the full text to make it open access in UCL Discovery, bearing in mind the fact that books and chapters from this period were not subject to any REF or funder requirements in this regard:

UCL Department Journal articles and conference papers Books and chapters
Total Uploaded Total Uploaded
School of Pharmacy 1756 1411 (80.35%) 94 12 (12.77%)
Dept of History 249 145 (58.23%) 219 105 (47.95%)

 

Unsurprisingly, the combination of books and chapters not having to be made open access for REF or funder requirements, and journal articles and conference papers being more significant in disciplinary terms for the School of Pharmacy than for History, results in a markedly higher upload proportion for the former: across all four publication types, the overall upload proportion is 76.92% for the School of Pharmacy and 53.42% for History.

The final consideration is the proportion of uploaded publications that have actually been made open access in UCL Discovery, bearing in mind publisher limitations being more prevalent when it comes to books and chapters.  A further analysis of the uploaded publications produces the following results:

UCL Department Journal articles and conference papers Books and chapters
Uploaded Open access Uploaded Open access
School of Pharmacy 1411 1405 (99.58%) 12 5 (41.67%)
Dept of History 145 142 (97.93%) 105 72 (68.57%)

 

This indicates that if a journal article or conference paper was uploaded in RPS, it was almost always made open access in UCL Discovery, whereas the equivalent proportion for books and chapters was lower once again, even a minority in the case of the School of Pharmacy.

The incentives to make journal articles and conference papers open access, and the barriers against achieving open access for books and chapters, therefore result in a stark difference between not only the publication types, but also the departments.  Only 24.60% of all books and chapters recorded in RPS during this period by both departments have been made open access, compared with a far more favourable 77.16% for journal articles and conference papers.  The History department’s comparative focus on the former two types means that only 45.73% of recorded outputs have been made open access.  If only the publications for which the full text was uploaded in RPS are counted, there is still a figure of just under 15% that could not be made open access due to publisher-imposed restrictions.  In contrast, the typical STEM experience represented by the School of Pharmacy has resulted in 76.22% of all recorded publications of these types being made open access.  Perhaps most stark is the fact that fewer than 1% of uploaded publications could not be made open access, illustrating that the vast majority of academic publishers in this field permit open access via self-archiving in an institutional repository.

It is to be hoped that the extension of funder open-access mandates to books and chapters, which may well also be reflected in revised open-access requirements for the post-2021 REF in due course, will help to close this discrepancy in outcome between publication types, and by extension, departments by subject area within UCL and other UK Higher Education Institutions.

Research Publications Service (RPS) upgrade: what’s changed?

By Harry, on 8 November 2022

Post by Alan Bracey, Open Access Compliance Manager.

RPS has been upgraded from version 5 to version 6. While most of the functionality is unchanged, users will notice a refreshed look and feel, differences to the Homepage layout, and a new menu structure and navigation.

The guides to RPS for researchers on the Open Access webpages will soon be updated. Our RPS videos will be updated soon!

The following changes are outlined in this post:

  • Homepage
  • Menu and shortcut icons
  • Publications page
  • Preprints
  • File deposits turned off: preprints, data, software/code
  • Reporting, exports and ‘collect later’ functionality
  • Changes to administrator roles

Homepage

The Homepage has a revamped ‘My Actions’ section, with new visuals and additional guidance to help researchers complete key tasks.

Menu and shortcut icons

The main menu structure has been redesigned. The icon in the top left now opens the Menu to navigate around RPS, and the icons at the side are shortcuts to Home, Profile and the Reporting Hub.The Menu used for navigating around RPS has been reorganised. Pages generally have the same names as currently, though, and users can find pages with the new ‘search’ functionality.

(The menu items depend on roles and permissions: not all of those in the screenshot will be available.)

The three icons at the top of the screen link to ‘Impersonate’ (for administrators who have been given this functionality), ‘Help’ (with links to UCL guides), and a notifications window (e.g. ‘There are 14 Publications for you to claim or reject’). Clicking on your name opens a sub-menu with key system settings.The System Search is now found at: Reporting > Search > System Search

Publications page

The tabs containing information related to publications have been rearranged. There is a new ‘labels’ tab, and the display of metrics and relationships has been redesigned.The tabs show information relating to the publication as follows:

  • Summary shows the basic bibliographic data and is displayed by default.
  • Metrics displays the Times Cited and Altmetric data.
  • Deposits displays details of uploaded files.
  • Labels presents ontologies available to be associated with the publication.
  • Relationships lists the other RPS users who are linked to the record.
  • Sources shows a list of the data sources that comprise the publication.
  • History is the log of all activities performed against the record.

To change the publication type, select the pen icon next to the article type when viewing the summary tab.A new ‘focus on’ feature allows you to show the same tab for all outputs, e.g. if you wanted to review whether files have been uploaded for all publications.

Preprints

The upgrade to version 6 will introduce a new Preprints publication type. Previously, preprints came into the system as journal articles, and would be manually changed to ‘Working/Discussion paper’. Preprints will now come into the system under the new Preprint type. Preprints already in the system will keep their current publication type but can be changed manually (contact the Open Access Team for help if required).

Uploading files is now turned off for preprints (see below), but these can be uploaded by the OA Team on request.

Preprints should automatically link to articles, so that the system creates an ‘is preprint of’ relationship between the preprint and a published article (providing both outputs have Crossref identifiers). These links can also be created manually by researchers or administrators if desired.

Depositing files restricted for some publication types

The new version of RPS allows file deposit to be turned on and off for different publication types. We have taken advantage of this functionality to turn off deposits for preprints, datasets and software/code. This is to prevent researchers uploading a preprint instead of an accepted manuscript, which does not meet funders’ open access requirements. Preprint servers are also typically open access. Data, software and code should be uploaded to the Research Data Repository. Please contact the Open Access Team if you need to upload a preprint.

Reporting, exports and ‘collect later’ functionality

Reports and dashboards in version 6 are collected in the new Reporting Hub, accessed by using the bar graph icon on the left of the screen, or at Reporting > Reports & Dashboards > Reporting Hub. The ability to set ‘favourite’ reports has been introduced, and reports and dashboards should be easier to find.

The Reporting Hub includes some exports and reports formerly found on the Basic Reports page, but not all of them have been migrated. Basic Reports are still available at Reporting > Reports & Dashboards > Basic Reports. More reports will migrate from Basic Reports to the Reporting Hub in later upgrades.

If a report takes longer than ten seconds to show, then you will be offered the option to collect the report later. When the report file is ready to download you receive a notification and can collect the report file from the new Download Centre (Reporting > Reports & Dashboards > Download Centre).

Changes to administrator roles

Some roles will be renamed due to the upgrade. Access and permissions are expected to remain the same, but please contact openaccess@ucl.ac.uk if you experience any issues.

 

Indigenous knowledge and Citizen Science: enabling paths for Climate Justice

By Kirsty, on 27 October 2022

Post by Harry Ortiz, Office for Open Science & Scholarship Support Officer

This year’s Open Access theme, Climate Justice, allows us to explore how research openness can promote diverse paths to achieve it. In this particular occasion, we will focus on how citizen science can work as a bridge to connect the so-called modern societies with rich indigenous environmental knowledge to confront the climate emergency and learn from their day-to-day practices.

According to the United Nations (UN), climate justice refers to a paradigm shift that focuses on the impacts of global warming on the most vulnerable people rather than just discussions on gas emissions. Expanding the discourses based on natural resources and biodiversity depletion to more ethical and political spheres under the human rights framework and civil movements from those communities who are, and will be, the most affected by those changes (Unite Nations, 2019).

CC-BY-NC Picture by Joe Brusky https://flic.kr/p/pkVrKZ

Paradoxically, indigenous communities, who have been the protectors of the land through sacred ties with nature, are one of the most affected groups confronting climate change hazards. Receiving special attention due to their leader’s climate justice activism based on their traditional knowledge, demanding urgent policy transformations and more comprehensive mitigation plans (United Nations, 2021). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognise the crucial role of indigenous peoples’ knowledge in those plans, especially regarding ecosystem and biodiversity conservation as key to ensuring sustainable development and climate resilience (IPCC, 2022).

As climate justice movements note, the effects of the planetary phenomena affect vulnerable communities worst and faster. Not only about social and economic extents but their ‘abilities to produce, disseminate, and use knowledge around the climate crisis’ (International Science Council, 2022). This a critical reality for indigenous and local knowledge reproduction, which might contain the answers to new forms of human existence in symbiosis with all forms of life on earth.

Openness can help to share that traditional knowledge and inform novel paths to generate resilient modern societies. However, it is first necessary to understand and capture the indigenous and local expertise, where citizen science practice, one of the eight pillars of open science, takes enormous relevance for climate justice.

But how can scientific methodologies and indigenous/local knowledge coexist when they belong to completely different epistemologies? How do we avoid new ways of colonisation against indigenous peoples in the name of science and climate justice?

Citizen science offers a solution, a link between the two distant worlds. With ethical considerations carefully implemented, it can deliver new knowledge collaborations and approaches to solve local and global sustainability issues. Citizen science aloud reciprocally valuable knowledge systems to coexist, open discussions about power dynamics in the academic world, promote diversity, participation in decision making and address historical inequalities (Tengö, M. et al. 2021).

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IGWIA), answering the IPCC 2022 report on mitigation, indicate the need for ‘a new paradigm of climate partnership with Indigenous Peoples that harnesses the benefits of different knowledge systems and ways of knowing is needed. Although the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and their knowledge holders in research is increasing, more significant efforts are needed to support community-based and Indigenous-led research.’ (IGWIA, 2022). Addressing the need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights in the knowledge co-production development and their participation in all levels of climate mitigation decisions in ethical and equitable processes.

The UCL press book’ Geographic Citizen Science Design – No one left behind’ shows good examples of citizen science with indigenous communities who take into account cultural factors, participant-centre design and the local contexts from holistic perspectives. We encourage you to visit their third chapter, where the authors build from an anthropological and human-computer design perspective providing several case studies regarding geographic citizen science with indigenous communities and their knowledge. You can download the Open Access PDF for free!

Despite diverse opinions and perspectives, citizen science practices can hybridise two knowledge traditions that seemed to run in parallel paths. Sharing those findings in open and accessible ways beyond academia can promote more fair, equitable and sustainable societies.

Can you imagine new ways to co-existence with all the living world informed by indigenous knowledge and practices? Following Tyson Yunkaporta’s ideas in his book Sand Talk, what if indigenous knowledge can save the world? For some, the idea might sound romantic or taken out of science fiction movies. But what if finding an encounter point between the modern and the indigenous world is the most effective path towards climate justice?


International Science Council, 2022. 2022 International Open Access Week will focus on ‘Open for Climate Justice’. [online] Available from: https://council.science/current/news/2022-international-open-access-week-will-focus-on-open-for-climate-justice/ [Accessed 06 October 2022]

IGWIA, 2022. A new paradigm of climate partnership with Indigenous Peoples. An analysis of the recognition of Indigenous Peoples in the IPCC report on mitigation. IGWIA Briefing Paper. Available from: https://iwgia.org/en/resources/publications/4845-iwgia-briefing-analysing-a-new-paradigm-of-climate-partnership-with-indigenous-peoples-ipcc-report.html

IPCC, 2022. Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. Working Group III Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Summary for Policymakers. WMO – UNEP. Available from: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg3/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGIII_SPM.pdf

Tengö, M., Austin, B.J., Danielsen, F., Fernández-Llamazares, A. 2021. Creating Synergies between Citizen Science and Indigenous and Local Knowledge. BioScience, 2021; biab023, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biab023

United Nations, 31 May 2019. Climate Justice. Goal 13: Climate Action. [online] Available from: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/climate-justice/ [Accessed 04 October 2022]

United Nations, 09 August 2021. How indigenous knowledge can help prevent environmental crises. Environmental Rights and Governance. [online] Available from: https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/how-indigenous-knowledge-can-help-prevent-environmental-crises [Accessed 04 October 2022]

Altmetric – now available at UCL!

By Kirsty, on 2 September 2022

Guest post by Andrew Gray (Bibliometrics Support Officer)

What is it? 

Altmetrics are the concept of “alternative metrics” – measuring the impact of research beyond scholarly literature. It encompasses a wide range of activity in diverse sources  social media (eg twitter, blogs), news publications, and grey literature (eg policy documents). This can help to get a wider sense of the impact of papers that might otherwise be missed were we to focus just on traditional academic citations. 

The primary commercial database for these is Altmetric (https://altmetric.com) – UCL has just taken out a one-year subscription to this service. We hope it will be useful for anyone interested in public engagement or research impact, as well as individual researchers looking at the response to their own work. 

It is open to everyone at UCL by visiting https://www.altmetric.com/explorer/login and entering your UCL email address. It will then authenticate through the UCL single-sign-on system. 

How does it work? 

Altmetric tracks a range of individual sources looking for DOIs, links to papers, or free-text descriptions of articles. It then matches these to the underlying paper and produces an index of the mentions. Here we can see the range of responses to a climate-change study. 

You will also sometimes see this coloured “doughnut” on publisher or repository sites – clicking through will get you to this same page. 

The most interesting part of the service, however, is the dashboard. This aggregates the results from all individual papers, and we can then filter down by subject area, date, publication venue, etc., to produce a more specific analysis. It is also possible to search for keywords to see the change in activity around a specific topic – one like “artificial intelligence” tends to show a steady level of interest, while one like “gravitational waves” shows very dramatic spikes connected with major discoveries. 

What can we do with it? 

The dashboard has been integrated with UCL’s RPS service, so it has a dataset of UCL papers since 2013, each linked to the faculty/department of the authors. This means we can do the same types of analysis for just UCL papers – or just those from a specific department or a specific author. 

The search can also be tweaked to identify specific topics. Here we can see policy documents published in 2022 which cite a Bartlett paper. 

Policy documents are one of the key strengths of Altmetric – they can be used as evidence of wider impact, especially for the social sciences. While they are formal documents, and very distinct from more ephemeral news or social media mentions, they are not indexed in most citation databases and so this impact can often be hard to trace. 

Altmetric data can also be exported – any set of results can be exported so that we can do detailed offline analysis of sets of papers, or at the individual mentions that make up the score. This data includes identifiers such as DOIs and ISBNs, meaning it can be linked up to other datasets easily 

What next? 

We are very keen to get this tool in the hands of as many people at UCL as possible and find how it can be used most effectively. Please have a go and let us know what you think! 

UCL-specific training and guidance is currently under development, and will be published in September 2022. Until then, please feel free to get in touch with the team (bibliometrics@ucl.ac.uk) with queries or requests for assistance. We are happy to arrange training as well. 

The tool is currently provided with a static dataset drawn from RPS, covering papers published 1 January 2013 up to 12 August 2022. We are working with the providers to improve the integration so that it will include “live” data, refreshed from RPS every night; until then, we plan to make periodic updates so that publications are added on a rolling basis. 

 

 

 

How does Citizen Science Change us? Write up from the UCL Open Science Conference 2022

By Kirsty, on 26 May 2022

Guest post by Israel Amoah-Norman (IGP Research Intern)

The UCL Open Science Conference took place last month. Thanks to Covid, most of the sessions were online. However, on 6th April, the UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship invited the Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) to host a hybrid discussion themed ‘How Does Citizen Science Change Us?’. The IGP bases its activities around citizen-led research. For example, it launched its first study in September 2021: where citizen scientists trained by the IGP in qualitative data collection explored the effects of regeneration on household prosperity. The session on 6th April invited members of the research team to discuss how the experience had impacted them. It also invited academic researchers outside of the IGP to present their research and discuss how citizen science (CS) had impacted them and the local communities where their studies had taken place.

A quick side note: open science is focused on inclusive approaches to producing and evaluating research i.e., it opens research beyond the realms of academia to the wider community.

Now, back to the event. The conference was split into three parts:

Dr Rita Campos began proceedings with a thought-provoking opening statement about the benefits of CS. She stated that CS provides an innovative and methodological framework for projects – a move from a top-down approach to a bottom-up approach, and helps to create opportunities for scientists and researchers to learn together.

Following her opening remarks, citizen scientists and academic researchers discussed their research projects. In total, we had the pleasure of listening to 7 presentations. It was clear that from a societal angle, CS allows the examination of issues that really matter in local communities. It also builds stronger connections between members of communities who might not have otherwise spoken to each other. In terms of the individual impacts of CS, one of the presenters who was researching air quality in a community in Liverpool realised that a data-only approach would not help mobilise communities to make a difference. A former citizen scientist trained by the IGP who is now a local council candidate expressed how CS had built her confidence in public speaking.The final part of the conference invited Pye Nyunt (left) (Former Head of Insight & Innovation at the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham) and Dominic Murphy (right) (Principal Participation Officer from the London Borough of Camden) to discuss how CS work had impacted them and policy processes in their boroughs.

Dominic discussed his involvement in the Good Life Euston program and explained how the initiative made him realise that there is a route in understanding the issues of planning and regeneration based upon the experiences of Camden citizens. He also made a comedic analogy to citizens being like the councils’ nervous system (I enjoyed that). CS work also gave him the desire to replace public consultants with citizen scientists to survey local people about their experiences in Camden.

Pye explained that CS had taught him the importance of qualitative research. Realising that in his council, a qualitative data team was non-existent, he hired service designers to fix this.  He also noted that CS initiatives such as the Community Food Club created in his borough not only help local people but indirectly relieves the financial burden on the council.

The final segment opened the floor to members of the audience – other citizen scientists and researchers asked important questions about CS. Methods for assuring that CS is inclusive, whether CS training should be standardised, and the benefits and potential drawbacks of CS were topics of discussion.

Apart from the technical difficulties of the hybrid event, it went incredibly well. I had never heard of citizen science until January of this year. I always thought of scientific research as an area which could not be accessed by local people. This event made me realise how important it is for citizens to be included in research.

Catch up on the session in full below, or on UCL MediaCentral.

Using games to engage with Open Access (and beyond!)

By Kirsty, on 18 May 2022

Guest post by Petra Zahnhausen-Stuber, Open Access Team, UCL Library (LCCOS)

In recent years, ‘Gamification’, the use of game elements in non-gaming settings to improve user experience, has been embraced by Research Support Services at Higher Education Institutes. Research Support Games cover various topics including research data management, copyright and/or open access and address an audience ranging from early career researchers and academics to support staff.

For the organisers of the Research Support Games Days (RSGD), games can be an effective tool to communicate with scholars about often complex concepts. In its third instalment since 2019, this event promotes the use of game-based learning among Research Support Services by presenting games, online tools and platforms that could be beneficial for training purposes. Here it was also highlighted, that most of these games were designed to be played in person. However, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was a catalyst for developing more virtual games as a way of continuing the engagement with researchers when face-to-face training was not possible. Despite any the challenges of creating digital games, their advantage of reaching a wider audience outside the physical environment of research institutions becomes apparent in the following examples of Open Access themed online games.

The Publishing Trap (UK Copyright Literacy), this game about scholarly communication focuses on helping researchers understand the effect of different publishing models, copyright and finances on the dissemination of their research. First launched as a board game in 2017, in response to the pandemic a digital version was created in 2020. In both versions participants form up to 4 teams representing four scholars in different career scenarios and make decisions about how to best publish their research. Retaining most of the original features, the online version uses interactive PowerPoint slides and can be played via any virtual classroom software with a break-out room functionality, so that the element of team discussions from the board game is being replicated.

A group of people doing a jigsaw puzzle on the floor

Open Access Escape Room in action at the 2022 EARMA conference

Similarly, in 2020, the role-playing Open Access Mystery game developed by Katrine Sundsbo uses downloadable slides. It was also designed for online platforms (i.e. Zoom) to allow for immediate verbal interaction between players who are tasked with finding the culprit responsible for a global lockdown of all research. The Open Access Escape Room, also by the same author, was originally created in 2018 as a physical game and digitally adapted in 2020 under the name The Puzzling Hunt for Open Access. Both versions follow the narrative of all research being locked away by a villain and are aimed at academic staff to gain an understanding of the concepts of Open Access. The players have to find clues and solve various Open Access themed puzzles in order to unlock research. Despite not replicating the original escape room format, where participants interact with each other in teams, the online game offers more flexibility as the mixed media-based puzzles can be completed by a single player at their own pace. Like most Research Support Games, all materials are published under a CC BY licence resulting in both versions having been played and adapted further in and outside the UK.

The single-player Open Axis: The Open Access Video Game (UCLA) was always designed for a remote learning environment intending to reach a worldwide audience of graduates and undergraduates. Created in 2020, this “choose your own adventure” can be played in a web browser, is predominantly text based but features classic 8-bit video games. The player chooses between several characters portraying scholars of various backgrounds. Following a non-linear narrative, the player’s decision impact the course of the in-game stories around themes of open access, scholarly publishing and research practices.

Choosing another approach of getting scholars interested in Open Access, the team at Robert Gordon University developed five online puzzles in 2021, including memory, crosswords and a scavenger hunt. Since puzzles can be played quicker than games, it makes them suitable for bite-sized learning during icebreakers or coffee breaks.
These games form by no means an exhaustive list and it is worth delving into the manifold resources of the Research Support Games Day Proceedings (below), where the benefits and challenges involved in taking games online are further explored.

For more information on Research Support Games Days and Gamification:

Adaptions of the “Open Access Escape Room”:

Call for Contributions: How does citizen science change us?

By Kirsty, on 25 February 2022

Exploring the impacts on ‘citizens’, ‘researchers’, ‘policymakers’, and social action at the UCL Open Science Conference

6 April – Cruciform Building LT2, UCL Campus and Online

Citizen Science is the involvement of non-professionals in the creation of knowledge. It can be a powerful tool for amplifying researchers’ capacity to collect large amounts of data by involving thousands of people in research activities, for engaging non-professionals in research on major societal issues such as climate change, and for empowering communities to generate knowledge about their environments.

Whilst Citizen Science is a promising step forward for open science, it is not fully understood how Citizen Science has an impact on the policies and practices which shape the world we live in.

This event will focus on exploring the question of ‘impact’ from different perspectives. Recent research about the impact of citizen science projects tends to focus on how public ‘participation’ in scientific research enhances knowledge outcomes for projects, or enhances the scientific literacy of participating citizen scientists. The benefits to participating individuals and communities are often assumed, and very little literature examines the personal dilemmas and challenges that individuals negotiate, or how citizen science projects change the behaviour of policymakers.

We aim to explore these gaps by inviting different perspectives on the question “How does citizen science change us?” Discussions will examine how participation in citizen science projects impacts on the different individuals involved – the citizen scientists, academic researchers, community members, policymakers – and ask how impacts on individuals can translate into wider political, societal and organisational transformations.

The event is divided into an exhibition, a presentation session and a discussion session. These bring together citizen scientists, academic and applied researchers, policymakers and voluntary sector organisations/networks interested in the impacts of citizen science. Each are represented as speakers, moderators and attendees. Please see below for session breakdowns.

We invite UCL Citizen Science projects to participate in the exhibition and the presentations, and to put out a call through networks and partners to invite contributions from other projects. We welcome project representatives from inside and outside academia to participate.

Exhibition

We invite submissions for an online exhibition of photographs and visualisations which illustrate the impact of Citizen Science. Each submission should be accompanied by a short (250 word) text explaining the project and its impact, and any relevant links to project websites or other resources.

Impacts can be related to impacts on the individual (including Citizen Scientists, policy-makers, researchers etc.), the institution, and wider society.

These will be compiled into an online exhibition and resource bank about Citizen Science projects and their impacts. The exhibition website will include a comments box, so that virtual attendees can respond to the exhibition and to projects with their own visualisations and accompanying text, thereby building on the resource bank.

Presentations

We invite presenters to speak about the impacts of a Citizen Science project on any or all of the following: the individual (including Citizen Scientists, policy-makers, researchers etc.), the institution, wider society. Presenters are asked to describe:

  1. What the project was
  2. What the impact was
  3. How the impact was achieved/happened

Each presentation will last for 7 minutes. The session will end with a 25-minute Q&A with attendees. Slides with photographs or simple images are welcome!

To apply

To contribute to the exhibition, please email your photograph/visual in jpeg format, and your accompanying text as a Word document.

To present, please email with your name, role in the project, a 250-word statement about your project and the impact you will discuss.

Please email hannah.sender@ucl.ac.uk with your submissions by 14 March.

Art History theses and copyright

By Kirsty, on 9 December 2021

Guest post by Thomas Stacey, Open Access Team, UCL Library (LCCOS)

At UCL, students studying for doctoral and research master’s degrees are required to submit an electronic copy of their thesis to the Library for inclusion in UCL Discovery, our open-access repository of UCL research outputs, in order for their degree to be awarded.  The Open Access Team encourages theses to be made openly available, either immediately after award or following the completion of an embargo period. We do, however, recognise that there are a number of reasons why access may need to be restricted, such as future publication, confidentiality, the inclusion of sensitive and/or personal information, and – in the discipline of Art History in particular – the presence of third-party copyrighted images.

I have been thinking about art history theses and whether they could be made open access more easily – and crucially with all the images included where needed.

The University of Cambridge’s ‘Unlocking Research’ blog post written in 2019 by Dr Lorraine de la Verpillière provides a comprehensive background on the issues facing academics within the arts: many are forced to pay to access third-party copyrighted works for private study, and then to pay again later on publish the final research output. Within this blog post, one academic commented “The more successful I become the poorer I get” as the furthering of their career through obtaining copyright for images has cost them over $20,000. Even out-of-copyright artworks are affected, as galleries and museums that own the originals can create their own copyrighted reproductions and restrict others’ ability to do the same.  Bridgeman Images, for example, now owns the rights to all images of artworks in Italian national museums – which can pose a huge financial challenge for many art historians.

A further obstacle for Art History students is that the principle of fair dealing within the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which can be used to justify the inclusion of extracts of texts and figures (as part of a wider, previously-published work) in theses, cannot be applied to the reproduction of full artworks, which constitute entire copyrighted works in themselves.

An art history thesis without images understandably compromises the integrity of the work. Unless PhD students use images with Creative Commons licences or which are in the public domain due to being out-of-copyright entirely, they will either have to obtain permissions or redact the images within their thesis accordingly. When processing thesis submissions for UCL PhD students, the Open Access Team will often be required to redact images as part of routine checks prior to any thesis file being made publicly available in UCL Discovery.

It seems there is not a straightforward solution to enable art history theses to be made open access with all images included in the work. Dr De la Verpillière suggests that there could be more support from universities for art history students and academics regarding third-party copyright. Art institutions really need to do more in this respect. Some art institutions have started to make their image collections open access (a selection is given below) so hopefully more will do likewise soon. Even if art institutions provided discounted permissions fees for PhD students needing to use images for example – that is a compromise of sorts to help new academics.

To avoid delays in making theses available in UCL Discovery post-award, or redactions being made to images of artwork that are critical to the overall integrity of the thesis, the Open Access Team also recommends that relevant licence and/or permissions information is included within the thesis file, as part of the Library’s guide to copyright for research students.

Here are some art institutions with open-access image collections:

Open Access Archaeology: From Paperback, to Open in Practice, to Public Benefit

By Kirsty, on 26 October 2021

For Open Access Week 2021, Archaeology South-East is pleased to announce the Open Access release of eight books from their Spoilheap Publication back catalogue!

Alt text: A pile of books fills the frame, showing partial front covers. They include titles such as “The Horse Butchery Site”, “How Houses Evolved”, and “Alien Cities”. Their front covers have a uniform style and depict different archaeological finds, sites and buildings.Introduction

Archaeology South-East (ASE) is a professional archaeological unit operating within the Centre of Applied Archaeology at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. ASE is an accredited Registered Organisation of the Chartered Institute of Archaeology (CIfA) and our staff work across the historic environment and heritage sector providing a range of specialist research services to a diverse client base.

The bulk of our commercial work comprises planning-led, developer-funded projects, in which we are commissioned to carry out archaeological investigations ahead of building work on projects like housing developments and infrastructure. Current planning policy requires any development that could impact archaeological remains to either adapt its design to avoid potential archaeology, or fund ‘preservation by record’ – i.e. a full archaeological investigation (and therefore destruction) of any remains that will be impacted by development.

Archaeological investigations underway on the Isle of Grain-Shorne gas transmission pipeline, alongside preparation for the pipeline construction.

This process includes excavation of course, but also cleaning and conservation of finds, analysis of artefacts and environmental remains, archaeological illustration and photography, and interpretation of all this data. Our investigations form a research archive preserving all records and finds for future users, and can result in many different outputs including reports, blog posts, museum displays, and publications.

Open Access publication in archaeology is becoming more and more common. Unpublished archaeological site reports, data and some archaeology journals and monographs are available via the Archaeology Data Service, a digital repository for heritage data. Various publishers, including UCL Press, are making new archaeology books available in both digital Open Access and hard copy print options.

So how could we at ASE further increase our contribution to Open Access Archaeology?

From Paperback…

Since 2013, ASE has self-published major sites and research in a series of books under the SpoilHeap Publications imprint. These books were only available in hard copy paperback, but early this year a small team from ASE, with support from UCL colleagues, started working to make our back catalogue Open Access – and plan an Open Access future for our SpoilHeap books.

…to Open in Practice…

The practicalities of making our books Open Access was slightly more complex than sticking a pdf version on our website! Thankfully we could draw on the expertise of our UCL colleagues who have been embedded in the process for a lot longer than us.

Lara Speicher, Head of Publishing at UCL Press, gave us an idea of the work we needed to do before we could hit the ‘upload’ button. On her recommendations our team picked through each of our books, hyperlinking tables of contents, figures and tables with their corresponding location in-text. We had to get our heads around new ISBN numbers, Creative Commons licenses, and seek new permissions for images from the copyright holders.

We’ve also been working closely with Open Access Publications Manager Dominic Allington-Smith, who has been teaching us how to use UCL Discovery, UCL’s open access repository, where our books will be hosted. He’s also guided us through minting DOIs, and we’re really grateful for his help.

The result of this collaboration is that we now have EIGHT of our books published as open access and freely available in downloadable PDF format. They detail archaeological finds from a range of periods and sites including a Roman villa, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, a medieval hospital, and much more, from across the south-east of England. You can view the full list at the end of this post.

More books will be released in the open access format in the next couple of months, and we’re delighted to say that in the future our SpoilHeap books will be released as hardcopies and digital Open Access at the same time. We’ll be using UCL Discovery to host the Open Access versions, which will also allow us to upload supplementary outputs like extended, in-depth specialist reports, 3D models and much more. We’ll also be using the UCL Research Data Repository to make our data readily available too.

…to Public Benefit

As well as making it easier for our fellow archaeologists to view and engage with our research and data, part of our remit for going Open Access is public benefit.

One of the core purposes of archaeological work, and arguably one of the easiest ways in which archaeology can provide public benefit, is through knowledge gain (CIfA 2021). Sharing the archaeological results from a site and making that accessible to the communities where our projects are located can enhance local community strength and identity (ibid.).

ASE geoarchaeologist Dr Matt Pope giving a public talk on archaeological investigations (2018).

We hope that by making our high-quality research outputs more accessible, alongside our program of digital outreach making our research more appealing to wider audiences, will allow as many people as possible to benefit from our research.

View our full list of publications on our website, where you can find links to purchase hard copies as well as download Open Access versions where available. The titles currently available are:

Keep up to date with our Open Access journey, along with news of archaeological discoveries and more, by following Archaeology South-East on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. We also have a YouTube channel and a podcast series!

References

CIfA 2021 Professional Practice Paper: Delivering public benefit. https://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/Delivering_public_benefit.pdf