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Announcing: the inaugural UCL Open Science & Scholarship Awards!

By Kirsty, on 17 July 2023

Red and gold fireworks, captured against a black skyUCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship and the local chapter of the UK Reproducibility Network are excited to announce the first Open Science and Scholarship Awards at UCL. UCL has been a pioneer in promoting open science practices, which include Open Access Publishing, Open Data and Software, Transparency, Reproducibility and other Open Methodologies, as well as the creation and use of Open Educational Resources, Citizen Science, Public Involvement, Co-production and Communication.

With these awards, we want to recognise and celebrate all UCL students and staff who embrace, advance, and promote open science.

Who is eligible?

All UCL students (undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and postgraduate research) and staff from any department/discipline, including professional services staff, can apply or be nominated.

Application and Nomination

You can apply or nominate someone else for the award by completing this form. We have kept the form as simple as possible to encourage as many applications as possible. You will be asked to (i) briefly describe the activity (max 200 words) and (ii) explain how the activity has promoted open science (max 300 words) for example by implementing open science practices, enhancing their adoption or impact, using open access resources in research and teaching, or any improvements to open practices.

Examples of activities include (but are not limited to):

  • applying open science practices in research
  • organising open science training/workshops locally or for a wider audience
  • building and coordinating a community around open research practices
  • supporting researchers with data management to promote reproducibility
  • developing open software and analytical tools
  • leading or supporting citizen science initiatives
  • authoring or co-authoring open research guidelines, standards, and policies
  • designing templates to enable open research practices
  • developing open datasets or databases that are used by other researchers
  • revise a module’s reading list to rely predominantly on open access resources/textbooks

Award categories

  • Use of open access resources, including textbooks
  • Activities by students
  • Activities by academic staff
  • Activities by professional services staff

Prizes

  • Winners in each category will be awarded 100GBP as a cash prize as well as a certificate. All winners will be invited to briefly present their research at the Awards ceremony.
  • Each category will also name up to two Honourable Mentions that will receive a certificate.

Timeline

Application deadline: Sunday 27 August 2023

Results communicated: Friday 29 September 2023

An award ceremony will take place during the Open Access Week in the third week of October 2023.

Welcome to the new Training and Support Resources for Research site!

By Harry, on 11 July 2023

Since the UCL’s Office for Open Science and Scholarship founding, the team has been gathering resources to support researchers, academic staff, students, and everyone interested in learning and developing their skills and understandings about Open Science and the transition towards more democratic models to produce and share knowledge in equitable and inclusive ways.

The fast growth of Open practices and their translation into renewed local, regional, and global policies made necessary systematic resource realignments. During the last months, we have committed to re-organise those assets based on the myriad of users and their backgrounds far beyond the academic field, creating our new user-friendly website, ‘Training and Support Resources for Research’. Organised in the following up-to-date categories:

  • Advanced Research Computing: practical, hands-on training for various IT skills related to research, including high-performance computing, research software engineering and programming.
  • Citizen Science: our brand-new site with information about what UCL is doing in Citizen Science, innovative projects, and UCL’s Citizen Science Academy. Keep an eye on the Open@UCL Blog, where we will soon expand and go deep into the world of Citizen Science!
  • UCL Copyright advice: information and assistance by the UCL’s Library Services Copyright Team offers a wide range of copyright issues to UCL students and staff.
  • Creating Accessible Content: a compendium of simple steps to make your content more accessible and provide a more inclusive experience for all.
  • Doctoral Students Resources: a place for rigorous academic and non-academic creative researchers. Explore the resources and expand your skills to support your research, professional development and employability.
  • Information Governance: this site is for all members of UCL who manage highly confidential research information, including principal and chief investigators, staff, students, senior managers, and even those who just supervise people who directly handle confidential information and support staff who do not have direct access to data.
  • Open Access: designed to help UCL researchers understand how to make publications open access, meet open access requirements, use UCL’s Research Publications Service (RPS) and take advantage of open access funding.
  • Research Data Management and Planning: from the initial planning of a project through to archiving and sharing, the research data management team advises the UCL community on managing research outputs – across the research data lifecycle – in line with UCL’s expectations and external funding agencies’ requirements.
  • Research Funding Management: learn more about post-award processes through the online training course of the Fundamentals of Research Funding Management.
  • Research Integrity: summary of training opportunities currently available for staff and students. This list is not exhaustive and is intended to provide guidance as to options available. It will also be updated so do re-visit this page.
  • Research Transparency: research transparency covers how we ensure our research is responsible, reproducible, open and evidence-based.

If you scroll down the website, you will also find UCL’s Organisational Development training, Short Courses and some of UCL’s Communities and Forums that you can join to share your research, get advice and learn something new. We also collated an overview of the Research Support Teams!

Stay tuned to our news, events and training opportunities by subscribing to our mailing list,  following us on Twitter @UCLopenscience, or getting in touch with the Office for Open Science, and one of our teammates will answer as soon as we can!

UCL Open Science Conference 2023 – Recordings now available!

By Kirsty, on 22 May 2023

Thank you so much to everyone that joined our recent conference, whether on campus or online – we had a wonderful time and we hope you did too! We will be posting a report of the workshop portion of the conference soon, as well as some pictures and some responses to your questions that we didn’t get to on the day, but we thought that the recordings should take precedence!

Session 1

View the recording on UCL Media Central

Session 2

View the recording on UCL Media Central

Session 3

View the recording on UCL Media Central

Office for Open Science & Scholarship Newsletter – Issue 8

By Harry, on 19 April 2023

Welcome to the eight issue of the Open Science and Scholarship Newsletter!

This termly newsletter has updates across the 8 Pillars of Open Science and contributions from colleagues across the university. If you would like to get involved, give feedback or write something for a future issue, please get in touch using the details at the end of the newsletter.

In this issue:

Go to the newsletter on Sway, or view it below. If you use the version below, we recommend clicking the ‘full screen’ button to get the full experience!

When viewing a Sway, you can turn on Accessibility view. This view displays a high-contrast style for easier reading, disables any animations, and supports keyboard navigation for use with screen readers.

To turn on Accessibility view:

  • If you’re using a mouse or touchscreen, on the More options menu (shown as three dots on the Sway toolbar), choose Accessibility view.
  • If you’re using a screen reader, on the More options menu, when Accessibility view is selected, you hear “Displays this Sway in a high contrast design with full keyboard functionality and screen reader access to all content.”

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