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Office for Open Science & Scholarship Newsletter – Issue 5

Kirsty3 March 2022

Welcome to the fifth 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:

  • Editorial
  • Update from the Head of the Office for Open Science & Scholarship
  • Community voice – Creating a digital organism through Open Science
  • Special Feature – UCL Press announce the launch of a new translation initiative
  • Deep Dive – Highlights from the Blog
  • News and Events

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Data Sharing Highlights

Kirsty17 February 2022

At UCL there is a recognition that there is more to publishing research than simply books and papers in print and PDF format.

One of the ways this is supported is through the UCL Research Data Repository. Our institutional publishing platform can be accessed here: https://rdr.ucl.ac.uk/

The RDR can be used to publish all kinds of data, in a raw or visual format. All items are given a DOI and can be referenced to the same standard as a journal article or book. Many published items are supporting data for other publications, but a large number are also standalone items.

Visual Archaeological Data

A great example of using the RDR to present and share visual information is this archaeological data record: https://doi.org/10.5522/04/11385852.v1

This record is part of a project to document and catalogue archaeological sites across Central Asia. The record includes photographs of the site, height map data, 3D models along with some descriptive information about the site itself and co-ordinates which specify the location. The 3D models are also hosted live on the Sketchfab website, but including them in this data record provides an extra level of preservation. While the Sketchfab website might become defunct, this data record becomes part of the UCL permanent collection and will retained. The files could be used to reconstruct the 3D models if needed.

Sharing Research Methods

Sharing data is important, but sharing research methodology can be a really powerful way to improve reproducibility and transparency. The UCL RDR can also be used to share methods and designs used in research. It’s worth highlighting that although the RDR has “data” in the name it is very flexible in terms of what can be shared. Questionnaires, study designs, posters and presentations are all accepted.

As an example of sharing research methods this Survey of Clinical Trial units published with the repository contains not only an anonymised set of survey responses but also the exact survey document used. This means there is a clear record of the exact questions used to generate the data that could be easily used to recreate a similar survey at later date, for example, to see how trends have shifted over time.

Access this record here: https://doi.org/10.5522/04/7992998.v1

Beyond the RDR: Publishing data from the Natsal Surveys

The UCL RDR is just one platform for sharing data, and is not always the most appropriate for a particular project. A great example of presenting data in a way that makes it available to explore for a general audience is an online interactive that’s been developed using data from the last Natsal survey.

The British National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (or ‘Natsal’ for short) are a project led by UCL. So far three versions of the survey have been completed approximately every decade, the first in 1990, and since then over 45000 people have been interviewed, each one randomly-selected from across the country so that the data can be considered as broadly representative of the British population. First carried out in response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic, the Natsal surveys have become the leading source of reliable information about sex in Britain. Each of the surveys provides a snapshot of the nation’s sexual behaviour, experiences, and attitudes, and together they paint a comprehensive picture of how the nation’s sex lives change over time. Interviews for the next and fourth Natsal are due to start this summer.

The Natsal research team have been sharing their data through the UK Data Service for many years, providing a useful resource for other researchers. Data released from the last survey goes one step further to make sure the data are accessible beyond professional researchers and statisticians. Anyone will be able to explore the latest Natsal data using a freely, visually engaging interactive explorer, developed as a collaboration between UCL and the Open University, which also includes a taster animation and interactive activity ‘No sex please, we’re British!’ which allows anyone to see how their own views correspond to the survey’s findings for the population as a whole.

Getting Data in to UCL

Kirsty16 February 2022

When working with an external collaborator from another university, an industrial partner, or obtaining access to pre-existing data provided by a third party there are data management responsibilities to be aware of. Transfer of data can involve legally binding agreements governing data storage and usage. Even if a legal agreement is not required, managing the transfer and sharing of data can be challenging. Here’s a short guide to services and support at UCL.

Where to put your data?

There are several systems for storing data at UCL, depending on your needs. Here is a quick guide to determine the most suitable choice when transferring data in from external sources.

  • Dropbox (www.ucl.ac.uk/dropbox/) Not to be confused with the commercial service of the same name! This service is simple and convenient if you want to transfer a small number of files to or from an external collaborator outside of UCL as a one off and needs no specific security requirements
  • SharePoint and OneDrive for Business Is a better option if you need to transfer files between yourself and a collaborator more frequently. Once you are set up with this system it can be configured to allow an external user access.
  • Research Data Storage Service Is for large scale data storage and supports rapid transfer of large files. Once a project is set up it can be configured to allow access for external users. This is an excellent system to use for the transfer of very large data volumes.
  • Data Safe Haven This secure data storage service is suitable for personal identifiable data, and could be used in other instances when a higher level of security is desired. It conforms to the ISO 27001 standard for information security management and the NHS DSP requirements. A level of training and verification is required to get set up on the platform, so if your project requires this it’s best to begin the process as soon as possible.
  • The UCL Jill Dando Institute runs a specialised laboratory for processing data which is highly sensitive such as confidential crime data. This is probably beyond the needs of the majority of UCL projects. These facilities are suitable for those that require a system which is a Police Assured Secure Facility or need to work with UK government data marked as OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE and OFFICIAL. Similar to the Data Safe Haven there is a vetting and training process to get access.

Using surveys to collect data

Recently there has been move toward doing survey work largely online to support social distancing. Using online survey tools can be an efficient way to gather responses from participants and may even allow for an increase in the size and scope of a study, but there are data security concerns to be aware of.

  • Questionnaires can be constructed using a variety of online tools. For any research that doesn’t involve collection of identifiable personal information there is no special requirement here. In fact, the free google forms service might fit the needs of many projects.
  • UCL has access to some in-house tools that provide some extra functionality. If identifiable or otherwise sensitive data is being collected the REDcap tool can be used to send this data directly into the Data Safe Haven.
  • Of course, some projects may still make use of an in-person paper survey form. In these cases, if the forms contain identifiable or sensitive information it is necessary to store the documents in a physically secure location. If the data needs to be converted into electronic format then it should be stored in the Data Safe Haven system.
  • For survey work involving in-depth interviews with participants, the situation is a little more difficult. The nature of these sorts of interviews increases the likelihood of sensitive information being given. When conducting in-person interviews consider using recording devices with built-in encryption. If recording a zoom or teams interview make sure the recording is transferred as quickly as possible to safe storage and is not left in cloud storage for any length of time.

Data Transfer Agreements

You may require a kind of contract to get data from a third party, and there might be conditions attached to the permission to use this data. These kinds of contract are called Data Transfer Agreements (DTA) might need to be in place and is very likely to be part of the process when working with a commercial partner. Academic collaborators should also consider having a DTA drawn up, just to ensure clarity of how the data is being processed and prevent any disputes that could otherwise arise.

A data transfer agreement (DTA) is a specific version of a materials transfer agreement, which is a type of contract used when physical objects materials with scientific or commercial value and transferred between UCL and a third party. Both of these are handled by UCL Research and Innovation services who can provide more information and guidance on this if required.

Do also be aware that a data transfer agreement can be put in place by UCL staff and students when giving data to an external organisation too. They work both ways! If you ever need to share data with an external collaborator always consider if a DTA is necessary. It might be a useful tool to make sure your data is used for its intended purpose and is looked after properly.

This agreement is important as it outlines your responsibilities and permissions with respect to the data and is a legally binding agreement. There may be restrictions on what it can be used for, who can access it, and what security will be in place to protect the data. The agreement will specify details such as whether the data can or cannot be shared with other staff at UCL, with external partners, and what kind of security arrangements are required for storage.

Data Sources with specific application processes

A great deal of data is collected by government departments, healthcare providers and other services which can potentially be very valuable for researchers. UK law permits data the secondary use of personal data collected for reasons such as health, policing, education to be re-used for research if it is deemed to be in the public good. While specific agreements with other universities or commercial partners can be covered with DTAs, these data providers have well defined processes for granting access as they deal with relative large volumes of requests. Depending on the type of data you may have to meet security requirements. The UCL Data Safe Haven often helps with this. Here are some examples of data access services:

Need further guidance?

This is a brief overview of a big topic, so if you want further guidance on any of these points several teams across UCL can assist.

  • Information Governance assist with Data Safe Haven related questions: infogov@ucl.ac.uk
  • The Data Protection team also assist with questions around handling personal data: data-protection@ucl.ac.uk
  • For more general enquiries the library research data management teams are a good first contact point and can direct you to the appropriate person: lib-researchsupport@ucl.ac.uk

RDM Highlights from the past 12 months

Kirsty15 February 2022

To mark Love Data week here at UCL, the RDM team have published the now annual RDM review: https://doi.org/10.5522/04/19070309

Research Data Management (RDM) covers the decisions made – and actions taken – to manage research outputs across the research data lifecycle, complementing other components of open science and scholarship such as: Open Access, Bibliometrics, Research Integrity and Citizen Science.

As advocates of best practice in research data management, the RDM team have continued to promote UCL’s definition of ‘research data’ which emphasises that data refers to any output of research relevant to research findings and that publishing software, models, protocols, figures etc. is equally as important as publishing data.

In 2021, we reviewed a record-breaking number of data management and sharing plans; plus, we are publishing more research outputs than ever using the UCL Research Data Repository which recorded over 97000 downloads. We also continued to provide training via Moodle with almost 300 people completing writing a data management plan to date. 2021 also saw us become known as Library, Culture, Collection & Open Science and we as a team joined the Centre for Advanced Research Computing as associate staff.

Looking forwards to 2022, we plan on working even more closely with colleagues across UCL to enhance data management services throughout the research data lifecycle. We will also continue to advocate for changes to policy and practice relating to the way UCL rewards and assigns credit to all contributors to research to better acknowledge the vital contributions made by those especially in non-academic roles.

The full report can be found here: McMahon, Christiana; Houghton, James; Wallis, Kirsty (2022): Research Data Management: The 2021 Review. University College London. Presentation. https://doi.org/10.5522/04/19070309

Here’s to 2022!

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!

Coming soon – Love Data Week!

Kirsty26 January 2022

We heart dataForget about finding a restaurant for Valentine’s Day, join us instead in the week of the 14th of February and love your data!

Starting on Monday 14th February we are bringing together colleagues that support research data from across the university just for you. We will be talking about all of the different forms that data can take, featuring profiles on different teams available to support you, sources of and tools for your data, and information about how data flows through the research process.

Every day we will be launching a new blog post, sharing videos and on Thursday 17th February at 10.30am we will be hosting a drop-in clinic for all your research data questions!

If you are interested in the drop-in clinic, please let us know using this form, this will ensure that you get the link to join us! We will be trying out a new platform called Wonder for the event that allows lots of conversations to take place at once, and for you to identify the expert that you need.

Open Science monthly schedule outline – Academic year 21/22

Kirsty23 November 2021

New for the academic year 2021-22 the Office for Open Science and Scholarship is organising a monthly series of talks, showcases and training sessions across as many of the eight pillars as we can fit in for UCL colleagues and students at all levels.

All of the teams will be teaching their usual classes, keep watching your usual sources of training plus here and on Twitter for those, but these introductory sessions are intended to give a general overview of each subject area for a general audience with plenty of opportunities for discussion and questions. These introductory sessions will also be supplemented with ad hoc events throughout the year.

  • November
    Departmental UKRI Briefings – contact catherine.sharp@ucl.ac.uk to arrange a briefing for your team
  • December
    Introduction to the Office for Open Science & Scholarship – December 15th 2-3pm – Postponed, please express interest below
  • January 22
    Introduction to responsible metrics – January 27th 2-3pm – Online
  • February
    Introduction to Research Data Management – February 2nd 10-11am – Online
  • March
    Getting started with the RDR – Friday 4th Mar 10-11am – Online
  • April
    Open Science Conference (Dates TBC)
  • May
    Citizen Science project showcase (Details & Dates TBC)
  • June
    Citizen Science, Public Engagement & Research Impact (Dates TBC)
  • July
    ORCiD, DOI and beyond – Introduction to Persistent identifiers (Dates TBC)

If you are interested in any of the sessions above then please complete the MS form and the organisers will get back to you with calendar details and joining instructions for planned sessions. Any sessions without firm dates, we will contact you as soon as details are confirmed.

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!

Data journals and data reports – don’t miss out on this useful publishing format!

Kirsty17 August 2021

Guest post by James Houghton – Research Data Support Officer

Why not publish a data report article?

For a researcher who produces large amounts of data or works heavily with software and code for analysis, getting proper credit for their efforts can be a problem. Traditionally, an academic article is written in a format where a hypothesis is tested, results produced and analysed, and ends with a conclusion. This format increasingly is a poor fit for the work of many and data journals are one solution to this issue. The goal of this kind of journal is to publish a type of article usually referred to as a data report which focusses on announcing and describing the output of research projects which are resources, raw data, databases or similar and can be of use to the research community in general.

Publishing with a data journal offers several benefits. First, a data report article is more formal than a publication of data files in a repository and is a peer reviewed publication which then contributes to a researcher’s publication record which is important for CVs and advancement for many. Second, they allow a more detailed explanation of a dataset and any analysis or code related to it than is usually otherwise possible. Third, the appearance of an article in a recognised journal can help to drive visibility of a dataset for other researchers. In practice it my often be the case that a repository will be used to host material which is discussed at length in a paper.

For the research community more generally, data reports are a great way to discover and understand valuable contributions which they can re-use and build on. The data report guarantees there has been some level of peer-review applied to the data and, therefore, increases the confidence in the quality.

Data journals have flourished in recent years. Many publishers have introduced titles which specialise in data announcements and many other journals have begun to allow data articles as one of their accepted formats. Publishers will have their own specific guidelines for exactly what to include (or not include), but data articles will often have the following features:

  • Detailed description of the methodology of how the data was produced and processed, allowing for far more detail than generally appears in a “traditional” publication.
  • Documentation on structure and format of the data and details of how to retrieve it.
  • Comments on how the data could potentially be re-used.
  • Very limited or no results and conclusions.

The scope of a data journal varies greatly

  • Some journals publish a wide range of data reports that cover many research areas, such as Scientific Data published by Springer Nature.
  • Others are more subject specific such as Big Earth Data published by Taylor and Francis focussing on ecology and climate science, or Journal of Open Psychology Data published by the Open Access Ubiquity Press and specialising in psychology and anthropology data.

Of course, you must always check individual journal’s instruction for authors before preparing an article for submission.

Repositories and data journals should be seen as symbiotic, rather than needing to choose one or the other. An openly shared data set can be made available, and a data journal can be used as a way of announcing the existence of the resource to the community along with a detailed commentary which might not be easily supported by the repository itself. In fact, depending on the journal, hosting the data with a recognised external repository may even be a requirement for the publication process.

We won’t attempt to provide a comprehensive list of all journals that support this publication type here. There are many discipline specific and several more generalist options – but we would encourage you to investigate the options available in your subject area and tell us what you find!