By Kirsty, on 26 March 2021
Thank you once more to everyone that submitted their ideas to the Call for Papers – we had so many and are so grateful that we have been able to create a packed programme.
All of the information about our Keynotes was revealed back in January, but we can now reveal the full programme and our 4 panels!
Day 1: Monday 26th April
|13:00 – 13:10||Welcome, housekeeping|
|13:10 – 13:40||Open Science – looking to the future
|13:40 – 13:55||Open Science at UCL – looking to our future
|13:55 – 14:10||Q&A Discussion|
|14:20 – 15:00||Future of Open Science panel|
|15:00 – 15:15||Panel Q&A|
|15:25 – 16:05||Technical solutions panel|
|16:05 – 16:20||Panel Q&A|
|16:20 – 16:30||Summary and close|
Day 2: Tuesday 27th April
|13:00 – 13:10||Welcome, housekeeping|
|13:10 – 13:30||Count-erproductive? The role of metrics in the advancement of Open Science
|13:30 – 13:40||Q&A|
|13:40 – 14:00||Toolkit for Transparency, Reproducibility & Quality in Energy Research
Gesche Huebner & Mike Fell
|14:00 – 14:10||Q&A|
|14:20 – 15:00||Reproducibility, Transparency & Metrics panel|
|15:00 – 15:15||Panel Q&A|
|15:25 – 16:05||Citizen science panel|
|16:05 – 16:20||Panel Q&A|
|16:20 – 16:30||Summary and close|
Download the Draft Programme and details of all of our panellists (pdf)
By Kirsty, on 22 March 2021
After last week’s webinar, there was so much interest in the recording that we hurried to get the post out, leaving us with some of the leftover questions to answer!
As promised, we put some of the unanswered questions to our panellists and here are the answers you have been waiting for!
A couple of simple ones to start off with:
- Does Ben know if the Dutch library service has done anything since the court judgement to develop a lending service based on digitising their physical stock and avoiding overcharges for e-books?
No, the Dutch Library Association did not utilise the ruling in any way I can see – they simply continued to license eBooks from publishers to my knowledge.
- Will the #ebooksos google spreadsheet be updated as publishers change their policies/books become available, so the info is always up to date?
The #ebooksos spreadsheet is a resource to collect evidence rather than a record of current practices of the different publishers. Changes to publisher practices and other updates on the campaign activity will be shared on the campaign’s website: https://academicebookinvestigation.org/
There was a really interesting question about existing university presses:
- (Some) existing University presses follow the same practices as commercial publishers, how easily can these be reformed / transformed? How do we prevent other university presses from following suit and being tempted to commercialise once it becomes successful?
Paul responded – Open Science represents a profound culture change in the way research, teaching and learning are delivered. This is clear from the LERU (League of European Research Universities) paper on Open Science and cultural change at https://www.leru.org/publications/open-science-and-its-role-in-universities-a-roadmap-for-cultural-change. The issue, therefore, is to embed Open Science as part of the ‘new normal’ going forwards. That in itself is a process, not a simple event. But, as progress is made, then current practices will change and embrace Open Science approaches.
And one about authors and copyright:
- How difficult is it for authors to retain copyright of what is being published or to insist their titles are made available Open Access?
Paul responded – For UCL, our position is that staff and students retain copyright in the works they create. And funders are increasingly asking for Rights Retention by funded authors, which would trump any signing away of copyright in the published version to a publisher. This is Open Science in practice.
Charles Oppenheim also commented in the session – retention of copyright and instead granting the publisher a licence is all down to the author negotiating with the publisher. The author should also seek equivalent royalties to print sales for ebook sales. Insisting that the book be made OA is again down to the author negotiating with the publisher. The key point is that the author should be prepared to walk away if the publisher won’t play ball. I think there is a role for librarians and scholarly communications folk to advise and encourage academics.
Finally, you had a number of questions for Paul about UCL Press & eTextbook publishing:
- Paul, now UCL Press is five years old, what would you say are the pros and cons so far?
Pros: Huge impact of UCL research across the world as a result of OA availability; the availability of high quality research to the general public, free at point of use; the ability of the published outputs disseminated as OA to influence strategy and policy decisions by decision makers across the world.
Challenge: Winning support from more authors to publish OA monographs and textbooks; establishing a viable financial model.
- What impact has publishing an OA textbook vs an OA monograph had on staffing? Are you able to achieve this with the existing team – or will you take on additional staff to oversee this activity? Do the two different types of publishing co-exist or are they likely to remain separate?
UCL Press will need to increase its staffing complement in order to build a textbook list. All UCL teaching is based in our research insights. In that sense, research feeds teaching. However, in terms of publishing outputs, the routes are different.
- Given the costs of producing a higher-end textbook with a courseware platform can be in the region of $0.5-3m, where would we as a sector prioritise development? Which disciplines, which titles to replace, and would it be as open textbooks, or as OERs?
The position taken by the Press is that we will start by identifying e-textbooks currently in use in the university and commission academics to write their own, which the Press will publish as OA. AS to format, we are looking at a range of options, and these will be informed by our interactions with academics.
- What is the size of the problem? If we took for example a community (i.e. scaled up from UCL) based OER based route how many textbooks would we need to produce? How much would that cost? Are there particular priority areas we should concentrate on? Indeed do we even need ‘textbooks’ but rather appropriate e content
Each university will wish to teach individual subjects in their own way, built around the insights and expertise of their academic body. It is certainly not the case that ‘one size fits all’. A consortial publishing model would need to be flexible enough to accommodate this multi-layered approach in identifying titles to publish. And yes, outputs do not need to be simply textbooks. We will consider a range of outputs as our insights in the Press grow.
So I hope that answered some of the most pressing questions you had!
By Kirsty, on 17 March 2021
On Monday 15th March, the UCL Office for Open Science & Scholarship hosted a webinar in conjunction with Copyright4Knowledge that aimed to examine the acute difficulties for higher education and public libraries caused by publishers’ pricing and licensing practices and discuss some possible solutions.
For the session we had over 600 attendees from countries across the globe including UK, Switzerland, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Spain, USA, and the Netherlands. This level of interest highlights the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to a head issues surrounding the online provision of learning resources, not just in the UK, but globally.
In the session we played host to three expert speakers who have written up their experiences for a new article on the LSE Impact blog. Below you can access the individual slide decks for each speaker, and at the bottom of this brief discussion you can access a list of cited resources and a few shared in the chat, plus the full recording of the session.
- Johanna Anderson, @hohojanna, Subject Librarian from the University of Gloucestershire and founder of the #eBookSoS campaign: Johanna Anderson’s slides
- Dr. Paul Ayris, @ucylpay, Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services & UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship): Paul Ayris’s slides
- Ben White, Chair of the Copyright and Legal Working Group of the European Research Library Association (LIBER): Ben White’s slides
The discussion in the chat was very active, with attendees sharing their own experiences and comments in support of the points that the speakers were making. The audience shared their own experiences of troubles caused by ebooks, with issues such as only half of the books in a key series being available in an ebook format, multiple examples of academics needing to rewrite module reading lists either to use books that the library already had or give several options for librarians to try locate since many were not easily available. In one instance an academic was told that she couldn’t use her own book in a course because it wasn’t available to buy as an ebook!
There were also a number of examples where the ebook version was not up to the same standards of a paper book, with chapters missing, or being presented as one long file that takes up to 5 minutes to download which would be particularly detrimental to students with poor internet or studying abroad in countries with less effective internet infrastructure. It was also noted several times that DRM on ebooks actually decreases accessibility of some content by preventing screenreaders from working properly.
One of the most commonly asked questions from the audience was what individuals or different groups could do to support the campaign. There are links below to resources, the open letter and a template letter to your MP, all of which were mentioned by Johanna but the biggest message was to talk about the issues and raise awareness of the issues that exist in the ebooks market as many people are still unaware there is a problem. Paul added that the environment now is similar to before the big push on Open Access journals and articles over the last 10/15 years, and hopefully we will see similar progress on this issue.
Another big question was on whether other bodies such as SCONUL, JISC and RLUK should contribute and start to develop their own OA book platforms, and this was something that was unanimously supported by the panel, with one notable addition – that one size may not fit all. Paul Ayris encouraged that a number of consortia working on the problem may be beneficial with the phrase ‘let 1000 flowers bloom’ and learn which models work.
To round off the discussion there were questions about what challenges the anticipated change to UKRI policy to include OA books will bring for academics and institutions, large and small. The concern among the panel was that the UK doesn’t have the infrastructure to deliver OA monographs and that until we have had enough time for the 1000 flowers to bloom, there isn’t really a path to take! Johanna also raised the issue of the mounting cost that has been seen in association with OA articles and noted that we need to be careful the same issue is avoided when it comes to OA books.
- Campaign to investigate the academic ebook market
- Coverage in The Guardian, BBC, Times Higher, WonkHE , IFLA
- Response to BBC news article by Anthony Sinnott
- UCL Press and their first e-textbook
- Jisc “Transitioning textbooks to open, lessons and insights“
- Jenkins, J.J., Sánchez, L.A., Schraedley, M.A.K., Hannans, J., Navick, N. and Young, J., 2020. Textbook Broke: Textbook Affordability as a Social Justice Issue. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1), p.3. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.549
- Cox, G., Masuku, B. and Willmers, M., 2020. Open Textbooks and Social Justice: Open Educational Practices to Address Economic, Cultural and Political Injustice at the University of Cape Town. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1), p.2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.556
- Library Futures (USA)
- SPARC Open (USA)
- Lumpkin, L. (2020) ‘Textbooks are pricey. So students are getting creative’. Washinton Post. 17 Jan. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/textbooks-keep-getting-pricier-so-students-are-getting-creative/2020/01/17/4e1306b8-30b9-11ea-91fd-82d4e04a3fac_story.html (USA)
- Carrns, A. (2020) ‘That Digital Textbook? Your College Has Billed You for It’. The New York Times. 28th Feb. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/28/your-money/college-digital-textbooks.html (USA)
- Template letter for contacting your MP (Google doc)
- Add your examples to the crowd-sourced evidence (Google doc)
- Join the discussion on Twitter using #ebooksos!
The recording is available below or also on UCL MediaCentral.
By Catherine Sharp, on 5 March 2021
With the start of the new Wellcome open access policy this year, we began to see a change in the way UCL’s Wellcome-funded authors think about open access. Wellcome authors have always been very well-informed about the Wellcome’s policy. Now they’re taking note, before submission, of which journals have adopted a Wellcome-compliant policy. They’re telling us that this is playing a key part in their choice of journal.
Although this post is about the Wellcome policy, we expect other funders to introduce similar policies, and our transformative agreements are available to most UCL corresponding authors. A number of European funders have already adopted the Plan S Rights Retention Strategy, which we’ll explain below.
Wellcome authors: can I publish gold open access?
Wellcome-funded papers can be published gold open access (open access on the publisher’s website, with the CC BY licence) where the journal is:
- fully open access (see the Directory of Open Access Journals)
- in one of our transformative agreements, or
- a transformative journal.
Other research papers can be made open access on publication, but most need to rely on the Wellcome’s Rights Retention Strategy.
To find out what options are available to you, and whether you can publish gold open access, start on our new Wellcome webpages, using the tools there to do a few quick checks.
- If you’re thinking of submitting to a fully open access journal, the key thing is to make sure that it’s listed in DOAJ.
- For subscription journals, start by checking our list of transformative agreements. We now have 25 agreements with a range of publishers, including small/society publishers like Bioscientifica, Portland Press, Company of Biologists and Future Science. They cover more than 6,200 journals.
The Journal Checker Tool that’s being developed (it’s available in beta at the moment) can help you to understand whether particular journals offer a compliant option, and if you need to rely on the fallback of the Rights Retention Strategy (see below).
Once you’ve used these resources, do get in touch with us if you’re not sure how to proceed.
“I want to submit to…”
Here are a few real-world examples of journals that authors have asked us about recently. Thanks especially to authors from ICH for most of these.
- Nature Communications. This is a fully open access journal, listed in DOAJ. We can pay the charges, provided the paper meets our eligibility criteria.
- Human Mutation. This is a subscription journal that’s included in our Wiley transformative agreement. You’ll find it in our list of journals in transformative agreements. We can pay the charges, provided the paper is eligible to use our transformative agreements (based on corresponding authorship and type of paper).
- Genetics in Medicine. This is a subscription journal that’s just been added to our Springer transformative agreement.
- British Journal of Psychiatry. This is a subscription journal. Although we don’t have a transformative agreement with the publisher, Cambridge University Press, the journal is listed as a transformative journal. We can pay the open access charges for Wellcome-funded papers that meet our eligibility criteria.
- Archives of Disease in Childhood. This is a subscription journal that’s in our new BMJ transformative agreement. This agreement only applies to papers funded by UKRI, Wellcome or a small number of other medical funders.
- Human Molecular Genetics. This is a subscription journal that’s included in our new Oxford University Press transformative agreement.
- Bioscientifica journals, e.g. Journal of Endocrinology, Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, Endocrine-Related Cancer, European Journal of Endocrinology and Reproduction. These journals are included in our Bioscientifica transformative agreement.
- Lancet subscription journals. Most Lancet journals are subscription journals. Although they don’t allow authors to make their accepted manuscripts open access in Europe PubMed Central on publication, Wellcome-funded authors retain the right to do this under the Wellcome’s Rights Retention Strategy (see below).
What are transformative journals? Are they the same as transformative agreements?
cOAlition S recognises journals as transformative if they meet specific criteria for transitioning to open access. This includes an annual increase in open access content of 5%, and a commitment to becoming fully open access when 75% of the content is published open access.
If a subscription journal is in one of our transformative agreements, the costs have been paid up front and authors can publish open access (provided the paper is eligible: this depends on things like the corresponding author’s affiliation and the type of paper.) If the journal isn’t in an agreement, but is considered a transformative journal, we can pay the open access charges if the paper is funded by a Wellcome grant held at UCL. This applies to 160 Elsevier journals, as well as Cambridge University Press journals.
How does Rights Retention work?
If you’re publishing in a subscription journal that isn’t in one of UCL’s transformative agreements, and isn’t a transformative journal, you’ll probably need to rely on Rights Retention. This isn’t necessary if your publisher allows immediate open access to the manuscript in an open access repository under the CC BY licence. Royal Society is an example of a publisher that allows this.
The Wellcome and Plan S Rights Retention Strategy gives authors a prior right, regardless of any publisher terms and conditions to the contrary, to make their accepted manuscripts open access on publication in an open access repository like Europe PubMed Central, with the CC BY licence. Contrary to what some publishers have been telling authors, it’s not possible for a publisher to override this permission, or for the author to waive the rights.
The author includes the Wellcome’s new mandatory text in their submission. If the article is published, the rights apply, and the author can deposit the paper in Europe PubMed Central on publication with the required CC BY licence.
All Wellcome-funded papers must now include the following statement when they submit to a journal. (You’ll find this on our webpages, too.)
This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number]. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
What about other funders?
UKRI will be announcing their new UKRI open access policy soon. There will be a review of the open access policy for the next REF (or a different future assessment exercise), but the current requirements will continue to apply until any new policy is announced.
We’ll keep advising authors on our transformative agreements, and on all types of open access, through all these changes. Our webpages have been completely overhauled to try to communicate, as clearly as possible, all the many policies, funding and opportunities to publish open access that affect UCL authors. We’ve just put the icing on the cake by launching a new home page that we hope will help you find your way around all this information as easily as possible.
By Kirsty, on 26 February 2021
Welcome to the second 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:
- Update from the Head of the Office for Open Science & Scholarship
- Community voice – Data for Policy: building a global community of interest with open science principles as default
- Special Feature – UCL Research Data Storage Service now open to external collaborators
- Deep Dive – Top posts from our blog
- News and Events
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.”
By Kirsty, on 12 February 2021
Guest post by James Wilson, Head of Research Data Services
Over the last year we’ve been making a number of improvements to the Research Data Storage Service (RDSS) to help researchers store and access their data in a way that better corresponds to how they work.
The RDSS is a managed storage service that helps researchers comply with funders’ criteria for good data management. It provides a storage space for research projects so that anyone involved in that project has a secure area in which to store and share files with their collaborators. Projects in the RDSS do not need to be formal, externally funded projects – they can be for personal research, or small unfunded collaborations between colleagues – but the service is well adapted for large projects with compute and multi-terabyte storage requirements.
That said, the service has had some limitations in the past which we have been addressing. The foremost amongst these was that you needed to be a member of UCL in order to use it. Increasingly, however, research is undertaken with collaborators around the world or in partnership with industry. Covid-19 has only accelerated this trend. We have recently added external collaborator functionality, enabling PIs to add external project members via a simple email invitation from within the interface.
We have also integrated the RDSS with UCL’s Research Data Repository – a platform that enables data and other non-traditional research outputs to be published, cited, and preserved over the long term. Researchers with a project registered in the RDSS can now move files, including very large files, across to the repository, along with contextual information.
As the volume of data in the RDSS grows, so we extend our capacity. We added an additional 600 terabytes of capacity during 2020, and will be adding a further petabyte of storage this coming term. The first terabyte of storage for any project is provided free of charge, with larger projects charged at £50 per TB per year. This gets you two copies of your data on disk in two different physical data halls at UCL’s Slough Data centre. A third back-up copy is saved to tape, and there is a 30-day retention period to help protect against accidental deletion.
Further information about the RDSS can be found at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/research-it-services
By Kirsty, on 10 February 2021
Guest post by James Houghton, Research Data Support Officer
Dealing with research data, and the associated legal and administrative issues, can be confusing. This article responds to some of the frequent question and confusions people have regarding research data management.
Do I always have to share data?
Not always – but in general data sharing is required unless you have a very good reason not to and UCL expects research to be shared as widely as possible. Data sharing is possibly inappropriate in the following situations:
- The project contains personal data which could compromise the privacy of individuals. In this case the Data Protection Act (2018) applies and the data cannot be shared.
- There is a possibility that the research could be commercialised. In this case, data should not be shared before obtaining necessary patent protections.
- Other ethical concerns for which a justification can be created. For example, data on an endangered species might be used by poachers so it would be reasonable not to share this data.
Does UCL have a data sharing policy?
Be aware that in addition to the UCL policy, funding agencies will have their own requirements. You need to be compliant with all policies that might apply!
So, I need to share my data. Does UCL have a platform for data sharing?
Yes, we do! UCL has its own data repository service, the UCL Research Data Repository
I don’t have any data.
The term “data” is used as a shorthand to cover all research outputs, so even if you think you don’t have data, you probably generate something during the course of your research that should be preserved and potentially shared. Even if your field uses a different term you are probably still bound by the data sharing policy.
Here’s is a wide-ranging list of what could be considered “research data”
- Research notebooks, detailing progress of research and experiments
- Responses to surveys and questionnaires
- Software, code, algorithms, and models
- Measurements from laboratory or field equipment
- Images (such as photographs, films, scans of documents)
- Methods, protocols, and experimental procedures
- Databases of collected information
- A corpus of writings
- Audio and video recordings
- Interview Transcripts
- Physical samples and objects
If you have an output not included in this list, it could can still be classed as research data!
What on earth is metadata?
Metadata is simply data that describes other data. Here are a few examples:
- A description of the inclusion criteria for enrolling participants in a study
- The set of questions used in interviews
- Any file naming conventions used to keep track of data
- The parameters used by any equipment used to make measurements
- The dates and times images were taken
- Details of quality assurance steps to explain why some data points were deemed to be erroneous and unsuitable for analysis
- Administrative information such as dates of interviews, experiments or visits to a location
This is not an exhaustive list by any means! Metadata can vary considerably between projects and research fields.
In the same way data might underpin the results of a project, metadata could be said to underpin the methods of a project. If you need to address the issue of metadata, think about what another researcher would need to know to replicate the data as closely as possible.
What resources can I access at UCL to store data safely?
All UCL IT managed storage services have automated backups in place to protect data and are recommended over using your own personal devices or individual cloud storage accounts. There are a few different options depending on your needs:
- The personal N: drive or S: drives are fine for day-to-day storage of PDFs, office documents and non-sensitive materials.
- The Research Data Storage Service supports high speed file transfer for large quantities of data and is extremely useful for anyone who want to work with the high-performance computing clusters.
- The Data Safe Haven is specifically designed to store personal data covered by the Data Protection Act 2018. This secure service helps you meet legal obligations on data security when relevant.
- Services such as SharePoint and OneDrive can be useful for collaboration with colleagues and allow for functionality such as simultaneous editing of documents.
Need more information?
We have extended guidance on research data management available on our website and the library research data management team can be contacted to discuss specific issues at: email@example.com
By Kirsty, on 9 February 2021
Are you concerned about the e-books crisis in higher education and public libraries? The #ebooksos campaign launched by Johanna Anderson has successfully highlighted via the BBC and the Guardian the issues faced by the education and research sectors in accessing and using e-Books.
Unaffordable prices, an inability to buy e-books due to a refusal to sell or bundling of titles in packages, and restrictions on research copying are all affecting coursework and research in universities. Confidentiality clauses in contracts between publishers and universities are also making understanding how the e-Book market functions more challenging, and obscuring the level to which public money is being well-spent.
The issue is not only one being faced by universities. An international study by Monash University on the availability of e-books in the main five English language markets found public libraries in the UK to have “the least attractive licence terms, the highest prices, and the lowest availability.” The report found Hachette (one of the big 5 English language publishers) only had 8% of their list available for libraries to license as an eBook.
You are invited to attend the UCL Office for Open Science & Scholarship/Copyright for Knowledge E-books webinar on Monday 15th March 2021 from 2 pm to 3.30 pm. We will examine the acute difficulties for higher education and public libraries caused by publishers’ pricing and licensing practices and discuss possible solutions.
Our expert speakers are:
- Dr. Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services & UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship)
- Johanna Anderson, @hohojanna, Subject Librarian, University of Gloucestershire and founder of the #eBookSoS campaign
- Benjamin White, Researcher, Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management, University of Bournemouth and Chair of the Copyright and Legal Working Group of the European Research Library Association (LIBER).
There will be an opportunity to put your questions to the panel in a final Q and A session.
The webinar is free to attend but if you would like to join us please register via Eventbrite.
By Kirsty, on 8 February 2021
Follow the link below to read the report and find out more about the Research Data Management and Sharing Plan review service, our new online training courses on writing data management plans and open science and scholarship and improved guidance about making research data FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable – within the wider open science and scholarship context. You can also find out about the newly revised research data policy which includes updated advice for UCL staff and research students in managing their research outputs
Finally, you can find out about the number, amount and types of research outputs published using the UCL Research Data Repository, as well as the number and variety of views and downloads.
Download and explore the report on the UCL Research Data Repository,
By Kirsty, on 27 January 2021
Guest post by Alice Hardy, Institute of Healthcare Engineering
At the Institute of Healthcare Engineering, we wanted to create technological solutions that meet real people’s needs – but reaching our target users can sometimes be a bit tricky. We’re taking a ‘citizen science’ approach to engage with the users who need new health technology the most, and bring their ideas to life.
The ageing challenge
As a population we are living longer lives than ever before, with half the babies born in the UK today expected to reach their 100th birthday.
Longer life spans are cause for celebration, but growing older comes with downsides. Too often, people ageing are faced with problems like loneliness, loss of independence and avoidable years of disease.
Tackling these challenges is a strategic priority for the UK Government and funding bodies.
Across all faculties of UCL, researchers are developing technologies to help people live their extra years healthier and happier. However, to make these solutions as effective as possible, we need to engage with our end-users from the start. That’s where out citizen science approach comes in.
At the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, we act as cross-faculty hub for anyone in healthcare engineering or digital health at UCL. Our is to nurture the ideas and partnerships that result in life-changing health technology.
We understand the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration when developing new technologies, and a key part of that is garnering fresh perspectives from groups that can be difficult for us to reach. We want to deconstruct the idea of what is means to be an ‘expert’ and open this up to everyone – we’re all experts in growing older!
That’s why we launched the Age Innovation Hub; an online platform where we ask the public how technology could help them. Their feedback will then go onto shape real-world projects at UCL, with citizen science integrated at every step of the way.
Using this crowdsourcing tool was a way for us to directly reach out to the public and involve them in the research going on at UCL. Not only is their insight important to improve the research, but a more open relationship with the public also helps to combat perceptions that universities can be slow-moving and out of touch with the public’s needs. This crowdsourcing tool also has great potential for use in other campaigns and across UCL.
How it works
To shape the discussion, we created ‘challenge areas’ based on the biggest challenges facing older people:
- Supporting people with health concerns
- Creating healthy environments
- Building social communities
- Staying independent at home for longer
- Staying active
In these discussion areas, users are encouraged to post their ideas, share their feedback, and vote for ideas they support. Our team of moderators keep the conversation flowing with encouraging words and probing questions; we want to cultivate an inclusive, welcoming community where anyone in the UK can share their thoughts on healthy ageing, and feels heard.
Opportunities for UCL researchers
In addition to allowing the public to share their thoughts, the Age Innovation Hub is an opportunity for UCL researchers to gain valuable feedback on their current research challenges. The Hub is open for you to get involved, so visit it now and join the conversation.
There are a number of ways for researchers to participate:
- Submit challenges or questions from your own research areas that you’d like feedback on directly into one of the challenges
- Write a blog to tell visitors more about existing research going on at UCL in healthy ageing or your experiences with citizen science
- Engage in discussion on some of the ideas already posted, add your own comments and thoughts
- Join a panel of experts that will help evaluate the needs and ideas submitted from the public (March/April 2021)
You can join the discussion now at ageinnovationhub.crowdicity.com
To find out more, you can contact the Institute of Healthcare Engineering team via firstname.lastname@example.org