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UCL Open Science Conference 2021 – Programme now available

Kirsty26 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

Time Title
13:00 – 13:10 Welcome, housekeeping
13:10 – 13:40 Open Science – looking to the future
Jean-Claude Burgelman
13:40 – 13:55 Open Science at UCL – looking to our future
Paul Ayris
13:55 – 14:10 Q&A Discussion
  Break
14:20 – 15:00 Future of Open Science panel
15:00 – 15:15 Panel Q&A
  Break
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

Time Title
13:00 – 13:10 Welcome, housekeeping
13:10 – 13:30 Count-erproductive? The role of metrics in the advancement of Open Science
Lizzie Gadd
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
  Break
14:20 – 15:00 Reproducibility, Transparency & Metrics panel
15:00 – 15:15 Panel Q&A
  Break
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)

Get your tickets now!

Embracing citizen science to answer: how can technologies help us age more easily?

Kirsty27 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.

Crowdsourcing innovation

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 ageinnovation@ucl.ac.uk

Introduction to Citizen Science at UCL event – a discussion

Kirsty3 December 2020

During Open Access Week 2020 we hosted a webinar called Introduction to Citizen Science at UCL. Although the week has been summarised and information shared on this blog before, the session was so interesting that it deserves another look.

Speakers:

  • Prof Muki Haklay – History and development of Citizen Science at UCL
  • Rosie Brigham – Monument Monitor Project
  • Mayssa Jallad – Institute for Global Prosperity and the RELIEF Project
  • Prof Kate Jones – Bat Detective Project
  • Danielle Purkiss – Big Compost Experiment project

I was particularly interested in the growth of Citizen Science described in Muki’s part of the session, especially the wide variety of techniques that have grown out of developments in technology, as well as so many more people having access to the internet and mobile technology.

The growth and expansion of Citizen Science has led to the gradual development of the different definitions outlined in the image below (taken from the session).

Citizen Science gets divided into three broad categories, with a fair amount of crossover. The first is the least technological, and the most long-standing (possibly even predating the coining of the phrase ‘Citizen Science’), called ‘Long running Citizen Science’. These projects involve using members of the public in long term activities like weather observation, local archaeology, or surveying local ecological areas. Muki talked about Open Air Laboratories, and Prof Kate Jones’s lightning talk also touched on this by describing how a long running bat survey has been extended to use new technology.

The Community Science category mostly comprises science taking place in the community. This includes projects involving sensing in communities, such as noise or air pollution, even creating affordable DIY sensing kits or tools like Bento Lab, a cheap kit that makes it possible to do PCR testing at home. It also includes training based experiences, giving communities the chance to develop skills while taking part in projects.

The final category is the biggest. It’s this one that, in my opinion, has grown the fastest in recent years due to the rapid expansion of technology and the interconnected world we live in. These projects are very varied. For example, social media has facilitated projects like Monument Monitor, and tools like Zooniverse enable projects like Bat Detective to get members of the public to join in and enable research on a much larger scale. The sky is seriously the limit! Anyone can join in and get involved with some amazing research, and despite the name of the site, it’s not just animal related!

During the session we had a great Q&A discussion. Not a lot of it made it to the recording because our speakers had so much to share about their projects – so here’s a summary:

Muki highlighted an online Citizen Science course that’s run by the team at ExCiteS. It’s a self-paced course, and completely free! It’s even being revamped right now, with a new version due for release in January.

Rosie discussed choosing Scotland as the location for her Monument Monitor project, funding that came from Historic Environment Scotland and her plans to make the software Open Source. This will enable other heritage institutions to build on the work she has begun in Scotland.

Mayssa discussed recruiting Citizen Scientists in the Relief project, with the help of local initiatives or NGOs. The Citizen Scientists are from diverse nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds, reflecting the communities in the area. There was also an interesting conversation about the term ‘Citizen Science’ itself, and Mayssa had an interesting point on this, and shared that her participants are not all citizens in Lebanon, some are Syrian or Palestinian, and in fact they translate Citizen Scientist to ‘Local Researcher’ in Arabic.

She also shared some of the challenges brought about by COVID-19, including the need to limit in-person workshops by moving the first phase of research online. After this first stage, when fieldwork began, it was important to give workshop and survey participants frequent reminders about health measures and social distancing. Events that had already been organized were transformed into webinars, or divided up into more events with smaller groups to allow for health measures.

We finished the session with a question about the benefits of Citizen Science projects. Participants get to learn new skills, while small scale projects can broaden their scope and become part of a larger goal, for example preventing biodiversity loss. It was also clear that a number of projects, including the Bat Monitor and Big Compost Project, allow people to satisfy their curiosity about what is in their own back garden!

This event was recorded and it and all of the slides are available on MediaCentral

Office for Open Science & Scholarship Launch week – summary, links and thanks!

Kirsty29 October 2020

Last week, 19-23rd October, saw the launch of the new Office for Open Science and Scholarship, coinciding with International Open Access Week. What a week it was!

As well as launching our Office Newsletter, the many and varied events we held last week were a huge undertaking for all involved. This post reflects the information shared in each session; it comes with huge thanks to everyone who took part and helped out behind the scenes with promotion and organisation.


The week started with the official launch of the Office – Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost for Library Services, and Head of the Office for Open Science and Scholarship, opened the first session with an overview of the development of the Office, and the current status of Open Science at UCL. This was followed by lightning talks highlighting just some of the teams that are linked to the Office and available for supporting researchers in a number of aspects of Open Science.

  • Lara Speicher from UCL Press gave an overview of the work of the Press since its launch, and its current work publishing Open Access books, monographs and journals:
    uclpress.co.uk
  • Catherine Sharp from the Open Access Team outlined the service and policy support that her team provides. She also described UCL’s new range of transformative publisher agreements and new web pages on open access funding:
    ucl.ac.uk/library/open-access
  • James Houghton from the Research Data Management (RDM) Team talked about the RDM Team’s responsibilities and areas of support, including Data Management Planning, FAIR Data, and the UCL Research Data Repository:
    ucl.ac.uk/library/research-support/research-data-management
  • Andrew Gray from the Bibliometrics Team discussed the origins of responsible metrics and the principles behind the new Bibliometrics Policy recently launched at UCL:
    ucl.ac.uk/library/research-support/bibliometrics
  • Grace Gottlieb from OVPR discussed definitions and the importance of Research Transparency, Integrity and Reproducibility and introduced the support and training available, as well as the institutional contacts for the UK Reproducibility Network:
    ucl.ac.uk/research/integrity

This event was recorded and it and all of the slides are available on MediaCentral.

Later that afternoon, our colleagues in Research IT Services, led by David Perez-Suarez, kicked off UCL’s first ever ReproHack. This is a hands-on reproducibility hackathon where participants attempted to reproduce the results of a research paper from published code and data. The outcomes were then collated and shared with the group. These outcomes will also be fed back to the paper’s authors. David is going to be writing us a guest blog post about this event – so watch this space!

Tuesday saw the first of our sessions with the different teams, starting with a training session with the Bibliometrics Team entitled ‘Introduction to InCites’- a metrics tool that UCL subscribes to. This tool can be used to compare research output across different institutions, analyse publication data for UCL at department and faculty levels, and understand activity in a research field as a whole. This session was not recorded but there is a full range of Bibliometrics training including an InCites session available on the bibliometrics website. The Open Access Team also hosted an afternoon drop in session for UCL researchers in which they discussed transformative agreements, open access funding and the importance of UCL’s Bibliometrics Policy in freeing researchers to publish in a wider range of journals.

Wednesday was another exciting day, giving us the second of our three webinars of the week – this one focused on Citizen Science. This session began with an overview of the history and development of Citizen Science at UCL by Professor Muki Haklay, and included a wide range of examples of how the principles of Citizen Science can be used in practice. This was followed up by a series of lightning talks where colleagues from across the university shared their projects and experiences of working on vastly different Citizen Science projects:

  • First, Rosie Brigham shared with us the details of her PhD study, Monument Monitor. This project invites visitors to historic sites to share photographs of their visits using social media in order to monitor structural and visitor-related changes to the monuments.
  • Mayssa Jallad gave us an overview of the work of the Institute for Global Prosperity and the RELIEF Project that trains local people as Citizen Scientists in neighbourhoods in Hamra (Beirut) and Mina (Lebanon).
  • Kate Jones followed up with a completely different project, truly highlighting the variety of applications of Citizen Science. The Bat Detective Project used volunteers to collect and then later identify audio recordings of bat sonar, which was used to train a machine learning algorithm for the next stage of the project.
  • Danielle Purkiss was our final speaker, talking about the Big Compost Experiment, which is a truly massive undertaking, with numerous participants all contributing to a research experiment looking at compostable and biodegradable plastics in their own back gardens!

This event was recorded and it and all of the slides are available on MediaCentral

Wednesday afternoon and Thursday were dedicated to drop in sessions from both the UCL Press and Research Data Management teams. The teams had some good conversations with researchers. The UCL Press Q&A focused on prospective authors, and commissioning editors were available to answer questions about the benefits of publishing Open Access. The RDM Team was available to discuss data management planning and answer questions about managing, publishing and archiving all kinds of data and supporting evidence from research.

These sessions were not recorded but the teams are both available to answer questions by email. The RDM team also has FAQs and training available online.

Friday gave us our third and final webinar, this time hosted by UCL Press and entitled ‘Author Experiences of Publishing Open Access books’. This session featured in-depth interviews of two authors who have published with UCL Press, Prof Eleanor Robson and Prof Bob Shiel. Their publications with the press were distinctly different but both were able to share insights from the process and give a brilliant behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the press. The entire discussion provided a really positive look at the importance of Open Access presses, and challenged lots of this misconceptions people have about them.

This event was recorded and is available on MediaCentral.

We’re delighted that so many colleagues from inside the university and from around the world were able to join us at these events. We’re also looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on how the Office for Open Science and Scholarship can support researchers, colleagues and students here at UCL. All of your feedback will be used to develop the next events that we plan, so please do get in touch with us here by commenting below, by email, or on Twitter.