X Close

Open@UCL Blog

Home

Menu

Open Access Week: Finding and using Open Access resources

Kirsty23 October 2020

With all of the focus this week having been on the why and the how of making research Open Access, in our last post this Open Access Week we want to turn the tables and help you with finding open access content and deciding whether you can trust it. In other words:

What use is it for others to make things Open if you can’t get the benefits of using them?! What use is being able to find them if you don’t know whether they’re trustworthy?

The following tools and techniques will help you find verified Open Access content and check that it’s of good quality. Spoiler alert: scroll down to find the one simple tool that surpasses all others!

Finding Reliable Open Access Content

There are a number of helpful registries that collate and verify Open Access content:

  • Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) lists over 30,000 Academic peer-reviewed books from 404 publishers. All publishers in DOAB are screened for their peer review procedures and licensing policies.
  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a registry of over 12,000 journals that fulfil a stringent list of conditions for open access, transparency, preservation and reuse. Being listed in the Directory is a positive sign that the journal is of good quality, as they have made recognised commitments to longevity and maintenance of their content.
  • COnnecting REpositories (CORE) lists content from university, research institute and public institution repositories from all over the world. To find out more about how UCL supports Open Access and what goes into our repository, have a look at Tuesday’s blog post! Repositories can also get an additional level of accreditation with CoreTrustSeal.
  • The Registry of Research Data Repositories, better known as Re3data, is a great place to go to find out what data repositories are available. These repositories cover a wide range of subject areas and specialisms, and you should easily be able to identify a suitable repository to find what you need.

Open Access content is also listed on a number sites that pull from these sources. For example, books from our own UCL Press can be found on UCL Explore but also on databases like JStor.

But there is a simpler way!

Back in March we wrote a post about a tool called Open Access Button. It’s worth another mention in Open Access Week. It’s a browser extension that can look for openly available versions of exactly which articles and books you want, in all of the sources above! It will even send requests for an Open version of something if one isn’t available.

Assessing Open Access Publications

What if you haven’t been using the sources we’ve mentioned? We all know that there is a lot of bad information out there on the internet. Fake news has taught us to always check and verify information before using it, and academic information is no different. A common concern for researchers preparing to share their data or publications is whether the journals and platforms are trustworthy. We’ve discussed that in posts earlier in the week. It is the same when using content – the first question you need to ask is: can I trust this?

There are checklists available which can help you determine if a source of information is reliable. These work equally well on any sort of information, Open Access or otherwise. UCL Library Services recommends a couple of checklists and have a lot of guidance on finding and assessing information on LibGuides. One technique that is popular is called the CRAAP test:

  • C: Currency: When was the source published? Is it appropriate in the context to use older material, or is it important that it is current?
  • R: Relevance: Is the information relevant to your studies or research? And is it at the right academic level?
  • A: Authority: Who is the author and/or publisher? Are they a trustworthy source?
  • A: Accuracy: Where does the information come from? Is there evidence? Can it be verified?
  • P: Purpose: Why was the information produced? Is the purpose clear and are there any biases?

CRAAP test – Information on the CRAAP test from the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico, who developed the tool.

Assessing Open Access Data

The best way to analyse Open Access data, aside from the above technique which also applies, is to look at both the reference in any papers that cite it, and the associated documents provided. Look for a ReadMe file or examine the Data Management Plan if one is provided: you’re looking for a good description of how the data was generated and processed. These files should have all of the information you need to know if you wanted to reproduce the data yourself.

And finally…

With that, we’ve come full circle – from making your research Open, to finding and using others’ Open research. From UCL’s new Office for Open Science and Scholarship, officially launched in Open Access Week 2020, happy Open Access Weekend!

Open Access Week: Policies to free your research

Kirsty22 October 2020

What’s new in Open Access?

2020 has been a bumper year in open access. There have been policy developments, new opportunities for Gold open access and more open access outputs than ever – and there’s even more to come in 2021. This week we’ve launched completely updated funding and REF sections of our website to support authors with all these changes, and there will be more new guidance soon. For now, though, we’d like to share a roundup of what’s been going on in open access recently, and to make a special request to SLMS researchers (scroll to the bottom) for advice on a new transformative agreement for PLOS journals.

Policies: Wellcome and Rights Retention

We’ve been talking about Plan S for a couple of years now, since it was announced in September 2018. Now, though, we’re preparing for the first Plan S policy to come into effect. Wellcome Trust-funded research papers submitted from New Year’s Day 2021 need to be made open access as soon as they’re published. 

If you have Wellcome funding, this won’t be news to you. Read on, though, for something that is completely new: Rights Retention, allowing you to publish in any journal and make your papers open access straight away.

As a reminder, from 2021 Wellcome authors can publish in:

  1. fully open access journals or platforms (such as Wellcome Open Research).
  2. subscription journals that allow them to make their final accepted manuscript open access in Europe PubMed Central at the time of publication.
  3. subscription journals that are included in UCL’s transformative agreements – more on these below.

Wellcome will provide a Journal Checker Tool (coming shortly) to help authors work out where and how to publish. We’ll support Wellcome researchers with our new Wellcome webpages, payments for journals in categories 1 and 3 above, and advice on individual papers and journals. The big change, though, is…

Rights Retention

This might not sound exciting, but it could be a hugely important shift that’ll enable researchers to keep control of their work, and make it open access when it’s published. The Wellcome is the first funder to adopt it. Here’s how it works.

  1. A Plan S funder like Wellcome changes its grant conditions to include a new provision that grantholders automatically grant a CC BY public copyright licence to their accepted manuscripts.
  2. The funder notifies key publishers (Wellcome has contacted 150 publishers) asking them to allow all authors to make their manuscripts available on publication with a CC BY licence. Even if a publisher doesn’t do that, the letter gives them notice of the funder’s open access requirements. This means that the CC BY licence on the accepted manuscript takes legal precedence over any later licence to publish or copyright transfer agreement that an author signs.
  3. The funder requires authors to include a statement in all submissions that notifies the publisher about the funding. Here’s the statement that Wellcome authors must now use:

Wellcome statement required on submissionThis allows Wellcome authors to publish in any journal, even if it’s not a fully open access journal and there’s no transformative agreement. There’s more information about this on the Wellcome’s webpages, and on Plan S’s Rights Retention page.

Other open access and open data policies

Other funders’ open access policies are likely to change in the near future. We’re expecting a new UKRI open access policy next year, and a new REF policy after that. Cancer Research UK has said that it’ll require immediate open access from January 2022. Plan S members, including the EC as part of Horizon Europe, are implementing Rights Retention. So stay up to date with your funder’s requirements – there’s a tool called Sherpa Juliet that helps with this – and check our webpages for all the latest information.

Both funding agencies and publishers also have open data policies setting out expectations, and in many cases requirements, for researchers. It’s a good idea to be aware of these when submitting a paper, or a grant proposal. These policies have the general theme of ensuring that when research is published all of the raw data which underpins the main results and conclusions is made available to as great an extent as possible.  Funding agencies and publishers want to ensure that data is open in order to maintain high standards of reproducibility and transparency. Open data allows published results to be confirmed and tested by others, a much more stringent check of research quality than can realistically be offered by the peer review process. For a publisher this can also help to uphold their reputation and avoid scandals or high-profile retractions. Funding agencies also have an interest in ensuring maximum return on their investment, and encourage data sharing partly so that the output of the research they funded can be re-used as widely as possible by other researchers and beyond academia.

When you publish with a particular journal or submit a funding application to a particular agency always check their specific policies carefully to avoid any problems or delays. Information on funding agency policies is available on our webpages.

Transformative agreements

We’ve written about them before, but we make no apology for repeating ourselves. These new agreements are designed to help with the transition to full open access that funders want. UCL’s agreements currently cover just over 5,000 journals; they enable all, or most, research papers in those journals with a UCL corresponding author to be made open access on publication.

In these agreements, upfront payments fund publishing as well as access to content, helping universities and publishers move away from the old subscription model. The rub is that most agreements still cost more than subscriptions did, but funders are supporting them for a transitional period. We’re currently assessing new agreements for 2021. Can we afford these agreements long-term? Will they lead to journals becoming fully open access? We’ll see.

SLMS researchers: can you help us to help you?

By and large, researchers like the opportunities for open access publishing that transformative agreements provide. However, the agreements tend to favour traditional subscription publishers. The latest development, though, is a new model that might redress the balance a bit: PLOS’s Community Action Model for publishing in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology. This is a collective, potentially more sustainable way of funding two highly-selective open access journals without individual open access payments (APCs). We need to decide whether to be part of it, and we need your help. If you publish in biomedicine or medicine, please tell us: if we support this new model, and guarantee funding to publish in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, would you be more likely to submit there? Get in touch with us to tell us your view, or to find out more.

Open Access Week: Open Data – the future treasures of the past

Kirsty21 October 2020

Here at UCL you are very often told 

Of the benefits associated with publishing via green or gold, 

But what of Research Data and saving them for later? 

What is this new thing you have stumbled across?  

Preserving research outputs and protecting them against loss. 

 

It’s Open Data of course!  

They’re freely available online  

To download and unwind  

With good quality metadata assigned.    

Open data are nestled within Open Science and Scholarship 

without barriers rooted in design.  

 

Open data with DOIs so FAIR,  

The trophies of your commitment to access and to share 

So enhancthe potential for reuse  

and reduce wasted efforts  

of those who seek to uncover new knowledgenew inference,  

Let us discover.   

 

So what is the issue? Where is the harm? 

What is the problem? Why the alarm? 

 

Too expensive they said 

Too much time they said 

Little reward for my efforts and for any of the dread.  

How are we to ascend the ladder? 

For making our data openwe’re not getting any gladder.  

  

Research Integrity, Transparency and Reproducibility 

these are your prized rewards. 

Repurpose and explore,   

To maximise the return, just what is in store?  

So take down the university wall  

Bring in the citizens,  

Address the balance so all stand equally as tall. 

 

Now, with help and support and cups of on-screen tea at the ready,  

The Research Data Management team are on-hand to keep you steady! 

We cheer those pursuing a place for research data  

in need of archiving and preserving and just plain keeping safe. 

We can talk for hours about the research data lifecycle and all that it can entail, 

open data – we shall prevail! 

Here’s to the UCL Research Data policy 

and to all those wishing to make their funders smile,  

With the UCL Research Data Repository, we can help you do it in style! 

 

So to all my fellow disruptive thinkers,  

now is the time for us all to give open data a trial  

and catch up to those who have been open a while. 

Embrace open practices and make fast  

open data – the future treasures of the past.   

By Dr Christiana McMahon | Research Data Support Officer 

Open Access Week: Why open access? Journals and articles

Kirsty20 October 2020

The open access landscape is ever-changing, and these days it seems as if authors, open access experts, funders and publishers spend a lot of time talking about policies. There’s good reason for that: they’re complicated, and right now lots of them are changing. Since Plan S was announced, funders have begun to introduce policies that’ll help make sure that research is open access as soon as it’s published. We’re going to talk more about policy developments on Thursday, but today we want to go back to basics and ask…

Why open access?

Funders want outputs to be open access on publication. More and more authors are thinking about open access options early on in the publication process – before they submit. They’re telling us that they consider which fully open access journals and journals in UCL’s transformative agreements are suitable, and failing that whether their journal will allow them to make their manuscript open access as soon as it’s published. Why are these changes happening?

Open access advocates, and many authors, have known for a while about the many advantages to making outputs open access, beyond compliance with funders’ policies. The citation-and-visibility advantage is one of the best-established findings in the scholarly communication literature. Open access papers receive more views than their closed counterparts, and they’re cited more often. It’s as simple as that. This applies to all types of open access, whether Gold (open access on publication) or Green – and even where a paper is made open access as long as 12 months after publication, as this recent preprint demonstrates.

This year, though, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in interest in open access, not only in the academic community but from people in all walks of life – and that’s because open access is so vital to combating, or at least helping us to live with, COVID-19. Open access accelerates the rate at which the shared knowledge can be applied, and that’s particularly important in any global health emergency. Previous crises like Ebola in 2014-15, and Zika in 2015-17, highlighted the role of preprints and immediate open access in rapidly developing fields. The WHO in September 2015 announced that timely and transparent pre-publication sharing of data and results during public health emergencies must become the norm across the world.

The new Wellcome open access policy covers preprints in public health emergencies like the current one. Preprints allow data and academic analysis about COVID-19 to be disseminated quickly, without delays caused by reviews and resubmission, and so they allow academics and public health experts to read, develop and challenge the data. Of course, preprints need to be treated with caution, particularly with journalists and politicians being wont to seize on any data that’ll make a headline.

It’s no accident that one of the first things that publishers did in lockdown was to respond to the Wellcome Trust’s call to make temporary changes to their policies to make COVID-19 outputs open access. This has significant health benefits and can impact policies, and we wrote about it here. UCL also launched its COVID-19 research platform that brings together all UCL’s research on the pandemic into one place. The platform currently holds over 700 outputs.

Academics in the Global South are in some ways ahead of the open access game. Access gaps exist between institutions, because of the huge cost of subscriptions. They’re worse still in the Global South. As Peter Suber demonstrates in his 2012 monograph on open access, in 2008, Harvard subscribed to 98,900 serials and Yale to 73,900. At the same time, the best- funded research library in India, at the Indian Institute of Science, subscribed to 10,600. Thus, open access also reduces global inequity and empowers the world’s poorest people to transform their own lives.

As COVID is showing, it’s not just academics and policy-makers who benefit from open access. Open access allows research to be read also by journalists, citizen scientists, patients, health advocates, local government, medical professionals, prospective students – and everyone who needs it.

Why isn’t everything open access by now?

Academic promotion and advancement relies on publications. That’s also how we assess quality, and funding – as part of the REF exercise, and in applications for funding. We know that in the past there’s been too much of an emphasis on where you publish, and not enough on what you publish. That’s gradually changing. UCL has recently launched its new bibliometrics policy, to help academics move away from traditional metrics. It is an important step in supporting the use of Open Science and Scholarship across UCL. This new focus will help researchers to conduct their research in the way that is best for them, and best for the wider research community. Related to this, open access is now part of the promotion process at UCL and is required in applications for research posts.

There’s a long way to go before these new principles, and open access itself, become embedded across disciplines. We haven’t talked much about non-journal outputs, but our colleagues in UCL Press will attest that they’re even more challenging. The landscape is changing, though, and we’re excited to be a part of that change.

Tune in for the rest of the week, especially on Thursday when we’ll talk about how Plan S’s Rights Retention Strategy could give researchers the power to disseminate their research widely, effectively and quickly.

Open Access Week: Why publish your book open access?

Kirsty19 October 2020

Many authors considering their publishing options for their scholarly monograph or edited volume might consider publishing open access. UCL Press, established in 2015, is the UK’s first fully open access university press and it offers open access monograph publishing to authors and editors at UCL. Many other publishers also offer an open access option, with most charging a BPC (Book Processing Charge, the equivalent of the APC in journal publishing) – this is usually paid by the funder or the author’s institution. UCL Press doesn’t charge UCL authors and editors.

But what are the benefits? This blog aims to set out the key reasons why publishing a book open access has many advantages.

1: Reaching a wider readership

Download statistics gathered by UCL Press and other open access publishers show high usage statistics for OA books, compared with typical print sales for specialist scholarly monographs. This means open access books are reaching many more readers than would otherwise be the case. UCL Press titles have been downloaded over 3.5 million times. The most downloaded book, How the World Changed Social Media by Professor Daniel Miller (UCL Anthropology) has been viewed over 440,000 times. But even specialist interest titles are downloaded thousands of times. Download statistics for all UCL Press open access monographs can be viewed on UCL Press’s website.

2: Global readership

OA books are accessed all around the world, often in places where print copies are inaccessible. UCL Press titles have been downloaded in 244 countries and territories around the world. Global readership patterns have also been reported on in a recent white paper produced by Springer Nature and COARD.

3: Increased citations

The same study found that OA books on average achieve ten times more downloads and 2.4 times more citations than non-OA books.

4: Publicity advantages

There are many more avenues for promoting free books, as they are seen as a clear benefit to their communities. List-servs and social media are great resources for OA book promotion. Authors often report that they are much more comfortable promoting their OA books on social media, as there is no cost associated with them.

Upcoming events – Focus Open Science and Reproducibility

Kirsty13 October 2020

Focus Open Science events open for booking

This years Focus on Open Science programme of events is taking shape and the first sessions have been launched for booking. The programme this year will all be virtual so all sessions are free and open to all!

The aim of the Focus on Open Science Workshops is to address the challenges posed by Open Science, using the 8 pillars of Open Science identified by the European Commission in its Open Science Policy Platform.

Improve your workflow for reproducible science (10th November 2020)

Join a 2-hour virtual workshop on reproducible data science using R, led by data scientist and lecturer Dr. Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel. Open to all and free to join.

Details and registration on Eventbrite.

Office for Open Science and Scholarship – Launch events roundup!

Kirsty28 September 2020

The UCL Office for Open Science & Scholarship is designed to create a virtual body which can work with academic colleagues, departments, and research groups to develop and publicise all our Open Science activities across the institution. The Office’s website has a section on Community and Support and this is the place where we hope to reach out to Open Science & Scholarship communities across the whole of UCL, to engage with them and to help create a UCL-wide community of Open Science Practice.

The Office for Open Science and Scholarship will be launched in two phases. The soft launch at the start of the academic year 2020-2021, and a full launch with a week of events timetabled for Open Access week, 19-23 October. The full schedule can be found with sign up links below! If you are planning something for Open Access week please let us know at openscience@ucl.ac.uk.

Launch week events

During the week of 19th October, we are going to be launching the Office for Open Science and Scholarship with a week of events celebrating all of the aspects of Open Science and coinciding with International Open Access week – some events are open to UCL members only, please see below for details.

There are no costs for attendance but we are asking people to sign up so that we can share the links and keep track of numbers for the Drop-in events.

Monday 19th October

  • UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship Launch – Lunchtime Webinar: 1-2pm

Join the Head of the Office for Open Science and Scholarship, Dr Paul Ayris, and a number of teams from across the university to celebrate the next steps in Open Science support at UCL. This webinar will tell you all you need to know about the new office, and what it can do to support you to embrace Open Science and Scholarship in your work.

Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session – Now Open to non-UCL bookings

  • ReproHack @ UCL – Introductory session 2-4pm

A ReproHack is a hands-on reproducibility hackathon where participants attempt to reproduce the results of a research paper from published code and data and share their experiences with the group and the papers authors. During this week you will learn how to implement better reproducibility practices into your research and appreciate the high value of sharing code for Open Science. This event is open to all domains, all we need is a published paper that has included some code with it. During this week we will try to reproduce papers you propose in small teams, supported by members of the Research Software Development Group and RITS. On Friday afternoon we will have a catch-up session to show how each team did and to share experiences.

Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session!

Tuesday 20th October

  • Introduction to InCites – 11am-12noon
This session will give an overview of what is contained in InCites, and a demonstration of how to use it.
The InCites tool (https://incites.clarivate.com/) uses Web of Science data on publications to give a wider overview of research activity, with aggregated data and visualisations. We can use it to compare research output across different institutions, analyse publication data for UCL at the department and faculty levels, and understand activity in a research field as a whole.
It also gives us access to normalised citation metrics, which give more complex and informative information than the simple citation counts available through Web of Science or Scopus. These take account of the different citation practices in different fields, allowing more meaningful and responsible analysis to be made.

Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session

  • OA Week: Ask UCL’s Open Access Team – 2.30-3.30 pm

This event, for UCL researchers, is an opportunity to ask questions about the new open access funding arrangements, including transformative agreements, that UCL has introduced this year, and to make sure that you’re confident about the open access requirements that affect you. Researchers are encouraged to submit questions in advance.

Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session

  • RELIEF Centre Launch: Hamra (Beirut), Neighbourhood Profile and Prosperity Interventions – 11am-1pm

RELIEF Centre and UN-Habitat Lebanon present a new neighbourhood profile for Hamra, Beirut. Through participatory citizen science research, the Hamra Neighbourhood Profile offers original spatialized data and analysis on the living conditions in one of the most culturally diverse neighbourhoods in Lebanon

Join us for the launch of this incredible new data resource. Hear from UN-Habitat and RELIEF Centre researchers on the purpose and process of creating the profile. Drawing on the profile’s data, RELIEF citizen scientists will also present three neighbourhood interventions and lead a discussion on how multisectoral and multicohort data from profiles can inform integrated programming for neighbourhoods in ways that can benefit all residents in the long term.

Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session – Open to non-UCL bookings

Wednesday 21st October

  • Introduction to Citizen Science at UCL – Lunchtime Webinar: 1-2pm

One of the eight pillars of Open Science, Citizen Science is a rapidly developing area full of exciting opportunities to try something new with your research. Join us and find out more about Citizen Science, what you can use it for, and how to get started using it in your own research, as well as showcasing examples from across UCL. Featuring an introduction to Citizen Science and lightning talks from across the university, we aim to show you the breadth of possibilities and hope that you will be able to join the discussion, learn about Citizen Science, and get some ideas for your next project!

Sign up via Eventbrite to get a link to join the session – Now Open to non-UCL bookings

  • UCL Press and OA Monograph publishing: A drop-in session for prospective authors: 3-4pm

This session will be an opportunity to meet with commissioning editors and other staff from UCL Press who will describe the benefits of publishing OA and the global reach that can be achieved through its extensive OA dissemination and marketing activities. Commissioning editors will also be on hand to discuss new book proposals and the submissions process.

Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session

Thursday 22nd October

  • OA Week: Research Data Management Team Drop-in Q&A session: 3-4pm

Join the Research Data Management team to get an overview of their work and ask all of your questions about how to manage, publish and archive all kinds of data, materials and other outputs of research projects.

Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session

Friday 23rd October

  • UCL Press: Author Experiences of publishing OA books: Lunchtime Webinar: 1-2pm

Join UCL Press authors to explore how their experiences of publishing have changed their perspective on open access books.
Confirmed participants include:

  • Professor Eleanor Robson (UCL History), author of Ancient Knowledge Networks: A Social Geography of Cuneiform Scholarship in First-Millennium Assyria and Babylonia (UCL Press)
  • Professor Bob Sheil (Bartlett School of Architecture), editor of the Fabricate series

Sign up via Eventbrite to receive a link to join the session – Now Open to non-UCL bookings

  • ReproHack closing session – 3-4pm

See full details on Monday for how to get involved.

Introducing the new UCL bibliometrics policy

Kirsty26 August 2020

UCL has recently launched its new bibliometrics policy, which sets out principles for the use of citation metrics in research assessment across the university. It aims for sensible, fair, and balanced use of metrics in research assessment that values research and researchers on their own merits, moves away from some of the more inappropriate methods like focusing on the impact factor of journals or the h-index of authors, recognises diversity in research practice and outputs, and emphasises that the use of citation metrics is not mandatory.

This is an important step in supporting the use of Open Science and Scholarship across UCL. A key aspect of the open science movement has been in challenging traditional ways of disseminating research – whether that be through publishing in Open Access journals, opening up peer review, disseminating work at an early stage via preprints, or a range of other methods.

Many of these approaches, however, do not fit well with traditional methods of assigning credit using citation metrics.

For example, a relentless focus on the impact factor was a barrier to early adoption of open access journals. Newly created Open Access journals – which did not qualify for an impact factor – were seen as lower quality than the established journals, deterring authors from submitting to them. Similarly, megajournals, which did not cherry-pick papers for “significance”, had impact factors substantially lower than more selective titles – an author who was being judged on impact factors would be less keen to publish there.

In addition, limitations of the citation databases can penalise supporting material like data or code, which are often not indexed properly – if they are cited at all. This makes them appear less significant than they are. Similarly, preprints often get the majority of their citations before they are “published” – and these may not be tracked or credited accurately.

Factors like this mean that a focus on using traditional metrics can actively deter people from adopting Open Science approaches for their articles or their data. It is of vital importance that the ways we assess research do not discourage people from being able to conduct their research in the way that is best for them, and best for the wider research community.

Our new policy tries to move away from traditional uses of metrics, emphasising that citation-based metrics are not always appropriate and we do not have to use them if they’re not generally accepted in the field. Where they are used, we should avoid trying to impose a one-size-fits-all model, and consider all works in context.

Alongside the policy, we have provided detailed guidance for using alternative metrics, going beyond the impact factor or simple citation counts to assess citations in the context of other comparable work. We have also created the video below, and a Moodle module to walk you through the key elements.

 

Persistent Identifiers 101

Kirsty27 July 2020

You might have heard the phrase ‘Persistent Identifier or even PID in passing, but what does it actually mean 

A persistent identifier (PID) is a long-lasting reference to a resource. That resource might be a publication, dataset or person. Equally it could be a scientific sample, funding body, set of geographical coordinates, unpublished report or piece of software. Whatever it is, the primary purpose of the PID is to provide the information required to reliably identify, verify and locate it.” – OpenAIRE 

These identifiers either connect to a set of metadata describing an item, or link to the item itself.  

In 2018, the Tickell report was released. It presented independent advice about Open Access, which had implications for the world of PIDs. Adam Tickell recommended that Jisc lead a project to select and promote a range of unique identifiers for different purposes, to try and limit the amount of confusion and duplication in this area.  

The JISC project has been in progress for the last year. They are working on what they describe as ‘priority PIDs’ which cover the following categories:  

  • People 
  • Works 
  • Organisations 
  • Grants 
  • Projects 

So what are the PIDs we need to be aware of? 

People 

The primary PID for people is one that you will already be familiar with if you are a regular reader of the blog. Even if you aren’t, you have probably heard of it – it’s ORCID.  

ORCID is an open identifier for individuals that allows you to secure accurate attribution for all of your outputs. It also functions quite nicely as an online bibliography, and can be used to automatically collect and record your papers in RPS. All in all, it’s pretty useful 

If you want to know more about what you can do with ORCID, have a look at our recent blog post ‘Getting the best out of your ORCID. All of the details about linking ORCID to RPS and vice versa, are available on the blog and the Open Access website 

Works 

The next identifier is for works. It’s another that you have probably seen, even if you don’t know a lot about themDOIDOI stands for Digital Object IdentifierIt’s a unique registration number for a Digital Object. This could be an article or a dataset, but it could equally be an image, a book, or even a chapter in a book. DOIs are unique and persistent which means that if your chosen journal changes publisher, you will still be able to find your article because the DOI is independent and will keep up to date.  

DOIs are most often acquired through a Registration Agency called Crossref, but you will also come across DataCiteBoth of these services do the same job, providing and tracking DOIs, but the underlying tools are slightly different.  

Did you know: if you have the DOI of a paper, an easy way to find that paper is to add https://doi.org/ to the front. The URL this creates will take you to the paper, no matter who published it. For example: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1679373 is DOI, and https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1679373 will take you straight to the paper 

Organisations 

The Research Organisation Registry (ROR) is a new PID registry that is being created by key stakeholders, including Crossref and Jisc, to bring more detail and consistency to organisational identifiers. The definition of organisations goes beyond institutions like UCL to include any organisation that is involved in research production or management, so this can include funders, publishers, research institutes and scholarly societies.   

Grants 

Crossref is key in the identification of individual funders and in creating identifiers for research grants. Grant IDs are DOI’s, but connected to grant-specific metadata such as award type, value and investigators. The intent is for funders to register each grant and provide a GrantID, which has the potential to make tracking papers and data linked to individual projects much simpler in the long run. Several hundred grants have been registered already, mostly via Wellcome (With thanks to Rachael Lammey for the clarification 03/08/2020)

Projects 

The Jisc project is supporting Research Activity ID (RAiD), a project based in Australia which creates a unique identifier for a research project. The intent is for this to be the final part of a network of identifiers that will allow people, works, and institutions to be linked to their projects and funders. This will complete the chain and allow accurate attribution and accountability at every stage of the research process.   

How can I get involved? 

The work being undertaken to select and support individual PIDs at each stage of the research process is a good idea, and if it works then it will be a step towards a fully interconnected, open and transparent research process. The next stage of the Jisc project is currently underway, and they are surveying all sectors of the UK research community about awareness, use, and experience of PIDs. If you want to contribute, their survey is open and has just been extended until 21 August!  

PIDs diagram

PIDs environment – Click to enlarge

Everything you ever needed to know about Registered Reports (*even if you weren’t afraid to ask)

Kirsty3 July 2020

The concept of Registered Reports was developed in response to a vast range of meta-analysis over the past few years (1) that showed that a lot of research being published exhibited bias. Different papers analysed publication bias, hindsight bias, and selective reporting which demonstrated that published works overwhelmingly showed predominantly positive results. There were also significant issues with reproducibility and transparency as people were not sharing sufficient results or enough detail in methodologies to allow for the results stated to be replicated.

The nature of good research is to investigate, to take a hypothesis and test it dispassionately, discovering the results and presenting them as new or confirmed knowledge – whether the hypothesis is proven or not, it’s all knowledge! Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality. The issue at the core of all of this is the research environment itself – good, objective practice is not always what gets rewarded.

Researchers are often given the message (intentionally or otherwise) by publishers, funders, institutions and colleagues that positive, world-changing, elegant and simple results are prized above all others. It’s these results that researchers and publishers want to publish. Since publishing is key to career advancement, this inevitably influences how researchers carry out their work. Leaving aside for now deliberate falsification of results, and the arguments about alternative ways of disseminating them, we can see how this leads to behaviours that produce at best selective and incomplete results, and at worst downright misleading ones. Behaviours like HARKing (Hypothesising After Results are Known) and P-hacking, testing variables until you find something significant, are particularly problematic. Since researches also tend to cite positive results more than negative ones, this positive publication bias continues to be amplified after publication, too.

So, what can be done?

Registered reports are a new way of getting your work accepted for publication. The idea is that you submit only part of a study, like the first half of an article, and the peer review is conducted on your idea and study design, before any data is collected. If you are successful, you receive an Acceptance in Principle, do your research and write it up. If the research hypothesis and methods section that has already been accepted hasn’t changed significantly, the final acceptance is based on a peer review of the remaining parts of the article. This second round of peer review focuses on how complete and robust your work is, completely uninfluenced by the results of the study.

If I want to use Registered Reports for my next project, where do I go?

There is a list of journals that are supporting Registered Reports on the Center for Open Science website.

Naturally, if you aren’t working in a hypothesis-driven subject area, Registered Reports might not be for you, but there are other options to consider. They are a little less well known, but still have their own benefits:

Results Blind Peer Review is very similar to registered reports. The article is submitted and reviewed as normal, but the results are withheld until after the first peer review stage.

Exploratory reports are the newest method and lean more towards supporting exploratory research in less hypothesis-driven subject areas. This allows meta-analysis and confirmatory research, and more flexibility in the flow of the research from design to results.

Do registered reports really work?

The logic behind Registered Reports has already proven its worth: compared with papers published in the traditional way, a much higher percentage of Registered Reports have ‘null’ results. This suggests they really do reduce publication bias. And they’re still cited at similar rates to conventional articles.

These forays into addressing bias are just a beginning. The issue isn’t going to go away overnight but these journals, with the support of researchers, can start to redress the balance and make sure that results that disprove hypotheses get as much air-time as those that prove them. These journals show that there is a way for researchers and publishers to work together to address the problems of publication bias. Meanwhile, institutions are changing their promotion and assessment criteria to ensure that the research quality, rather than where the work is published, is taken more into account. A similar path is being taken by funders and even the REF. We all need to support these journals and together commit to an open research culture.

 

(1) Chambers, C. D. and Tzavella, L. (2020) Registered Reports: Past, Present and Future. MetaArXiv. doi: 10.31222/osf.io/43298.