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Launching today: Open Science Case Studies

By Kirsty, on 29 April 2024

Announcement from Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice Provost, UCL Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science

A close up of old leather-bound books on a shelfHow can Open Science/Open Research support career progression and development? How does the adoption of Open Science/Open Research approaches benefit individuals in the course of their career?

The UCL Open Science Office, in conjunction with colleagues across UCL, has produced a series of Case Studies showing how UCL academics can use Open Science/Open Research approaches in their plans for career development, in applications for promotion and in appraisal documents.

In this way, Open Science/Open Research practice can become part of the Research Culture that UCL is developing.

The series of Case Studies covers each of the 8 pillars of Open Science/Open Research. They can be found on a new webpage: Open Science Case Studies 4 UCL.

It is only fair that academics should be rewarded for developing their skills and adopting best practice in research and in its equitable dissemination. The Case Studies show how this can be done, and each Case Study identifies a Key Message which UCL academics can use to shape their activities.

Examples of good practice are:

  • Publishing outputs as Open Access outputs
  • Sharing research data which is used as the building block of academic books and papers
  • Creating open source software which is then available for others to re-use and develop
  • Adopting practices allied to Reproducibility and Research Integrity
  • The responsible use of Bibliometrics
  • Public Engagement: Citizen Science and Co-Production as mechanisms to deliver results

Contact the UCL Open Science Office for further information at openscience@ucl.ac.uk.

UCL open access output: 2023 state-of-play

By Kirsty, on 15 April 2024

Post by Andrew Gray (Bibliometrics Support Officer) and Dominic Allington Smith (Open Access Publications Manager)

Summary

UCL is a longstanding and steadfast supporter of open access publishing, organising funding and payment for gold open access, maintaining the UCL Discovery repository for green open access, and monitoring compliance with REF and research funder open access requirements.  Research data can  be made open access in the Research Data Repository, and UCL Press also publish open access books and journals.

The UCL Bibliometrics Team have recently conducted research to analyse UCL’s overall open access output, covering both total number of papers in different OA categories, and citation impact.  This blog post presents the key findings:

  1. UCL’s overall open access output has risen sharply since 2011, flattened around 80% in the last few years, and is showing signs of slowly growing again – perhaps connected with the growth of transformative agreements.
  2. The relative citation impact of UCL papers has had a corresponding increase, though with some year-to-year variation.
  3. UCL’s open access papers are cited around twice as much, on average, as non-open-access papers.
  4. UCL is consistently the second-largest producer of open access papers in the world, behind Harvard University.
  5. UCL has the highest level of open access papers among a reference group of approximately 80 large universities, at around 83% over the last five years.

Overview and definitions

Publications data is taken from the InCites database.  As such, the data is primarily drawn from InCites papers attributed to UCL, filtered down to only articles, reviews, conference proceedings, and letters. It is based on published affiliations to avoid retroactive overcounting in past years: existing papers authored by new starters at UCL are excluded.

The definition of “open access” provided by InCites is all open access material – gold, green, and “bronze”, a catch-all category for material that is free-to-read but does not meet the formal definition of green or gold. This will thus tend to be a few percentage points higher than the numbers used for, for example, UCL’s REF open access compliance statistics.

Data is shown up to 2021; this avoids any complications with green open access papers which are still under an embargo period – a common restriction imposed by publishers when pursuing this route – in the most recent year.

1. UCL’s change in percentage of open access publications over time

(InCites all-OA count)

The first metric is the share of total papers recorded as open access.  This has grown steadily over time over the last decade, from under 50% in 2011 to almost 90% in 2021, with only a slight plateau around 2017-19 interrupting progress.

2. Citation impact of UCL papers over time

(InCites all-OA count, Category Normalised Citation Impact)

The second metric is the citation impact for UCL papers.  These are significantly higher than average: the most recent figure is above 2 (which means that UCL papers receive over twice as many citations as the world average; the UK university average is ~1.45) and continue a general trend of growing over time, with some occasional variation. Higher variation in recent years is to some degree expected, as it takes time for citations to accrue and stabilise.

3. Relative citation impact of UCL’s closed and Open Access papers over time

(InCites all-OA count, Category Normalised Citation Impact)

The third metric is the relative citation rates compared between open access and non-open access (“closed”) papers. Open access papers have a higher overall citation rate than closed papers: the average open access paper from 2017-21 has received around twice as many citations as the average closed paper.

4. World leading universities by number of Open Access publications

(InCites all-OA metric)

Compared to other universities, UCL produces the second-highest absolute number of open access papers in the world, climbing above 15,000 in 2021, and has consistently been the second largest publisher of open access papers since circa 2015.

The only university to publish more OA papers is Harvard. Harvard typically publishes about twice as many papers as UCL annually, but for OA papers this gap is reduced to about 1.5 times more papers than UCL.

5. World leading universities by percentage of Open Access publications

(5-year rolling average; minimum 8000 publications in 2021; InCites %all-OA metric)

UCL’s percentage of open access papers is consistently among the world’s highest.  The most recent data from InCites shows UCL as having the world’s highest level of OA papers (82.9%) among institutions with more than 8,000 papers published in 2021, having steadily risen through the global ranks in previous years.

Conclusion

The key findings of this research are very good news for UCL, indicating a strong commitment by authors and by the university to making work available openly.  Furthermore, whilst high levels of open access necessarily lead to benefits relating to REF and funder compliance, the analysis also indicates that making research outputs open access leads, on average, to a greater number citations, providing further justification for this support, as being crucial to communicating and sharing research outcomes as part of the UCL 2034 strategy.

Get involved!

alt=""The UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship invites you to contribute to the open science and scholarship movement. Stay connected for updates, events, and opportunities. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, LinkedIn, and join our mailing list to be part of the conversation!

 

The Predatory Paradox – book review

By Kirsty, on 29 February 2024

Guest post from Huw Morris, Honorary Professor of Tertiary Education, UCL Institute of Education. If anyone would like to contribute to future blogs, please get in touch.

Book cover: "The Predatory Paradox: Ethics, Politics, and Practices in Contemporary Scholarly Publishing'. Review of The Predatory Paradox: Ethics, Politics and the Practices in Contemporary Scholarly Publishing (2023). Amy Koerber, Jesse Starkey, Karin Ardon-Dryer, Glenn Cummins, Lyombe Eko and Kerk Kee. Open Book Publishers. DOI 10.11647/obp.0364.

We are living in a publishing revolution, in which the full consequences of changes to the ways research and other scholarly work are prepared, reviewed and disseminated have yet to be fully felt or understood. It is just over thirty years since the first open access journals began to appear on email groups in html and pdf formats.

It is difficult to obtain up-to-date and verifiable estimates of the number of journals published globally. There are no recent journal articles which assess the scale of this activity. However, recent online blog sources suggest that there are at least 47,000 journals available worldwide of which 20,318 are provided in open access format (DOAJ, 2023; WordsRated, 2023). The number of journals is increasing at approximately 5% per annum and the UK provides an editorial home for the largest proportion of these titles.

With this rapid expansion questions have been raised about whether there are too many journals, whether they will continue to exist in their current form, and if so how can readers and researchers assess the quality of the editorial processes they have adopted (Brembs et al., 2023; Oosterhaven, 2015)

This new book, ‘The Predatory Paradox,’ steps into these currents of change and seeks not only to comment on developments, but also to consider what the trends mean for academics, particularly early career researchers, for journal editors and for the wider academic community. The result is an impressive collection of chapters which summarise recent debates and report the authors’ own research examining the impact of these changes on the views of researchers and crucially their reading and publishing habits.

The book is divided into seven chapters, which consider the ethical and legal issues associated with open access publishing, as well as the consequences for assessing the quality of articles and journals. A key theme in the book, as the title indicates, is tracking the development of concern about predatory publishing. Here the book mixes a commentary on the history of this phenomenon with information gained from interviews and the authors’ reflections on the impact of editorial practices on their own publication plans. In these accounts the authors demonstrate that it is difficult to tightly define what constitutes a predatory journal because peer review and editorial processes are not infallible, even at the most prestigious journals. These challenges are illustrated by the retelling of stories about recent scientific hoaxes played on so-called predatory journals and other more respected titles. These hoaxes include the submission of articles with a mix of poor research designs, bogus data, weak analyses and spurious conclusions. Building on insights derived from this analysis, the book’s authors provide practical guidance about how to avoid being lured into publishing in predatory journals and how to avoid editorial practices that lack integrity. They also survey the teaching materials used to deal with these issues in the training of researchers at the most research-intensive US universities.

One of the many excellent features of the book is its authors practicing much of what they preach. The book is available for free via open access in a variety of formats. The chapters which draw on original research provide links to the underpinning data and analysis. At the end of each chapter there is also a very helpful summary of the key takeaway messages, as well as a variety of questions and activities that can be used to prompt reflection on the text or as the basis for seminar and tutorial activities.

Having praised the book for its many fine features, it is important to note the questions it raises about defining quality research which could have been more fully answered. The authors summarise their views about what constitutes quality research under a series of headings drawing on evidence from interviews with researchers in a range of subject areas they conclude that quality research defies explicit definition. They suggest, following Harvey and Green, that it is multi-factorial and changes over time with the identity of the reviewer and reader. This uncertainty, while partially accurate, has not prevented people from rating the quality of other peoples’ research or limited the number of people putting themselves forward for these types of review.

As the book explains, peer review by colleagues with an expertise in the same specialism, discipline or field is an integral part of the academic endeavour. Frequently there are explicit criteria against which judgements are made, whether for grant awards, journal reviewing or research assessment. The criteria may be unclear, open to interpretation, overly narrow or overly wide, but they do exist and have been arrived at through collective review and confirmed by processes involving many reviewers.

Overall I would strongly recommend this book and suggest that it should be required or background reading on research methods courses for doctoral and research masters programmes. For other readers who are not using this book as part of a course of study, I would recommend also reading research assessment guidelines for research council and funding body websites and advice to authors provided by long established journals in their field. In addition, it is worth looking at the definitions and reports on research activity provided by Research Excellence Framework panels in the UK and their counterparts in other nations.

Get involved!

alt=""The UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship invites you to contribute to the open science and scholarship movement. Stay connected for updates, events, and opportunities. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, LinkedIn, and join our mailing list to be part of the conversation!

Open Science & Scholarship Awards Winners!

By Kirsty, on 26 October 2023

A huge congratulations to all of the prize winners and a huge thanks to everyone that came to our celebration yesterday! It was lovely to hear from a selection of the winning projects and celebrate together. The OOSS team and the UKRN Local leads Sandy and Jessie had a lovely time networking with everyone.

Just in case you weren’t able to join us to hear the prize winners talk about their projects, Sandy has written short profiles of all of the winning projects below.

Category: Academic staff

Winner: Gesche Huebner and Mike Fells, BSEER, Built Environment

Gesche and Mike were nominated for the wide range of activities that they have undertaken to promote open science principles and activities in the energy research community. Among other things, they have authored a paper on improving energy research, which includes a checklist for authors, delivered teaching sessions on open, reproducible research to their department’s PhD students as well as staff at the Centre for Research Into Energy Demand Solutions, which inspired several colleagues to implement the practices, they created guidance on different open science practices aimed at energy researchers, including professionally filmed videos, as well as developed a toolkit for improving the quality, transparency, and replicability of energy research (i.e., TReQ), which they presented at multiple conferences. Gesche and Mike also regularly publish pre-analysis plans of their own research, make data and code openly available when possible, publish preprints, and use standard reporting guidelines.

Honourable mention: Henrik Singmann, Brain Sciences

Henrik was nominated for their consistent and impactful contribution to the development of free and open-source software packages, mostly for the statistical programming language R. The most popular software tool he developed is afex, which provides a user-friendly interface for estimating one of the most commonly used statistical methods, analysis of variance (ANOVA). afex, first released in 2012 and actively maintained since, has been cited over 1800 times. afex is also integrated into other open-source software tools, such as JASP and JAMOVI, as well as teaching materials. With Quentin Gronau, Henrik also developed bridgesampling, a package for principled hypothesis testing in a Bayesian statistical framework. Since its first release in 2017, bridgesampling has already been cited over 270 times. Other examples of packages for which they are the lead developer or key contributor are acss, which calculates the algorithmic complexity for short strings, MPTinR and MPTmultiverse, as well as rtdists and (together with their PhD student Kendal Foster) fddm. Further promoting the adoption of open-source software, Henrik also provides statistics consultation sessions at his department and uses open-source software for teaching the Master’s level statistics course.

Honourable mention: Smita Salunke, School of Pharmacy

Smita is recognised for their role in the development of the The Safety and Toxicity of Excipients for Paediatrics (STEP) database, an open-access resource compiling comprehensive toxicity information of excipients. The database was established in partnership with European and the United States Paediatric Formulation Initiative. To create the database, numerous researchers shared their data. To date, STEP has circa 3000 registered users across 44 countries and 6 continents. The STEP database has also been recognised as a Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 impact case study. Additionally, the European Medicines Agency frequently refer to the database in their communications; the Chinese Centre for Drug Evaluation have also cited the database in their recent guidelines. Furthermore, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have provided funds to support a further 10 excipients for inclusion in STEP. The development and evaluation of the STEP database have been documented in three open-access research papers. Last but not least, the database has been integrated into teaching materials, especially in paediatric pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.

Category: Professional Services staff

Winner: Miguel Xochicale, Engineering Sciences and Mathematical & Physical Sciences

Miguel hosted the “Open-source software for surgical technologies” workshop at the 2023 Hamlyn symposium on Medical Robotics, a half-day session that brought together experts from software engineering in medical imagining, academics specialising in surgical data science, and researchers at the forefront of surgical technology development. During the workshop, speakers discussed the utilisation of cutting-edge hardware; fast prototyping and validation of new algorithms; maintaining fragmented source code for heterogenous systems; developing high performance of medical image computing and visualisation in the operating room; and benchmarks of data quality and data privacy. Miguel subsequently convened a panel discussion, underscoring the pressing need of additional open-source guidelines and platforms that ensure that open-source software libraries are not only sustainable but also receive long-term support and are seamlessly translatable to clinic settings. Miguel made recording of the talks and presentations, along with a work-in-progress white paper that is curated by them, and links to forums for inviting others to join their community available on Github.

Honourable mention: Marcus Pedersen, PHS

The Global Business School for Health (GSBH) introduced changes to its teaching style, notably, a flipped classroom. Marcus taught academics at their department how to use several mostly freely available learning technologies, such as student-created podcasts, Mentimeter, or Microsoft Sway, to create an interactive flipped classroom. Marcus further collected feedback from students documenting their learning journey and experiences with flipped teaching to evaluate the use of  the tools. Those insights have been presented in a book chapter (Betts, T. & Oprandi, P. (Eds.). (2022). 100 Ideas for Active Learning. OpenPress @ University of Sussex) and in talks for UCL MBA and Master’s students as well as at various conferences. The Association of Learning Technology also awarded Marcus the ELESIG Scholar Scheme 23/24 to continue their research.

Category: Students

Winner: Seán Kavanagh, Chemistry

Séan was nominated for his noteworthy contribution to developing user-friendly open-source software for the computational chemistry/physics research community. They have developed several codes during their PhD, such as doped, ShakeNBreak and vaspup2.0 for which they are the lead developer, as well as PyTASER and easyunfold for which they are a co-lead developer. Séan not only focuses on efficient implementation but also on user-friendliness along with comprehensive documentation and tutorials. They have produced comprehensive video walkthroughs of the codes and the associated theories, amassing over 20,000 views on YouTube and SpeakerDeck. It is important to note that software development is not the primary goal of Séan’s PhD research (which focuses on characterizing solar cell materials), and so their dedication to top-quality open-source software development is truly commendable. Additionally, Séan has consistently shared the data of all his publications and actively encourages open-access practices in his collaborations/mentorship roles, having assisted others in making their data available online and building functionality in their codes to save outputs in transferable and interoperable formats for data.

Honourable mention: Julie Fabre, Department of Neuromuscular Diseases

Julie is recognized for developing the open-source toolbox bombcell, that automatically assesses large amounts of data that are collected simultaneously from hundreds of neurons (i.e., groups of spikes). This tool considerably reduces labour per experiment and enables long-term neuron recording, which was previously intractable. As bombcell has been released under the open-source copyleft GNU General Public License 3, all future derived work will also be free and open source. Bombcell has already been used in another open-source toolbox with the same licence, UnitMatch. The toolbox’s code is extensively documented, and Julie adopted the Open Neurophysiology Environment, a standardised data format that enables quick understanding and loading of data files. In 2022, Julie presented bombcell in a free online-course. This course was attended by over 180 people, and the recorded video has since been viewed over 800 times online. Bombcell is currently regularly used in a dozen labs in Europe and the United States. It has already been used in two peer-reviewed publications, and in two manuscripts that are being submitted for publication with more studies underway.

Honourable mention: Maxime Beau, Division of Medicine

Maxime is recognized for leading the development of NeuroPyxels, the first open-source library to analyze Neuropixels data in Python. NeuroPyxels, hosted on a GitHub public repository and licensed under the GNU general public license, is actively used across several neuroscience labs in Europe and the United States (18 users have already forked the repository). Furthermore, NeuroPyxels relies on a widely accepted neural data format; this built-in compatibility with community standards ensures that users can easily borrow parts of NeuroPyxels and seamlessly integrate them with their application. NeuroPyxels has been a great teaching medium in several summer schools. Maxime has been a teaching assistant at the “Paris Spring School of Imaging and Electrophysiology” for three years, the FENS course “Interacting with Neural Circuits” at Champalimaud for two years, and the UCL Neuropixels course for three years where NeuroPyxels has been an invaluable tool to get students started with analysing neural data in Python.

Honourable mention: Yukun Zhou, Centre for Medical Image Computing

Yukun was nominated for developing open-source software for analysing images of the retina. The algorithm, termed AutoMorph, consists of an entire pipeline from image quality assessment to image segmentation to feature extraction in tabular form. A strength of AutoMorph is that it was developed using openly available data and so its underlying code can be easily reproduced and audited by other research groups.Although only published 1 year ago, AutoMorph has already been used by research groups from four continents and led to three new collaborations with Yukun’s research group at UCL. Moreover, AutoMorph has been run on the entire retinal picture dataset in the UK Biobank study with the features soon being made available for the global research community. Yukun has been complimented on the ease with which any researcher can immediately download the AutoMorph tools and deploy on their own datasets. Moreover, the availability of AutoMorph has encouraged other research groups, who are conducting similar work, to make their own proprietary systems openly available.

Category: Open resources, publishing, and textbooks 

Winner: Talia Isaacs, IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society

Talia is recognized for their diverse and continuous contributions to open access publishing. As Co-Editor of the journal Language Testing, they spearheaded SAGE’s CRediT pilot scheme, requiring standardized author contribution statements; they approved and supported Special Issue Editors’ piloting of transparent review for a special issue on “Open science in Language Testing”, encouraged authors to submit pre-prints, and championed open science in Editor workshops and podcasts. Additionally, in 2016, Multilingual Matters published Talia’s edited volume as their first open access monograph. Talia also discussed benefits of open access book publication in the publisher’s blog. As a result, the publisher launched an open access funding model, matching funding for at least one open access book a year. Further showcasing their dedication to open science, Talia archived the first corpus of patient informed consent documents for clinical trials on UK Data Service and UCL’s research repository, and delivered a plenary on “reducing research waste” at the British Association for Applied Linguistics event. They have also advocated for the adoption of registered reports at various speaking events, Editorial Board presentation, in a forthcoming article, editorial, and social media campaign. 

Honourable mention: Michael Heinrich and Banaz Jalil, School of Pharmacy

Banaz and Michael were nominated for co-leading the development of the ConPhyMP-Guidelines. Ethnopharmacology is a flourishing field of medical/pharmaceutical research. However, results are often non-reproducible. The ConPhyMP-Guidelines are a new tool that defines how to report the chemical characteristics of medicinal plant extracts used in clinical, pharmacological, and toxicological research. The paper in which the guidelines are presented is widely used (1613 downloads / 8,621 views since Sept 2022). An online tool, launched in August 2023 and accessible via the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA) website, facilitates the completion of the checklist. Specifically, the tool guides the researchers in selecting the most relevant checklists for conducting and reporting research accurately and completely.

Honourable mention: Talya Greene, Brain Sciences 

Talya is recognized for leading the creation of a toolkit that enables traumatic stress researchers to move toward more FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data practices. This project is part of the FAIR theme within the Global Collaboration on Traumatic Stress. Two main milestones have so far been achieved: 1) In collaboration with Bryce Hruska, Talya has collated existing resources that are relevant to the traumatic stress research community to learn about and improve their FAIR data practices. 2) Talya also collaborated with Nancy Kassam-Adams to conduct an international survey with traumatic stress researchers about their attitudes and practices regarding FAIR data in order to identify barriers and facilitators of data sharing and reuse. The study findings have been accepted for publication in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology. Talya has also presented the FAIR toolkit and the findings of the survey at international conferences (e.g., the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies annual conference, the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Biennial Conference).

Open Access Week activities

By Kirsty, on 13 October 2023

Open Access Week is almost upon us!

Keep your eyes open for a series of blog posts on Creative Commons, citizen science, the recent activities of UCL Press and an exciting review of a year in open access.

This year’s theme is Community over Commercialisation. Creative Commons licences sit at the heart of this discussion. To this end, we invite you to a drop-in session on Tuesday the 24th of October to address questions around creating and using Creative Commons materials. The session is on Teams and you can join at any time. Bring along your questions or just join to discuss how CC supports equitable access to a wide range of works, from scholarly publications to open and FAIR data to images and music.

We have already announced our wonderful winners of the Open Science and Scholarship awards. UCL colleagues can also join us on Wednesday to celebrate and network with the winners, tickets are still available!

We will be posting and tweeting regularly throughout the week about the services and support available to researchers and I hope that we can get some good discussions going!

See you there!

Announcing: UCL Open Science & Scholarship Award winners!!

By Kirsty, on 11 October 2023

On behalf of the UCL Office for Open Science and the UKRN local leads we would like to thank everyone that engaged with the nominations and showed us how amazing the research community at UCL is. We were overwhelmed with the support for this process and the judging panel had a really hard job in selecting just a few winners from the over 50 applications and nominations that we received!

We will be presenting the awards in a small ceremony during Open Access week: 2-3.30pm, Wednesday 25th October. A selection of winners and honourable mentions will be presenting their work, and there will be a small drinks reception afterwards sponsored by UCL Press.

We have limited tickets available because it is a small venue but tickets are available on Eventbrite for UCL staff and students.

Full information about all of these projects will be available the day of the awards so watch this space!

Category: Academic Staff Activities

Winner: Gesche Huebner and Mike Fell, BSEER, Built Environment

Honourable mentions:

  • Smita Salunke, School of Pharmacy
  • Henrik Singmann, Brain Sciences

Category: Student Activities

Winner: Seán Kavanagh, Chemistry

Honourable mentions:

  • Yukun Zhou, Centre for Medical Image Computing
  • Maxime Beau, Division of Medicine
  • Julie Fabre, Department of Neuromuscular Diseases

Category: Professional Services Staff Activities

Winner: Miguel Xochicale, Advanced Research Computing Centre (ARC) and Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS).

Honourable mention: Marcus Pedersen, PHS

Category: Open resources, publishing, and textbooks

Winner: Talia Isaacs, IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society

Honourable mentions:

  • Talya Greene, Brain Sciences
  • Prof Michael Heinrich & Dr Banaz Jalil, School of Pharmacy

Using games to engage with Open Access (and beyond!)

By Kirsty, on 18 May 2022

Guest post by Petra Zahnhausen-Stuber, Open Access Team, UCL Library (LCCOS)

In recent years, ‘Gamification’, the use of game elements in non-gaming settings to improve user experience, has been embraced by Research Support Services at Higher Education Institutes. Research Support Games cover various topics including research data management, copyright and/or open access and address an audience ranging from early career researchers and academics to support staff.

For the organisers of the Research Support Games Days (RSGD), games can be an effective tool to communicate with scholars about often complex concepts. In its third instalment since 2019, this event promotes the use of game-based learning among Research Support Services by presenting games, online tools and platforms that could be beneficial for training purposes. Here it was also highlighted, that most of these games were designed to be played in person. However, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was a catalyst for developing more virtual games as a way of continuing the engagement with researchers when face-to-face training was not possible. Despite any the challenges of creating digital games, their advantage of reaching a wider audience outside the physical environment of research institutions becomes apparent in the following examples of Open Access themed online games.

The Publishing Trap (UK Copyright Literacy), this game about scholarly communication focuses on helping researchers understand the effect of different publishing models, copyright and finances on the dissemination of their research. First launched as a board game in 2017, in response to the pandemic a digital version was created in 2020. In both versions participants form up to 4 teams representing four scholars in different career scenarios and make decisions about how to best publish their research. Retaining most of the original features, the online version uses interactive PowerPoint slides and can be played via any virtual classroom software with a break-out room functionality, so that the element of team discussions from the board game is being replicated.

A group of people doing a jigsaw puzzle on the floor

Open Access Escape Room in action at the 2022 EARMA conference

Similarly, in 2020, the role-playing Open Access Mystery game developed by Katrine Sundsbo uses downloadable slides. It was also designed for online platforms (i.e. Zoom) to allow for immediate verbal interaction between players who are tasked with finding the culprit responsible for a global lockdown of all research. The Open Access Escape Room, also by the same author, was originally created in 2018 as a physical game and digitally adapted in 2020 under the name The Puzzling Hunt for Open Access. Both versions follow the narrative of all research being locked away by a villain and are aimed at academic staff to gain an understanding of the concepts of Open Access. The players have to find clues and solve various Open Access themed puzzles in order to unlock research. Despite not replicating the original escape room format, where participants interact with each other in teams, the online game offers more flexibility as the mixed media-based puzzles can be completed by a single player at their own pace. Like most Research Support Games, all materials are published under a CC BY licence resulting in both versions having been played and adapted further in and outside the UK.

The single-player Open Axis: The Open Access Video Game (UCLA) was always designed for a remote learning environment intending to reach a worldwide audience of graduates and undergraduates. Created in 2020, this “choose your own adventure” can be played in a web browser, is predominantly text based but features classic 8-bit video games. The player chooses between several characters portraying scholars of various backgrounds. Following a non-linear narrative, the player’s decision impact the course of the in-game stories around themes of open access, scholarly publishing and research practices.

Choosing another approach of getting scholars interested in Open Access, the team at Robert Gordon University developed five online puzzles in 2021, including memory, crosswords and a scavenger hunt. Since puzzles can be played quicker than games, it makes them suitable for bite-sized learning during icebreakers or coffee breaks.
These games form by no means an exhaustive list and it is worth delving into the manifold resources of the Research Support Games Day Proceedings (below), where the benefits and challenges involved in taking games online are further explored.

For more information on Research Support Games Days and Gamification:

Adaptions of the “Open Access Escape Room”:

Open Access Week: UCL Press as eTextbook publisher

By Kirsty, on 17 November 2021

Thank you to everyone that attended the Open Access week session from UCL Press outlining their new project to develop Open Access eTextbooks!

The recording and the slides are available below as well as links from the speakers and the promised answers to the remaining questions from the audience!

Questions and Answers

Do the download stats account for partial views?

Dhara: For information on how we collect and record our data, https://www.uclpress.co.uk/pages/where-to-find-our-books-and-journals. Research has shown that, via the platforms that we work with the provide chapter downloads, most users download the single chapter that they require.

Did the project(s) around The Economy (etc) use an explicitly “Agile” method?

Luca: There were two parts to the project: a) the authoring and content development (CORE), and b) creating the platform over which the ebook is delivered (our partner EBW). For the a) part you could say we adopted some of the ‘agile’ principles, as we delivered some draft units early for piloting (to ‘users’ aka teachers) and then continuously deliver more units and rewritten older ones based on feedback. Also, it was all about the user and not the process, plans changed based on feedback etc. For the b) part this was more in line with the ‘agile’ method principles, as it was software development, but the biggest difference was that EBW couldn’t break down development into small increments because the final product was very tightly defined so there was a lot of initial planning as opposed to sprints.

Please could someone riff on things other than writing the words: editing for reading level, spot illustrations, internationalisation of terms. Would a UCL press book open doors to such services?

Dhara: We currently provide a full production service, including copyediting and typesetting for our books. Additionally, to ensure each new textbook is fit for purpose, we’ll engage with various relevant developmental services, depending on requirements of discipline and level of the intended audience. These many include developmental review, which ensures the writing style is appropriate for the reading/HE level of the audience, help source and check illustrations, review glossary and use of terminology and concepts (making sure they comply with relevant academic standards).

Are there any plans/resources available to produce UCL textbooks in other languages than English?

Dhara: This is an interesting suggestion, and we will continue to discuss as the programme develops, but, unfortunately, we do not have plans to do this at this time.

Resources

View recording on MediaCentral
Access the slides from the session
Information about the eTextbooks project
Access and view Economics textbooks and resources on CORE

Introduction to the CRediT taxonomy

By Kirsty, on 21 June 2021

The Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) describes 14 roles that represent the parts typically played by contributors to a scholarly output. The CRediT taxonomy has been adopted across a growing range of publishers to improve the visibility of the range of contributors to published research outputs. The established list of publishers and individual journals that use the roles is available online and also includes a few submission, peer review and research workflow tools.

The taxonomy also brings a number of additional practical benefits to the research environment, including:

  • Reduce the potential for author disputes.
  • Enable visibility and recognition of the different contributions of researchers, particularly in multi-authored works – across all aspects of the research being reported (including data curation, statistical analysis, etc.)
  • Support identification of peer reviewers and specific expertise.
  • ​Enable funders to more easily identify those responsible for specific research products, developments or breakthroughs.
  • Improve the ability to track the outputs and contributions of individual research specialists and grant recipients.
  • Easy identification of potential collaborators and opportunities for research networking.
  • Enable new indicators of research value, use and re-use, credit and attribution​.

We have recently added information about the CRediT taxonomy to the Open Access website, to make sure that you can get all information related to publishing your research in the same place, and as always, the Office for Open Science & Scholarship, and the Open Access team are available to answer any questions you may have on this or any other related topic.

CRediT updates

In April 2020 the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announced the formal launch of its work to develop the Contributor Role Taxonomy (CRediT) as a full ANSI/NISO standard.

Later in 2020, CRediT was awarded grant funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Wellcome Trust. The funds will be used to support implementations of the taxonomy across scholarly publishers, and within the scholarly research ecosystem more broadly once the standard is established.

During the early part of 2021, ORCID officially started supporting CRediT. As part of the upgraded API, journals can share CRediT contributions with ORCID and include them in your ORCID record. For more information about ways to automate updates to your ORCID record, check out our blog post on the subject.

Open Access Week: Why open access? Journals and articles

By Kirsty, on 20 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.