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Oral History and Research Data Management

Ruth Wainman17 December 2018

Oral history can be a complicated beast when it comes to issues surrounding consent and ethics. Firstly, oral history is considered both a methodology and a field of study so this inevitably complicates things for researchers. As a field of study that has developed into its current form over the past fifty years, oral history has always concerned itself with giving a voice to the powerless, the marginalised and disenfranchised in society. As the field has developed over the years, so too have questions about the practice of oral history. After all, the very foundations of oral history relies on talking and listening to our subjects in order to record and preserve their memories for future generations. Yet, the academic pursuit of oral history has also raised numerous questions about the types of histories we record and the dynamics at play between researchers and their subjects. Indeed consent and ethics have always been a central concern of oral history. But when it comes to addressing these issues, oral historians need to strongly bear in mind that they are not only abiding by the professional standards of the field but also respecting the wholly collaborative nature of the interview. This guide will aim to provide an overview of the debates concerning consent in oral history and the issues it raises in research data management for researchers at UCL and beyond.


How to Share your FAIR Data – 25th October 2018

Ruth Wainman29 October 2018

The Research Data Management team recently hosted a session on data sharing as part of Open Access week (22nd-28th of October). For further details about the event, see the Open Access webpages.

Open Data as OER

C. Yogeswaran13 August 2018

Join us for this month’s UCL open education special interest group meeting. Dr. Javiera Atenas from the Open Knowledge Foundation will talk about a pedagogical element to foster open education through the use of Open Data, which MIT is currently working on. Javiera will showcase a data-research impact tool developed by the MIT which can be used as good practice to showcase open data as OER.

Wednesday 15 August 2018, 3-4pm, in Room 712, Maple House, W1T 7NF [map]

Introducing UCL’s open education initiative

C. Yogeswaran7 August 2018

Website: www.ucl.ac.uk/oer | Email: oer@ucl.ac.uk | Twitter: @OpenUCL | Repository: URL subject to change

What is open education?

Open education, like open access and open data, centres on a commitment to provide access to high quality education and educational resources to a global audience.

As the Open Education Consortium declares, “sharing is probably the most basic characteristic of education: education is sharing knowledge, insights and information with others, upon which new knowledge, skills, ideas and understanding can be built”.

Open education typically involves the creation and sharing of openly-licensed learning materials – open educational resources (OER) – that can be re-used and enhanced by the community. OER can include lesson and course plans, exercises, diagrams, animations, video or audio lecture recordings, presentations, handouts, mock papers/tests, reading lists, and so on.

How is research data relevant to open education?

Open Educational Data (OED) is open research data which can be reused for educational (teaching and learning) purposes and improving the quality of education. The UK Data Service states that “real data bring learning to life” and that using data for teaching “is an invaluable way for learners to confront complex […] research questions.”

UCL’s open data repository, which is currently in development, will allow users to access and use data for educational purposes. Datasets which include raw and summary data can be curated and used as research-based educational content, and can include additional descriptive and support documents such as workbooks and educational guidelines.

Research methods and data analysis can be taught using embedded discipline-specific or inter-disciplinary data; this gives students real-world and practical resources to learn with, and increases the use and impact of research data.

Why should I share research data as educational content?

Publishing research data as educational resources will have wider global reach and impact, and attributing the UCL brand to your output should provide quality assurance for other users.

Your published OED can be cited and referenced by others and can be included in your publications (tying into the Academic Promotions Framework, which rewards open behaviours, for example), adding value to your teaching and research, and raising your professional reputation.

How will this benefit my students and me?

While the initial creation of educational materials from published data can require some consideration, sharing these will allow the creators to promote good practice, collaborate with other educators and learners, and respond to UCL promotional criteria that require publication of educational materials.

There is some evidence that re-using high-quality OER is a time- and cost-saving activity, as you can edit existing educational materials to make content specific to your programme or class. OER-use can also provide the chance to learn in different ways, i.e. a flipped classroom, and insight into the research-based teaching approaches of fellow practitioners in your field might lead to collaboration, inspire your own teaching and research, or contribute to original output.

Getting involved and learning more

If you have any content (such as data-specific OER) you would like to upload to the repository or if you require further information, please contact the OER team at oer@ucl.ac.uk who will be happy to support you.

To find out more about open education or to contribute to this practice at UCL, ask to join the mailing list by emailing oer@ucl.ac.uk, or attend the next meeting of the open education special interest group (SIG). This will be held on Wednesday 15 August 2018 3-4pm in room 712, Maple House.

We will also be present at RDM/RITS drop-in sessions if you’d like to talk to us or learn more about creating OER from your research data. Information about upcoming SIG meetings and RDM/RITS drop-in sessions can be found here.

More information about the project is available on the OER website, or you can follow us on Twitter @OpenUCL.

Further reading/viewing

UDIT: using (open) data in teaching (collaboration with Toronto, Amsterdam, and Radboud (Netherlands)) is a pool of resources for teachers to help them use open data in their teaching. These are being put into OER Commons and accompanied with the UDIT module. For those interested in contributing data, the project is seeking materials to incorporate into modules and OER Commons.

Open data in education (Marieke Guy, NetworkED)

You can also learn more by reading the Open data as open educational resources: case studies of emerging practice book, which includes case studies edited by Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann.

Love Data Week research data case studies: DCAL data archive

ucyldva15 February 2018

This week is Love Data Week an international event ‘to raise awareness and build a community to engage on topics related to research data management, sharing, preservation, reuse, and library-based research data services.’ As part of Love Data Week, a number of free events are taking place across Bloomsbury. We will also be publishing short research data case studies as part of Love Data Week. These case studies cover a range of disciplines and types of data generated accross UCL.
This case study looks at the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre data archives which collects 20 years of  data outputs produced by researchers in the centre.

Research Area: Deafness Cognition and Language Research

Dr Kearsy Cormier is a Reader in Sign Language Linguistics at DCAL and affiliated with the UCL Linguistics research department. Dr Cormier is interested in the linguistic structure of sign languages, especially British Sign Language (BSL) and in visual aspects of language more generally.

About the project

 The Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) Research Data Archive is an archive of 10 years’ worth of research data and associated metadata collected and analysed by Kearsy Cormier and around 20 other colleagues at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, covering a range of projects on linguistics, psycholinguistics, neuroscience in the field of deafness and sign language studies.

Project funding

DCAL was funded as an ESRC research centre from 2006 to 2016 and this archive documents all the data collected and analysed by DCAL-funded projects during that time. The aim is to add to it as DCAL continues with core UCL funding.

Research Data

A wide range of data features in the archive including Survey, Behavioural Experiment, Naturalistic Linguistics, Data, Observation, Neuroscience Experiment, Questionnaire. Participants were deaf and hearing sign language users, adults and children. As this population is quite small, opportunity sampling was used. Adults were recruited from the DCAL Participant Database, established during the life of DCAL, which by the end of 2015 contained around 800 potential participants. Children were recruited primarily through schools.


Data from these projects were stored in a number of local storage facilities including a secure server at DCAL, Experimental Psychology facilities and at the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience.

Data sharing

The data are archived with UCL Digital Collections. As part of the process of setting up this archive a Data Archive and Management Policy was developed in consultation with many relevant units within UCL involving data protection, ethics, legal issues, research retention and so on.

Student involvement

Students have been involved in a number of projects included in the archive. The materials in the archive will also contribute to student teaching.


The process of archiving multimedia data from projects spanning 20 years raised a number of challenges. An initial challenge was to identify and detail of the data to be included in the archive. This can be difficult for legacy data because researchers may have left the institution, data may be incomplete and in some cases lost. The other main issues related to dealing with the anonymisation of video data, copyright and legal issues, preservation, format, and processing issues as well as challenges relating to cataloguing and processing the collection.

Further information

This archive offers a valuable case study for projects wanting to provide a subject specific collection of research data which includes historical materials. You can read more about some of the challenges and issues faced by this project in a forthcoming paper (accessible from 05/07/2018).

Research Data Alliance EU Early Career support Programme for the RDA 9th Plenary

ucyldva27 January 2017

The Research Data Alliance is offering travel support to early career European researchers and scientists working with data to attend the 9th RDA Plenary meeting, to be held in Barcelona, Spain, 5-7 April 2017.

The deadline for applying is the 31st of January 2017. Full details can be found on the RDA website.