Open Research Forum 7th July 2021

Thank you to all who attended our first Open Research Forum meeting on Wednesday. A recording of the meeting is available to view for University of Reading members via this link (University members only).

These regular meetings give an opportunity for Open Research Champions and others to share experiences with Open Research at the University of Reading, and updates for ongoing projects. Another meeting is planned in September, for more information email researchdata@reading.ac.uk and we’ll add to you to the Open Research mailing list.

Four presentations were given by Research Champions at this event, slides are downloadable below.

Open Research survey (Auvikki de Boon and Sophie Read)

Our Champions have been developing an Open Research survey to map the current landscape of Open Research practices at Reading, among both staff and students. The plan is to launch the survey at the beginning of Autumn term, with all respondents being entered into a prize draw.

The aim of this project is to better inform our work promoting Open Research across the University, and to guide our offering of Open Research training opportunities. For more information contact marcello.demaria@reading.ac.uk

Download Slides

An open hardware community for the University (Al Edwards)

Open Hardware is a movement which already has a large following outside of Research Science.  For researchers participating in Open Hardware is an opportunity to share information about equipment used in research platforms. This can assist with reproducibility, showing other researchers the exact instrumentation used to produce results, and is in line with the values promoted by the Open Research movement. Al’s interest in Open Hardware grew out of a project in 2019 with a 3D printer and a Raspberry Pi which you can read more about here.

Al would like to grow an open hardware community at the University of Reading. Are you interested in making low-cost easily reproducible scientific equipment? Al is especially keen to work with developers of open software, as there is so much overlap between software and hardware, not least in 3D CAD for printing exciting random plastic things. There are also plans for an Open Hardware Hackathon in September. Contact r.sariyer@pgr.reading.ac.uk if you’d like to take part.

Electronic lab notebooks pilot project (Cristiana Bercea)

Electronic lab notebooks are software systems for documenting research work, intended to replace the use of paper notebooks. They are easy to use and offer extra functionality over traditional lab books. This includes simple collaborative features, making the notebook searchable, timestamping entries and integration with other software and data sources.

Cristiana is leading a project to pilot electronic lab notebooks in the Schools of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy and Biological Sciences. The pilot group will start in August and test three different platforms for the Notebooks. If you are interested in taking part you can find out more here and let Cristiana know at c.bercea@reading.ac.uk

Download Slides

Open data and land corruption (Marcello De Maria)

Marcello and PhD student Niko Howai recently won funding to explore the use of open data to counteract land corruption. Marcello discussed their final report and the broader impact open data can make in this important area. Their methodology has informed a number of other studies, showing the role open research practices can allowing interaction with a larger community of stakeholders.

There is growing availability of digital land data, but openness remains limited; 1% of countries have land ownership records open and in digital form. The report made a number of recommendations, in particular highlighting the need for public engagement, tech know-how, pollical will and a strong legal framework to achieve concrete change towards open platforms. You can read the full report online here.

Download Slides

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University of Reading Open Research Award 2021

The University of Reading’s Open Research Award 2021 online celebration took place on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th June.

Wellcome Trust Lecturer in English Literature Dr Alanna Skuse won the Award with an outstanding case study on the challenges and benefits of publishing Open Access in the humanities; while Dr David Brayshaw and Dr Hannah Bloomfield took the prize for best presentation and shared third place in the Award with a discussion of the role of data sharing in the meteorology-renewable energy interface. Dr Ting Sun and Professor Sue Grimmond took second place with a study of Open Source software development in urban climate modelling; and Dr Luke Barnard and Professor Mathew Owens shared third place with another study of Open Source software development, this time in modelling solar wind.

Just under 90 people from across and outside the University joined us to celebrate researchers who have used open practices to make their research more accessible, transparent or reproducible. We had a superb set of researchers to celebrate, and heard four excellent presentations providing insights into a diverse range of Open Research experiences. Summaries of presentations and the Award Panel’s assessment are provided below, and slides from all speakers are available for download. A recording of the event can be found here.

We were also privileged to welcome our keynote speaker Sarah de Rijcke, Professor in Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies and Scientific Director at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University. Professor de Rijcke is co-author of the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics and the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. Sarah discussed the impoverishment of research when it is governed by a narrow range of value criteria and assessment indicators. The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), the Leiden Manifesto, the pioneering work of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI), and the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science are all signposts to a more equitable, inclusive, collaborative and transparent research culture built on open foundations. Key to reforming research culture is the implementation of assessment and evaluation systems that are aligned to Open Research principles and that reward accessibility, transparency and reproducibility.

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and PVC for Research and Innovation, also presented an update on University progress in Open Research, and highlighted some of the milestones on our recent journey, including this year’s launch of the University’s Open Research Action Plan (download from Useful links on this page) and the Open Research Champions programme. Dr Phil Newton, Research Dean for Environment and senior management champion for Open Research, gave a welcome address at the start of the event and sent us on our way with some closing remarks. Both Professor Yaqoob and Dr Newton highlighted the University’s progressive position in the UK sector: it was the first to publish an institutional Statement on Open Research (in January 2019), and the Open Research Award competition, first run in 2019, has established a model that has since been replicated in several UK universities.

Slides

Winning entries in the Open Research Award 2021

Presenters are marked with a †. Following an abstract of the presentation, text in italics summarises the assessment of the Award Panel.

Winner of the Open Research Award (prize: £500)

Dr Alanna Skuse†: Surgery and Selfhood: lessons from open humanities publishing

Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England: Altered Bodies and Contexts of Identity is an Open Access monograph published in 2021. It is the product of a Wellcome Trust-funded postdoctoral fellowship undertaken 2016-2019. This is the second Open Access monograph I have published. I explore the challenges of publishing Open Access for humanities researchers, where there may be a limited range of suitable Open Access venues. I also discuss the benefits of taking the Open Access route for long form publications, including increased readership and opportunities for engagement with a non-academic audience.

This was a deserved winner, demonstrating a clear-eyed appreciation of both the benefits and the challenges of publishing Open Access in the humanities, and evincing a clear commitment to embedding openness in humanities research.

Alanna has been an early adopter of Open Access monograph publication. The Panel was impressed that Alanna is also working to influence emerging policy through her membership of the UKRI Early Career Researcher Forum, and to help her colleagues at Reading make informed Open Access choices through her role as an Open Research Champion.

Second place (prize: £250)

Dr Ting Sun† and Professor Sue Grimmond: Urban climate modelling using SuPy: enhancing the SUEWS community

Over 55% of the world’s population live in cities, so their activities are critical to the global environment; but cities occupy less than 0.1% of global land, and their weather and climate is poorly understood. It is essential to understand urban atmosphere-environment interactions, at various scales (building – neighbourhood – city) in order to build resilient cities under changing climates. We developed the Open Source urban climate model SuPy (Surface Urban Energy and Water Balance Scheme or SUEWS in Python) with the goal of delivering reproducible research and exciting urban climate teaching. In this case study we discuss how we developed an active Open Source user community by making strategic decisions about how to package, distribute and support the software.

This was an outstanding case study of a well-considered development and distribution of Open Source software for urban climate modelling research. A commitment to making the software user-friendly and developing the user community has resulted in re-use of the software in teaching and student projects and research workshops around the world.

The entry derived strong lessons about the need to support open resources with good documentation and user support, and to use the right online platforms to engage and sustain an active user community.

Third place and best presentation (prizes: £150 + £150)

Dr David Brayshaw†, Dr Hannah Bloomfield†, Dr Paula Gonzalez, Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, Professor John Methven, Dr Phil Coker, Dr Dan Drew, Dr Dirk Cannon: Meteorological data for the transition to future clean energy systems

Rapid increases in renewable electricity generation (such as wind and solar), mean that the need for high quality, openly available, climate information for managing energy-system risk has never been greater. The Energy-Meteorology research group has been at the forefront of addressing this interdisciplinary challenge for more than a decade. It has created numerous open-access datasets and models enabling researchers to explore climate risk to energy systems, including long term ‘artificial histories’ of renewable generation and tailored sub-seasonal weather forecasts up to 6-weeks ahead. The methods and datasets the group has developed are now in widespread use by academia and industry.

There was real substance to this case study of a research team engaging in sustained distribution of open data over a period of several years, and using these data to create a bridge between the fields of meteorology and renewable energy research.

David and Hannah’s presentation really brought out the team effort, and Hannah was articulate about her own learning journey from fist venturing into data sharing as a PhD student. She highlighted the critical importance of providing good documentation and designing datasets with the target users in mind. It was inspiring to see a research group building capacity in data sharing and developing data curation skills in the new generation of researchers.

Third place (prize: £150)

Dr Luke Barnard† and Professor Mathew Owens, Open Source modelling of space weather

We have produced a new, computationally efficient, numerical model of the solar wind. We made this model Open Source because we believe it is useful to researchers, educators, and space weather forecasters. Within a year this has resulted in new international collaborations, uptake by external university courses, and the further development of our model into an operational forecast tool at the UK Met Office, including our own research outputs. Open research practices have significantly raised the quality and the impact of our research outputs; for us, this clearly justifies the resources and effort required to implement open research practices effectively.

This was a well-articulated case study, which clearly set out the rationale for adopting an Open Source pathway to distribute novel computationally-efficient modelling software.

Luke spoke persuasively of the benefits realised as a result of making the software Open Source, which has led to new research collaborations, improvement in the model and quality of the resulting research, and has enabled him to win funding to develop the tool for operational use by the Met Office.

Speakers

Dr Luke Barnard is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Meteorology. Luke’s research focuses on how the Sun creates and controls the space environment near Earth. In particular, Luke is interested in how sporadic eruptions of mass and radiation from the Sun create the space weather that affects us on Earth from day-to-day. Using cameras on spacecraft that observe the Sun’s atmosphere with numerical models of the solar wind, Luke develops methods to improve the skill and reduce the uncertainty of space weather forecasts.

Dr Hannah Bloomfield is a PDRA in the Meteorology department working in the Energy-Meteorology research group. Her interests include understanding the impacts of climate variability and climate change on current and future power systems. Hannah has created numerous open access datasets of renewable energy generation and electricity demand which are used in academia, industry and teaching.

Dr David Brayshaw is an Associate Professor in the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences (Meteorology Department), where he founded the Energy-Meteorology research group in 2012. He has been involved in numerous academic and commercial research projects on weather and climate risk in the energy sector, including a leadership role in two major European energy-climate service prototypes. He leads several initiatives supporting interdisciplinary exchange and education in energy-climate science and climate services more broadly.

Sarah de Rijcke is Professor of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies and Scientific Director at CWTS, Leiden University, and Co-Chair of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI). Sarah specializes in social studies of research evaluation, which she considers in relation to epistemic cultures, knowledge infrastructures, valuation processes, and roles of research in and for society. She has a strong international public academic presence with global outreach activities in science policy, speaking frequently on the topic of research evaluation and metrics uses. She recurrently acts as expert advisor in European and global science policy initiatives. Most recently, she was invited to represent the Netherlands in a high-level UNESCO Expert Group to write a global recommendation on Open Science. Her present research is funded by a grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Her team regularly collaborates in research consortia funded by the European Commission’s Framework programmes and national research councils across Europe and the UK.

Dr Phil Newton is Research Dean for Environment and senior management champion for Open Research. He is a member of the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity and has been a driving force behind the Open Research initiative at Reading in the last few years. He published the University’s Statement on Open Research in 2019 and secured funding to implement the University’s Open Research Action Plan 2021-23.

Dr Alanna Skuse is a Wellcome Trust University Award holder in the Department of English Literature. Her research focuses on early modern representations of self-wounding. She has been a Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at Reading and Long-term Fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and has taught at Bristol and Exeter universities. Alanna has published two Open Access monographs, Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England (CUP, 2020) and Constructions of Cancer in Early Modern England (Palgrave, 2015), as well as numerous journal articles. She has written for The Conversation and organised numerous public engagement events as well as speaking at a variety of heritage and charity events.

Dr Ting Sun is a NERC Independent Research Fellow in the Department of Meteorology. His research is in the fields of urban climate and hydrology with a focus on understanding urban-atmospheric interactions for enhancing urban resilience and sustainability. He is an advocate for Open Research as a lead developer of several Open Source models, notably SuPy and SUEWS, and through these is a key contributor to the Open Source climate service tool UMEP (Urban Multi-scale Environmental Predictor).

Professor Parveen Yaqoob is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and PVC for Research and Innovation. As Chair of the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity, Professor Yaqoob provides strategic direction for the University’s initiative to develop its culture of Open Research.

Open Research Award Panel

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and PVC for Research and Innovation (Chair); Dr Etienne Roesch, Associate Professor, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences; Dr Phil Newton, Research Dean for Environment; Professor John Gibbs, Head of School, School of Arts and Communication Design; Dr Robert Darby, Research Data Manager.

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Electronic lab notebooks pilot study

This post is by Open Research Champion Cristiana Bercea

As one of the leads for Open Research for the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, I would like to invite colleagues to participate in a pilot study on the use of electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) between the end of June and the end of September. You do not have to be in Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy to take part: for example, members of the School of Biological Sciences may also be interested in the pilot.

In short, the plan is to provide you with a list of free software packages that we propose might be suitable, and ask you to choose one that you are willing to try. This would be especially useful to involve new PhDs in. We will organise an induction workshop where I will briefly show you around the packages and discuss any questions. If you are interested, please complete this Doodle poll to indicate your availability.

Anyone is welcome to join, or alternatively you can designate a rep for your lab, who will also liaise with me regarding feedback.

There are many advantages to switching to ELNs, of which a few are:

  • backup means information cannot be lost
  • keywords being searchable means it’s easy to find methods and data from a while ago, or from people who leave the lab
  • time and date stamps
  • data integration means it would be easier to prepare publications.

During the pilot, I will ask the participants to take a look at this feedback form and fill in your assessments. This checklist was adapted from similar pilots held at other universities, so we feel it’s comprehensive, and I would like to organise a feedback presentation (Doodle poll to come in July) to discuss the outcomes with you. However, if you have any other comments or suggestions, please let us know. I set up the form such that each group testing a package can copy and paste a Sheet, rename it with the name of the rep, the name of your group, and package, and fill it in. There is an example with my name, our lab, and OneNote.

As Open Research Champion representative on the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity (CORRI), at the end of the pilot I will write a report of our experience and discuss it with CORRI. If there is interest, we can also discuss obtaining university subscriptions, which would allow access to further software features.

If you are interested in taking part in this pilot study please take a look at the list of proposed software. If you have other packages you are already using or have used in the past, that would be great as well.

Here are some more information resources:

If you have any questions or would like to discuss taking part, please contact me.

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Open Research Award 9th June 2021

The University of Reading’s Open Research Award 2021 online celebration will take place at 13.00-15.30 on Wednesday 9th June. Four finalists (listed below) will present their Open Research case studies and the winner of the 2021 Award will be announced. There will be prizes for the winner of the Award, and second and joint third places, as decided by the Award Panel, and a prize for best presentation, which will be determined by audience vote.

The online celebration will feature a keynote from Sarah de Rijcke, Professor in Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies and Scientific Director at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University. Professor de Rijcke is co-author of the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics and the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and PVC for Research and Innovation, will present an update on University progress in Open Research.

Book your place now at the Open Research Award online celebration.

A recording of the event will be made available afterwards.

If you have any enquiries please contact Robert Darby, Research Data Manager.

Open Research Award 2021 finalists

†Presenters.

Programme

Welcome (Phil Newton) 13.00
Fostering Open Research through responsible research assessment (Sarah de Rijcke, Leiden University) 13.05
UoR progress in Open Research (Parveen Yaqoob) 13.40
Break 13.55
Presentations by Open Research Award finalists (Ting Sun, Alanna Skuse, David Brayshaw and Hannah Bloomfield, Luke Barnard) 14.05
Audience vote and result 15.05
Announcement of Award and runners-up (Parveen Yaqoob) 15.10
Wrap up 15.20
Close 15.30

Keynote

Fostering Open Research through responsible research assessment

Sarah de Rijcke is Professor of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies and Scientific Director at CWTS, Leiden University, and Co-Chair of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI). Sarah specializes in social studies of research evaluation, which she considers in relation to epistemic cultures, knowledge infrastructures, valuation processes, and roles of research in and for society. She has a strong international public academic presence with global outreach activities in science policy, speaking frequently on the topic of research evaluation and metrics uses. She recurrently acts as expert advisor in European and global science policy initiatives. Most recently, she was invited to represent the Netherlands in a high-level UNESCO Expert Group to write a global recommendation on Open Science. Her present research is funded by a grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Her team regularly collaborates in research consortia funded by the European Commission’s Framework programmes and national research councils across Europe and the UK.

Finalists’ presentations

Urban climate modelling using SuPy: enhancing the SUEWS community (Dr Ting Sun)

Over 55% of the world’s population live in cities, so their activities are critical to the global environment; but cities occupy less than 0.1% of global land, and their weather and climate is poorly understood. It is essential to understand urban atmosphere-environment interactions, at various scales (building – neighbourhood – city) in order to build resilient cities under changing climates. We developed the Open Source urban climate model SuPy (Surface Urban Energy and Water Balance Scheme or SUEWS in Python) with the goal of delivering reproducible research and exciting urban climate teaching. In this case study we discuss how we developed an active Open Source user community by making strategic decisions about how to package, distribute and support the software.

Dr Ting Sun is a NERC Independent Research Fellow in the Department of Meteorology. His research is in the fields of urban climate and hydrology with a focus on understanding urban-atmospheric interactions for enhancing urban resilience and sustainability. He is an advocate for Open Research as a lead developer of several Open Source models, notably SuPy and SUEWS, and through these is a key contributor to the Open Source climate service tool UMEP (Urban Multi-scale Environmental Predictor).

Surgery and Selfhood: lessons from open humanities publishing (Dr Alanna Skuse)

Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England: Altered Bodies and Contexts of Identity is an Open Access monograph published in 2021. It is the product of a Wellcome Trust-funded postdoctoral fellowship undertaken 2016-2019. This is the second Open Access monograph I have published. I explore the challenges of publishing Open Access for humanities researchers, where there may be a limited range of suitable Open Access venues. I also discuss the benefits of taking the Open Access route for long form publications, including increased readership and opportunities for engagement with a non-academic audience.

Dr Alanna Skuse is a Wellcome Trust University Award holder in the Department of English Literature. Her research focuses on early modern representations of self-wounding. She has been a Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at Reading and Long-term Fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and has taught at Bristol and Exeter universities. Alanna has published two Open Access monographs, Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England (CUP, 2020) and Constructions of Cancer in Early Modern England (Palgrave, 2015), as well as numerous journal articles. She has written for The Conversation and organised numerous public engagement events as well as speaking at a variety of heritage and charity events.

Meteorological data for the transition to future clean energy systems (Dr David Brayshaw and Dr Hannah Bloomfield)

Rapid increases in renewable electricity generation (such as wind and solar), mean that the need for high quality, openly available, climate information for managing energy-system risk has never been greater. The Energy-Meteorology research group has been at the forefront of addressing this interdisciplinary challenge for more than a decade. It has created numerous open-access datasets and models enabling researchers to explore climate risk to energy systems, including long term ‘artificial histories’ of renewable generation and tailored sub-seasonal weather forecasts up to 6-weeks ahead. The methods and datasets the group has developed are now in widespread use by academia and industry.

Dr David Brayshaw is an Associate Professor in the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences (Meteorology Department), where he founded the Energy-Meteorology research group in 2012. He has been involved in numerous academic and commercial research projects on weather and climate risk in the energy sector, including a leadership role in two major European energy-climate service prototypes. He leads several initiatives supporting interdisciplinary exchange and education in energy-climate science and climate services more broadly.

Dr Hannah Bloomfield is a PDRA in the Meteorology department working in the Energy-Meteorology research group. Her interests include understanding the impacts of climate variability and climate change on current and future power systems. Hannah has created numerous open access datasets of renewable energy generation and electricity demand which are used in academia, industry and teaching.

Open Source modelling of space weather (Dr Luke Barnard)

We have produced a new, computationally efficient, numerical model of the solar wind. We made this model Open Source because we believe it is useful to researchers, educators, and space weather forecasters. Within a year this has resulted in new international collaborations, uptake by external university courses, and the further development of our model into an operational forecast tool at the UK Met Office, including our own research outputs. Open research practices have significantly raised the quality and the impact of our research outputs; for us, this clearly justifies the resources and effort required to implement open research practices effectively.

Dr Luke Barnard is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Meteorology. Luke’s research focuses on how the Sun creates and controls the space environment near Earth. In particular, Luke is interested in how sporadic eruptions of mass and radiation from the Sun create the space weather that affects us on Earth from day-to-day. Using cameras on spacecraft that observe the Sun’s atmosphere with numerical models of the solar wind, Luke develops methods to improve the skill and reduce the uncertainty of space weather forecasts.

Open Research Award Panel

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and PVC for Research and Innovation (Chair); Dr Etienne Roesch, Associate Professor, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences; Dr Phil Newton, Research Dean for Environment; Professor John Gibbs, Head of School, School of Arts and Communication Design; Dr Robert Darby, Research Data Manager.

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Archiving confidential/identifiable research data for re-use: consultation

Do you collect research data that is difficult or impossible to anonymise, or that would lose significant value if identifiable/confidential information were removed?

Would you use a secure solution for archiving these research data in such a way that they can be safely shared with other researchers, subject to authorisation and under conditions designed to preserve confidentiality?

The Research Data Manager and Data Protection Officer are investigating the feasibility of implementing a University service for the secure archiving of confidential/identifiable research data, and the sharing of such data with authorised researchers under a standard data access agreement, subject to approval by a Data Access Committee.

We believe a University-managed solution would give researchers the confidence to preserve and share data safely, where otherwise they might be lost to research or exposed to the risk of inappropriate disclosure.

We would consider within scope any datasets that cannot be shared openly because of the confidential nature of the information they contain or because a higher risk of re-identification exists. In such cases it may still be possible for data to be shared on a restricted and managed basis.

These are examples of data that might be suitable for archiving in this service:

  • Datasets containing participant-identifying or other confidential information (such as commercial information), e.g. unredacted interview transcripts; video and photographic data containing images of identifiable participants; biometric data, such as facial scans or fingerprint images; records of commercial activities;
  • Data that have been anonymised but that because of the sensitivity of the information they contain or a risk of identification through linkage to other publicly-accessible data are considered higher-risk and not suitable for public sharing.

The service would provide the following features:

  • A dataset with related documentation can be formally deposited in the service, with a linked publicly-accessible metadata record published via the University of Reading Research Data Archive. The dataset will be assigned a DOI that links to this metadata record. The public metadata record does not contain any sensitive information, but it means the dataset is citable and discoverable by potential legitimate users.
  • The dataset will be held in closed internal storage, accessible only by authorised persons (e.g. service administrators and the PI of the project in which the data were collected).
  • A researcher affiliated to a recognised research organisation may apply to access the data for non-commercial research purposes. The researcher’s credentials will be validated and their application will be subject to approval by a Data Access Committee (DAC). The original project PI or a suitable representative will join the DAC in order to consider the access request. The DAC may either grant or refuse the request.
  • If the request is granted, the requester’s organisation will sign a Data Access Agreement with the University. This agreement requires the recipient to use the data in confidence and to destroy their copy of the data by an agreed date. Once the agreement is signed the data will be securely shared with the recipient. The University will follow up to ensure that the data are destroyed by the agreed date.

The proposed model is based on a successful service established by the University of Bristol.

If you collect data that you think might fall within scope of this service, we want to hear from you.

  • Would you use this service? What type of data might you wish to deposit?
  • Do you have questions about how it would work?

Please contact us with your views.

Robert Darby (Research Data Manager) and Rebecca Daniells (Data Protection Officer) will be holding an open consultation at 13.00-14.00 on Wednesday 26th May. Come along to find out more about the proposal and ask questions.

To register for the consultation please email Robert Darby.

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Open Research Award 2021

The University’s 2021 Open Research Award is now open for entries.

The Open Research Award will recognise and reward researchers or research students who have used open practices to make their research more accessible, transparent or reproducible. Entry is open to both members of staff and research students, who may enter either as individuals or as teams. Entry is by means of a case study describing how open practices have been used in a research context.

A shortlist of four entries will be invited to present their case studies as short talks at a public online Open Research Celebration on Wednesday 9th June. The event will also feature a keynote from Professor Sarah de Rijcke of Leiden University, co-author of the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics and currently drafting the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.

The winner of the Open Research Award, and second and joint third places, will be determined by a panel of judges chaired by Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation). The winner will be announced at the Open Research Celebration following the presentation of case studies. Prizes will be awarded as follows:

  • Winner of the Open Research Award: £500
  • Second place: £250
  • Joint third place: £150 each.

There will also be a £150 prize for best presentation decided by audience vote on the day.

Prizes awarded to members of staff will be paid into SDA accounts. Prizes awarded to research students will made as cash payments.

Shortlisted entries will be published on the University website as Open Research case studies, and will be promoted in the University’s Open Research communications.

The Award is administered by the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity.

How to enter

Read the Open Research Award Guidelines before submitting your entry. The entry should be submitted using the Open Research Award Entry Form.

The closing date for entries is 12:00 noon on Thursday 6th May.

Enquiries

Please send any enquiries concerning the Open Research Award to Robert Darby, Research Data Manager at r.m.darby@reading.ac.uk / 0118 378 6161.

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CentAUR stats for December 2020

Infographic showing key statistics for the CentAUR repository for December 2020

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CentAUR stats for November 2020

An infographic giving key statistics from the CentAUR repository

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CentAUR stats for October 2020

Infographic with some summary statistics for October 2020 including number of downloads, total views, deposits, etc

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The Milestones Project

What is the Milestones project? Why did we do it?

Heaps of stones on a beachEvery month since November 2019, the Research Engagement Team has been sending out congratulatory emails to University of Reading authors whose CentAUR items have achieved 500 lifetime downloads as part of the ‘Milestones’ project. By sharing and celebrating these  ‘milestones’ with Reading authors, our goal is show them that the research output that they deposit in CentAUR is not just stored there for safe keeping, but that CentAUR is a dynamic repository where users interact with and download items on a regular basis. Ultimately, we hoped the project would encourage our researchers to engage more with CentAUR and the idea of Green Open Access in general.

What did the project involve?

The first thing we did was develop a template Excel spreadsheet, into which we could import data from IRUS-UK each month (using Item Report 1). This spreadsheet would calculate which CentAUR items had surpassed certain lifetime download thresholds that month and generate the email addresses of these item’s authors. Then, we would use a mail merge to pull this information into a batch of emails which we would send to those authors who had achieved the milestone. Each email included text congratulating them on their CentAUR item surpassing 500 lifetime downloads, a Twitter card and a link to our feedback form.  We hoped that the Twitter card, which we designed using Canva, would encourage authors to share the milestone on social media. Through the feedback form, we hoped to gauge the enthusiasm the authors had for the learning about the milestone, their willingness to post this on social media and gather their feedback on ways we could improve our communication.

What did we learn?

The data from IRUS provided several interesting insights into how often CentAUR items hit certain download thresholds. We have data on CentAUR downloads from 2010 and the repository currently has over 18,000 full texts available for download. We found that each month around 60-90 items surpass the 100 lifetime download threshold, 30-50 surpass 250 lifetime downloads, 15-25 surpass 500 lifetime downloads and 5-10 surpass 1000 lifetime downloads. Based on this information, we decided that sending out emails for only the 500 lifetime downloads milestone would be the most manageable workload as this would result in around 20 emails being sent each month. We also found that there was quite a variety in the time it took for items to reach 500 lifetime downloads; the time taken ranged from 1 to 9 years, with the average time taken being around 4.5 years. Whilst the most common age of an item achieving the milestone was 2 years since deposit, each month there were a handful of items that were 8 0r 9 years old.

How was the feedback?

Overall, the feedback from the authors who filled out our form was largely positive. Of the 12 who have filled out the form at the time of writing, 11 responded that they found the email interesting. Disappointingly, the authors were less enthusiastic about the idea of sharing the milestone on social media, with only 1 responding that they would share the milestone on social media and none answering that they would share the Twitter card on social media.

Feedback of the design Twitter card

The comments left in the comment section at the end of the form shed further light into authors’ reactions to receiving the email. Whilst most authors expressed delight in having achieved the milestone, one author felt that the item was too old to justify sharing it on social media:

“I would share the above for other articles – this one is too old to make it worthwhile.”

Another author seemed perplexed at being congratulated on the milestone when a more successful item of theirs was not included (presumably because it had achieved the milestone before we started the project):

“Why are you celebrating such a small achievement yet ignoring the most significant?”

From this feedback, we can see that not all items being celebrated for achieving the milestone seem relevant to their authors and, perhaps as a result, we are falling short on our aim of encouraging authors to share the milestone on social media.

One author asked how significant passing the 500 download milestone was compared with the performance of other outputs in the repository

We decided to investigate this by looking at the data from IRUS and working out what the average number of downloads per month was for items in the repository. This rough measure excluded the time that an item might be under a publisher’s embargo (usually between 12 and 24 months after publication). For journal articles where the full text was the author-accepted manuscript, and so more likely to have higher downloads, the mean number of downloads per month was 4, but with a wide distribution range.

 

Based on this average, it would take most articles around 10 years to reach the 500 download milestone. Looking at the data for July 2020, the variation in time taken to reach 500 downloads was between 18 months (~29 downloads per month, http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/81943/, author-accepted manuscript) and 112 months (~4.5 downloads per month, http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/18552/, published version).

What could we do differently?

Based on our feedback, one improvement we could make would be to redesign the  Twitter card sent out to authors to raise the numbers of researchers sharing the milestone on social media. We had already redesigned the Twitter card in January 2020, shifting its tone from light-hearted towards a design more in-line with traditional CentAUR branding, although this modification only resulted a minor improvement to our feedback. Both a redesigned Twitter card and an expanded question on it on the feedback form might help us understand how to boost the low numbers of authors who were likely to share the milestone on social media. We did not ask the recipients of the milestones awards whether they were active on social media and so this may also have skewed our results.

The redesigned card

The initial, ‘fun’ design

Another change that could raise the number of authors sharing the milestone might be to change the criteria of the milestone itself. Specifically, if we were to introduce a timeframe within which an item must achieve the milestone, for example only including items which are less than 5 years-old, this would exclude older items which are perhaps less relevant to their authors. Whilst reducing the time limit to 5 years would almost halve the amount of items surpassing the milestone, it might make the milestone more worthy of celebrating in the eyes of Reading authors and, in turn, make them feel like the achievement is more worth sharing with other researchers.

The other option would be to decrease the number of downloads required for the milestone celebration. Changing the milestone to 250 downloads might mean that the highlighted item was more recent and relevant to the author. However, this would have to be balanced against the additional number of authors that would need to be contacted each month.

We are also considering producing a printed card that could be sent to authors achieving the milestone. Although this would have a design and print cost, it might be something that the authors would put on a noticeboard in their office and appreciate more. This might be something to ask in our feedback form in future.

Nathan Berry, a graduate trainee Library Assistant at University of Reading, worked on this project with some input from Karen Rowlett, Research Publications Adviser.

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