June ORO downloads – The Pennyland Project

This is the first in three posts reviewing top downloads from ORO over the summer months.  For each month the counts offer an opportunity to reflect on a particular function or benefit the repository provides. 

June downloads have an interesting entry at number 30 with 114 downloads.

Chapman, J.; Lowe, R. and Everett, R. (1985). The Pennyland Project. Energy Research Group, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

It’s the report on “the performance of 177 low-energy houses at Pennyland, Milton Keynes, monitored by the Open University Energy Research Group (ERG), for the Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC)”.

Pennyland houses, early 1980s by Bob Everett (Public Domain)

The report is over 30 years old and is referenced in Wikipedia, as is a sister report: Everett, R.; Horton, A. and Doggart, J. (1985). Linford Low Energy Houses. Energy Research Group, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

Downloads to both of these reports are generally consistent at around 20-30 a month – showing a steady level of usage.  I initially thought the downloads spike in June had been caused by the celebrations around the 50th birthday of Milton Keynes.  However, it seems the ORO record had been referenced by a page on the BBC Future website published on the 14th June.

The article details how infrared imaging can reduce carbon footprints and looks in particular at the story of Brian Harper who worked with The Pennyland Project.

Which is all lovely, but what’s my point?  Well, how much other stuff is there out there that we should be preserving and making available in ORO?  Not just for the sake of it, or just because we can, but so it can still be used and referenced in both scholarly communications and general public discourse.  Is there a danger that in focusing on the latest Open Access Policy, we lose sight of a key function of institutional repositories: preserving and providing access to research materials created by the University that sit outside standard journal and book publishing channels.

Full June downloads:

June Downloads

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ORO ORCID connector

We have completed the first stage of our ORO – ORCID connector.  It is now possible to link your ORO profile to your new (or existing ORCID account).  This link has three key benefits:

  • It allows all your publications listed in ORO to be automatically added to ORCID
  • It verifies that your ORCID account is actually yours (ORO serves as an institutional verifier of your identity)
  • Your ORCID id will feed through to the HESA information in your personal details on staff self service [OU staff only]

But there are a couple of things to be aware of:

  • This connection will only identify duplicate publications if they have Digital Object Identifiers
  • New records added to ORO are not automatically added to ORCID at this stage

Both of these functions will be addressed when we pick up the ORO – ORCID development work with the release of a Jisc funded plug-in for ePrints (the Open Source software ORO operates).  We are hoping the plug-in will address other outstanding functionality (e.g. pulling items from ORCID to ORO and displaying ORCIDs in the front end of ORO).

In the meantime if you’d like to take advantage of our current integration please follow the steps below:

  • Go to http://oro.open.ac.uk/cgi/users/home?screen=Items and click the button labelled “Create or Connect your ORCID ID”.
  • On the bottom of the next page, click the “Connect to ORCID” button.
  • If you need to create an ORCID account:
    • On the next page complete the form with email address and a new password, accept the conditions, complete the captcha and click the “Authorize” button at the bottom
  • If you already have an ORCID account:
    • On the next page login to your ORCID account using your existing ORCID username and password and click the “Authorize” button at the bottom.




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Focus on RDM tools: data storage options

The OU offers a range of tools and services which are designed to help researchers plan, manage, work with and share their research data. In these blogposts I’m going to focus on a few of these tools and services, including how to access and use them and how they can make your life easier.

This week: IT options for storing data during research projects

Storage option?

One of the questions we are most frequently asked is around where project teams should store data during the lifetime of the project. The OU provides a number of facilities for storing data, however please remember that each project is individual so there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone and when starting out you’ll need to think carefully about which one works best for you. When considering where to store data, you should consider a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • How much data do you have?
  • What file types will you be working with?
  • Are the data sensitive?
  • Who needs access? OU staff only? Researchers at other institutions? In the UK? Abroad?
  • How big is your team? What project management functions do you need?
  • Where do you need to access the data? At your desk? In the field?
  • What experience do your team have of using the chosen storage solution? Is any training needed/available?

Research your options

In order to help you to decide which data storage option works best for your project together with our colleagues in IT we have put together a matrix of some of the options  (ORDO, One Drive, OU networked file storage, SharePoint, cloud based services) available to OU researchers, weighing up the pros and cons of each one.

If you’d like more advice about where to store your data, or strategies for managing your data within your chosen system, please get in touch.

NB. Researchers within the STEM faculty have access to specialist IT support (internal link) which they should use in preference to centrally supported storage options outlined in the comparison table linked to above.

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New Wellcome Trust policy for research outputs

Last week, the Wellcome Trust announced an update to their policy on managing and sharing research data, which is now a Policy on data, software and materials management and sharing.

Researchers applying to Wellcome in future will be required to prepare to share other outputs of their work, such as original software and research materials like antibodies, cell lines or reagents.

As David Carr, from Wellcome’s Open Research team, writes in their announcement:

 “As a global research foundation, we’re dedicated to ensuring that the outputs of the research we fund – including publications, data, code and materials – can be accessed and used in ways that will maximise the resulting health benefits. 

Making outputs available can spark new lines of discovery and innovation, and helps to ensure that findings can be verified and reproduced.”

Once the new policy is put in to place, applicants for Wellcome funding will have to complete a broader outputs management plan (rather than a data management plan) to address how other research outputs will be managed and shared.

The requirement for the new outputs management plans will be added to application forms over the next year. Guidance already exists on which kinds of work will require one:

Examples of applications that require an outputs management plan

Wellcome have long been champions of ‘open’, being one of the first to require those they fund to make their publications and data openly available, and this update reflects a move towards an Open Research approach, something they have been developing with their Open Research Pilot Project and Open Research publishing platform.

Would it be a surprise if other funders followed suit in expanding their requirements to explicitly consider other research outputs?

Questions about the policy can be put to the Wellcome Policy Team or feel free to get in touch with the us in the Library Research Support team, now or when you are writing your outputs management plan.

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Focus on RDM tools: DMPOnline

The OU offers a range of tools and services which are designed to help researchers plan, manage, work with and share their research data. Over the coming weeks I’m going to focus on a few of these tools and services in these blogposts, including how to access and use them and how they can make your life easier.

This week: DMPOnline

Data Management Plans (DMPs) are often requested by funding bodies when applying for grants, and the University expects all research staff and students working on a project which collects, creates or uses data to have written a DMP, regardless of funder requirements (check out the OU’s Research Data Management Policy). This can be a daunting task, particularly if you’ve never written one before, but using DMPOnline can help you to structure your plan and to easily find the information and guidance you need to answer the questions.

DMPOnline is developed by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), but has been customised by the OU especially for OU research staff and students. For guidance on how to create an account on DMPOnline, watch this short video.

DMPOnline offers a range of templates for different funders and an institutional template (which is recommended when your research is not funded by an external body, or if your funder doesn’t require a DMP). Each template has guidance associated with the individual questions, written by the DCC, the OU and the funder (if applicable). You can choose to turn the DCC guidance on or off; we recommend that you keep it on because there are lots of useful hints and tips in there.

Once you’ve written your plan you can either share it (with collaborators or with the Library for review) or export it into a range of file types. One of the neat things about the tool is that it will never let you go over the page limit specified by any given funder, so you know that the format you export the plan in will always be compliant.

Why not go and check DMPOnline out for yourself? If you need any help using it, would like us to review your DMP or if you’ve used the tool and would like to give us some feedback about it, send us an email.


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Come and see us tomorrow in Gass Z101

As part of our Mobile Library Research Support service, tomorrow (20th July) Chris and I will be in Room Z101 in Gass from 10-12.

Please drop by to say hello, try one of our biscuits, find out what the Library Research Support team’s been up to lately and ask us any questions you might have about:

  • Research Data Management
  • Open Access Publishing
  • ORCIDs
  • Open Research Online (ORO)
  • Open Research Data Online (ORDO)
  • Bibliometrics
  • Researcher Profiles/Visibility (e.g. academia.edu and ResearchGate)

We look forward to seeing you then!

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ORDO on tour… on your desktop again!

ORDO online drop-in: Monday 3rd July 14:00-14:30

ORDO screenshot

As part of our ORDO on Tour series of events, we have arranged another online drop-in session at 14:00 on Monday 3rd July for any research staff or students who would like to find out more about the system.

ORDO is the OU’s data repository, provided by Figshare. In this session, Megan from Figshare and Dan from the OU will demo the system, including how to upload items, using project spaces for collaborating work, and curating data into collections or branded groups. There will be time for questions at the end, so feel free to bring examples of your own data and explore the opportunities around storing and/or sharing your research outputs!

If you would like to attend, but this time doesn’t work for you, please let us know as we may consider running future online drop-ins should this prove popular.

Instructions for joining
There is no need to sign up ahead of time; at 14:00 on 3rd July simply:

Add to your calendar

iCalendar  Google Calendar  Outlook  Outlook Online  Yahoo! Calendar

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Mobile Library Research Support

Over the coming weeks we have decided to leave our desks and set up a mobile one-stop-shop for 1:1 support on:

  • Research Data Management
  • Open Access Publishing
  • ORCIDs
  • Open Research Online (ORO)
  • Open Research Data Online (ORDO)
  • Bibliometrics
  • Researcher Profiles/Visibility (e.g. academia.edu and ResearchGate)

Tomorrow (Thursday 8th June) from 10-12, Chris Biggs and I will be based on the hot desks on the Ground Floor of the Stuart Hall Building. Please drop by with your questions, big or small, or simply to sample one of our biscuits and say hello!

Tomorrow is just the beginning though, here is our schedule for the following weeks:

Date/time Location
Thursday 8th June 10-12 Stuart Hall hot desks – ground floor
Monday 12th June 10-12 Michael Young Building – TBC
Tuesday 20th June 10-12 Robert Hooke Building -TBC
Tuesday 4th July 10-12 Jennie Lee Building – Oak
Wednesday 12th July 10-12 FASS – TBC
Thursday 20th July 10-12 Gass – Z101


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Repository Downloads – Open Access, Community and Social Media

This is the second post concerning ORO downloads in March and April 2017. The first looked at general characteristics of repository downloads, this one focuses on a single research output in ORO.

Mair Lloyd’s PhD thesis Living Latin: Exploring a Communicative Approach to Latin Teaching Through a Sociocultural Perspective on Language Learning appeared in the the Top 50 downloads from ORO in April with an impressive 173 downloads in April.  It also had interesting referral traffic – 172 referrals from Facebook and 69 from reddit – much more than I would expect… so this was worth digging into a bit.

The thesis was made live in ORO on 10th April and on the same day Mair published a blogpost… thanks for the mention.

A couple of days later Mair tweeted and pointed to the same blogpost – this got a lot of retweets and likes on twitter.

And then on the 18th May The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies retweeted Mair’s tweet and also posted it to facebook

RT Mair @MairLloyd My #PhD thesis on Living #Latin now available for download: #Classics

Posted by The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies on Tuesday, 18 April 2017


On the 19th a new thread on reddit was created:

There was some discussion of the thesis on reddit and that is reflected in the number of referrals coming to ORO from the site.

On May 1st Mair’s thesis was picked up in the Latin around the Web weekly round up and in a facebook post:

Links to a few interesting Latin-related things we've come across the last week (+ an interesting quote).

Posted by Latinitium on Monday, 1 May 2017


Finally, and coming into May the thesis was picked up by the French language Langue & Cultures de l’Antique on its website…

and again on twitter:

Phew!!!  So lets map that against the downloads of the thesis and the visits to the ORO page:

We can see the impact the various posts on social media and the web impact on the downloads and page views of the thesis. And (selected) referrals in April and May total:

  • facebook 246
  • reddit 72
  • Latinitium (Latin around the web) 54
  • twitter 10
  • Langues & Cultures de l’Antique 7

But before I get too carried away with myself, Mair can provide some valuable insight:

This is a […] piece of research that was much awaited among practitioners of Living Latin, and […] many of that community are facebook friends and twitter followers of mine. It isn’t just social media per se but also strong relationships, forged through promotion at conferences and attendance at Summer schools that has driven up the interest in my work. Those relationships certainly add to the power that social media has to give wider publicity to research.

So, what might we conclude…

  1. Getting theses online and open access via a repository increases the dissemination of the research and the potential impact (please note – small i).
  2. Fostering relationships and community off and online can demonstrably increase the reach of the work.
  3. Once the research is out there, Open Access, it’s readership swells on the web and via social media beyond the initial interventions of the author.

I feel I want to draw a triangle… hang on, I live in Milton Keynes…


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Repository Downloads – March & April 2017 Edition

This edition of the downloads report from ORO forms 2 posts.  In the first I look at the general characteristics of repository downloads and repository web sessions.  In the second I will focus on a single item in ORO and how creating strong relationships on and off line aid the dissemination of a research output. 

ORO downloads and web sessions have some defining characteristics:

  • Both downloads and web sessions fluctuate across the academic year.  There are dips in downloads and web traffic in the summer and peaks in the spring and winter (either side of Christmas).

  • Downloads and site visits are remarkably stable.  There are no steep troughs or peaks outside the annual variations.  A cumulative average mapped onto the chart indicates how steady downloads and web visits have been over the last few years.

  • Downloads are higher in number than site visits.  At first that seems counter intuitive – don’t you need to access the repository to download the paper?  But many downloads of content archived in ORO come direct from Google and Google scholar – so these counts are not collected in site visits as recorded by Google Analytics.

Monthly top download counts also show a remarkable stability with 37 of the Top 50 in March also in the Top 50 in April.  This stability is somewhat reassuring – the counts aren’t fluctuating wildly without rhyme nor reason – the full lists are below.  However, those items that do break into a top downloads list often have a story behind them… (see next post!)

Posted in Library research support, Open Access, ORO | Leave a comment