Category Archives: Library research support

NEW OU Digital Archive Exhibition: PhD Pioneers

Have you ever wondered who the first OU PhD graduates were?

Today, the OU Digital Archive – in collaboration with the Graduate School – has launched a fantastic new exhibition that features the stories and experiences of twelve of the OU’s first PhD graduates from 1973-79.

It focuses on video interviews taken in 2021, mixed with photos and TV footage from the 1970s, that illustrates the often exciting, ground-breaking activities, and sometimes emotional reflections, of this outstanding group of OU PhD alumni.

It really is a truly fascinating and insightful exhibition, so please do go check it out: Exhibition: PhD Pioneers

Open Research Online (ORO) Update 2020-21

Deposits in 2020-21

There were 3,103 deposits to ORO in the 2020-21 academic year.  Importantly, that’s not the same as published research outputs of OU research staff and students in the academic year, which would be around 1,200.  The reason the number is greater is because ORO includes:

  • PhD theses
  • Student projects
  • Publications deposited in 2020-21 but published earlier (or later!)
  • Items published by current OU staff who were not affiliated to the OU at point of publication

The deposit rates across faculties both reflect the different sizes of the faculties and different practices in scholarly communications across the faculties.  Simply put, AHSS disciplines have fewer, longer form single authored research outputs, whilst in STEM disciplines there will tend to be more short form multi-authored papers.

Deposits – 10 year trend data

When you look at the trends, the significant story is the peak in 2019 when the library digitised 1,600 PhD level theses and added them to ORO.

Consistent deposit of items across the years has been supported by our adoption of mediated deposit via Jisc Router and publisher alerts – we no longer rely solely on authors to add their papers to ORO.

Downloads

ORO continues to receive a significant number of downloads of Open Access content.  According to IRStats2 (the native ePrints counter) of downloads ORO received over 2 million downloads of Open Access content last year.  But remember many of these will be downloads from web bots, let’s not confuse a download with a human actually reading a paper!   Another count from IRUS, that provides more rigorous filtering of bots, provides a more conservative estimate of 880,612 downloads over the same period.

Downloads – 10 year trend data

Not surprisingly, trend data shows an increase in downloads (however you choose to filter them) over time.  Inevitably as the repository grows in size, counts of downloads will grow year on year.  These are the impressive results of having a repository indexed by Google and Google Scholar.

Open Access

ORO strives to be a valuable University asset in providing Open Access to the research outputs of OU research staff and students.  Last year 52% of items added to ORO were immediately Open Access, these will either be:

Gold Open Access – where the published version is freely available from the publisher and added to ORO,

Green Open Access – a non-final version (often the accepted version), will be available in a repository like ORO.

When looking at Faculty breakdown it’s apparent how Open Access remains contingent on the dominant modes of scholarly communication within academic disciplines.  Books and book chapters remain harder to make Open Access than journal articles.

Open Access – 10 year trend data

Nevertheless, ORO trend data show a growing increase in Open Access over time.

The dip in the last 2 years is due to publisher embargoes on Green Open access papers added to ORO.  Often, commercial publishers will prescribe embargoes of up to 12 months for STEM and upwards of 24 months for AHSS disciplines.  This embargoed content is not counted here as Open Access as it’s not freely available, however once the embargoes end they will count as Open Access (at least for the purposes of these ORO data!)

This upward Open Access trend in ORO deposits has been bolstered by the Open Access mandate on OU PhD theses and the digitisation of legacy theses.

University and Faculty Infographics

All these data (and more!) are available in PDF renditions.

University 2020-21 Update

FBL 2020-21 Update

FASS 2020-21 Update

STEM 2020-21 Update

WELS 2020-21 Update

IET 2020-21 Update

New DORA Open University Case Study!

“The Open University used a top-down/bottom-up approach to research & create a new promotion route to recognize & reward social engagement for promotion & tenure”.

The OU has worked with DORA to publish a case study:

“In 2015 the UK’s Open University (OU) published “An Open Research University” a book outlining the outputs from a three-year project to create and implement an evidence-based strategy to embed the principles and practices of engagement with new processes for research assessment within the university. In keeping with the OU’s existing commitment to open research and knowledge exchange, the project aimed to steer their research culture toward recognizing and rewarding a broader range of contributions, specifically in “engaged research”. There were multiple examples of top-down/bottom-up cooperation to inform and promote the policies outlined in the report, such as the sponsorship of a working group to reform the university’s academic promotion criteria by the then Pro-Vice-Chancellor responsible for academic professional development. In 2020, the OU signed DORA and released a statement describing the university’s aim of creating a DORA Implementation Plan by 2021. These actions represent a continuation and codification of a growing institutional movement toward research assessment reform.”

Check out the full study here!

Call for individual evidence on ways to substantially reduce research bureaucracy

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are undertaking a review of the bureaucratic load within the research process, with a view to identifying inefficiencies, improvements and future directions with a view to ” substantially reduce research bureaucracy, primarily for the benefit of individuals and teams conducting research.”.

They have released a call for evidence here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/independent-review-of-research-bureaucracy

It will stay open for submissions until Friday, 1st of October. Please note you should submit an individual response.

They have asked for the link to be circulated widely in the community and have said:

“We are grateful to all those who have already contributed to the Review’s evidence gathering. Responses to the call for evidence will be considered in addition to the evidence already gathered. Those who have already contributed should be reassured that their comments have been captured though they are welcome to provide additional input should they wish to.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Review team should you have any questions. ”

This is a wide-ranging review and is an excellent opportunity for us all to help shape the future of research processes against the vision of open research.

A day in the life: Yvette

Hello and welcome to my contribution to our Day in the Life blogpost series.

A typical day for me in the Research Support Team is very likely to involve Open Research Online (ORO), The Open University’s research repository that to date, holds over 48,000 items! Whether it’s importing and editing records, updating and verifying the Open Access status of a publication, or resolving a query for a member of our research community, ORO work keeps me busy!

Many of the team’s queries come through to our Research Support team mailbox, so this needs to be monitored throughout the day. Queries are varied and can be anything from a copyright issue to arranging ORO access for an academic, so no two days are the same!

I also act as representative for the team with the University’s postgraduate researcher (PGR) Liaison group and Professional Doctorate committee, enabling a direct link between our team, the wider OU Library and our researchers. Preparing for these meetings can sometimes be a reactive process, making sure that a particular Library event, update, or wider scholarly issue is picked up on as it happens and relayed quickly.

In addition, I’m a member of the Library’s Web Quality Improvement and Library Search groups. This offers a way for our team to represent the needs of our PGRs and academics, and to raise key issues. I am currently working on improving some webpages to better promote our team’s training sessions ready for the new intake of PGRs in the Autumn. Planning for the new season of training sessions is underway in the team and I am preparing my copyright and your thesis session, as well as a potential new session to cover copyright issues relating to conference and workshop presentations so watch this space! I really welcome the varied nature of my role here and enjoy supporting our fantastic OU researchers 😊

Aside from Research Support related work, I enjoy contributing to a mental health and wellbeing group where we discuss improvements and new ideas for our wellbeing services for staff. The group helps to maintain webpages that signpost staff to useful resources and we have a Wellbeing Buddy system where you can be randomly paired with another person to have regular informal chats. This has been so beneficial to many staff members during the pandemic, helping us to feel less disconnected.

Before I go, I should introduce my work companion, Daisy.

© Y Howley

Here she is on the beach. Her favourite place, somewhere I keep promising we’ll go back to soon. In the meantime, she will make sure we both have plenty of snacks during the day and provide me with soothing snoring sounds in the background. Who needs a white noise generator to help you work when you can have a snoring dog?

Research Support Win!

Hi I’m Maxine. I’ve been a member of the Research Support Team since 2017 and part of my role has been to support and liaise with our PGR student community. In 2019 we trialled getting the submissions made to the annual Graduate School Poster Competition uploaded to ORO, with a winning collection of posters added to ORDO.

This was a great success, with students feeding back that having their posters in these public repositories has allowed them to share their research more readily with colleagues, friends, and family. Winning entries uploaded to ORDO also receive a DOI (a permanent, citable web link), allowing students to get better recognition for these outputs.

The winning collections of posters on ORDO from 2019 and 2020 have been viewed over 1400 times, which is not only great for the students in terms of exposure, but great for the OU too, as it helps to highlight the amazing work our PGR community is engaged with and the breadth of research being undertaken. Topics have varied from developing robots with common sense to researching 50 million-year-old fish teeth to determine ocean currents.

Although the results were great and we felt it was important to continue sharing these posters more widely, the amount of additional work this generated was too high to justify. Not only did we need to contact students to seek permission to upload their entries to an open access repository, and ask them to choose from a number of available licenses to share their work under, we also had to check students hadn’t included any third party copyright materials in their work. This inevitably generated a lot of chasing emails and a high volume of copyright and licensing queries. Even within our team, the nuances of copyright law and the different Creative Commons licenses can be tricky to navigate!

This year I’ve managed to work with the Graduate School to streamline the process. We are now asking students at the point of submission whether they’re happy to add their poster to the repository, as well as offering advice on copyright within the entry guidance, and we have restricted the license options to minimise the volume of queries generated. This means it should be far quicker to upload the content so that we can continue to showcase the excellent work of our PGR community!

The winners for this year’s Poster Competition are due to be announced at a celebratory event on 23 June 2021, led by the new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Enterprise and Scholarship, Professor Kevin Shakesheff. So, look out for the 2021 entries landing on ORDO and ORO soon!

Research Support Win!

Hello and happy Friday! I’m Megan, a Research Support Officer who joined the team in April 2020. I’m also a PhD student researching in the area of Education. I thought I’d share a #ResearchSupportWin with you all today.

We get queries from researchers around literature searching from time to time and these can vary significantly depending on what field the student is searching in. There are other factors that can also affect a literature search such as, how experienced students are with searching. As a research student myself I know how difficult it can be to find relevant papers to support a literature review.

A student contacted me to ask for help in finding more relevant results from their literature search. They were finding their searches were bringing back hundreds of irrelevant results. I set up a meeting with the student so that they could demonstrate their searching strategy which would help me to identify the problem. It became clear that the topic was an under researched area and therefore, there were few relevant papers available from the outset. However, it was clear the keywords they were using were not specific enough to the research question. Broad search terms often bring up lots of irrelevant papers which can be an overwhelming position to be in.

The student was also only using Google Scholar to conduct their searches. Google Scholar is a great tool but if you are finding your searches are bringing back too many results that aren’t helpful to your research then I always suggest checking out the collection of databases on the Library website. I ended up showing the student some different more subject specific databases that the OU Library subscribe to. I also shared some tips and tricks to get the most out of using them including, citation searching and how to use the subject terms within databases. This guidance enabled the student to find some great papers that they were able to use in their literature review. So, a definite WIN!

Please get in touch with the Research Support Team if you have any queries about databases or literature searching.

Research Data Management service review 2020-21

I’ve been looking back at the statistics for the RDM service so far this academic year (since September 2020).

Despite running the service remotely due to the ongoing pandemic, we have seen a growth in users of our data repository ORDO, as well as increased demand for data management plan reviews. We’ve also had great attendance for our series of webinars.

We’re now starting to look at service developments for the coming year, and we are confident that the numbers in a year’s time will look even better!

 

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A day in the life: Nicola

This is the latest in our Day in the Life series of blogposts.

Hello, my name is Nicola. My role is Senior Library Manager for Research Support. I joined the OU in 2003 as a Subject Information Specialist supporting Science and Health and Social Welfare. For the past 10 years I have been responsible for the Library’s research support team. The team provides specialist services e.g. open access publishing and research data management to OU academics, researchers and postgraduate research students. Research support has been a growing area of the Library Service over the past few years and I am very fortunate to work with a fantastic team who work hard to develop their knowledge and expertise and use this to develop our services.

No two days are ever the same but most days I have a catch up with at least one of the team. We have all being working from home for over a year so weekly online catch ups enable us to share what we are doing and plan our work. We also have a weekly Friday team catch up and as Megan mentioned in her blog post a monthly teams games session. I usually act as quiz master as I got fed up with coming last.

As well as the internal services that I am responsible for, I also try to be externally active. Since February 2018 I have been chair of the UK Council of Open Research and Repositories (UKCORR), which is the professional body for repositories and those working in open research. In the latest Committee meeting we discussed gathering members feedback from the latest Research Excellence (REF) submission so we can capture some of the lessons learnt and surveying members to find out their future plans for the repositories to identify areas where UKCORR can offer support. I am also on the Jisc OpenDOAR Steering group and in the last meeting we were discussing a metadata proposal.

Most of my days are a mixture of keeping an overview of our services and answering a range of enquiries that come both through the team mailbox and to me individually. These include how to publish open access, working with one of faculties to set up an undergraduate journal for their project module, assessing new journal deals, supporting the OU’s scholarship activity. My role involves working with a wide range of people which I enjoy and I get a real sense of satisfaction when I have managed to help someone or have learnt something new.

As I am working from home my 2 cats have become my work colleagues, but they do tend to sleep most of the day.

A day in the life: Chris

The picture below was drawn about 5 years ago at a workshop on User Experience Research & Design at Cranfield University facilitated by Andy Priestner.

The task was to draw your working day and then use the drawing as a reflection aid.  So, 5 years later, when we were asked to write a blog post about our working day, I thought I’d dig it out.

Drawing with red locks, blue flashes and two long black thick curly lines.

A Working Day – 5 years ago

What does it mean?

The red squares represent long involved pieces of work. They might include:

  • Regular reports we generate on Open Access publishing at the OU
  • Quality Assurance work on ORO
  • Updating and monitoring workflows around ORO
  • Discussions with peers from other universities regarding developments to scholarly communications e.g. ORCIDs, Plan-S
  • Work based research e.g. how can ORO be more complete and current?
  • Designing and delivering training around our offer
  • New developments for ORO e.g. digital preservation and expanding the scope of what is included in ORO

The blue flashes are small bits of work like enquiries or requests for information that pop up and need pretty much immediate attention:

  • Enquiries from research staff about ORO and Open Access
  • Support to library staff using ORO
  • Doing stuff my manager tells me to do 😊

The long black lines represent my commute, a 6-mile cycle from Newport Pagnell. The commute topped and tailed my working day – it provided a break between home and office life, a chance to reflect on the working day.

Reflecting on the picture

And that was a useful reflection.  5 years ago, it made me think about:

  1. Ring fencing time for some of those big tasks
  2. The importance of the commute

How has that changed?

Well mid-pandemic it’s quite hard to pin down, some days I’m working from home, others I’m in the office. Working from home and working in the office feel very different, so there have to be two pictures.  Beside that there is some commonality with 5 years ago, but some big differences too.

Drawing with red blocks, green and blue flashes with two thick black curly lines.

In the Office – Pandemic

Drawing with red and blue overlapping blocks, green and blue flashes scattered across the drawing.

Working from Home – Pandemic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The red squares remain, but the substance of them is a bit different – there is less development stuff going on and more operational. I can live with that, but I hope it will change.  The squares also spill out across the day – my working hours are interrupted by parenting – so there remain pieces of work that I need to pick up later in the evening when the house is quiet.  So those red boxes spill outside of ‘usual’ office hours.

The blue flashes have decreased, my colleagues have picked up a lot of those, thank you guys.  That’s helped me finish those big REF red boxes.  But again, those flashes may occur in the office or at home.

But that’s where things further diverge:

Where there is a black line it serves as an (albeit imperfect) frame to the day and an important mental break from the mess of home/life working.

Blue squares appear when I’m working from home – these are underlying domestic things that I find really hard to dispel when I’m at home: washing, cooking, home schooling – all these things I know have to get done at some point during the day and distract my working day.

Blue flashes appear – they are those little domestic incidents involving small people that require immediate attention.😬

Reflecting on the new pictures

  1. The commute is a massive boon to my mental health
  2. The office allows me to focus on the work
  3. Life is just more complicated and messy for many of us

I don’t know how I can act on that final reflection, how can it be less complicated or messy at the moment? I don’t know.  Maybe, as well as being OK not to be OK, it’s also OK to be messy and OK to be unsure.