Monthly Archives: December 2015

ORO Downloads in November and across the academic disciplines

The November top downloads from ORO can be found below.  The pink colours show a lot of items from FELS, when I generate this report I often reflect on how Institutional Repositories best work for those disciplines that aren’t served by Subject Repositories like arXiv (Physics, and others Science disciplines) and RePEc (Economics) to name but two.


So I looked back at the last 12 months Top 15s and found that FELS indeed had the most appearances in the Top 15: 67 in fact, 35% of all items appearing in the top 15 lists were from FELS.

And then I started thinking whether there was any correlation between the faculty and the number of downloads an ORO Open Access item attracts.  My thinking was that if an item is only available via ORO it will attract more downloads than something that is also in a subject repository.  So I worked out downloads per Open Access item by faculty, and this is what it looked like:


FELS top of the list, but closely followed by other disciplines in the Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (AHSS). Interestingly the downloads split neatly along AHSS & Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) faculties. My interested piqued, I checked this by looking at downloads over the last 12 months (maybe, I thought, some faculties had engaged earlier with ORO and had been accruing downloads over a longer period of time).  But the pattern was the same, maybe even more marked.


AHSS Open Access items in ORO get more downloads per item than STEM publications.

Well that partly confirmed my thinking about institutional repositories working best where subject repositories don’t exist, the exception being Social Science Research Network, … but I think there is something else here.

There is often a discrepancy made between Open Access in AHSS and STEM, AHSS struggling to fit their modes of scholarly communication (e.g. monographs) into an Open Access landscape defined by STEM disciplines (e.g. high cost journals and high Article Processing Charges). And I’m sure this is at least partly true.  However, these ORO figures show a demonstrable appetite for Open Access in AHSS and maybe Institutional Repositories have a key role to play in delivering Open Access in AHSS?

PDF of November Top 15: NovemberTop15

Have you got your licence?

I’ve recently been helping some colleagues in the Science faculty to put together a Data Management Plan for the EU funded Europlanet project (see my recent post for more information on the EU Horizon 2020 open data pilot).


CCO Data by Auke Herrema

One of the issues we have been discussing is licensing research data. Assigning a licence to the data you share is important as providing clear guidance on what re-users can do with your data helps disentangle some of the complexities and ambiguities surrounding rights (of which there are many – different jurisdictions have different laws regarding copyright on data so things can get confusing). Licensing your data is a good way of clarifying the terms of use.

When choosing a licence it is important to consider how you want your data to be reused. You can then apply a licence that most closely reflects those intended uses. Applying an explicit licence removes any ambiguity over what users can and cannot do with your data.

Lawyers can craft licences to meet specific criteria, but there are a number of open licences developed for widespread use that anyone can apply. There are many advantages to using standard licences rather than bespoke ones; as well as the benefits of enhanced organisational efficiency and cost saving, the use of standard licensing terms can lead to greater interoperability of data and increased user awareness of the licence terms, thereby enabling better compliance.


Click to enlarge

The recommended licence type for data created/collected in Horizon 2020 projects is Creative Commons (although other options are available – see links below for more information). Creative Commons licences offer a sort of “pick and mix” approach, meaning that you can assign a variety of different conditions on reuse of your data to make the terms of reuse more or less open, as needed. Creative Commons licences are widely used and understood, so they are a good option for making the terms of use for your data more transparent to users.

For more information, check out the following links:

For help understanding issues surrounding licensing research data, email 

Where are your research data stored? Changes to EU Data Protection Law

Data Protection by Mista Bob on Flickr

Data Protection by Mista Bob on Flickr

Last month, the European High Court ruled that organisations in EU member states cannot rely on the US Safe Harbor framework as being equivalent to EU Data Protection Law. If you are dealing with personal data as part of your research project, this may have an impact on you.

Research projects that involve partners or participants outside of the Open University, in whatever country, must be clear in the invitation to participate how any data will be shared, with whom and their location.

Cloud storage services

Whenever you sign up to store data in a cloud storage service make sure you read the terms and conditions to understand how and where these data will be kept. A good cloud storage provider should have clear and transparent information on their website about how they will secure your personal information and what they will or will not do with it.  If you cannot find this information or feel terms are unfair or unclear, shop around and compare the information.

If you currently use any of the following online services to store personal data, you will need to review your processes (please note: this list is not exhaustive):

  • Apple iCloud
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive

Online survey tools

Researchers making use of survey tools such as Surveymonkey that are based in the US must obtain consent from voluntary participants for their personal data to be stored and processed in the US, for example, by using the following wording in the survey invitation:

This survey is using [e.g. Surveymonkey] and any information you enter will be stored temporarily in the US. By taking part in the survey you are consenting to any information that can identify you as an individual being stored in this way.’

Still unsure?

Further Information