Monthly Archives: November 2016

ORO Faculty Reports 2015-16

We’ve produced some Faculty Reports for the University Year 2015-16 based on the new Faculty structure. We’ve been able to report at School level which shows some interesting detail in both the downloads and deposits in the last University year and going back to 2009-10.



There are some challenges mapping old departments to new schools, especially where new Schools could not be previously mapped (e.g. The Law School).  This has resulted in varying degrees of Unaffiliated deposits and downloads, especially in FBL, nevertheless I think it’s a useful exercise.  Any feedback welcome!

FASS 2015-16 ORO Update (PDF)

STEM 2015-16 ORO Update (PDF)

WELS 2015-16 ORO Update (PDF)

FBL 2015-16 ORO Update (PDF)

IET 2015-16 ORO Update (PDF)

HEFCE Open Access Policy – Update

Earlier this week HEFCE updated their Open Access policy. It had been expected that the time frame for deposit to a repository would shift from 3 months of first online publication to 3 months of acceptance from 1st April 2017 – this has been postponed. The policy has been updated to state:

“To take account of the need for systems to be developed to support deposit-on-acceptance, during the first two years of the policy (1 April 2016 – 1 April 2018), outputs can be deposited up to three months after the date of publication. This flexibility will be subject to a review of the readiness of systems within the sector in autumn 2017.”

Updated HEFCE Open Access Policy.

This uncertainty about the time frames of deposit to a repository is worth reflection. Firstly, it causes continuing problems in administering a policy that has shifted from its initial 3 months from acceptance, to 3 months from publication until April 2017, to, now, 3 months from publication until April 2018, subject to review...

Secondly, this delay highlights another problem with the policy – and it’s not just about having the appropriate systems in place! Where no embargo has been stipulated by the publisher, “deposit at point of acceptance” will often mean making the paper available in a repository before it is made available via the publisher platform.  Now this may well be the intention of the policy, but it’s a cause for concern for both authors and publishers who don’t operate in a Preprint culture.

Given the increasing number of papers in the UK being deposited in institutional repositories I’m unsure how publishers who don’t currently require an embargo will react.  One course of action for publishers would be to simply establish new embargo periods where previously there weren’t any.  But Green Open Access with long embargo periods isn’t really Open Access!  The risk is “deposit at point of acceptance” may provoke a response that undermines the Green Open Access route the policy attempts to exploit.

Statista – a statistics portal with market and consumer data from over 600 industries

We would like to bring your attention to Statista, a statistics portal where OU researchers can easily find and use market and consumer data from over 600 industries.

The OU Library has a subscription to this resource and users can log in via this link or access it via our Statistics sources page.

Please see Statista’s introductory video for further information.



Getting to grips with Research Data Management; training workshop 1st November 2016


Today I ran a training session for research staff and doctoral students on research data management. The slides are stored on slideshare: click on the link below the image

We run these sessions in November and again in May; so if you missed the session today and would like to attend the next workshop, keep an eye on the Research Career Development program.

“Open Research for Academics” – lessons learned

I went to Open Research for Academics: A Workshop and Hackathon on Saturday. It was a really useful event that examined all aspects of openness in academia except open access publishing. Here are my main takeaways:

Journalists and style guides can provide tips on writing to make research more accessible

Simon Makin, a science journalist and former researcher, gave a great presentation crammed with practical advice on how researchers can write for a wider public. I won’t try and list all the pointers he gave here but I will link to his presentation if/when it becomes available online. He recommended “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White as a good starting point for those interested.

Academic writing does not necessarily have to be accessible

In contrast, Gary Hall, Professor of Media and Performing Arts and Director of the Centre for Disruptive Media at Coventry University, argued that academic writing does not have to be easy to read. This was a new perspective to me. I certainly agree that works which challenge their readers can force them to think and draw conclusions for themselves. However, it has to be accepted that not everybody will take up this challenge and that this style of communicating research is perhaps more suited to philosophy, for example, rather than STEM subjects.

I found it useful to have longstanding tensions in academia presented in a current context: higher education was discussed as an environment in which the academic desire to explore and express ideas freely contrasts with pressures to engage the public and address accusations of elitism and privilege. 

Openness takes different forms

Kat Jungnickel travels the country wearing her research in public. This is a very different approach to open research than the one I am used to, working as I do with the functional aspects of open access publishing. Kat’s Bikes and Bloomers project researches and recreates women’s convertible cyclewear from Victorian Britain and her rationale was striking: the clothing does not make sense if it is not worn by people and seen in action. She feels her research has to be performed to be fully appreciated and it was fascinating to hear her talk about putting the friction back into data in order to give a richer learning experience. This viewpoint contrasted and complemented that of the Frictionless Data project presented by Jo Barratt, which aims to make sharing and validating research data as easy as possible.

 Openness is a means to an end, not an end in itself

People need the capacity to use information as well as the freedom to access it. During Jo’s talk, an audience member criticised open data on the basis that, typically, only large companies have the expertise and infrastructure to really benefit from it. There may be counterexamples but this reinforced that the open movement often focuses on removing technical barriers to data use yet many non-technical barriers exist. These can take the form of social barriers, cultural barriers, financial barriers, educational barriers and so on.

Mark Carrigan, talking about social media and open research, claimed that academic understandings of dissemination are flawed, describing how openness alone won’t solve problems in society. Giving people research literature can only be part of an answer.

We can rethink using social media

Mark pointed out that academic use of social media can be seen as largely instrumental and individualistic, focusing on people demonstrating their value and promoting themselves. However, success for him comes via emphasising its social aspects in a way that dovetails with traditional notions of academic communication. In practice, this involves using social media more in terms of purposeful collaboration and exchange of ideas than to prove personal popularity.

He pinpointed a key issue: that social media is technically easy to use but hard for researchers to conceptualize how they should use.

Citizen science does not necessarily save researchers time or energy

Sophia Collins talked about The Nappy Science Gang, a citizen science project investigating cloth nappies. She felt that citizen science projects took as much time and energy as other science projects because participants, who are often not used to doing research, need a lot of support. It was noteworthy that Sophia had really made the effort to have the project designed and run by citizens as opposed to just using citizens to collect or analyse data in a project designed by professional researchers.

My thanks go to the organisers, Caspar Addyman and Bianca Elena Ivanof.  It was great to hear speakers from a variety of backgrounds and to be encouraged to challenge the structures within higher education: there’s not just one type of openness, not everything should be open, just making things open isn’t an end in itself.