Scopus – a large abstract and citation database for research

Scopus is a large, multi-disciplinary abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, including scientific journals, books and conference proceedings.

Here are just a few of the features that make it worth considering as a researcher:

It has a lot of content

Scopus boasts over 65 million records and claims to be the biggest database of its kind (we understand that Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic may index more records but that their content is not curated in the same way). This alone means it is worth investigating, if you want to discover literature for your research.

It doesn’t cover everything (no database does) and it’s subject coverage isn’t equal (there is more content in the sciences than in the arts for example) but it can still provide a good starting point for a lot of people . Learn more on the Scopus Content page.

It has powerful search features

As well as intuitive basic search features, Scopus allows you to search by author and affiliation (i.e. the university, company or other organisation that an author works for). It also has a potent advanced search feature, which allows for the constructions of complex searches – really useful if you are after something specific.  Learn more on the Scopus Features page.

It is a source of bibliometrics 

Scopus records the citations that publications get, as well as providing metrics on things like social media mentions, uses on Mendeley and Citeulike and mentions in the mass media.

You can easily see the metrics for an article by looking at the “Metrics” box on its “Document details” page:

Indeed, if metrics are your bag, than Scopus is one of the main sources worth investigating. You can get more general information on our bibliometrics page.

However, as an abstract and citation database, Scopus usually requires you to link out to access the full text of articles. Indeed, there is no guarantee that The OU will subscribe to the full text  – use the “Checks if the OU offers full text” link  for an article (highlighted red below) to find out:

You can log into Scopus (OU student or staff credentials required) to investigate for yourself.


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Getting to grips with Research Data Management

Yesterday I held a workshop for research staff and students on Research Data Management. As always this was an excellent opportunity for researchers to share their own experiences of data management and exchange tips (and grievances!). In particular there was lots of interesting discussion around the ethical implications of data sharing, which I will be taking forward to help evaluate the advice that we give researchers regarding managing and sharing sensitive, confidential and personal data.

This session was oversubscribed, so if you would have liked to attend but were unable look out for more RDM workshops on the Research Career Development programme next year; or if you are a research group we may be able to set up a bespoke training session with for you – please get in touch.

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Using other universities’ libraries via the SCONUL Access scheme

OU Library Services do our best to meet all our users’ needs but we appreciate there are times when you may need to use other universities’ libraries.

One of the most convenient ways of doing this is via the SCONUL Access scheme. It is quick and easy to sign up and gives access to the majority of UK university libraries.

Please note that conditions on registration and restrictions on the use of other libraries do apply – what each library can offer varies. Please see the SCONUL Access section of our Libraries near you page for more information and to sign up.

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ORDO on tour… on your desktop!

ORDO online drop-in: Tuesday 23rd May 14.30-15.00

As part of our ORDO on Tour series of events, we have arranged an online drop-in session at 14.30 on Tuesday 23rd May 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 14.30 on 23rd May simply:

Add this event to your calendar:
iCalendar  •  Google Calendar  •  Outlook  •  Outlook Online  •  Yahoo! Calendar

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ORDO on tour… in IET

As you may have heard, we have a new open data repository, ORDO (Open Research Data Online), where you can store, share and preserve your research data.

To give as many people as possible the chance to see a live demo and to ask any questions we’re taking it on tour!

Next Tuesday we’ll be in IET, where Dan Crane from the Library Research Support team will give a short introduction and demo of ORDO, and then be on hand to answer any questions you have about managing and sharing your data.

Please come along – you bring the coffee, we’ll bring the cake!

Tue 16th May, 14:00 to 15:00. IET Meeting Room 5 – ASH

And if you’d like us to come and speak with you and your colleagues where you are, please get in touch at and we’ll arrange a date.

image by Dino Reichmuth ‘Arches National Park Entrance Station, Moab, United States’


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Getting started with EndNote Basic/Online? Check out their help videos and guides

EndNote is a popular reference management tool.

It comes in two main forms:

  • A desktop program
    • This can be installed for free on OU PCs or can be purchased for use on your own PC
    • There is some information on how to get it installed on OU PCs and how to purchase it for your own PC under the Tools for purchase or subscription section of Bibliographic management
  • A web-based program
    • You may see this referred to as EndNote Basic, EndNote Online or EndNote Web
    • This is free but make sure to sign up for it via Web of Science to get more functionality. There is some information on how to do this under the More advanced tools > EndNote Basic section of Bibliographic management

Here, we will focus on the web-based program.

It allows you to collect references, organise them and easily insert them into Microsoft Word documents.

However, people often need help getting started with EndNote Basic/Online so check out the quick reference guide and the Using EndNote Basic/Online YouTube playlist

You can also see how EndNote compares to other reference management tools in terms of cost and functionality.

Happy referencing!

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Getting started with Mendeley? Check out their help videos and guides

Mendeley is a popular reference management tool.

Its strengths include the fact it can extract reference information directly from PDFs of articles, that you can use it across various platforms/devices and that it offers certain social media-like functions to discover research literature and network with peers.

However, people often need help getting started with Mendeley so check out the Mendeley guides, the Mendeley Minutes videos and the Mendeley QuickTips videos.

You can also see how Mendeley compares to other reference management tools in terms of cost and functionality.

Happy referencing!

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HEFCE Open Access Policy: one year on – how is it working?

It’s been one year since the HEFCE Open Access Policy for the next REF came into force. In a nutshell the policy requires all journal articles and published conference items (with an ISSN) to be deposited in a repository within 3 months of publication (probably acceptance from April 2018) with the Author’s Accepted Manuscript.  So how is it working?

What is working?

How compliant are we? That’s normally the first question… and there are 2 answers. Firstly, of the eligible outputs added to ORO we reckon that compliance is around 84% – this includes items published Gold Open Access.  It doesn’t include outputs that may be compliant in another institutional repository or a subject repository.  However, we estimate only around 60% of OU affiliated research outputs get added to ORO so there is a significant number of outputs that still aren’t going into ORO.  And, if they aren’t reaching ORO we aren’t in a position to see if they are meeting the HEFCE policy.

Are we getting more Open Access items?  From April to March 2016-17 we received 737 Author Accepted Manuscripts that’s compared to 595 deposited in the previous year. Given that deposits of journal articles and conference proceedings are slightly down year on year (1767 in 2016-17 compared to 1873 in 2015-16) that’s some healthy growth in accession of Green Open Access content.

How can we do better? Is often the follow up question.  Firstly, getting better coverage in ORO is one answer and we need to be exploring automated ways of populating ORO to know what the institution is publishing.  Once we have the data we can then go about trying to get the full text, or identifying compliance elsewhere.  Secondly, we need to continue to get the message across about the policy, some researchers remain unclear about the requirements. We need to be creative on both counts.

What’s not working?

Well, there are a few problems for me.  To be fair, some of them are the challenges of Green Open Access, not the policy itself.

“I can’t get the AAM” – We have engaged researchers trying to do Open Access the Green route who are struggling to meet the policy.  Researchers collaborating overseas who aren’t the corresponding author have real issues obtaining the Author Accepted Manuscript from the corresponding author.  We have to remember that the corresponding author may have no knowledge of the UK context and may find the self-archiving process totally alien. Obtaining the full text at all, let alone within 3 months of publication, is a challenge.

“It’s not enough time” – The proposed move to deposit from 3 months from acceptance rather than publication poses a massive challenge for us.  We have been transparent to our researchers and asked for deposit 3 months from publication, not 3 months from acceptance.  And our compliance levels indicate that we are being successful.  However, we should remember the policy is requiring a significant change in behaviour for some researchers not used to the complexities of Green Open Access.  Moving the time frame to 3 months from acceptance would mean our compliance rates would drop.

“Is it really not eligible?” What about those items that haven’t met the policy requirements… are they seriously not eligible for the REF?  Is HEFCE expecting 100% compliance.  I doubt it, but I don’t know.  What I’m expecting are some kind compliance levels to be announced not dissimilar to the RCUK compliance levels introduced when their Open Access Policy was introduced (e.g. in Year 1 45% should be Open Access, in Year 2 53%, Year 3 60%, Year 4 67% and Year 5 75%).  But understandably HEFCE won’t announce that because it might impact on the levels currently being attained – we might take our foot off the pedal.

One danger of this is that we start second guessing the audit HEFCE might undertake. In a light touch audit the home institution may be the only people who know whether something met the 3 month deposit criteria.  So what interest does that institution have to disallow that output from its own REF return?

“It’s not Open Access is it!” –  When we do manage to get Author Accepted Manuscripts and deposit them to the repository, then we look up the embargo periods to see how long we have to lock them down for and we have embargo periods of 18 to 24 months… that’s not Open Access is it? Sometimes, it’s hard not to conclude that it’s more a Repository Deposit Policy than an Open Access Policy.

So, in conclusion, we are getting an increase in Open Access papers available at the OU, which is great, but it’s not without headaches, and a lot of hard work from everyone involved!

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Survey – Describing the Research Process

To help create better resources to support researchers with data management, UC3 (University of California Curation Center) is conducting an informal survey to understand how researchers describe the research process and the stages of their work.

In UC3’s words, “If you are a researcher and can spare about 5 minutes, we would greatly appreciate it if you would click the link below to participate in our survey.

Go straight to the survey or read the blog.

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