Investigating signing DORA in response to funder policy changes

Adopting a responsible metrics approach is seen as good practice
across the research community.

However, there is now an additional need for The Open University to sign up to an
external responsible metrics statement, such as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) or the Leiden Manifesto, or develop one of its own. Certain
major funders have changed their policies, which could impact our eligibility to receive research funding:

“We [The Wellcome Trust] are committed to making sure that when we assess research outputs during funding decisions we consider the intrinsic merit of the work, not the title of the journal or publisher.

All Wellcome-funded organisations must publicly commit to this principle. For example, they can sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, Leiden Manifesto or equivalent.

We may ask organisations to show that they’re complying with this as part of our organisation audits.”

(The Wellcome Trust, 2019)

 

“cOAlition S* supports the principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) that research needs to be assessed on its own merits rather than on the basis of the venue in which the research is published. cOAlition S
members will implement such principles in their policies by January 2021.”

(cOAlition S, 2019)

* cOAlition S is a group of funders co-ordinated by Science Europe. It includes UKRI, Wellcome, the European Research Council (ERC), the European Commission and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They are responsible for Plan S, a radical proposal regarding open access to research publications from which the above quote is taken

 

The Library Research Support team recently brought a paper to Research Committee, which investigates the University’s options in terms of responding to these policy changes. We are looking into how publication metrics are used at The OU and whether any current practices are in tension with these policy changes. The aim is that, all being well, The Open University will look at signing DORA.

We will keep you updated on our progress and would welcome any feedback on this issue.

 

References

cOAlition S (2019) Plan S: Principles and Implementation. Available at: https://www.coalitions.org/principles-and-implementation/ 

The Wellcome Trust (2019) Open access policy 2021. London: The Wellcome Trust. Available at:
https://wellcome.ac.uk/sites/default/files/wellcome-open-access-policy-2021.pdf

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ORDO monthly online drop-ins

Did you know, on the first Thursday of every month between 14.00 and 15.00 we run an online drop-in for ORDO, our research data repository?

We’re here to help, whether you’re interested in using ORDO but not sure where to start, or you’ve been using it for a while and have questions about how to make the most of it.

To join, go to our Adobe Connect “Research Support” page and click on “join room” (and if you find the link takes you to the “DISS Home” page instead, click on “Resources” at the top and scroll down to “Research Support”).

Dates for the next few months:

  • Thursday 1st August 14.00-15.00
  • Thursday 5th September 14.00-15.00
  • Thursday 3rd October 14.00-15.00

Hope to see you there!

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New academic writing mini-collection

We have a new mini-collection of books on academic writing, purchased on the recommendation of PACE (Professional and Academic Communication in English) in order to support postgraduate reseachers.

There are a handful of print books, which are housed on the second floor of the Library building alongside the research methods print books (near The Park). They are available on a reference basis (i.e. they cannot be taken out of the library) in order to maximise the number of people who can use them.

There are also a number of ebooks, which you can access online:

We will be adding a few more titles to this collection in the near future.

We hope you enjoy using them and do feed back any comments regarding the collection!

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New research methods print books

In response to feedback from postgraduate researchers, we now have a collection of over 70 print research methods books.

They are housed on the second floor of the Library building (near The Park) and are available on a reference basis (i.e. they cannot be taken out of the library) in order to maximise the number of people who can use them.

These titles were recommended by postgraduate researchers and cover many topics, including:

  • literature searching
  • writing research proposals
  • surveys
  • SPSS
  • ethnography
  • qualitative data analysis
  • mixed methods research

There are specific titles addressing subject areas such as education, business, management and the social sciences more broadly.

We hope you enjoy using them and do feed back any comments regarding the collection!

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ORDO best practice #3 Data underpinning theses

In the latest instalment of my series of blog posts discussing best practice in ORDO, I’m going to highlight some of the datasets underpinning PhD theses that have been deposited in ORDO.

Like OU research staff, postgraduate researchers are expected to deposit any research data underpinning their theses in a trusted data repository.  There are numerous benefits to doing this, including:

  • enabling verification of results
  • increasing your visibility as a researcher (great for career progression)
  • ensuring that you have continued access to your data even when you have left the OU
  • providing the possibility for re-use of data

Historically, research data or other digital materials underpinning theses have sometimes been put on a CD and enclosed with the hard copy of the thesis, lodged at the Library. However, from August 2019, the OU Library will only accept digital copies of theses which will be stored in ORO. This means that the old method of putting data onto CDs will no longer be possible.

Ideally, you should deposit your data or other materials in ORDO ahead of submission, so that you can include a Data Access Statement (which contains a DOI) within the body of your thesis.

Within the ORO record for your thesis, there is a field for “Related URLS” into which you can add your ORDO DOI as a “research dataset”. We also advise that you add the ORO URI to your ORDO record. We are looking into how we might be able to automate this process in the future.

A selection of datasets underpinning theses on ORDO

 

 

 

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Public speaking and presentation skills for early career researchers

The Charlesworth Group, a publishing services company, are running a webinar on public speaking and presentation skills for early career researchers.

It’s on Tuesday July 30th @ 10:00am or @ 14:00pm BST and you can get more info and sign up here on their webinar schedule for the year:

https://www.cwauthors.com/article/webinar-schedule-2019

 

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Research data sharing: ensuring greater research integrity?

You may have read in the news recently about a scandal concerning the doctoring of research data within a lab run by a top UK academic. Earlier this month UCL released details of the inquiries into misconduct, which were undertaken in 2014 and 2015. Of the 60 papers reviewed, the panels found evidence of misconduct in 15 of them. This included “cloning” whereby features were copy and pasted throughout an image, and some of the data fabrications were reportedly fundamental to the conclusions reached by the authors.

This news story struck me as a prime example of why data sharing is so important to improve research integrity. If the data underpinning the papers in question had been made publicly available in a trusted research data repository, it seems unlikely that misconduct of this level would have happened. Data sharing should encourage greater transparency of results – ensuring that researchers are less likely to falsify research findings or fabricate data, and if they do then this sort of misconduct could be spotted much more quickly. Would a culture of data sharing also have instilled a sense of responsibility on researchers to “do the right thing” rather than cutting corners?

Sharing research data can seem like an onerous task, however if a possible outcome of data sharing is greater research integrity, then it needs to be recognised as an important part of all researchers’ work.

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What is a systematic review and how does it differ from a ‘regular’ literature review?

There are a lot of different types of literature review and there is a lot of different terminology surrounding literature reviews.

This creates confusion and there is a particularly large amount of confusion regarding systematic reviews. The term, strictly speaking, refers to a specific and particularly rigourous method that has its origins in biomedicine and healthcare (although it is adapted and used in other disciplines). However, many people use the term to refer to a ‘regular’ literature review that is methodical and comprehensive.

In short, if somebody asks you to carry out a systematic review, it is worth clarifying exactly what they have in mind.

Here, we will spell out the differences between ‘regular’ literature reviews and systematic reviews as we see them:

‘Regular’ literature reviews

A regular literature review involves finding, analysing and synthesizing relevant literature, then presenting it in an organised way to the reader.

Regular literature reviews can be methodical and comprehensive. They can involve attempting to find all the literature there is on a topic, recording results and reflecting on strategies. We could even describe them as being “systematic” in an informal way but they do not employ the full formal methods of a systematic review, as outlined below.

Systematic reviews

In biomedicine and healthcare a systematic review aims to be exhaustive, objective, transparent and replicable, employing specific methods to reach these goals. It typically involves stages such as:

  • Creation of a structured research question to guide the process
  • Writing a protocol or following a previously established protocol, which sets out the methods the systematic review will use
    • A protocol covers things like which databases will be used, why they will be used, what keywords will be used, what other search techniques will be used. The protocol is usually developed through testing and is often peer-reviewed
  • A methods sections, including:
    • A list of all databases and/or journals that were searched
    • The exact keywords, limiters etc. that were used
    • When each search was undertaken
    • How many results each seach found
  • The titles and abstracts of articles found are compared against inclusion criteria
  • Meta-analysis may be undertaken
    • In this context, meta-analysis refers to the statistical analysis of data from comparable studies
  • Reporting on the results of all included studies, highlighting any similarities and differences between them

A systematic review is often preceded by a scoping review, a relatively brief search of relevant databases, which aims to tell you whether your research question, in its current form, is worth pursuing or whether it needs changing. This a process tells researchers whether a recent or ongoing review of the topic already exists – if it does then a new systematic review may not be necessary.

The description above is necessarily brief and partial. We recommend that you consult guidance such as that produced by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) for a fuller explanation of how systematic reviews work in biomedicine and healthcare.

As mentioned, the systematic reviews method has been adapted by other disciplines. For example, the Campbell Collaboration have adopted the method, defining systematic reviews and producing guidance with a focus more on the social sciences. There are also books (e.g. this book we have in print at the Library) and articles (e.g. this article which is open access) on systematic reviews in the social sciences.

If you want to know more about systematic reviews, you can also watch the recording of the online training session by Library Services (OU login required).

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What was the first academic journal?

Well, like most things in academia, the question of which academic journal came first is contested.

Usually, it’s seen as being between Journal des sçavans, which was based in Parisand Philosophical Transactions, produced by the Royal Society of London.

It is not contested that Journal des sçavans was the first of these to be published. The first issue was published on January 5th 1665 whereas the first issue of Philosophical Transactions was published 60 day later.

However, the issue seems to be whether historians consider Journal des sçavans to be a “true” academic journal, with some believing that it didn’t contain enough original science to count.

Either way, the history of scholarly communications is fascinating and I look forward to digging into it some more to see what it can tell us about the future of academic publishing.

References

History of Philosophical Transactions. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2019, from The Secret History of the Scientific Journal website: https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/philosophicaltransactions/brief-history-of-phil-trans/

McClellan, J. E. (2005). Scientific Journals. In A. C. Kors (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (online). Retrieved from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195104301.001.0001/acref-9780195104301-e-652 (subscription-based resource)

The Royal Society. (2019). History of Philosophical Transactions. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from The Royal Society website: https://royalsociety.org/journals/publishing-activities/publishing350/history-philosophical-transactions/

Spinak, E., & Packer, A. L. (2015). 350 years of scientific publication: from the “Journal des Sçavans” and Philosophical Transactions to SciELO. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from SciELO in Perspective website: https://blog.scielo.org/en/2015/03/05/350-years-of-scientific-publication-from-the-journal-des-scavans-and-philosophical-transactions-to-scielo/#.XRSE8uhKiUm

Swoger, B. (2012). The (mostly true) origins of the scientific journal. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from Scientific American Blog Network website: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/information-culture/the-mostly-true-origins-of-the-scientific-journal/

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ORDO best practice #2 Archiving a website

Continuing my series on best practice in ORDO, this time I’m going to trumpet The Robert Minter Collection: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.rd.7258499.v1 which was deposited by Trevor Herbert in December 2018. According to the ORDO record:

This is a copy of the data underlying the website ‘The Robert Minter Collection: A Handlist of Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Trumpet Repertory’ which contained a database of music collected by Robert L. Minter (1949-81).

Minter’s interest was in the collection of sources that contribute to our understanding of the trumpet at various points in its history before the twentieth century.

This is regarded as one of the world’s largest fully catalogued datasets about early trumpet repertoire.

The website in question was created in 2008 and is no longer active, however it had been archived by the Internet Archive, most recently in May 2017. In 2018, Trevor approached the Library for help archiving the data contained on the website because he was aware that although the Internet Archive had maintained much of the information, not all functionality and content had been preserved; most crucially the database itself is no longer searchable.               

ORDO was deemed a good fit for creating an archive of the content of the website. It allows the deposit of any file type and enables in-browser visualisation of many of these so it is not always necessary to download documents in order to view them. By depositing the material in ORDO, Trevor also obtained a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) – a persistent, reliable link to the record which will be maintained even if the materials are no longer available for any reason. Any materials added to ORDO are guaranteed to be maintained for a minimum of ten years.

Within the record there are four files – an access database, a csv copy of the data, a zip file containing information about the collection, database and website and a list of files in the zip file. The description in the record makes it clear to any potential users what they are accessing and how they can be used. Since it was deposited in December, the collection has been viewed 139 times and downloaded 18 times. Now that deserves a fanfare!

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