ON HOLD – Inter-library Loan and Document Delivery Service – system enhancements coming in early 2019

Please note, the proposed changes to the Inter-library Loan and Document Delivery Service are currently on hold. We will provide an update as soon as we are able.

Apologies for any inconvenience.

In the New Year we will be introducing a new, enhanced Inter-library Loan and Document Delivery system.

The major benefit of the new system is that it is fully integrated with Library Search and will allow you to submit requests when you check the library catalogue.  The system will pre-populate your Request Form which will reduce the amount of information you need to enter.  Additionally, ‘My Library Account’ will display all your OU Inter-library and Document Delivery requests (current and archive) in one place.

 We will be sending out further information in December, including detailed FAQs and a help video which will take you step-by-step through the process of making a request on the new system.  We will also be posting regular updates on the Inter-library Loan and Document Delivery  page of the Library website.


Posted in Library research support | Leave a comment

Training offer: Making your research data open

There are spaces available on our training session ‘Making your research data open‘ on Tuesday (27th November 2018), 10:00 to 11:30.

Photo by Finn Hackshaw on Unsplash

In this session we will look at why, how, what and when to share data:

  • Why should you share your data? We’ll discuss the benefits and the reasons why data sharing is such a hot topic at the moment.
  • How can you do it? We’ll take a look at the OU’s data repository, ORDO, and provide guidance on preparing data for sharing, including sensitive data
  • What should you share? Do you need to share everything? What do funders and publishers want you to share?
  • When should you share? We’ll the look at the stages of the research process when sharing data is most useful to you and others.

Sign up via My Learning Centre – any if you have any questions, get in touch at library-research-support@open.ac.uk.

Posted in Funder requirements, Library research support, ORDO, Research Data Management, Training opportunities | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Copyright and your thesis: new guidance for conquering copyright confusion

We are pleased to announce the release of a new guidance document entitled ‘copyright and your thesis’ (OU log-in required), designed to help postgraduate research students understand their copyright responsibilities during thesis production.

Copyright law can be confusing, but for anyone wanting to use third-party material in their thesis, it’s really important to get to grips with.

The Open University has been making postgraduate research theses publicly available online since 2010, via the Open University’s repository Open Research Online (ORO) as well as via the British Library EThOS service.

Along with a whole host of benefits, this online publication has created a new set of copyright responsibilities, making it particularly important for students to understand their obligations when it comes to using other people’s work in their thesis.

This practical guide helps users understand why, when, and how to obtain copyright permission, and what do if permission is not given.

We’ve done all the hard work for you and even included some handy templates for seeking permission from the copyright holder, so it couldn’t be simpler!


Posted in Library research support, Open Access, ORO, Research Students | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What is a post-print and where do I get it? Guidance on what can be added to repositories and where to find it

The people behind the Open Access discovery tool Open Access button have recently published 2 useful guides.

The first Pre-prints, post-prints, and publisher’s PDF explained offers some guidance  on how to identify:

  • Pre-prints (or Submitted Versions)
  • Post-prints (or Accepted Author Manuscripts)
  • Published Versions (or Versions of Record)

The second Direct2AAM: How tos helping authors find AAMs intends to help authors retrieve Author Accepted Manuscripts from publisher manuscript systems.

The guides are useful whether you are using an institutional repository like ORO, a subject repository or an academic social networking site like ResearchGate or Academia.edu.  Super useful to both authors and repository administrators… thank you OA Button people!!!

Posted in Library research support, Open Access, ORO | Leave a comment

Practical Strategies for Research Data Management: workshop slides

Yesterday I ran a session on Practical Strategies for Research Data Management, where we talked about the basics of research data management, including options for data storage and organising data. We also looked at how to write a data management plan using a DMP template, and ended with a game of DMP Bingo.

Thanks to everyone who took part and contributed to the discussions.

The slides are available here:


A reminder too that will be running two online sessions covering the same material in January. Sign-up and see full details on My Learning Centre.

Posted in Data Management Plans, Library research support, Research Data Management, Training opportunities | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Training offer: Practical strategies for research data management

There are still some places available on our ‘Practical strategies for research data management’ training on Monday 5th November, 14:00 to 15:30.

In this face to face session, we’ll introduce the basics of research data management, including options for data storage, organising data, and how to write a data management plan.

We’ll also introduce services and tools that the OU has developed to help you manage your data.

The sessions is aimed at researchers, research students and research support staff.

Sign up via My Learning Centre – any if you have any questions, get in touch at library-research-support@open.ac.uk.

Posted in Library research support | Leave a comment

#ThesisThursday at The Open University

So Dan Weinbren quotes Steven Rose the OU’s first professor of biology in his history of the OU. (1)   It’s not just true of research in general but also postgraduate research: The Open University is a destination for PhD students.  And that’s a nice entry point to this post – which is our contribution to #ThesisThursday – a wider campaign highlighting Open Access to postgraduate theses via the network of UK Higher Education repositories.

Postgraduate Research and The Open University

Provision for postgraduate student research was written into the Open University Charter (1969) and the first PhD thesis was awarded by the University as early as 1972 (2). Over 3,500 theses have been awarded for studies directly undertaken at the OU and over 2,000 awarded for theses studied at an Affiliated Research Centre (3).

The breadth of postgraduate research conducted at the Open University is astonishing – of course this isn’t unique – but it’s worth stating:  The Open University does multi-disciplinary teaching and research.  A record of all theses can currently be found in the library catalogue, you can search them from the thesis search.

However, these records were created for the print theses, and those theses continue to sit on the shelves in the library here at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes.  Readership is limited by the fact they are print artifacts.

Increasing access to Open University postgraduate research

The Open University institutional repository (ORO) is home for a significant subset of that total number of theses.  Currently we have over 1,200 theses awarded by the OU in ORO – PhD, EdD, MPhil and MRes.  Our aim is to have a record of all Open University awarded theses recorded in ORO and, wherever possible, provide access to the full text online. We are doing this in 3 ways:

  • All newly awarded theses are added to ORO at point of award.
  • Where a legacy thesis has been digitised by The British Library via its EThOS scheme – we are also adding it to ORO.
  • Where a legacy thesis has yet to be digitised we are undertaking a systematic scheme of digitisation – expect to see results early in 2019.

Making the full text available online means a reader doesn’t have to visit the building to read the the print thesis, all they need is an internet connection.

Measuring the impact

Which is all very well – but is it worth it?  What kind of readership do PhD level theses get.  Well, the numbers are clear.  There are thousands of downloads of theses from ORO every month – we’re closing in on half a million downloads in total!

And these downloads are global, access is not restricted to those readers that can get to Milton Keynes!  Downloads of theses in 2017 came from 188 countries and territories.

In case you are wondering, the most popular thesis in ORO has been downloaded over 15,000 times (Bailey, Keith Alan (1995). The metamorphosis of Battersea, 1800-1914 : a building history.) (4)

 …and back to the OU

Sometimes in your day to day work at OU HQ in MK, you are reminded of the remarkable ethos of the institution.  As I was checking a legacy thesis earlier in the week, I couldn’t help but read the acknowledgement, here’s how it started…

A remarkable understated testament, not only to the determination of one particular OU student, but also to the opportunities the OU provides: #thesisthursday OU style.


(1) Weinbren, Dan. (2014) The Open University: A History, p.110.

(2) ibid., p.110.

(3) “The Open University’s Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) programme enables leading research institutes, who do not have their own degree awarding powers, to provide doctoral training with our support.”   http://www.open.ac.uk/research/degrees/affiliate-centres

(4) All data from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/cgi/stats/report/

Posted in Library research support, Open Access, ORO | Leave a comment

Open Research workshop – 31st October

Beck Pitt from the Open Education Research hub and Nicola Dowson from the Library Research Support team are running a workshop on ‘Open Research’ from 10:30am-12 noon on Wednesday 31st October.

This session will take a brief foray into open research practices and approaches! If you are interested in making your research more visible, increasing impact, enabling collaboration, making the research process more transparent or sharing your work so others can reuse it… then this is the workshop for you. We’ll be looking at what ‘being more open’ in research means, discussing examples and considering what some of the benefits and challenges are.

This 90 minute workshop will:

    • Look at different stages of the research process and what being ‘open’ means within these contexts;
    • Provide practical advice and suggestions;
    • Discuss the challenges and benefits of being more open research;
    • Give you an exciting range of next steps to continue your open research journey

This session is being run simultaneously face-to- face (in Library Seminar Room 1) and online. For more details and to book go the My Learning Centre.

Posted in Library research support | Leave a comment

Online library training – advanced literature searching and systematic reviews

We are happy to announce a series of online Library training sessions on advanced literature searching and systematic reviews. These are aimed at postgraduate researchers but any interested research staff are welcome to attend:

Advanced literature searching 1 (online)

Date – Monday, 22.10.18

Time – 15.00-16.00

 This session involves reflecting on a model of the literature search process in order to (re)conceptualize literature searching, increase confidence with the process and assess the model in relation to your practice. We will then look at formulating and revising a search strategy in order to perform a systematic and comprehensive search – this includes choosing databases, choosing keywords and recording your searches.

Please note that you are required to undertake a brief exercise in advance of this session and be prepared to discuss your thoughts on the exercise in the session itself. Details of this exercise are on the booking page.

To book a place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/advanced-literature-searching-1-tickets-50694626994

Advanced literature searching 2* (online)

Date – Wednesday, 31.10.18

Time – 11.30-12.30

This session involves identifying techniques for narrowing and broadening searches and when to apply them in order to construct and revise a search strategy. We will then identify and reflect on means of saving and exporting search results, this will allow us to manage search results effectively and understand the benefits of doing so

Please note that you are required to undertake a brief exercise in advance of this session and be prepared to discuss your thoughts on the exercise in the session itself. Details of this exercise are on the booking page.

To book a place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/advanced-literature-searching-2-tickets-50695850654

Advanced literature searching 3* (online)

Date – Monday, 05.11.18

Time – 10.00-11.00

This session involves analysing search results using the CRAAP framework in order to identify the most appropriate papers on a topic and revise your search strategy. We will then describe and apply a scoping search process in order to establish the extent of the literature that exists on a topic.

Please note that you are required to undertake a brief exercise in advance of this session and be prepared to discuss your thoughts on the exercise in the session itself. Details of this exercise are on the booking page.

To book a place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/advanced-literature-searching-3-tickets-50696279938

Systematic reviews* (online)

Date – Monday, 17.12.18

Time – 14.00-15.30

This session will describe, apply and reflect upon the methodology of a systematic review in order to ensure attendees understand what systematic reviews involve and feel more confident in undertaking them.

This is an advanced session that builds on existing knowledge of database searching. It gives attendees knowledge of how to carry out structured, comprehensive searches to help them undertake systematic reviews on their own.

To book a place, please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/systematic-reviews-tickets-50696809522 

*Note – Advanced literature searching 1, 2, 3 and Systematic reviews are designed to complement each other. You are very welcome to attend (or watch the recordings of) whichever of the sessions you need but please note that familiarity with content from previous sessions may be assumed and won’t be recapped in detail.

All sessions will take place online in the Research Support online training room. We plan to make video recordings of all sessions available to watch via the View previous recordings link in this room.

You can also download  a printable PDF detailing these sessions: Library online training for researchers-Autumn-Winter-2018


We look forward to seeing you at the training!

Posted in Library research support, Training opportunities | Leave a comment

ORO Annual Update 2017-18

PDF Version: ORO Update 2017-18

Highlights from the ORO year include a big increase in deposits to ORO, this was due to:

  • Requirements on self archiving for the REF2021 exercise
  • Deposit of around 500 theses digitised by the EThOS service
  • Strategies for automated deposit – including integration of Jisc Publications Router

We also saw an increase in site visits – this is heartening – it confirms a reversal in a dip that occurred back in 2014.  However, downloads decreased by 7%, I will be looking at discoverability of content in ORO over the next few months.

The next year should also see us refresh our integration with ORCID, a light touch website make-over, increased legacy thesis coverage, measuring the effectiveness of our automated deposit strategies and continuing support for REF2021.


Posted in Library research support | Leave a comment