Author Archives: Isabel Chadwick

About Isabel Chadwick

Research Support Librarian at the Open University. I look after ORDO, the institutional research data repository and provide guidance and training on all thing research data related.

UK Data Service events 2022

The UK Data Service offers a variety of free events throughout the year, which may be of interest to any social sciences researchers.

See below for the events for the rest of 2022 or visit their events pages.

Regular events

Computational social science drop-ins – second Tuesday of the month
11 Oct 2022, 8 Nov 2022, 13 Dec 2022, 13.00 – 14.00
Join our monthly data drop-in to get or give some help on computational social science projects.

Safe Researcher Training
5 Oct 2022, 21 Oct 2022, 7 Nov 2022, 24 Nov 2022, 13 Dec 2022, 10.00 – 13.30
This Safe Researcher Training (SRT) course is intended for researchers who will be, or are in the process of, applying for access to controlled data in the UK Data Service Secure Lab.

Census events

An introduction to 2021 Census geography datasets
18 Oct 2022, 10.00 – 11.00
This webinar will introduce census geography datasets, cover the output geography of the latest UK census, and demonstrate practical examples of the use of census geography boundary datasets for the visualisation and analysis of census data.

Check our events pages in October for details of these upcoming events:

  • Teaching with Census 2021 data workshop, 2 November
  • Census: Developing local area profiles workshop, 9 November

Introductory Training Series: Autumn 2022

Our free introductory-level online workshops introduce different aspects of the UK Data Service to help you get the most from our service.

Dissertation projects: Introduction to secondary analysis for qualitative and quantitative data
6 October, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop will take you through the research process of a secondary analysis project, including an overview of the methodological and ethical issues.

Data in the spotlight: Large scale social surveys
11 October, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop is for anyone who wants to learn about survey data available from the UK Data Service.

Introduction to copyright: Copyright and publishing
14 October, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop will introduce attendees to the brief origins of copyright with a focus on copyright considerations in both publishing and teaching.

Introduction to copyright: Copyright issues in secondary data use
17 October, 10.00am – 11.30am
This session will give attendees a better understanding of copyright considerations when creating, using or sharing data.

How to anonymise qualitative and quantitative data
20 October, 11.00am – 12.30pm
This workshop will look at key differences between anonymisation and pseudonymisation and discuss how to responsibly use, plus share data, while protecting participants’ identities.

Data management basics: Introduction to data management and sharing
27 October, 11.00am – 12.30pm
This workshop provides an overview of how to manage, document and store research data well and how to plan good data management in research projects.

Depositing your data with ReShare
3 November, 11.00am – 12.30pm
This workshop gives participants a virtual tour of ReShare, our self-deposit repository.

Introduction to the UK Data Service
8 November, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop is for anyone who wants to learn about the vast array of resources we offer.

Finding and accessing data from the UK Data Service
10 November, 10.00am – 11.30am
This introductory workshop is intended for anyone who wants to hear about finding data from the UK Data Service and contains interactive elements throughout.

Data management basics: Ethical and legal issues in data sharing
14 November, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop focuses on the ethical and legal aspects of data management.

Getting started with secondary analysis
15 November, 10.00am – 11.30am
This introductory workshop will briefly cover the pros and cons of reusing data and the importance of learning about the origins of your data.

How to become a computational social scientist
22 November, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop covers what computational social science is, what it is good for, and the basic steps to follow in an ideal CSS research project.

Consent issues in data sharing
24 November, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop will explain the different types of consent and consider data archiving, plus future reuse in the consent process, considering one-off and process consent.

Data in the spotlight: Census and population studies
29 November, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop will introduce you to the UK Census, the data held by the UK Data Service, and how to use the web interfaces to access the data.

Data in the spotlight: Longitudinal data
1 December, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop will cover the key features of longitudinal surveys, an overview of the studies available via the UKDS, how to access the data and undertake exploratory online analysis.

Data in the spotlight: International time series databanks
6 December, 10.00am – 11.30am
This workshop will cover the international time series data held by the UKDS, the socio-economic topics covered, some key datasets, and how to access and download the data.

Data in the spotlight: Qualitative and mixed methods data
13 December, 10.00am – 11.30am
This introductory workshop is intended for anyone who wants to learn about the qualitative or mixed-methods data available from the UK Data Service.

Other events

Introduction to the Family Resources Survey (NB Booking closes on 29 September)
4 Oct 2022, 09.30 – 12.45
This half-day online workshop will guide you through all the background information needed to work confidently with data from the Family Resources Survey.

All you need to know about UK Data Service SecureLab import requests
13 Oct 2022, 10.00 – 11.00
Come to our webinar to learn how the import process works and what you should, and should not, do to ensure the import process is completed as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Introduction to machine learning (FULLY BOOKED but will be livestreamed)

24 October – 1 November 2022
Come along to this three-part webinar that has been designed to deepen your understanding of the main concepts present within machine learning.


Introduction to quantitative time-diary analysis

3 and 10 November 2022 (with UCL/NCRM)

This short course aims to introduce participants to time diary analysis, a multidisciplinary field which has made a sustained contribution to social science over the last 50 years.


Introduction to data management planning for social sciences
17 Nov 2022, 10.00 – 11.00
This webinar has been designed to provide an introduction to Data Management Plans and to help researchers overcome challenges encountered during the data lifecycle by implementing good data management planning techniques.


Crime Surveys User Conference 2022

7 Dec 2022, 09.30 – 16.30

The user conference brings data producers and data users together to share updates on the development of the surveys and to showcase research that is being carried out using the data.

Speed Data-ing

Join us for our Speed Data-ing event next Monday in honour of Love Data Week

Speed Data-ing

Speed Data-ing: Mon, 7 March 2022, 12:00 – 12:45

 Five different speakers will have five minutes to present an interesting aspect of data management or sharing to the audience, followed by a Q&A panel session at the end.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Sarah Vicary (Associate Head of School, Nations, WELS)
  • Alessio Antonini (Research Associate, KMI)
  • Jacob Obodai (Research Student, FASS)
  • Gareth Davies (Research Impact Evidence Manager, RES)
  • Isabel Chadwick (Research Support Librarian, Library)

Here are a few examples of what will be covered:

  • data collection
  • impact data
  • different approaches to data management

Book your place on Eventbrite

UK Data Service training opportunities

The UK Data Service provides access to a wide range of social science data for reuse. To help you get the most from our service, they run free introductory level online workshops every spring and autumn to introduce different aspects of the Service.

The UKDS training events in spring 2022 are listed below and you can also browse the events pages for a full list of what is available:


NEW OU Digital Archive Exhibition: PhD Pioneers

Have you ever wondered who the first OU PhD graduates were?

Today, the OU Digital Archive – in collaboration with the Graduate School – has launched a fantastic new exhibition that features the stories and experiences of twelve of the OU’s first PhD graduates from 1973-79.

It focuses on video interviews taken in 2021, mixed with photos and TV footage from the 1970s, that illustrates the often exciting, ground-breaking activities, and sometimes emotional reflections, of this outstanding group of OU PhD alumni.

It really is a truly fascinating and insightful exhibition, so please do go check it out: Exhibition: PhD Pioneers

We are the (Data) Champions!

Earlier this week I was delighted to be able to meet via Teams with some of our fantastic Data Champions after a long pause (due to conflicting commitments during the pandemic).

The Data Champions programme started in summer 2019 with the aim of embedding good research data management practice into all the schools across the university. Through the network we are able to disseminate our guidance and training materials more easily, field discipline-specific enquiries, and organise events and seminars related to issues in research data management and sharing.

A photo from the last time we all met in person (2019)

Currently we have 17 Data Champions, based across the University; their profiles can be viewed on the Data Champions page on our website.

It would be great to have some more Data Champions based in STEM, so if you’re interested in getting involved please send us an email for more information.

We are planning some more activities for the wider OU research community over the coming months to showcase the work with data that researchers across the University are involved in, so please watch this space for more details!

NEW! Training for 2021-22

Get your diary at the ready! As we enter a new academic year, we are pleased to announce that our training programme for 2021-22 is now open for booking. 

All of our training sessions are run online through Adobe Connect and (unless otherwise stated) are open to all OU research staff, postgraduate research students and research support staff. Booking is through Eventbrite and can be accessed via the links below.

Note: details of all forthcoming training sessions are also available on our training webpage  Continue reading

Research Support WIN: RDM

Hello, I hope you’ve been enjoying (and surviving) this hot weather. I’ve been taking regular breaks from my computer to take full advantage of my children’s paddling pool in an effort to keep cool! A definite advantage of working from home!

In this blog post I’m going to talk about another Research Support Win, this time in the Research Data Management area of the service. This is a story about the continued support we have been offering one of our academics on a research project.

Autumn 2019: One of our researchers in WELS (Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies), Dr Kristina Hultgren, contacts the Research Support Team via our inbox requesting help with a Data Management Plan for a UKRI Future Leaders project. Kristina’s project explores why the use of English as a teaching language in non-English-speaking European countries is increasing, despite students struggling to understand it. The project, if approved, will require a huge amount of data collection, including up to 3,000 interviews as well as a large amount of documentary evidence, including reports, field notes, email communications and photographs. This was the first time we had been asked for help with a UKRI Future Leaders bid so I needed to take some time to familiarise myself with the requirements.

Kristina and I have several phone calls over the space of a week to, discussing the various practicalities of how to keep the data secure and whether and how she can share it at project end. Particular issues we need to consider are: data storage and transfer when the data is being collected in various countries; gaining consent to share data collected at institutions when anonymisation of the institution may be unfeasible; how to ensure data quality when data is being translated into English from other languages.

Spring 2020: Kristina’s funding bid for over £1.1 million is approved! I contact Kristina to offer my congratulations and help with setting up the project.

Winter 2020:  Amidst time constraints imposed by the Covid related school closures, Kristina and I manage to meet and talk through next steps for her project as she prepares to start data collection in 2021. We agree it would be useful if the Research Support Team could put together a template for a handbook which Kristina and other researchers working on large-scale research projects could use to ‘ensure that data would be stored, documented and managed throughout the project in a manner that would facilitate data sharing.

We also agree that once all of the research staff had been recruited across the different centres we will arrange a training session on data management, run by the Library online, with time to work collaboratively to ensure consistency in data management across the project.

Spring 2021: I contact Kristina with the good news that the brand new Research Data Management Handbook is now ready. She agrees to pilot it with her project and give us feedback that we can work on as she goes along.

Next steps: Kristina is currently recruiting to her project team. Once all investigators are in position we will set up an online workshop to cover all aspects of Research Data Management and sharing.

Reflections: Working with Kristina and seeing how her project progresses has been really enjoyable and this type of consultative work is definitely a highlight of my role in supporting Research Data Management. This experience has given me the opportunity to be innovative, trying out different approaches to the support we provide and I hope that the RDM Handbook designed during this process will continue to be useful for other researchers.

If you’d like some help with writing a Data Management Plan or with setting up data management processes for your new research project, please get in touch with the Research Support Team via our team inbox.



Research Data Management service review 2020-21

I’ve been looking back at the statistics for the RDM service so far this academic year (since September 2020).

Despite running the service remotely due to the ongoing pandemic, we have seen a growth in users of our data repository ORDO, as well as increased demand for data management plan reviews. We’ve also had great attendance for our series of webinars.

We’re now starting to look at service developments for the coming year, and we are confident that the numbers in a year’s time will look even better!




New! Research Data Management Handbook

When you’re working on a research project as a team a consistent approach to data management is very important to ensure that data is stored securely, documented accurately and everyone is able to easily find and access the documents they need.

Our new Research Data Management Handbook is a practical guide designed to help you to create and record processes for collecting, processing, storing and managing research data. It is particularly useful for anyone embarking on a research project which involves working in a team (with internal or external colleagues).

The handbook takes the form of a template embedded with guidance and links to useful resources. Completing it is an extremely useful exercise at the beginning of any research project to ensure data is managed effectively throughout.

Download the Research Data Management Handbook now!

If you’d like any further advice or have completed the Handbook and would like some feedback please do not hesitate to get in touch.


A day in the life: Isabel

This is the latest in our Day in the Life series of blogposts.

Hi! I’m Isabel, one of the OU’s Research Support Librarians. I began working at the OU in 2013, and throughout that time I have focussed on supporting Research Data Management, seeing the service from its creation through to now having a busy data repository and enquiry service.

In common with a lot of the rest of the world, my working life has changed considerably over the past year and I’ve had the challenge of balancing working from home with nursery and school closures, while sharing my working space with my teacher husband for much of the past year. However, the pandemic has brought its benefits and I feel I now enjoy a much better work-life balance…

8.30am – The “commute”. Working from home means I no longer need to commute to Milton Keynes, but I do have 2 little ones to take to school and nursery, which we do by bike. The morning ride is one of the highlights of my day with my five year old speeding ahead at top speed while I carry the three year old on the back of my bike; it’s very enjoyable especially when the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

9.00: Log on to my laptop. My WFH workstation is in the kitchen at the dining table. Sitting in the kitchen is not brilliant for a serial snacker with no willpower, so I’ve given up buying biscuits, much to my family’s dismay! I spend the first half hour of my day checking my emails and the team inbox. This morning there is a Data Management Plan to review so I block out some time later in the day to read it and get back to the researcher to let them know I’ll be handling it later today.

9.30 Weekly team catch-up. While working from home, we find that there were much fewer informal opportunities to share what we’ve been up to during the working week so every Friday we have a Research Support Team catch-up which gives us an opportunity to find out what our colleagues are up to and share ideas.

10.00 UK Data Service webinar on Ethical and Legal Issues in Research Data.                      I’ve been attending some of the UK Data Service’s excellent webinars recently to ensure that the advice and training we’re delivering to our researchers is up to date with current best practice. This morning’s webinar closely aligned with one of the webinars that we run as part of our Research Support training programme, so it was useful to identify gaps and strengths in our provision.

My workstation in the kitchen

12.00 Work on Research Data Management Policy review. We’re reviewing our Research Data Management Policy with a view to refreshing it towards the end of 2021. In anticipation of this I am carrying out a benchmarking exercise, comparing our policy with those of other UK universities. I spend some time this morning reading through other policies and picking out the key themes.

13.00 Review Data Management Plan. I grab a quick sandwich and then get started on the Data Management Plan which was in the inbox this morning. This plan is for an ESRC bid, it’s in good shape but could do with some more thinking around data security, especially with regards to storing and transferring personal data. I add comments to the DMP and send it back to the researcher. I expect to receive a further draft of the plan in the next few days which I will read again and hopefully be able to approve for submission.

14.20 Back on my bike! Time to collect the five year old from school – due to Covid the school has staggered start and finish times which means the school run is very early!

14.50 Final catch up on inbox and emails. The small person is installed in front of the telly with a snack for the final forty minutes of my work day. During this time I have a final check of my emails and reply to anything which has come in during the day. Today there have been a couple of enquiries – one about retention periods for research data and another about adding a research project to the OU’s Information Asset Register.

15.30 End of my work day. I work part-time and this is when my work day ends; time to start my other job as Mummy!