Author Archives: Yvette

Open Research Online and Web of Science publication alerts

To maximise the number of OU authored publications recorded in our Open Research Online (ORO) repository, we have set up a weekly alert service from Web of Science, Scopus, and Science Direct. This provides us with a listing of new publication records from their sites that we can check to see if the item is already in ORO or not. I check the weekly Web of Science alerts. As part of our #VisualisingResearchSupport series, here is a brief overview of how I manage these alerts and the findings so far.

Firstly, I check if the publication record is genuinely affiliated with The Open University. Alerts are not perfect. In fact, some records will include authors who are affiliated with other open universities around the world, for example, the Open University of the Netherlands! This is the first and possibly the most important check of all.


Once affiliation is confirmed, a search in ORO will determine if the publication is already in ORO or not. If it is, brilliant! At that point, the ORO record will be checked, making sure all metadata is accurate and full text is made available wherever possible. If the publication is missing, further checks are needed to make sure it can be added. Some types of publications, such as obituaries, are not usually included in ORO. If the item is a journal article, book chapter, edited book, conference/workshop item, or a book review, we can go ahead and add it to the repository.

What the data shows

Since 3rd June 2021, 11 alerts have been processed, covering a total of 291 records. Out of this, 40 new publication records were added to ORO; 15 book reviews, 5 book chapters, 19 journal articles, and 1 conference proceeding. 28 items didn’t make it into ORO. 10 were not applicable forms of publication i.e., obituaries or similar, and 18 publications featured authors that were not affiliated with the OU.

The good news is that the majority of publications, 223 in total, were already in ORO! 65 records were accurate and needed no further intervention, and 158 needed editing in some way.

The alerts exercise seems to show that a great deal of publications do make it to ORO, whether they are added directly by the author, by the ORO team, or via services like the Jisc Publications Router. It also shows there is room for improvement to ensure that record metadata is as accurate as possible. Although it can be time consuming, I think continuing the alerts exercise is worthwhile. It gives the team the opportunity to review what we do and make changes to our ways of working where necessary, and most importantly ensures that our OU author publications lists are up to date!

A day in the life: Yvette

Hello and welcome to my contribution to our Day in the Life blogpost series.

A typical day for me in the Research Support Team is very likely to involve Open Research Online (ORO), The Open University’s research repository that to date, holds over 48,000 items! Whether it’s importing and editing records, updating and verifying the Open Access status of a publication, or resolving a query for a member of our research community, ORO work keeps me busy!

Many of the team’s queries come through to our Research Support team mailbox, so this needs to be monitored throughout the day. Queries are varied and can be anything from a copyright issue to arranging ORO access for an academic, so no two days are the same!

I also act as representative for the team with the University’s postgraduate researcher (PGR) Liaison group and Professional Doctorate committee, enabling a direct link between our team, the wider OU Library and our researchers. Preparing for these meetings can sometimes be a reactive process, making sure that a particular Library event, update, or wider scholarly issue is picked up on as it happens and relayed quickly.

In addition, I’m a member of the Library’s Web Quality Improvement and Library Search groups. This offers a way for our team to represent the needs of our PGRs and academics, and to raise key issues. I am currently working on improving some webpages to better promote our team’s training sessions ready for the new intake of PGRs in the Autumn. Planning for the new season of training sessions is underway in the team and I am preparing my copyright and your thesis session, as well as a potential new session to cover copyright issues relating to conference and workshop presentations so watch this space! I really welcome the varied nature of my role here and enjoy supporting our fantastic OU researchers 😊

Aside from Research Support related work, I enjoy contributing to a mental health and wellbeing group where we discuss improvements and new ideas for our wellbeing services for staff. The group helps to maintain webpages that signpost staff to useful resources and we have a Wellbeing Buddy system where you can be randomly paired with another person to have regular informal chats. This has been so beneficial to many staff members during the pandemic, helping us to feel less disconnected.

Before I go, I should introduce my work companion, Daisy.

© YH

Here she is on the beach. Her favourite place, somewhere I keep promising we’ll go back to soon. In the meantime, she will make sure we both have plenty of snacks during the day and provide me with soothing snoring sounds in the background. Who needs a white noise generator to help you work when you can have a snoring dog?

Research Support Win!

Hi, I’m Yvette! For this first blogpost in our #ResearchSupportWin series, I would like to share two recent team wins in support of our OU postgraduate researchers and academics!


Image by Dennis Skley, FlickrCreative Commons licence BY ND 2.0



Copyright is the subject of the first win. Issues with copyright and publishing affect both our postgraduate researchers and academics. Whether they are publishing a thesis or adding a publication to our Open Research Online (ORO) repository, publishing supporting data for a thesis or paper on Open Research Data Online (ORDO), or publishing a journal article, copyright is intrinsic to all publishing processes and can be tricky to handle!

Image by Timothy Vollmer, FlickrCreative Commons licence BY 2.0

A recent enquiry presented an issue concerning the choice of Creative Commons licence and the inclusion of some artworks within an article. The article had already been approved for Open Access (OA) publication and their funder/publisher permitted a choice of Creative Commons licences to choose from. This isn’t always the case as many funders mandate the use of a particular licence, usually CC BY, so it is important to check your funder’s terms and conditions.

In this instance, the artworks in question (comic strips) had been created in collaboration with artists and members of the authoring group and therefore the copyright rested with them and not a third-party rightsholder. This was great news for the researcher! Being the rightsholder avoided any third-party permission request processes. However, this was also the main cause for concern as they did not wish for their images to be used and potentially altered by others in the future.

They had three licence options to choose from: CC BY, CC BY-NC, or CC BY-NC-ND. The researcher was provided with details about these licence types and what their component parts meant for their publication, and offered advice to get them to think about how they would want their work to be used in the future. For example, would a commercial use of their paper be beneficial to them? If so, CC BY would be the best option. How would they feel about others adapting their work? I shared a handy flowchart from the Creative Commons website to help with their decision making and they eventually decided that the more restrictive licence, CC BY-NC-ND, would safeguard the artwork from adaptation in the future.

It’s important to have a good awareness of Creative Commons and what this means for your publications. Open Access publishing is great for getting maximum exposure for your work but it’s worthwhile making sure you understand the implications of the licence choices you make. Guidance can be found on our Research Support website which covers the topic of Open Access publishing and copyright. It’s a good place to start to find out more!

 Image by Bill Smith, FlickrCreative Commons BY 2.0


The second win is about accessibility. The OU actively promotes the importance of accessibility and ensures that, wherever possible, digital content is accessible to all. The Research Support team recently provided guidance for our postgraduate students to help them make their thesis documents accessible (see Creating an accessible ethesis). This is how our first enquiry went…



Image by Jil Wright, FlickrCreative Commons BY 2.0

As the guidance is relatively new, the research student was given help to work through the information and was assisted with the conversion of their original Word document into an accessible PDF. By making them aware of issues that had been flagged by the accessibility checker, they were able to make changes to the format of tables to enable easier screen reader use, create alternative text for the images in their thesis, and to correct contrast issues. These small changes made a positive difference. Their enthusiasm and active involvement in making these changes with our support helped to create a thesis document that is accessible to a greater number of readers on ORO!

Please get in touch with us if you have any queries about copyright, or if you need any guidance about the accessibility of documents:

Thinking about social media data management…

Are you planning to use social media data for your research? If so, a recent talk by Ben Wills-Eve at Lancaster Data Conversations may interest you. Entitled ‘Social Media Data Management for Digital Humanities,’ Ben takes you through some of things you should have on your radar when using data from social media platforms like Twitter. Ethical use of data, adhering to data usage policies, copyright, data processing, access to data via APIs (application programming interfaces), data storage, coding/programming, are some of the areas Ben talked about. Before using data from Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media sites it is essential that you read and understand their policies first.

Attendees were signposted to some useful guidance, such as the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) documents on ethical internet research, and reference was made to an interesting paper on the challenges of using historical Twitter data, and deleted Tweets, ethically. The Programming Historian site may also be useful to explore. Not only are the tutorials free and Open Access, they could be just what you need to enhance digital skills you already have, or to learn new ones! The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter Data is an example of what they offer.

If you have any queries about your Data Management Plans, or want to find out more about the ethics of obtaining research data, please visit our Library Research Support website or get in touch with the team.


News you may have missed…The OU signs the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

In November, The OU’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Blackman signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). DORA has been signed by over 16,500 individuals and by over 2,000 organisations worldwide so far, in a commitment to making research assessment fair and transparent: –

“Under this agreement, the OU commits to not allocating staff career advancement opportunities based on Journal Impact Factors (JIFs). In its DORA implementation plan it will make explicit the criteria used for attracting, retaining and developing a diverse research community. The OU will recognise the importance of processes for staff evaluation that are transparent and evidence-based, as part of a culture that aims to be fully inclusive.”

To find out more, take a look at the OU’s news item and read the OU’s official DORA statement, and to keep up-to-date with developments, the DORA blog is a useful read and they can be followed on Twitter @DORAssessment.

OFS funding competition to improve access and participation for BAME groups in PGR study

Research England and the Office for Students (OFS) have launched a joint funding competition for project proposals to ‘improve access and participation for black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups in postgraduate research (PGR) study in the English higher education sector.’

Details of the scheme can be found on the OFS website and the deadline for bids is noon on 28th January 2021.

If you are interested, please contact Dr Lindsay O’Dell, OU Graduate School Director, with any queries.

Creative Commons

Getting to know Creative Commons licences is important when choosing to reuse images or other content in your research outputs, whether they are journal articles, posters, or presentations. Here’s a handy guide to the suite of Creative Commons licences to help you and take a look at the Creative Commons website; it is a great source of information, as well as home to their ever growing CC Search portal. Any content that has been released under a CC licence should have a statement or an icon that indicates which licence applies. You will find this detail in a variety of places within journal articles, as you can see in the examples below. If you decide to use an image, graph, or a graphic from papers released under a CC licence, follow the terms of the licence and credit them appropriately.


Images from photo hosting sites such as Flickr, Wikipedia, Unsplash, Pixabay etc. make their licences clear. Flickr, for instance, allows you to search and filter by Creative Commons licence type and details of the licence will be on the image main page.


Follow the terms of the licence and credit the creator. See the example below: –

Droid Gingerbread. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence


If you have any questions about Creative Commons or copyright in general, please get in touch with us and look out for a copyright training session for postgraduate researchers in the autumn term!