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.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are undertaking a review of the bureaucratic load within the research process, with a view to identifying inefficiencies, improvements and future directions with a view to ” substantially reduce research bureaucracy, primarily for the benefit of individuals and teams conducting research.”.
It will stay open for submissions until Friday, 1st of October. Please note you should submit an individual response.
They have asked for the link to be circulated widely in the community and have said:
“We are grateful to all those who have already contributed to the Review’s evidence gathering. Responses to the call for evidence will be considered in addition to the evidence already gathered. Those who have already contributed should be reassured that their comments have been captured though they are welcome to provide additional input should they wish to.
Please don’t hesitate to contact the Review team should you have any questions. ”
This is a wide-ranging review and is an excellent opportunity for us all to help shape the future of research processes against the vision of open research.
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!
All entries to the Graduate School’s PGR Poster Competition 2021 have now been published on ORO. A collection of winning entries has also been added to ORDO, allowing us to publicly showcase some of the fantastic research being undertaken by our PGR student community. Why not head over to ORDO now to take a look at the breadth of research being conducted?
List of winning entries:
People’s choice (voted for by OU staff and students)
Multimedia – Freya Wise ‘Heritage buildings and carbon reduction: some interim conclusions’
Poster – Vicky Bowskill ‘Hay Days: Management of floodplain meadows for sustainable hay production’
Judge’s choice (voted for by 12 academic and academic-related OU staff)
Imagery Highly Commended – Sophie Alexander ‘What did the Southern Ocean look like 45 million years ago?’
Imagery Winner – Vicky Bowskill ‘Hay Days: Management of floodplain meadows for sustainable hay production’
Poster Highly Commended – James Cole ‘Microwaving the Moon: Water Extraction Icy Regolith’
Poster Highly Commended – Simona Radu ‘The Lived Experience of Wearable Diabetes Technology for Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes and Caregivers’
Poster Runner-up Winner – Katy Woodason ‘Food and Plastic Waste: From Zero to Hero’
Poster Winner – Joe McNeil ‘The Lost Landscape: A story of deposition and erosion in the ExoMars rover landing site’
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.
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.
Spring2021: 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.
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.
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?
Hi I’m Maxine. I’ve been a member of the Research Support Team since 2017 and part of my role has been to support and liaise with our PGR student community. In 2019 we trialled getting the submissions made to the annual Graduate School Poster Competition uploaded to ORO, with a winning collection of posters added to ORDO.
This was a great success, with students feeding back that having their posters in these public repositories has allowed them to share their research more readily with colleagues, friends, and family. Winning entries uploaded to ORDO also receive a DOI (a permanent, citable web link), allowing students to get better recognition for these outputs.
The winning collections of posters on ORDO from 2019 and 2020 have been viewed over 1400 times, which is not only great for the students in terms of exposure, but great for the OU too, as it helps to highlight the amazing work our PGR community is engaged with and the breadth of research being undertaken. Topics have varied from developing robots with common sense to researching 50 million-year-old fish teeth to determine ocean currents.
Although the results were great and we felt it was important to continue sharing these posters more widely, the amount of additional work this generated was too high to justify. Not only did we need to contact students to seek permission to upload their entries to an open access repository, and ask them to choose from a number of available licenses to share their work under, we also had to check students hadn’t included any third party copyright materials in their work. This inevitably generated a lot of chasing emails and a high volume of copyright and licensing queries. Even within our team, the nuances of copyright law and the different Creative Commons licenses can be tricky to navigate!
This year I’ve managed to work with the Graduate School to streamline the process. We are now asking students at the point of submission whether they’re happy to add their poster to the repository, as well as offering advice on copyright within the entry guidance, and we have restricted the license options to minimise the volume of queries generated. This means it should be far quicker to upload the content so that we can continue to showcase the excellent work of our PGR community!
The winners for this year’s Poster Competition are due to be announced at a celebratory event on 23 June 2021, led by the new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Enterprise and Scholarship, Professor Kevin Shakesheff. So, look out for the 2021 entries landing on ORDO and ORO soon!
Hello and happy Friday! I’m Megan, a Research Support Officer who joined the team in April 2020. I’m also a PhD student researching in the area of Education. I thought I’d share a #ResearchSupportWin with you all today.
We get queries from researchers around literature searching from time to time and these can vary significantly depending on what field the student is searching in. There are other factors that can also affect a literature search such as, how experienced students are with searching. As a research student myself I know how difficult it can be to find relevant papers to support a literature review.
A student contacted me to ask for help in finding more relevant results from their literature search. They were finding their searches were bringing back hundreds of irrelevant results. I set up a meeting with the student so that they could demonstrate their searching strategy which would help me to identify the problem. It became clear that the topic was an under researched area and therefore, there were few relevant papers available from the outset. However, it was clear the keywords they were using were not specific enough to the research question. Broad search terms often bring up lots of irrelevant papers which can be an overwhelming position to be in.
The student was also only using Google Scholar to conduct their searches. Google Scholar is a great tool but if you are finding your searches are bringing back too many results that aren’t helpful to your research then I always suggest checking out the collection of databases on the Library website. I ended up showing the student some different more subject specific databases that the OU Library subscribe to. I also shared some tips and tricks to get the most out of using them including, citation searching and how to use the subject terms within databases. This guidance enabled the student to find some great papers that they were able to use in their literature review. So, a definite WIN!
Please get in touch with the Research Support Team if you have any queries about databases or literature searching.
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!
Hello, my name is Nicola. My role is Senior Library Manager for Research Support. I joined the OU in 2003 as a Subject Information Specialist supporting Science and Health and Social Welfare. For the past 10 years I have been responsible for the Library’s research support team. The team provides specialist services e.g. open access publishing and research data management to OU academics, researchers and postgraduate research students. Research support has been a growing area of the Library Service over the past few years and I am very fortunate to work with a fantastic team who work hard to develop their knowledge and expertise and use this to develop our services.
No two days are ever the same but most days I have a catch up with at least one of the team. We have all being working from home for over a year so weekly online catch ups enable us to share what we are doing and plan our work. We also have a weekly Friday team catch up and as Megan mentioned in her blog post a monthly teams games session. I usually act as quiz master as I got fed up with coming last.
As well as the internal services that I am responsible for, I also try to be externally active. Since February 2018 I have been chair of the UK Council of Open Research and Repositories (UKCORR), which is the professional body for repositories and those working in open research. In the latest Committee meeting we discussed gathering members feedback from the latest Research Excellence (REF) submission so we can capture some of the lessons learnt and surveying members to find out their future plans for the repositories to identify areas where UKCORR can offer support. I am also on the Jisc OpenDOAR Steering group and in the last meeting we were discussing a metadata proposal.
Most of my days are a mixture of keeping an overview of our services and answering a range of enquiries that come both through the team mailbox and to me individually. These include how to publish open access, working with one of faculties to set up an undergraduate journal for their project module, assessing new journal deals, supporting the OU’s scholarship activity. My role involves working with a wide range of people which I enjoy and I get a real sense of satisfaction when I have managed to help someone or have learnt something new.
As I am working from home my 2 cats have become my work colleagues, but they do tend to sleep most of the day.