Open Research Support at Russell Group Universities

As part of my work as Research Data Steward, I was asked by our Open Research Co-ordinator to investigate the open research support available at Russell Group universities and how the University of Edinburgh compares.[1] Open research, which is also known as “open science” or “open scholarship”, refers to a collection of practices and principles around transparency, reproducibility and integrity in research. To understand to what extent Russell Group universities have adapted to the ongoing development of open science, we have conducted analysis in terms of four areas. Do they have a published policy around Open Research? Do they have an Open Research Roadmap? Do they mention any training or specific support for researchers in achieving Open Research? What services do they provide to support Open Research?

Firstly, we checked whether those universities have a policy/statement that outlines the university’s approach to support open research and key principles for researchers. Less than 30% of these universities have a clear policy or statement for Open Research. Good examples include the University of Cambridge,[2] University of Sheffield,[3] and Cardiff University.[4]

Secondly, we checked whether they have a Roadmap that provides a set of questions that universities can use to monitor their progress in implementing Open Science principles, practices and policies at a local level. Among the Russell Group members, University of Edinburgh and University College London – two members of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) [5] provide a roadmap/page dedicated to monitor their progress. (Ours can be found on this Open Research page.)

Facets of open researchThirdly,what services are provided to researchers to make their work public? Most universities provide support like a data repository (except for LSE), Research Data Management support, Open Access to publications and thesis and guidance on sharing research software. A few provide support on protocols sharing. Some universities have started hosting an open research conference. For example, UCL Open Science Conference 2021, 2022,[6] Open Research Symposium hosted by the University of Southampton,[7] and University Open Research Conference, June 2021, at the University of Birmingham.[8] As an active member of LERU, our university also joined in to launch our first Edinburgh Open Research Conference in May, 2022.

Lastly, we have found all universities have training relevant to open research, with around half of them clearly advertising their training. Some good examples which we could learn from include the “Open Research education for doctoral students” from Imperial College[9]  and a practical libguide for open research provided by the University of York[10].

We are glad to see that Russell Group members have started adopting actions to support Open research, which is considered part of the new normal for research-intensive universities. However, this is a long and ongoing process. We have seen that many universities are still in the early stages of the implementation process and more can be done to advance their practice, including ours.

Yue Gu
Research Data Steward

Footnotes
[1] https://russellgroup.ac.uk/about/our-universities/
[2] https://osc.cam.ac.uk/open-research-position-statement
[3] https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/openresearch/university-statement-open-research
[4] https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/documents/2519297-open-research-position-statement
[5] https://www.leru.org/publications/implementing-open-science
[6] See the UCL Blog post for more information. https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/open-access/2022/03/15/bookings-now-open-for-ucl-open-science-conference-2022/
[7] https://library.soton.ac.uk/openaccess/Plan_S_open_research_symposium
[8] See https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/as/libraryservices/library/research/open-research.aspx
[9] https://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/support-for-staff/scholarly-communication/open-research/open-research-education/
[10] https://subjectguides.york.ac.uk/openresearch/home

New data archiving unit in MANTRA

Summertime is always a good time to renew and refresh – including open educational resources like Research Data MANTRA, https://mantra.ed.ac.uk, a free online course “for those who manage digital data as part of their research project.”

MANTRA’s lead editor Bob Sanders, in Library Research Support, has been busy in between his summer holidays getting all the topical units fit for new postgrads and early career researchers.

In particular each of the units’ links, images, videos, activities and further reading sections have been renewed, following a rolling revamp of most of the sections’ written content over the last couple of years. Two of the units, ‘Files, formats and transformation,’ and ‘Documentation, metadata and citation’ have been retired and  replaced by a new ‘Preparing your data for archiving’ section, covering why and how to publish your data in a trustworthy repository.

We are also aware that the data handling tutorials, separate from the other units, have become more or less outdated and while we decide how to address this, users should be aware of the last update date on each set of those downloadable materials.

Of course we practice what we preach in terms of archiving, and so previous units that have been revamped have been archived on the Zenodo site, (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1035218), along with the retired ‘DIY RDM Training Kit for Librarians’ (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6532049).

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bob for acting as lead editor for MANTRA in recent years and for stewarding it through so many new developments in the field of research data management, and to wish him well in his new role as SCADR Training Manager in the School of GeoSciences.

For the complete set of RDM training by the Research Data Service, including live sessions, see https://www.ed.ac.uk/is/data-training.

Robin Rice
Data Librarian and Head, Research Data Support

Data Mindfulness – learning the basics of good research data management

When planning a research project, whether this involves carrying out interviews for a first dissertation project or analysing secondary data for a PhD, it is important to ensure that you are handling your research data safely and effectively. Taking time to think about where and how you will store and organise your files, how your data can be backed up to protect against accidentally losing your work, and what to consider if working with sensitive information, will help make the research process simpler and help you become a better researcher.

The Research Data Service provide a range of training materials to help both new and experienced researchers to work with their research data more effectively. For students planning a dissertation project we have developed the online Data Mindfulness: Making the most of your dissertation data course (available as part of the Library’s LibSmart II course). This short introductory course is designed to be accessible and engaging, and incorporates videos, quizzes and reading materials to provide helpful tips and guidance for those preparing to undertake their first dissertation project.

Data Mindfulness is available online as part of the library’s LibSmart II research skills course

We are happy to share some of the positive feedback we have received from students who recently completed the Data Mindfulness course:

“It was clear and easily accessible, especially for someone who is an online student”

“A lot of information that I had no idea about but feel better having received it”

“It provides useful tips about organizing and storing data and files”

“Every SSPS student should be aware that they have access to this course before starting their dissertation”

For post-graduate students and those with previous experience working with research data we recommend checking out MANTRA, our well-established online training course which provides more in-depth training on key research data management topics.

Dr Bob Sanders
L&UC Research Data Support

Edinburgh Open Research Conference Proceedings

EOR logoOne of the ambitions for the EOR conference held in March, 2022, when we first started planning it was to make it as open and accessible as possible. To achieve this we made the whole event hybrid so that plenary talks, posters, and workshops were all accessible on the day to both in person and remote attendees. While this generally worked very well for both remote and in-person attendees, we also wanted to make it available to people who couldn’t attend on the day – so we recorded everything, and the recordings of the talks and posters can now be openly accessed through our Edinburgh Open Research journal at http://journals.ed.ac.uk/eor.

Kerry Miller
Research Data Support Officer & Open Research Co-Ordinator
Library Research Support