About Robin Rice

Data Librarian and Head, Research Data Support Library & University Collections

Edinburgh Open Research Conference 2023: in summary

This is a guest post by the Library’s new Citizen Science Engagement Officer, Neil Coleman. All of the materials from the conference may be found on the Edinburgh Open Research Journal page.

After a wonderful three days of talks, workshops, and connecting, we can now call a close to a second successful open research conference. This year, the collaborative efforts of members from the Library Research Support teams (led by the wonderful Kerry Miller) and Edinburgh ReproducibiliTea (facilitated by the talented Emma Wilson) brought together speakers and attendees from all over – allowing connections to be forged with representatives across the UK (and further afield!).

On Monday we were treated to a number of intimate workshops, ranging from a targeted discussion on the future of our very own Edinburgh Diamond, to some practical guidance on how to support good Open Research practices in the Arts and Humanities. We even had the privilege of hosting Edinburgh’s very first ‘Research Café’, where Marshall Dozier, Ruth McQuillan and Lauren Hall Hew spoke about their experiences with Open Research, leading to a delightful discussion about the future of their work, and, importantly, how we might all improve. It was a great first step in this new initiative – a chance to have an in person chat about the trials and tribulations, but also the joy and excitement found in research.

Tuesday was ‘the big day’, with over a hundred in-person tickets sold, and more than 300 online attendees throughout the day. We began with a keynote from Kirsty Wallis (Head of Research Liaison at UCL). Her talk painted a detailed picture of some of the amazing work taking place. This included some stand out discussions of the progress they have been making with their support for citizen science and community connectedness with research; the Euston Voices/Euston Young Voices were really stand out case studies of the impact open research practices can have on the world beyond research.

A table of people in conversation with a fold out board and post-it notes on the left hand side.

In depth discussions taking place at the Monday Arts and Humanities workshop.

 

The remainder of the day allowed us to explore the themes of the conference in depth: looking for tangible solutions to global challenges. Our lunchtime keynotes, Daisy Selematsela and Lazarus G Matizirofa gave us a tour of the current status of Open Research in South Africa and the University of Pretoria in particular. Later, Will Cawthorn (our LERU Open Science Ambassador) spoke about the structures and initiatives that are helping to realise the potential of open science. Sandwiched between these fabulous lectures, a diversity of perspectives were offered in formats including lightning talks – from a community representative of a data-focussed environmental initiative (Pauline Ward, Data 4 Climate Action​) through to workflows from Xiaoli Chen (DataCite). Throughout, it was inspiring to see the levels of engagement – with a seemingly unending stream of questions and comments from the room and our online community following on from many of the talks, which continued for the in-person group in a drinks reception.

Photograph of William Cawthorne standing in front of an illustrated PowerPoint presentation.

Will Cawthorne presenting on research culture, with perhaps the most beautifully illustrated slide of the day!

The Wednesday closed the workshop sandwich. Gillian Currie and Charlotte Brady worked with attendees to develop ‘Bingo’ cards to promote good academic questioning at conferences. At the same time in the Pentland Suite, the focus was on the 9th Pillar: citizen science and participatory research. Lightning talks from project leads across the colleges were followed by in-depth discussions of the challenges faced by this unique but exciting collection of approaches.

The day and the conference drew to a close in the best possible way: engaging talk with pizza. Facilitated by a wonderful team of early career researchers, the final workshop focused on the relationship between PhD researchers and open research practices. As is typical in all cases of culture change – it has to happen at every level, and there is a risk of early career researchers being left behind. The future of research is open, and so ensuring that those at the start of their careers are well equipped is at the heart of all of the work we do.

With that in mind, then, we can now look forward, where the lessons learned, discussions had, and connections made will ground our work for the coming year. With two successful conferences behind us, this will surely become a tradition with Open Research 2024!

Photograph of Cristina Rusu presenting in front of a PowerPoint slide with an image of Charlie the cat.

While I would of course never admit to playing favourites, I will admit to being a huge fan of Charlie the cat from Loughborough University who was an unticketed virtual attendee.

Community of Edinburgh Research Software Engineers (CERSE): Reflections on the 7th meeting

In this blog Dr Eleni Kotoula, Lead Research Facilitator at the University of Edinburgh, writes about the CERSE and their most recent event.

What is CERSE?

CERSE is a community like no other! It offers an excellent opportunity for Research Software Engineers  (RSE) to get support and recognition for their work. In addition to Research Software Engineers, the CERSE welcomes those interested in the development, use, support or management of research software. Hence, researchers, research support and research data professionals can get involved, expand their network and broaden their understanding of research software engineering. To find out more, have a look at the CERSE Meeting Handbook.

A summary of CERSE’s 7th meeting

Members of the CERSE community across Edinburgh came together earlier this month in the Bayes Centre for the first post-pandemic meeting. After a long break from activities, the organisers from the University of Edinburgh Digital Research Services, EPCC, Sofware Sustainability Institute and the Centre of Data, Culture and Society were keen to resurrect meetings.

Mario Antonioletti opened the meeting, briefly referring to the RSE movement and its previous meetings in Edinburgh. Mike Wallis, Research Services Lead at the University of Edinburgh, gave an overview of the Edinburgh Compute and Data Facility, highlighting data storage, cloud and high performance computing services. Andrew Horne provided an update on EDINA’s ongoing project for the development of Automatic Systematic Reviews. Then, Mario Antonioletti presented EPCC and services such as Archer2 and Cirrus, as well as the important work of the Software Sustainability Institute. After the short talks, Felicity Anderson, PhD candidate in Informatics and Software Sustainability Institute Fellow, led an ice-breaking activity, followed by a networking session. All presentations are available here.

Next steps

The CERSE community has the potential to grow and flourish in a region so rich in research-intensive institutions and academic excellence. We aim to continue by alternating face-to-face and virtual meetings monthly. To do so, we need active participation from those interested in the RSE community. There are different ways to get involved; attending meetings, talking about your relevant work or volunteering to help organize one of the following meetings. For us in Digital Research Facilitation, CERSE offers the opportunity to meet and connect with researchers, RSEs, IT and research support staff. Moreover, we share the same passion for best practices in data-intensive and computational research. That’s why we have been heavily involved in supporting this community in practice and strongly encourage those interested to join us. We are looking forward to meeting you in one of the following CERSE meetings, either in person or online.

How to get involved?

Join the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) mailing list: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/ed-rse-community

Follow the CERSE on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cerse7

Join the RSE: https://society-rse.org/join-us/

Dr Eleni Kotoula
Digital Research Facilitation

ERASMUS work placement visitor from Germany

Judith DaehneMy name is Judith Dähne (Daehne). I am the Research Data Support Officer of RheinMain University of Applied Sciences.

When I started to think about research data management (RDM) around 2015, MANTRA   provided my first opportunity learn about RDM and how to handle data correctly. I also discovered DMPonline, delivered by the Digital Curation Centre, and it therefore seemed to me that Edinburgh was somehow the cradle of RDM.

When I heard of the final opportunity to visit the UK with the EU’s ERASMUS programme (it will stop in May 2023) I was keen to apply for a visit with the Research Data Support team of the University of Edinburgh… I am really happy that I landed this wonderful opportunity of a short job shadowing visit.

I attended several meetings and training sessions of the Research Data Service team. I am impressed how much support and aid is provided for the researchers. The infrastructure of storage and exchange like DataStore, DataSync, DataShare, DataVault forms the technical basis of the support.

Even more important, in my opinion, is the personal backing and advice of the data management team.You might just ask your questions by pressing one of the “Contact us” buttons  and there you find email and phone numbers of the research data team at your finger tips.

And the team really takes care over every single dataset that is loaded in DataShare: how to enhance the metadata and how to make it more visible for the scientific community. Not many institutional repositories are curated in such a detailed way – I will take home some precious tips and workflows!

One sticking point, however, is the same as with us: How do we make the services known? How do we reach as many researchers as possible? And how can the transformation to more open science then succeed? Perhaps to just carry on with talking and teaching seems the only way…

3 at lunch table

Robin, Simon and Judith enjoy a working lunch at Howie’s

Research data are a social good and data management supports the verification and replication in science. Ultimately transparency, openness and good data management strengthen the credibility of science and help to counter climate change deniers and conspiracy theorists.  To emphasise this argument, like here in Edinburgh, is also a very important take home message for me.

I would like to thank Robin & her team for sharing their knowledge and their hospitality! I hope we stay in touch.

Guest blog post by Judith Dähne
RheinMain University of Applied Sciences

Digital Research Services: How we can support your research

[This is a guest blog post by our new DRS Facilitator Sarah Janac. The Research Data Service is one of a number of digital research services at the University of Edinburgh.]

Many researchers rely on digital tools and computational methods for their work, and, for this, the University offers several state-of-the-art facilities. However, it is easy to get lost in the sheer number of tools and providers. Digital Research Services are here to help. 

Who are Digital Research Services (DRS)? 

Digital Research Services offer a single point of access for all things digital research across the University. We connect researchers with the digital tools and services from Information Services and other providers. We make it our priority to deliver tailored support so that researchers get the best use of the resources out there. 

We love the research lifecycle! 

The research lifecycle is the cornerstone of our work. We collaborate with service providers from Information Services Group and beyond to support you in all stages of your research and anticipate challenges which might come up.  For instance, we can support you in developing your funding application, ensuring you fully cover the costs related to the digital aspects of your project. We can help you devise a plan for storing your data properly and share it with your collaborators. We can support you in finding the research computing services required for analysis. We will help you think about archiving your data and making it accessible to other researchers, utilising trusted repositories. Finally, we can also support you in the dissemination of research outputs.  

How do we support you? 

First of all, our website offers a one-stop shop for digital tools, training and events. You can browse through the different tools that the University offers, see if there is relevant training and read up on case studies describing how these tools have been used by researchers before.  

If you have specific questions or require tailored support and advice, you can get in touch with one of our team members. We are a small team of 3 people, each with expertise for one of the three colleges: 

  • Eleni has a background in digital humanities. She has been a research facilitator for a number of years now and is the first port of call for researchers at the College of Art, Humanities and Social Sciences;  
  • Andre has a background in civil engineering, both in industry as well as in academia. He is there to support researchers in the College of Science and Engineering; 
  • Sarah has academic and hands-on experience in the medical field. She is here to assist with queries from the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine 

We work closely with technical experts of various service providers and have contacts across the University. This means that if we can’t answer your question ourselves, we will find someone who can.  

Finally, we have a range of exciting events coming up! These can help you further your digital skills, grow your network and exchange ideas. 

Scale up your research design

Upcoming events in Semester 2 

Early Career Researcher Forum  

The Early Career Researcher Forums provide a platform to exchange ideas, develop a network and explore opportunities on topics relevant to digital research. Members of the forum can propose a theme and lead discussions based on their research interests. These may include: the creation of digital management plans; use of various digital tools and resources; data storage/preservation/sharing; publication of research outputs; open publishing; etc.  

The forum is open to Early Career Researchers and PhD students at the University across all schools – the aim is to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue and networking. The Research Facilitation Team will be present to help lead the sessions. Sign up here.   

Early Career Researcher design

Digital Research Ambassador Internship Scheme 

After a successful run in the previous years, Digital Research Services are planning another fully funded internship scheme. We will be matching interns – postgraduate students with strong digital research, data and computing skills – with host projects across the University.  

  • As an intern, you will bring in data and research compute expertise, contributing to digital skill development and project planning. In addition, you will gain hands-on interdisciplinary research experience.  
  • As a host, you will get support and gain new perspectives in using digital tools and services. You will develop additional dimensions to your digital research plans and inspire a new generation of researchers. 

If you would like to take part, please register your interest here so we can plan accordingly. More information, including previous projects, can be viewed here.  

Lunchtime Seminars 

The seminars are open to all, and will cover a wide range of themes and research services. They will help you gain awareness of digital research services, learn the fundamental aspects of the digital research life cycle and discover the challenges and opportunities of data and computing services.  

There is a mini networking session immediately before each lunchtime seminar.  

The themes for Semester 2 are as follows: 

  • Organise and Store |30th March 2023. Book your place here 
  • Publish, Share and Preserve | 28th April 2023. Book your place here  
  • Interpret and Analyse | 17th May 2023. Book your place here

Keep in touch! 

You can also stay up to date by joining our mailing list and following our Twitter and LinkedIn pages.  

Link to our website: Digital Research Services at the University of Edinburgh 

Link to our brochure: DRS Facilitation – UoE Digital Research Services Brochure DIGITAL.pdf – All Documents (sharepoint.com) 

Sarah Janac
Digital Research Services Facilitator
Information Services