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

First Edinburgh Open Research Conference: March 27th 2022

On this day in history, Kerry Miller (Library Research Support) and Laura Klinkhamer (Edinburgh Open Research Initiative and ReproducibiliTea) delivered a packed programme of speakers, workshops, and poster presentations.

Attendees online and in person were treated to a fine and varied selection of talks. To begin with, topics ranged from Gavin McLachlan’s overview of current national and international political contexts and Dominic Tate’s review of the University’s Open Research Roadmap, to the latest in open access publishing from Rebecca Wojturska and Dominique Walker, FAIR principles from Susanna-Assunta Sansone, and Eugenia Rodrigues on inclusivity and Citizen Science.

Other speakers – Malcolm Macleod, Jane Hillston, Alan Cambell, and Stephen Curry – focused on research culture and integrity. Notably, they reminded us that open practices aren’t just essential for replication and verification, they might also help in dealing with all kinds of bad behaviour: bullying, harassment, perhaps even research misconduct. As one would expect, the need to incentivise and reward openness was also a hot topic. Not a bad idea, especially if the aim is to change people’s behaviour for the better.

The session on training and education was particularly interesting, especially the middle two presentations, both of which focused on openness and pedagogic practice. First, Madeleine Pownall presented a synthesis of evidence relating to impact on student outcomes. Her findings suggest that exposure to open practices can improve scientific literacy, critical thinking, and core competencies, including understanding statistics and research methods.

Nicely complementing Madeleine’s study, Emma MacKenzie and Felicity Anderson gave us the benefit of hands-on experience. Speaking from either side of the student-supervisor relation, they described their use of open source tools, materials, and mind-sets in student projects. Here, too, we saw the development of core competencies, this time including the documentation, discussion, and resolution of errors.

The lessons from all three presenters are clear enough: make the resources of scholarly research accessible and students will engage with them enthusiastically, intelligently, and with self-awareness. Just imagine what might be achieved should such attitudes ever escape the classroom and reach the wider world.

There were also poster sessions, culminating in first prize for Livia Scorza’s ‘Not going to waste – preserving Scotland’s COVID-19 waste water data,’ and there were workshops covering everything from public engagement to Open Research and AI.

The event concluded with a well-deserved show of appreciation for our organisers, Kerry and Laura. Meanwhile, everyone agreed that the day had been a lot of fun and educationally valuable. To see the ties between Open Research, Integrity, and Research Culture being drawn ever closer was both fascinating and encouraging; likewise, the enthusiasm for embedding openness in the student experience.

Best of all, however, it was good to be there in person, especially after the last two years. Speaking to real people and seeing others speak in all three available dimensions was really a very pleasant reminder of what it’s like to be a human being.

Simon Smith
Research Data Support Service

Photographs by Eugen Stoica: ES CC-BY 4.0

DataShare awarded CoreTrustSeal trustworthy repository status

CoreTrustSeal has recognised Edinburgh DataShare as a trustworthy repository.

What does this mean for our depositors? It means you can rest assured that we look after your data very carefully, in line with stringent internationally-recognised standards. We have significant resources in place to ensure your dataset remains available to the academic community and the general public at all times. We also have digital preservation expertise and well-planned processes in place, to protect your data from long-term threats. The integrity and reusability of your data are a priority for the Research Data Service.

Book to attend our practical “Archiving your Research Data” course

The certification involves an in-depth evaluation of the resilience of the repository, looking at procedures, infrastructure, staffing, discoverability, digital preservation, metadata standards and disaster recovery. This rigorous process took the team over a year to complete, and prompted a good deal of reflection on the robustness of our repository. We compiled responses to sixteen requirements, a task which I co-ordinated. The finished application contained over ten thousand words, and included important contributions from colleagues in the Digital Library team and from the university Digital Archivist Sara Thomson.

Our CoreTrustSeal application in full   

The CTS is a prestigious accreditation, held by many national organisations such as the National Library of Scotland, the UK’s Centre for Environmental Data Analysis and UniProt. Ours is the first institutional research data repository in the UK to receive the CoreTrustSeal (the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre has the CTS but, in contrast to DataShare, is a disciplinary repository which archives data from the international research community).

DataShare is a trustworthy repository, where you as a researcher (staff or student) at the University of Edinburgh can archive your research data free of charge. Bring us your dataset – up to 100 GB(!) – and we will look after it well, to maximise its discoverability and its potential for reuse, both in the immediate term and long beyond the lifetime of your research project.

Edinburgh DataShare

All CTS certified repositories

circular logo bearing a tick mark and the words 'Core Trust Seal'

The Research Data Support team has earned the right to display this CTS logo on the DataShare homepage

Pauline Ward
Research Data Support Assistant
Library & University Collections

University of Edinburgh’s new Research Data Management Policy

Following a year-long consultation with research committees and other stakeholders, a new RDM Policy (www.ed.ac.uk/is/research-data-policy) has replaced the landmark 2011 policy, authored by former Digital Curation Centre Director, Chris Rusbridge, which seemed to mark a first for UK universities at the time. The original policy (doi: 10.7488/era/1524) was so novel it was labeled ‘aspirational’ by those who passed it.

"Policy"

CC-BY-SA-2.0, Sustainable Economies Law Centre, flickr

RDM has come a long way since then, as has the University Research Data Service which supports the policy and the research community. Expectation of a data management plan to accompany a research proposal has become much more ordinary, and the importance of data sharing has also become more accepted in that time, with funders’ policies becoming more harmonised (witness UKRI’s 2016 Concordat on Open Research Data).

What has changed?

Although a bit longer (the first policy was ten bullet points and could fit on a single page!), the new policy adds clarity about the University’s expectations of researchers (both staff and students), adds important concepts such as making data FAIR (explanation below) and grounding concepts in other key University commitments and policies such as research integrity, data protection, and information security (with references included at the end). Software code, so important for research reproducibility, is included explicitly.

CC BY 2.0, Big Data Prob, KamiPhuc on flickr

Definitions of research data and research data management are included, as well as specific references to some of the service components that can help – DMPOnline, DataShare, etc. A commitment to review the policy every 5 years, or sooner if needed, is stated, so another ten years doesn’t fly by unnoticed. Important policy references are provided with links. The policy has graduated from aspirational – the word “must” occurs twelve times, and “should” fifteen times. Yet academic freedom and researcher choice remains a basic principle.

Key messages

In terms of responsibilities, there are 3 named entities:

  • The Principle Investigator retains accountability, and is responsible as data owner (and data controller when personal data are collected) on behalf of the University. Responsibility may be delegated to a member of a project team.
  • Students should adhere to the policy/good practice in collecting their own data. When not working with data on behalf of a PI, individual students are the data owner and data controller of their work.
  • The University is responsible for raising awareness of good practice, provision of useful platforms, guidance, and services in support of current and future access.

Data management plans are required:

  • Researchers must create a data management plan (DMP) if any research data are to be collected or used.
  • Plans should cover data types and volume, capture, storage, integrity, confidentiality, retention and destruction, sharing and deposit.
  • Research data management plans must specify how and when research data will be made available for access and reuse.
  • Additionally, a Data Protection Impact Assessment is required whenever data pertaining to individuals is used.
  • Costs such as extra storage, long-term retention, or data management effort must be addressed in research proposals (so as to be recovered from funders where eligible).
  • A University subscription to the DMPOnline tool guides researchers in creating plans, with funder and University templates and guidance; users may request assistance in writing or reviewing a plan from the Research Data Service.

FAIR data sharing is more nuanced than ‘open data’:

  • Publicly funded research data should be made openly available as soon as possible with as few restrictions as necessary.
  • Principal Investigators and research students should consider how they can best make their data FAIR in their Data Management Plans (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable).
  • Links to relevant publications, people, projects, and other research products such as software or source code should be provided in metadata records, with persistent identifiers when available.
  • Discoverability and access by machines is considered as important as access by humans. Standard open licences should be applied to data and code deposits.

Use data repositories to achieve FAIR data:

  • Research data must be offered for deposit and retention in a national or international data service or domain repository, or a University repository (see next bullet).
  • PIs may deposit their data for open access for all (with or without a time-limited embargo) in Edinburgh DataShare, a University data repository; or DataVault, a restricted access long-term retention solution.
  • Research students may deposit a copy of their (anonymised) data in Edinburgh DataShare while retaining ownership.
  • Researchers should add a dataset metadata record in Pure to data archived elsewhere, and link it to other research outputs.
  • Software code relevant to research findings may be deposited in code repositories such as Gitlab or Github (cloud).

Consider rights in research data:

  • Researchers should consider the rights of human subjects, as well as citizen scientists and the public to have access to their data, as well as external collaborators.
  • When open access to datasets is not legal or ethical (e.g. sensitive data), information governance and restrictions on access and use must be applied as necessary.
  • The University’s Research Office can assist with providing templates for both incoming and outgoing research data and the drafting and negotiation of data sharing agreements.
  • Exclusive rights to reuse or publish research data must not be passed to commercial publishers.

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