The Holistic Librarian – Thing 23+1

Hi, I’m Patrick Overy and I am the subject librarian for Law and Business.

Task 23+1 was to document “Where could a researcher go to get help writing a data management plan?”

What I knew about the topic beforehand:

I have never been asked to help to write a data management plan, although I am often consulted about research sources, bibliographic software and literature reviews.

What I know now

Students on the Open Exeter project have produced a useful guide to new researchers, available on ERIC as Research Data Management Survival Guide

The Library is also building up an online resource at

The DCC has developed an online tool to help researchers – this includes customised sections relevant to specific funders.

There is also a useful online guide produced by the University of Bath at

How did I obtain this knowledge?

Try online sources of advice in the UK and beyond – the Digital Curation Centre to start with but also further afield, e.g

Some funders require a data management plan as part of research proposals, e.g. the National Science Foundation in the USA (see How to Write a Data Management Plan for a National Science Foundation (NSF) Proposal:

Finally, each task asks the questions “What else would you like to know about the topic?” and “How did you find this task? How would you improve it?”

I am sure that I will need to know more about all of these topics to meet the needs of researchers but so far I will just have to react to individual requests. I found the tasks useful and hope the results will feed into a permanent online resource.

Posted under Holistic Librarian, Training

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on November 30, 2012

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The Holistic Librarian – Thing 23

Hi, I’m Patrick Overy and I am the subject librarian for Law and Business.

Task 23 was to document “What is the importance of licensing research data? Where can you find out more about licensing research data?”

What I knew about the topic beforehand:

Licensing research data may mean either:

  1. Getting permission to use data produced by another researcher/research body/commercial enterprise for your own purposes or
  2. Making your research data publicly available but still controlling its use by third parties

As researchers in the Business School in particular make heavy use of data which is commercially produced I am frequently involved in setting up access to services or advising on available datasets.

If data is produced by national or international bodies and available via ESRC (Economic and Social Data Service) any research has to be submitted to the UK Data Archive to complement the original data although copyright may determine whether it can be publicly available.

What I know now

Many public bodies are choosing to follow Creative Commons practices, e.g. TERN  in Australia   If data is created by the researcher it can be licensed via Creative Commons style licences, although this is sometimes not a suitable solution.  JISC has produced a help guide for licensing open access data at

A general guide has been produced by the DCC:  Ball, A. (2012). ‘How to License Research Data’. DCC How-to Guides. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online:

How did I obtain this knowledge?

Try online sources of advice in the UK and beyond – the Digital Curation Centre to start with, especially

Posted under Holistic Librarian, Training

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on November 30, 2012

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The Holistic Librarian – Thing 22

Hi, I’m Patrick Overy and I am the subject librarian for Law and Business.

As part of the Holistic Librarian project I was asked to research 3 tasks connected with the management of research data.

Task 22 was to document “What advice I would offer a researcher in order for their research data to be discoverable and visible on the internet?”

What I knew about the topic beforehand:

Before the start of the Open Exeter project I was not very aware of the problems of researchers producing data and the challenges involved in archiving and providing continuing access to it.

Although I have been involved in populating ERIC, the institutional repository for several years, this has generally meant dealing with research outputs in the form of articles, working papers and reports, rather than the underlying data.

What I know now

What options are available for researchers to archive their data.

  1. There are facilities as part of ERIC
  2. At a national level the UK Data Archive has produced an extensive guide which covers all aspects of the production and archiving of data; (Managing and sharing data. 3rd ed (2011) Colchester: UK Data Archive
  3. Nationally and internationally there are subject repositories which may be a better solution, particularly if the research is collaborative and may be cross-border

How to ensure that their research is easily found by using the best metadata – see examples at  Choose the most appropriate search terms to describe the exact nature of the data so that it is obvious to researchers.

How researchers can make maximum use of research networks and social media to advertise the location of their research data.

How did I obtain this knowledge?

This advice comes from basic research on Google as well as the help pages associated with different online sources of advice in the UK and beyond – Digital Curation Centre to start with but also further afield, e.g. Michigan State University

Posted under Holistic Librarian, Training

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on November 30, 2012

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The Holistic Librarian is Back!

After a short break, we are pleased to announce that our Holistic Librarian pilot training project is back! We have divided up the tasks amongst the whole Exeter-based Subject Librarian team in order to get wider feedback on the usefulness of this approach to training. Our initial list of 23 Things has now become 23+1 Things and we will be linking to the individual blog posts from the Subject Librarians from this blog as the tasks will not be completed in any particular order!

The 23+1 Things for Research Data Management are as follows:

1. What is research data?

2. A researcher asks if she can put video footage of children on the Exeter Data Archive. How would you respond?

3. A researcher wants to publish an article and the data that backs up their conclusions on Open Access. What options does the researcher have?

4. If a researcher came to you asking how they could share their research data with somebody external to the University what would you recommend?

5. What is our institutional policy on OA and RDM and how does it compare to other institutions’ policies? Are there any other institutional policies that affect research data management?

6. Where can a University of Exeter researcher store her live research data?

7. If a researcher asked you how to cite a data set, which resources could you point him to?

8. A researcher asks you about her funder requirements on research data. Where you could find out this information?

9. What is the importance of documenting research data and metadata? Where can you find useful information on data documentation and metadata?

10. A researcher has used a secondary data set in their research. In which circumstances would she be able to put this on Open Access?

11. What advice could you give to a researcher about backing-up his research data?

12. What evidence can you cite that research made available on Open Access has more impact than research that is not available on Open Access?

13. A post-doctoral researcher is leaving the University and the research that she has undertaken is part of a larger research project. What advice would give her so that the research is usable by the other members of the research group?

14. A researcher asks if his research data can count as a research output for the REF. How would you find out?

15. What advice could you give a researcher about naming and organising files and folders? How would you find out this information?

16. A researcher receives a Freedom of Information request about research data. How should he proceed and what should he consider when responding to the request?

17. What types of information does the Data Protection Act cover? In which ways should this data be treated differently from non-sensitive data?

18. Which factors could affect the Intellectual Property Rights of a dataset? Where can you find guidance on this?

19. A researcher is working with a commercial partner on a research project. In which circumstances could the researcher make the research data from this project available on Open Access?

20. A researcher wants to archive sensitive research data securely for long-term preservation. What options does she have?

21. Which criteria could a researcher use to select which research data he needs to preserve in the long-term?

22. What advice would you offer a researcher in order for their research data to be discoverable and visible on the internet?

23. What is the importance of licensing research data? Where can you find out more about licensing research data?

23 +1. Where could a researcher go to get help writing a data management plan?


We asked the Subject Librarians to answer the following questions in their responses:

1. What did you know about the topic before the task?

2. What do you know about the topic now?

3. How did you obtain this knowledge?

4. What else would you like to know about the topic?

5. How did you find this task? How would you improve it?


Check back to see more responses soon!

Posted under Holistic Librarian, Training

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on November 30, 2012

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Gadgets for Research: Tech Review

As those of you who’ve read my previous blog posts on the Echo Smart Pen will know, I have been testing out some gadgets that might assist researchers in collecting and analysing their data. Recently, I’ve been trying out Dragon Dictate 3 for the Mac, which is a voice recognition software that can be used to dictate into a range of applications including Microsoft Word. I must say I’ve been very impressed with the software. It does take a little bit of training initially in order to get it used to your voice. However once you’ve done that, it quite accurately types what you are saying. It also has the ability to learn from its mistakes which you can correct as you go along.


The software can be easily installed onto your Mac and comes bundled with a word processor similar to Notepad. This is very fortunate as, in my experience, the software has some difficulty when trying to dictate into Microsoft Word. I’ve found, in Microsoft Word, that the cursor seems to jump about the page for no particular reason. This can be very disruptive when you’re trying to dictate and can really interrupt the flow of your thinking. Luckily this does not seem to happen in the pre-bundled notepad software and therefore it is possible to dictate into there first and then copy it into Microsoft Word, although that is a bit of a hassle.


Although I’ve not tried this out myself, another interesting feature of the software is its ability to transcribe pre-recorded audio. So if you’re away from your computer or at a computer that doesn’t have the software installed, you can simply create an audio recording of what you want the computer to type up, plug that into DragonDictate and it will transcribe it for you. Initially I thought this would be very useful for transcribing my interviews. However you still need to train the software to recognise the voice on the recording. Therefore it actually wouldn’t be very useful in transcribing interviews but is mainly useful for transcribing your own pre-recorded audio. On the plus side, you get an app which can transform your mobile phone into a digital audio recorder in order to create audio files which can be transcribed later. Despite this, it would still be possible to use this software for transcribing by a method called ‘parroting’ whereby you speak into the voice recognition software whilst listening to your pre-recorded recorded interview. There is some interesting methodological literature on this.


Overall, therefore, I would definitely recommend this piece of voice recognition software, especially for people who are writing up the results from their data analysis, but also for people transcribing interviews. It does take a little while to get used to and to allow the software to get used to you and I think you have to be quite patient at the start. However after a while I feel that the savings in terms of time and effort make this an invaluable research tool. Of course the software only works when you have your computer and microphone with you and are in a relatively quiet environment. Therefore for conferences, train journeys and all those occasions when you don’t have access to a computer, you might still benefit from having something like the Eco Smart pen to hand.

Posted under Follow the Data

This post was written by Philip Dennis Bremner on November 13, 2012

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Data Storage: DropBox, Wuala and USB Pen Drives

A combination of the recent Open Access Week and some technical difficulties I’ve been having lately (more on that later) has led me to write a blog entry on the way in which we store our data. I tend to divide my time between working on my Mac laptop at home and the desktop PC in my office. When I first began my Ph.D., the way I decided to ensure that I was always working on the latest version of my data was to store it on a pen drive and to work primarily from that USB pen drive. However, I soon realised that that wasn’t the best idea when some of my data started to become corrupted. Then I was introduced to Dropbox and thought that this would solve all my problems. I must say that I’ve found dropbox very useful in syncing data between the two computers – that is until the other week when my University computing account became locked out. This was especially problematic because my dropbox folder was located on the University servers (U Drive). This meant until I could get my university account unlocked I was unable to access my data and did not have another copy of it. As it turned out the issue with my university account was that an incorrect password was stored on my Mac which was continually locking me out of my account. However it took about a week to resolve this problem during which time I only had intermittent access to my files and my emails. As a result of this, I decided to back up the files that were in my dropbox onto a pen drive which I carry around with me so that if I do get locked out of my account in future I can still access my data. I guess the moral of this story is to always have another backup of your data!

Another issue with dropbox, however, is that it isn’t a secure way to store confidential information. Fortunately another service exists called Wuala, which is essentially an encrypted version of dropbox. I am currently working on a user guide for this service as part of the project, so hopefully more information will be available soon for people who want to make use of it. I am currently using Wuala to sync my confidential interview data between my Mac and University PC and it is proving to be very effective. In effect what Wuala does is it encrypts the data before it is transmitted across the Internet. Therefore if the data were to be intercepted no one would be able to decrypt it without the original password. An additional benefit of having both Wuala and Dropbox is that I can make use of both of the generous free allowances which is particularly useful because my Dropbox was rapidly filling up.

Whilst I’m discussing the secure storage and backup of data, I thought it might be worth mentioning the USB pen drive that I purchased recently. It’s the SanDisk Cruzer Contour which is recommended by the University IT department. The reason I purchased this is because it securely encrypts all the data that is stored on it and was significantly cheaper than the other USB pen drive recommended by the IT department. The other pen drive was the Kingston Data Traveller Vault Privacy and now that I’ve got the SanDisk pen drive I wish I had spent the extra money to get the Kingston one. The main reason for this is that the SanDisk pen drive, once encrypted, can only be accessed on a PC and not a Mac. As you can imagine this is proving quite inconvenient for me because I work across both platforms.

That’s all my grumbles for now. Thanks for reading!

Posted under Data management tools

This post was written by Philip Dennis Bremner on November 7, 2012

Toodledo: an accessible research project management tool

Completing a PhD project requires not only good research, analytical and writing skills, but time management and organisational aptitudes. Sometimes the good old pen and paper list method or calendar does not suffice to stay on top. If, like me, you fear losing track or forgetting something without a good task management system, you may be interested in reading about Toodledo.


Toodledo is a task management software/application, available for desktops, mobile phones and iPads/tablets. It synchs between all these devices via the internet so that you can easily access and edit your task list at your work station or on the go.


I have been using the system for over 10 months now to help me get my academic (and other life) projects in gear to completion. I would not consider myself to be a seasoned task management app user, however, as I have only used rudimentary Outlook functions and list apps such as Wunderlist or scheduling apps such as Planner HD as a basis for comparison.


Here are few of the reasons why I have found Toodledo suitable:

– It offers a  clean, simple, ergonomic user interface, allowing you to add tasks to your list in one click and have a good idea of what needs to be done at a glance (especially with the customizable list view);

– You can then edit the details such as due dates, notes, folders, and even goals, quickly;

– Your list is easily accessible and editable on the go, via different devices;

– Once a task is completed, you can just tick the box and it will disappear instantly from your list (but kept in a history for one week with free account or more with a pro or pro plus account);

– There is a free version (free registration for desktop use, however, the iPad/iPhone app is £1.99 on iTunes).
The key to success with Toodledo, in my opinion, is to make sure to keep your list complete and up-to-date. When I started using the free app, I first sat down and quickly entered every single project, task and subtask I could think of to free my mind (and desk from paper lists). For instance my thesis project required completing tasks such as:

– Booking and preparing for supervision meetings

– Identifying, reading and annotating relevant books and papers

– Planning, writing and amending early stages of research (lit review, research questions, conceptual framework)

– Developing an ethical protocol, consent forms, data management plan and getting them approved

– Developing questionnaires, interview protocol and questions, observation grids (and in my case, setting up and moderating research blogs for participants)

– Finding necessary software and equipment (such as data analysis and reference manager software, as well as recording devices, photo or filming equipment) and getting adequate training or support when needed

– Gaining access to datasets/fields and recruiting participants

– Coordinating and conducting interviews with participants, field visits, focus groups

– Booking venues, visual aid and refreshments for focus groups

– Saving, backing up (encrypting) reviewing, transcribing, reading, organising, annotating and analysing data

– Writing-up, submitting, getting feedback, correcting, proofreading and laying-out the text of the thesis

– Completing administrative forms (for upgrade, thesis submission, viva, myPGR meeting updates)

– And frequent ad-hoc troubleshooting


Other parts of academic life can also be added to the task list:

– Participating in seminars and conferences (including preparing proposals and presentation and sorting out registration, travel and accommodations)

– Writing journal articles and acting as a reviewer for journals and conferences

– Completing administrative tasks (registration, research grant applications, funding bodies progress reports)

– Building and maintaining a professional and academic network (including profiles on and Linkedin, Exeter eProfile, organising contacts and managing emails)

– Applying for academic positions or other degrees/jobs

– Undertaking training modules, coursework or teaching duties (LTHE, ERDP training)…


And this is aside from all the personal stuff. I use Toodledo to manage several aspects of my personal life such as planning and managing bill payments, home chores, purchases, appointments, activities, travel, moves, international visas and so on…


Please note that these tasks are bundled-up in groups for the sake of brevity. I would generally note down a task in a format such as “Book October supervision meeting with Professor X”.


Once my list was made, I then edited it by making sure each task was legible and assigned to its relevant “project” folder, as well as completing fields such as start/ due dates and notes. I added stars to the elements requiring immediate attention, but there is also a priority field that can be used partially for that purpose.


I also find the process of drilling down each project or task by identifying its subtasks made it that much easier for me to get in and keep the flow of productivity (a subtask of “Read book Z” could be “Order book Z from library”) .


Toodledo is available in 3 versions, free registration (however iPad/iPhone app is £1.99), pro ($14.95/year) and pro plus ($29.95/year). I started using the pro version because of the subtask option (enabling me to itemise each task into linked subtasks). However, if it wasn’t for that, I could have made do with the free account because i don’t personally feel like i need the other functions. (I used to manage  with the free account by just listing subtasks in the note section of each relevant task).There are various features that I have not used yet such as the (free) notebook (I have been using Evernote), the (pro) collaboration tool, the (pro) scheduler feature which allows you to identify tasks to fill in time gaps, the (pro) location tool as well as a wealth of third-party apps to synch with calendars, email service providers, or other list formats, such as “Action Lists” for fans of the  “Getting Things Done” productivity method. I have briefly looked into the latter method and find it quite promising for my future projects. Perhaps it could come in handy for those in need of stringent productivity solutions.


Posted under Follow the Data, PGR students, Research

This post was written by Annie Blanchette on November 1, 2012