New Open Research Exeter blog!

Although, sadly, the Open Exeter project has come to an end, our work will still continue! And we will be letting you know what we are doing via our new Open Research Exeter blog!

The Open Access and Data Curation Team will carry on supporting researchers and postgraduate research students at the University of Exeter with Open Access (OA) and research data management (RDM).

We manage the institutional data repository, Open Research Exeter (ORE), to make University of Exeter research more visible, reusable and citable. ORE provides long-term storage for all types of research data, research data and PGR theses.

We also deliver training and guidance for researchers on OA and RDM and the Team can help you to develop your own research group level policy on these issues or advise on data management plans.

We will be blogging on topics to do with Open Access, research data management, repositories, open research, big data, transparency, altmetrics, how to make your research more visible and anything else we think may be of interest to Exeter’s research community!

So this will (probably!) be our last post on the Open Exeter blog. We hope to hear from you soon on our new blog or via  or . And remember if you have any OA or RDM queries, please visit our Open Access or RDM webpages or contact us directly on the above emails!

Posted under News, Open Access, ORE, PGR students, Research, Useful links

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on August 14, 2013

Express Scribe

Just a quick blog post to say that I recently discovered an interesting piece of software that might help in the data collection process. It is called Express Scribe and I find it greatly speeds up the transcription process. Essentially it is a piece of software through which you play the audio recording that is to be transcribed. You can then turn certain keys on your keyboard into hot keys or use a foot pedal so that you don’t have to move away from the word processing programme in order to pause and rewind the recording. I’m sure the pro version has many other features but I find the free version does everything I need it to.

On a related note, I’m very pleased I had the Echo Smart Pen with me today when conducting an interview as the battery of my digital audio recorder ran out. It turns out two bars just isn’t enough to get through an interview. I will need to make sure it is fully charged in future. Fortunately I was also recording the audio on my Smart Pen and although the audio isn’t as good as the Olympus digital recorder it is still perfectly audible.

Posted under Data management tools, Follow the Data, PGR students

This post was written by Philip Bremner on May 8, 2013

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Open Access Research and Research Data Management Policy for PGR Students

The Open Access Research and Research Data Management Policy for PGR Students has been approved by the Board of the Faculty of Graduate Research. The Task and Finish Group who developed the policy felt that from the perspective of the University of Exeter researcher it would be clearer to include both research data management and Open Access to both research data and research papers in the same policy document. Further information will be provided about the procedures around the research data management element of the policy prior to October 2013 when we know in more detail how data upload to the University’s repository will work for PGR students.

The policy will be implemented in two stages:

  1. PGR students who are funded by RCUK should comply with this policy with regards to research papers submitted for publication from 1st April 2013.
  1. All PGR students should comply with this policy from 1st October 2013 with regards to research papers and research data.

The key points of the policy are as follows:

Research Papers

  • PGR students should make the published research papers they produce whilst affiliated with the University (from the date of policy implementation) available on Open Access according to funder requirements and as soon as publisher restrictions will allow.
  • It is anticipated that PGR research papers will be made available on Open Access via the green Open Access route, for example by depositing a copy of the paper in the institutional repository.
  • Published research papers should include a short statement describing how and on what terms any supporting research data may be accessed.

Research Data

  • PGR students should always comply with funder policy on research data management.
  • PGR students and their supervisors should discuss and review research data management issues annually. A draft checklist to support PGRs and their supervisors in the annual research data review is available here.
  • At the end of the degree, PGR students should register selected research data with the University’s institutional repository. When legally, commercially and ethically appropriate, this selected research data should be made available in an appropriate repository, for example a discipline-specific repository such as the Archaeology Data Service, or the University’s institutional repository.
  • PGR students will be able to embargo their research data in order to have a period of privileged use of the data that they have created or collected.

The following links provide further help and guidance on Open Access and research data management for PGR students and their supervisors:

Further help and advice is available via the Open Access and Data Curation Team on or .

Posted under Advocacy and Governance, News, Open Access, PGR students, Research

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on February 18, 2013

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Follow the Data – end of project feedback from Ruth Farrar

The Open Exeter project began with a structured method of involvement: weekly data management audit forms and face-to-face meetings with Dr. Gareth Cole every two to three weeks. Initially, I found this approach beneficial for three main reasons. First, as I work remotely from campus, it was nice to have a regular check in with the Open Exeter team as it encouraged open lines of communication and getting to know the team better. Second, the data management audits enabled me to regularly reflect on my own data management practices which in turn helped me understand the project’s wider issues of data management. Third, I found the face-to-face meetings with Dr. Cole useful at the start of the project as it provided a friendly space to discuss data management issues, gain advice and ask any questions about the project.

Though as the months progressed, I felt I was repeating some of the same information on my audit form which in turn meant there was little new material to add in the meetings. Perhaps, the audit form phase could have stopped sooner in the process as it may have been more productive to get us to move on to another structured project. However, I understand the audit forms needed to be carried out over a significant period of time.

Throughout the project, I liked how we were invited to numerous events by the Open Exeter team as this promoted a sense of inclusion and better awareness of data issues throughout the entire university. For instance, being given a table at the Digital Scholarship  Showcase on 28th May, 2012 proved a useful platform to share my research and data management issues.

The Open Exeter project also gave me an opportunity to hone my communication, organisational and pedagogic skills. During a PhD researchers workshop on 22nd June, 2012, I helped lead a ‘Speed Data Dating’ session which was equally fun and informative.

I also practiced speaking and listening skills in meetings with fellow PhD Open Exeter researchers. I found these meet ups invaluable. The number of group meetings were also evenly spaced throughout the project. I started the Open Exeter project in the first year of my doctoral studies. I benefitted greatly from listening to data management advice from researchers in their second and third years. I understand our newly created survival guide helps fill in this need for advice. However, I still found the face-to-face meet ups the most helpful part of the Open Exeter project. I wonder if first year students would benefit from talking to fellow students from second and third year in their department about data management issues. I am sure there are many students who would volunteer for a buddy/mentoring system to add another credential to their CVs. First year PhD researchers may also take a deeper interest in important data management issues if it was communicated by another fellow student as they may be eager to learn how to avoid common data management pitfalls.

From my perspective, the meetings with Jill, Gareth, Hannah and the PhD researchers helped me consider how the way I manage data now will have an impact on my research in my final year. I absorbed so much new information I would not have previously considered let alone have known the specific questions to ask. I enjoyed learning about data management topics ranging from the Freedom of Information Act to the advantages of academic depositories like ERIC.

Helping assist at the Information Stand and workshops during Open Access Week in October, 2012, marked another highlight of my involvement with the project. When I was able to confidently explain data management issues to students who came to the stand, it made me realise how much I had learned throughout the Open Exeter Project. Attending the workshops also highlighted the impact social media networks can have on disseminating research data to the public.

The provision of an iPad on the Open Exeter project also introduced me to effective methods for disseminating data online and between apps. My iPad rapidly became an essential tool for managing data particularly when working remotely. The iPad proved invaluable as it afforded me a new-found workflow freedom to edit, store, back up my field recordings and share data with users in the UK while simultaneously carrying out research on site on a project in America.

Overall, the Open Exeter project generously provided me with practical tools, useful advice and an excellent introduction to issues surrounding open access research and data management. Jill, Gareth and Hannah were a real pleasure to work with as their friendliness, enthusiasm and sincere kindness remained consistent throughout my time on the project. Ultimately, my involvement in the project has positively shaped the ways I consider saving, storing and sharing my doctoral research data.

Posted under Follow the Data, PGR students

This post was written by Jill Evans on January 21, 2013

Follow the Data – end of project feedback from Annie Blanchette

Collaborating on the Open Exeter project served first and foremost as a great opportunity to reflect on and develop my research data management process according to some of the best practices and solutions out there.

As a foreign student, I had never heard of the Data Protection Act until the Open Exeter project leaders invited Caroline Dominey to present the DPA and Freedom of Access policy in a workshop. This awoke me to some of these requirements and prompted me to ensure my data process was adequate. Given the sensitive nature of my data  – dealing with real life subjects that can be recognised – I met with Ms Dominey in order to review my intended process. This has been very helpful too for the approval of my ethical research protocol. I have also learned about Open Access policies, some of the benefits of sharing, as well as measures to control diffusion in order to suit the sensitive nature of my data.

Through discussions with the project leaders and other fellow students involved in Open Exeter, I have learned a lot about data management processes and tools. For instance, I have found tools for encryption and synching, storing data with a good level of security online and managing efficiently research references. I have learned about sites to build a Data Management Plan (such as DMP online). Undertaking such a process proved very helpful in my ongoing data management, and facilitated my approval by the ethical committee as it allowed me to document potential ethical issues at every step of the process and measures envisioned to minimise the latter. The creation of the survival guide for new students was also a great opportunity to reflect on and share, as well as learn about best practices from others. Learning about good practices in terms of folder structures, versioning and naming conventions was very helpful too, although I wish we had covered this before so that I could have implemented this system earlier. While my submission delay does not allow me to adjust all my files at the moment, the system seems very promising and easy to implement, so I am hopeful it will work well for my future projects. The project was also an opportunity to learn to work with the iPad as a research tool, while benefiting from other’s exploration of this tool.

What worked:

Although I am still struggling to do the actual writing up of my thesis with the iPad, it has been playing a crucial role at every step of my data collection (managing field appointments, recording interviews and field notes, conducting photo reviews with participants and accessing/sharing my data for the purpose of interpretation).

Monitoring my data management throughout the project was also a great help because it pushed me to reflect on the nature of the data, as well as proper ways of handling it. Although reporting on a weekly basis was at time difficult given the diverse nature of my data, it also helped me create a much more detailed account for my thesis, which increased its credibility.

What didn’t work as well:

I was able to put together a process of synching and encryption, however, I am still struggling a bit with overwriting issues (especially with dropbox). I believe this will get resolved once I implement an appropriate versioning system.

Other suggestions:

I think offering the opportunity to students to take part in research data management groups (with data monitoring activities, group discussions and workshops) would be potentially of great benefits to some interested postgrad researchers. Perhaps I would have liked having a little bit more group interactions because I found it was great to interact with a team of people committed to data management reflection.  This and the one to one meetings often helped me fix some issues that would have otherwise blocked me for much longer. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate!

Posted under Follow the Data, PGR students

This post was written by Jill Evans on January 21, 2013

Follow the Data – end of project feedback from Duncan Wright

Firstly, I’d like to say that I have really enjoyed the time that I have spent working on the Open Exeter Project. It has been a pleasure working with all of the project team, staff and PhD researchers alike, and I feel that it has been a productive experience. I feel the project has been well managed throughout, with exemplary correspondence and engagement with researchers: at no point was it unclear what was required from us, and the aims and objectives of each task were consistently communicated effectively. I have particularly appreciated the time spent in workshops, and it is probably in this format which I gained the most. Conversely, I found tasks/activities online more difficult to undertake, although this is probably as much a reflection on the manner in which I operate than anything else. The times when specialists were invited into the workshops seemed to work especially well, and the level at which the information was pitched was far better than that of the PGR development workshops.

Particular aspects of the project I found especially informative for my own research, and I would have certainly have benefitted further still if I’d encountered some of the information nearer the beginning of my studies. The workshop/discussion on academic referencing software, such as Mendeley and EndNote, was really informative and should be considered for the future – I’m aware that there is an EndNote workshop, but researchers should be made aware of the wider range of resources available where possible. Creating a data management plan also provided a useful insight: I’ve actually mentioned data management in a few of the research fellowships that I’ve been applying for, and it is experience which I hope to use to my benefit from in the future. It has been good too to learn about Open Access, and its implications for research even if some of those are potentially difficult/challenging – it seems a shame that more academics in particular are not engaging with Open Access, or at least involved in discussing its implementation.

I think that the lack of interest from academics was reflected during the Open Access week though sadly. It was also disappointing that the University didn’t deem it important enough to warrant a more suitable location for the stall – this is in no way a criticism of the team, as I am aware that a better position was sought after, but it did negatively impact the visibility of the stall and what we had to offer. Open Access week was a well-publicised, efficiently organised and very informative event, and all of the sessions that I went to were interesting, pitched at a good level and useful. It was just a shame that it wasn’t enjoyed by more people!

That’s probably the sum of most of my thoughts. As I said before, my main thoughts about Open Exeter is that it has been a very positive experience, and a real pleasure to work with you all.

Posted under Follow the Data, PGR students

This post was written by Jill Evans on January 21, 2013

Follow the Data – end of project feedback from Philip Bremner

I have found working on the JISC-funded Open Exeter project an invaluable experience. It has greatly enhanced my understanding of the need for and methods of rigorous research data management. It has encouraged me to consider issues such as: what constitutes research data? What is the value of making research data openly available? Who is responsible for research data management issues and long-term archiving? Speaking personally, participation in the project has contributed to my personal development as a researcher. In the future I will feel more confident about discussing research data management procedures in the form of a research data management plan, which is required by the research councils when applying for research funding.

In addition to this I felt that the project team valued my contribution to the project, along with that of the other PGRs. As PGRs, we participated in a number of useful workshops, reports of which can be seen on the project blog: http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/openexeterrdm/, along with many other interesting articles about the progress of the project. Various topics were discussed at these workshops such as data protection, reference management, the creation of an institutional repository etc. We also ran an event where PGRs took the lead in facilitating discussion of research management issues more generally amongst postgraduate researchers in the University. A number of other events have been organised under the auspices of the project, such as the very successful University-wide Open Access Week, which ran as part of international Open Access Week. Within my own College, the project team participated in the PGR induction programme where we tried to raise awareness of research data management issues amongst new PhD students.

The Open Exeter project has produced a number of very useful outputs, which we PGRs have been involved with in one way or another. Principally, of course, is the creation of a robust institutional repository to make research data available on open access. We were fortunate enough to be able to test drive the repository (and thereby gain a sneak preview of it). I have to admit, it seemed able to handle all the different shapes and sizes of research data that we could think of throwing at it. Another significant output is the data management policies for researchers at the University, which we had input on. As a result of these policies, PhD students (and other researchers) will be required to submit their research data for long-term archiving in the institutional repository thereby making the data available for other researchers to use. This is in line with the requirements of many of the research councils, which now make data archiving compulsory.

Looking back at the report I wrote following the initial project workshop, I wrote: ‘research data management is not something I had given much thought to…’ I can safely say that I have now given the matter some considerable thought and feel that it is one that is relevant to most researchers in the University. I feel that the Open Exeter project has been instrumental in raising awareness of research data management issues amongst researchers at the University and the project’s Advocacy and Governance Officer deserves special thanks in that regard. What is more, the project has produced some excellent training materials, which are already being delivered as part of the researcher development programme.

Looking to the future, I feel that there is still work to be done in relation to promoting open access to research data in terms of advocacy, training and data curation. My concern is that the excellent work achieved by the project will not continue beyond the conclusion of the project if sufficient funding is not in place. In my view, it is essential to ensure that there are dedicated personnel within the University whose main concern is dealing within research data management issues. The data repository, although a fantastic achievement, cannot be considered as a static system. It requires proper curation by specially trained staff who are willing and able to deal with any concerns or queries that are raised in relation to its operation.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this project and would like to thank the project team for their enthusiasm and support.

Posted under Follow the Data, PGR students

This post was written by Jill Evans on January 21, 2013

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 Academia.edu 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

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Open Access Week 22-26 October

 

We are delighted to announce our full programme of events to celebrate International Open Access Week from 22nd to 26th October 2012 which will take place on Streatham, St Luke’s and Tremough campuses. Open Access to research publications and data has the potential to transform the way research is conducted and Open Access Week is a key opportunity for all members of the community to better understand and become more involved in this international movement.

We have organised an exciting week of activities which include our keynote speakers, Cameron Neylon, Advocacy Director at Public Library of Science, who will talk on How I learnt to stop worrying and love the RCUK policy, and Alma Swan, Director of European Advocacy for SPARC, who will present on Open Access and You – A relationship with promise. Other events include a UKDA webinar on Managing Research Data for the Social Sciences, Brian Kelly’s presentation on Open Practices for the Connected Researcher, Mark Hahnel’s talk on the Disruptive Dissemination of Research Outputs, a special Open Access edition of Research Speed Updating and a workshop on Data Protection, Data Storage and Sharing.

Come along to our Open Access Café, where are Open Access Week competition will be announced, and chat to others about Open Access issues over a glass of wine at our Open Access Happy Hour.

The full timetable of events is available here – we do hope you can make it to some of the activities or pop by and see us at our stall on the mezzanine level of the Forum from Monday 22nd October!

Posted under Advocacy and Governance, Exeter Data Archive, News, Open Access, PGR students, Research, Training

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on October 16, 2012

Writing up your research with Scrivener

As I was looking for an application that would allow me to use my Ipad as a writing device, I randomly came across this fantastic software called “Scrivener” by Literature and Latte. While there is no Ipad application available yet, my first experience with Scrivener was so convincing that I dropped google.doc and word (PC and iPad versions) to write my thesis directly in the software.

Here is a description taken directly from the Literature and Latte website:

Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

For years, my writing process has been as follows: I would normally use a mind mapping software to plan my project outline and subsections. I would then create a distinct document for each chapter or relevant subsection (either in Word, or more recently Google.doc/Google Drive for remote access, collaboration, and automatic backup). While my structure was very clean and organised at first, my system did not handle structural changes very well such as moving, adding or removing content. Unless I would constantly manually update my mindmap plan, it would soon become obsolete and I would tend to lose track of the “big picture”. Furthermore, when I wanted to retrieve snippets of work that needed relocation, I often had to switch between documents and search within the text manually or with the “find” function.

With Scrivener, all my texts are in the same project “binder”, broken down in navigable and malleable folders and subfolders. These are also found listed in a ubiquitous left panel table of content. This sort of “dashboard”, allows me to find my bearings in the ever-evolving/transfigured thesis structure, as well as to keep a conducting thread while writing.

These are some of the Scrivener features I find particularly relevant to my thesis work:”:

Research Folder: I drop my important annotated articles, reading and supervision notes in there, as well as relevant web links;

A snapshot function: Allows you to “clone” the text before undertaking important  structural changes, avoiding irreparable mistake and loss of prior versions;

A synopsis feature: Can serve as an helpful reminder of the intent/aim of a section to be written;

A compilation function: Allows you to “mount” in part or in whole  your text and exports them in different formats such as doc, pdf or html;

A virtual cork board: Enables you to pin ideas to be further developed or evaluated;

I also enjoy the auto-save/automatic backup functions as well as the text tagging/labelling and text annotation features.  And the list goes on…

It is possible to try Scrivener for free (Windows or Mac OS X versions) for a 30 days period. The trial period is based on actual use – meaning you can try Scrivener for several months (and potentially get “hooked” like me) before having to purchase it. After that, the software is available for about £25 for an educational license (depending on your operating system).  If you are tempted by Scrivener, I highly recommend investing a couple of hours in undergoing the full interactive tutorial which will walk you through some of its unusual but very handy features.

I am hoping however that they will come to develop both an Ipad and a cloud-based version (so to facilitate remote access and collaboration). At the moment, I am using dropbox for remote access and sharing.

Posted under PGR students, Research, Useful links

This post was written by Annie Blanchette on October 10, 2012