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

Top Tips for Developing Research Group-level RDM Policy

The Open Exeter and Marine Renewable Energy policy case study, published today, suggests some tips for other research groups who are thinking about designing their own research data management policies. The recommendations are as follows:

  • Research group level policy development should be collaborative and include consultation with all members of the research group as far as possible. Feedback from the research community should be listened to; participation in policy development can give researchers a sense of ownership and make the policy implementation phase easier.
  • It can be helpful to separate out the principles of a policy from the nitty-gritty of procedures; thus those who don’t wish to read a longer, more detailed document can understand the main points quickly and refer to the procedural document only when necessary.
  • Local research data management policies should be updated to reflect changes in institutional, funder and ethical, legal and commercial guidelines and these should be considered during policy development.
  • Consider institutional as well as local and discipline-specific solutions. For example, if your institution provides a data repository, would it be better to use this for the long-term storage of data, rather than local storage or should data sets be stored in a discipline-specific repository?
  • Decide on the scope of the policy; different research groups have different priorities – for example, a Psychology-based group would probably be more concerned with ethical and legal issues to do with working with human participants. It may be worth concentrating first on priority areas and rolling out a more comprehensive policy at a later date.
  • Try to balance the amount of detail in the procedural document with respecting researchers’ working habits. For example, is it necessary for all researchers to use the same system to name files?
  • Work out an estimated timetable for policy and procedure development but be flexible to reflect changing circumstances if necessary.
  • Consider the relationship between guidelines for individual projects and research group policy.
  • Tailor RDM policy and procedures to the support available to your research group. For example, a group with a dedicated Computing Development Officer may be able to put into place more bespoke solutions than a group without this support.
  • Listen to researchers’ concerns and make sure they are clearly addressed in the policy and procedural documents.
  • Provide support for the initial transition. Staff may not have time to do tasks such as consolidate and transfer old data sets to a central storage system, as they are busy with current and future work, and rarely have the time to look backwards.

Have you developed a research-group level RDM policy? Do you agree with these recommendations or have any of your own suggestions? Let us know!

Posted under Case studies, News, Policy, Research

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on July 26, 2013

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Developing research data management guidelines at research group level

The Open Access and Data Curation team has been working with the Centre for Cognitive Control and Associative Learning (CCAL) to produce a set of draft research data management guidelines.

Myriam Mertens and Prof. Frederick Verbruggen used the UK Data Archive’s guide on Managing and sharing data: best practice for researchers and their Create and Manage Data webpages to help develop the guidelines for CCAL. The Marine Renewable Energy Group’s data management policy and procedures (which will soon be available in ORE) was also a useful resource.

CCAL’s draft RDM guidelines are a work in progress in the sense that the most pressing RDM concerns have been focussed on first, which are mostly around data collection. As new issues come up, the RDM guidelines will evolve. Myriam highlights the importance of consulting group members when developing RDM guidelines and says that on some RDM issues no consensus has yet been reached about best practices that work for everybody. She also believes that competing demands on research staff can be an issue in the implementation of RDM policy.

We’ll hopefully be blogging soon about other research groups’ experiences of developing and implementing RDM policy. A key message for research groups who are thinking about putting together their own guidelines is to try to be practical and flexible. Guidelines will evolve, but it’s better to have a draft document as a starting point than nothing at all.

Posted under Policy, Research

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

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Open Research Exeter Launch!

This week is a very busy one for us! Our Open Access Research and Research Data Management Policy for researchers goes before Senate on Thursday and on Friday we are celebrating the achievements of the Open Exeter project and launching our newly rebranded repository Open Exeter Research (ORE) for research papers, research data and theses.

You may remember the competition to rename the institutional repository which was part of our Open Access Week 2012 (see poster). We received a total of 57 entries from staff and students from all areas of the University and eventually decided on Open Research Exeter (or ORE). Our competition winner, Katie Kelsey, is a Temporary Research Fellow who suggested One Research Exeter. We adapted her suggestion slightly to incorporate the concept of making Exeter’s research open and available to the public including researchers across the globe. Congratulations Katie and hope you are enjoying your Kindle!

On Friday 22nd March, the Open Exeter team will be in the Forum Street on Streatham Campus from 10:00 – 12:00, to answer questions about the project and any other research data management and open access queries you may have. You will have the chance to see an ORE demo, and talk to those who developed the repository as well as other staff from RKT, Exeter IT and the Library who support research at Exeter. Come along and talk to us and you may get a free fairy cake!  You can even join the event on Facebook!

This will be followed by a celebratory lunch for stakeholders and others from around the University who have supported the Open Exeter project since its start date in October 2011. As we draw towards the end of the project, we hope to continue to work closely with researchers and others from around the University to ensure that our project outputs are sustainable in the long-term. In the meantime we will be making sure all is ready for ORE’s launch on Friday!

If you have any questions about ORE, please contact or .

 

Posted under Exeter Data Archive, News, Open Access, Research, Technical development

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on March 19, 2013

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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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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JISCMRD Programme poster

At the JISCMRD Programme meeting in Nottingham on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th, the Open Exeter Project (along with all the other projects funded under the Programme) will be presenting a poster on project progress. Due to our full Open Access Week timetable I will be the only member of the team who is able to come to the meeting. As such, I thought it might be helpful for interested parties to have a sneek preview of what the poster will look like.

As you can see, we have tried to show that Open Exeter, working with Exeter IT, the Library, Academic Colleges, Research and Knowledge Transfer and the research community has made substantial progress in numerous areas. Feel free to leave comments on the blog or see me at Nottingham if you have any questions.

Posted under Reports, Research

This post was written by Gareth Cole on October 19, 2012

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

PGR “audits”

For the first six months of the year we asked our PGR students to complete a research data management “audit” every week. This task has now ended and I am working on analysing the results so a fuller report will follow.

The audit consisted of 17 questions and asked questions such as: What file formats are the data you created this week? Please state both electronic and paper; Where was this week’s data created? i.e. Home, office, field trip etc.; and Does any of the data you created this week need to be shared? Please give details. Follow this link for a template of the questions we asked: Weekly_audit_form_template (Excel file – blog post updated 20th August 2012).

A quick analysis of the audits has thrown up a number of similarities amongst our students:

  1. They all seem to work in phases i.e. there will be a data collection phase, a writing up phase, a literature review phase etc. Although there is obviously some overlap between these phases and the length of the phase differs between all our students, the general principle does seem to hold true across all the different disciplines.
  2. All of our students create and/or analyse their data both at home and in the office on campus. A number have also been on field trips to collect data. This supports the findings of our DAF survey where research data was shown to be collected and analysed both on and off campus.
  3. Similar issues are faced by students of different disciplines. One that has shown up in the audits is the potential size of image files and the adequate filing and storage of hundreds (or even thousands) of such files so that particular images are easily found.
  4. Although our students use different file formats to each other (with the exception of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF which are common to each to a greater or lesser extent) they each use only a comparatively small number of formats/file types (the most used is eight).

The audit has proved to be a mine of useful information for the project and the regular meetings I have been holding with our students has allowed me to check details and abbreviations that I didn’t recognise. Further analysis of the results will, I am sure, provide further useful information.

Posted under Follow the Data, PGR students, Research

This post was written by Gareth Cole on August 17, 2012