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November 23, 2011

Thing 14: The Research Data Challenge

So far this week our ‘things’ have focused on making publications available in open access in one way or another but there is another growing area of open access that is becoming increasingly important; open access to research data. Traditionally it had been possible to publish research data alongside the journal article/book chapter describing the research; however with the changes in technology and the sheer scale of the data involved it is not always practical or possible to share data in this way. Research data is not just the quantitative data produced by scientific instruments, it can also be artifacts, transcripts of interviews, lists of archival materials, lab books and notes, specimens and sample, photographs, videotapes and more.

Research Data Lifecycle

Managing your research data is an important part of the research process and the past year has seen the introduction of ‘data management plans’ (DMPs) as a requirement of new funding applications. This process ideally begins with a DMP before the start of the project and before any data is created. These plans allow you to consider a number of issues and who has responsibility for the data at each stage, for example:

  • What data will be created and in what format?
  • What are the legal or ethical issues associated with the data?
  • Where do the intellectual property rights lie with the data?

Once the research begins the DMP can help researchers to make important decision about storage and back-ups for the research data. At he end of the project the DMP can also guide the researchers in the most appropriate way to select what data they need to store and want to share. The UK Data Archive has created a really useful guide to all the steps in the life cycle.

Research data is an incredibly valuable resource and in many cases can have multiple uses after the end of the original project. Sharing research data after the end of the project can encourage further research branching from the original project; can lead to new collaborations; encourages the transparency and the improvement of research practice; can reduce the cost of further data collection and as always can increase your profile as a research output in its own right in the same way as a journal article or book chapter. Research funders, such as the Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust have added the requirement for data sharing as a condition of funding, in the same way as they have mandated open access to other research outputs.

Increasingly data this made available is being made available in data centres and through systematic services who are focused on not only storing the data but increasing the ability of researchers to reuse and cite the data enabling researchers to easily give credit to the original creators of the research. It is well worth reading through some of the resources in the further information section and thinking about what this change in the scholarly process could mean for you.

To complete this thing write a blog post about what you’ve learned about the research data challenge and how it might affect your research.

Further information:

November 21, 2011

Thing 12: Open Access Repositories and WRAP

‘Green’ open access material is most often made available in databases referred to as ‘repositories’ or ‘research archives’. These databases can be an invaluable source of information. Researchers can use them to view papers they may not ordinarily have access to and evaluate if they need to go to the expense of acquiring the final published version. These databases come in three major forms:

  • Aggregator repositories,
  • Subject based repositories and
  • Institutional repositories.

Aggregator repositories bring together the records from a number of smaller repositories in a single user interface and subject repositories, as the name suggests, focus on a single subject area or discipline. We are going to look at the final type of repository: the institutional repository. These cover outputs from a range of subjects but that are produced by the researchers of a single institution.

WRAP logo

Warwick Research Archive Portal (WRAP) and the linked University of Warwick Publications service serve the University of Warwick.

WRAP is the research archive for the University and hosts a range of research outputs including journal articles, PhD theses, conference papers, working papers, book chapters, reports and more. The Publications service complements WRAP by holding bibliographical references for material we cannot make publicly available, either because we do not have permission, or the permitted version of the work. WRAP and the Publications service create a showcase of the material produced by Warwick researchers and are both designed especially to maximise the visibility and impact of the material listed in the service. Both services are harvested by a range of aggregator repositories and have their content indexed by Google and Google Scholar.

The reach of the service is large and international: we had more than 29,000 visitors in October 2011 and the 5700 papers were downloaded more than 26,000 times. Visitors and users of materials come from all around the world as can be seen by the latest WRAP statistics. WRAP can also provide researchers with a range of usage metrics to help illustrate the impact of a paper.

Use WRAP to find information:
To complete this thing please follow the step-by-step instructions to set up an RSS feed for the new items added to WRAP or the Publications service for your department.

Additionally to Thing 12 you may wish to investigate some of the aggregator or subject based repositories . Most of those below will allow you to set up similar feeds for new material or material on a specific subject or set of search terms and are all useful tools to find research.

Good examples of aggregator repository are:

  • BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine) hosted by the Bielefeld University Library and contains information from over 2000 databases and is international in scope.
  • Intute Repository Search, mainly UK focused.

Not all subjects have dedicated repositories but there are few very well-known examples:

  • ArXiv for physics, maths, statistics, computer science and others.
  • Pub-Med Central and the related UK Pub-Med Central for biomedical and life sciences material.
  • RePEC (link: ) for research papers in economics.
  • SSRN (link: ) for social science material.

Further information:

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