My New Year’s resolution…

To complete a MOOC!

I’ve started a few, including Research Data Management and Sharing from Coursera which is co-delivered by Helen Tibbo, University of North Carolina and Sarah Jones from the Digital Curation Centre based at the University of Edinburgh.
I’m not sure I’ve ever stuck to a New Year’s resolution either but the next cohort starts on 2nd January 2017 and runs for 5 weeks, which is longer than I’ve been formally working on RDM so I really have no excuse.
By committing publicly here to blogging throughout the course, hopefully this time will be different. If you would like to join me sign-up at Coursera and follow #RDMSmooc on Twitter.

The syllabus:

Week 1: Understanding Research Data
Week 2Data Management Planning
Week 3Working with Data
Week 4: Sharing Data
Week 5: Archiving Data
Season’s greetings and see you online in 2017 (when I also resolve to do more exercise, improve my diet, reduce my carbon footprint and generally be a better person…)

Image source:
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A digital Christmas


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Special Collections so what better way to celebrate than with some beautiful images created in the Digitisation Studio.

Godfrey Bingley’s glass plate slide collection is housed in Special Collections, a popular source information for social historians and geographers alike. The eminent Victorian photographer’s images depict a whole host of locations from his travels in Europe and further afield. Why not visit the snow in Arosa, Switzerland , or if you prefer to wander more local streets, depicted below is Cardigan Road, Headingley.

The phenomenon of mummers, loosely described as disguised actors, has existed since the thirteenth century. Mummers’ plays are traditionally performed around Christmas and typically feature St George as the main protagonist. This Yorkshire edition in our collection is beautifully bound with an Ebru Marbling cover. Why not have a recital with friends and family over the festive period?  Pamphlets BC Yorkshire H-Bar-6.2/MUM


The Digital Content Team are starting to digitise our collection of medieval manuscripts in full. Previously only specific illuminated pages have been made available – and we think that some of the existing images can be improved. Take a look at BC MS 2 in full – it is a treat!


Utopia: crafting the ideal book

This year marks the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia, published in Latin in 1516.

Next year, Special Collections will host an online exhibition to mark the occasion. The exhibition will be developed by Liz Stainforth (School of Fine Art History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds), and is based on her PhD research.

The centrepiece of the exhibition comprises two significant copies of Utopia, held in Special Collections at the University of Leeds. The first is an early edition, published in 1518 by the famous printer and publisher Johann Froben. The second is an 1893 edition, printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press in a limited edition of 300 (image below).

The theme of utopia will be explored, through its dialogue with More’s text, addressed directly by Morris in the foreword to the Kelmscott Press copy.  It will also be examined through the production methods and collection histories of both editions.

The 1518 edition, which forms part of the Brotherton Collection, is one of 117 volumes purchased from the library of Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden. Much of the collection was rebound early in the 20th century by Rivière & Sons. The bindings copied historic styles which were often contemporary with the period of the printed work.  This was an attempt to recreate the perfect binding, much like the ideal of the perfect society envisaged by Utopia.

Equally, the reprinting of Utopia by the Kelmscott Press reflected Morris’ interest in the book as a work of art and his belief in the transformative role of art and culture in social life. In his short essay, “The Ideal Book“, he wrote:

The picture-book is not, perhaps, absolutely necessary to man’s life, but it gives us such endless pleasure, and is so intimately connected with the other absolutely necessary art of imaginative literature that it must remain one of the very worthiest things towards the production of which reasonable men should strive.

The exhibition will be launched next year.  It will be posted on the Special Collections website.

Ghosts of repositories past

I don’t remember Kennedy being assassinated in 1963 on account of not having been born but when Princess Diana was killed in on August 31st in 1997 I was living in a bedsit in North London.

Well there was another dramatic JFK moment on Wednesday June 24th 2015 when Jorum, the national OER repository, was retired. At least if you were working in educational technology. I was presenting at an OER workshop organised by CILIP when the news broke, where all the speakers were referencing Jorum as central to their practice. That particular event was on “Using free, shared, information literacy resources” and a significant Jorum initiative had been to curate themed collections of resources including ‘Information and Digital Literacy Skills’ and ‘Research Data Management’.
In theory OERs from Jorum are available from Jisc’s new app and resource store (currently in beta). Currently a search for “RDM” allegedly returns 17 results but I can only see two of these (perhaps a temporary beta issue?) An archived snapshot of Jorum is also available from the Wayback Machine but as far as I can tell most of the browse or search functionality doesn’t work and resources can’t be downloaded.
In any case I was pleased to discover that a large number of RDM resources, including but not only those from Jorum, have been archived by Laura Molloy in Zenodo –
Of course OER lives on after Jorum, in its own right and as part of broader open scholarship, and I’m very interested in some of the commonalities between OER and RDM both in the technical context of repositories – complex and esoteric file types, potentially interactive content – and in terms of educational potential. In the context of research led teaching, are openly licensed research data de facto OER?

Other RDM blogs

I can’t figure out if I can add RSS feeds from other blogs to this platform (Jadu) so just dropping some links in here for the time being. Passers by please let me know if you are aware of any others:

An introduction (to RDM)

As the very newest member of the Research Data Management team here at Leeds, Rachel has seen fit to entrust me with the password for this blog and for the Twitter account @ResDataLeeds, both of which we hope to use to communicate with institutional stakeholders and with the wider RDM community.

I have worked in Scholarly Communications for nearly ten years supporting Open Access (OA) and repository systems up the road at Leeds Beckett University, including exploring issues around RDM. Inevitably, though, I am currently on a steep learning curve, albeit one that the sector as a whole is still traversing together.

Resoundingly the case has now been made for Open Access to research papers, if not necessarily the best mechanism to achieve it (gold or green routes), and the sector is moving (almost) as one, with HEFCE requiring that to be eligible for REF submission, journal articles and conference papers must be deposited in an open access repository on acceptance for publication. There is also an evolving consensus that underlying research data should also be made available, openly where possible but with suitable access restrictions where necessary – for reasons of commercial sensitivity for example.

While HEFCE do not currently advocate a comparable mandate for research data, their consultation paper published last week asks how they can incentivise units of assessment to share and manage their research data more effectively as well as emphasising that research datasets and databases that meet the REF definition of research* will (continue to) be eligible for submission in the outputs element of the assessment (HEFCE, 2016).

Whether or not you are thinking about the REF, as a key element of the research process, RDM should be considered at the very outset of a research project and a plan put in place to manage data throughout its lifecycle as illustrated below:


© Stuart Macdonald/EDINA. Used with permission

See our guidance for more information around how we can support your data management planning at the University of Leeds or please get in touch

* Definition of research for the REF

  1. For the purposes of the REF, research is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared.
  2. It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship8; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and routine analysis of materials, components and processes such as for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research.
  3. It includes research that is published, disseminated or made publicly available in the form of assessable research outputs, and confidential reports (as defined at paragraph 115 in Part 3, Section 2).

Assessment framework and guidance on submissions (Annex C, p48)