Publishers and data access statements

I’ll benevolently assume it’s careless rather than malicious, but the number of issues we have with data access statements in published journal articles certainly betrays a considerable lack of care!

It’s not unusual for a statement to disappear entirely during the editing process, which may or may not be replaced on request, or DOIs are frequently incorrectly formatted so they don’t resolve (examples below). A common phenomenon is where (presumably automatic) formatting prepends something that breaks the link – or so you end up with something like – or even (which would never work anyway). Again, sometimes these are fixed (when we spot them at all) and sometimes they aren’t, even with repeated correspondence, sending a letter a week, like Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption

One explanation, perhaps, is that the practice still isn’t fully mainstream, despite the RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy stating that published results should always include information on how to access the supporting data (RCUK, 2015). Meanwhile, according to the RCUK Concordat on Open Research Data “publishers should enable the formal citation of data in articles”, however, there is currently no standardised method to describe how supporting data can be accessed. Moreover many journals (still) include data as “supplementary” information which is unlikely to have a unique identifier, may  sit behind a journal pay wall and not be readily discoverable (see this post from David Kernohan for further discussion – Research Data Management, journals and supplementary materials.)

At Leeds we advise that data files should be deposited in a recognised repository to provide long term curation with appropriate metadata and to enable proper citation and that a prominent data availability statement should be included in the body of the paper AND as an entry in the reference list, but we’ll generally see one or the other. Or neither.

N.B. where supporting data is cited in the reference list, there is an additional need to differentiate it from other cited data sources – it has been suggested (see Mietchen et al, 2015) that journals could use JATS (Journal Archiving and Interchange Tag Library) to differentiate between different types of content in a reference list.

A good example of a data access statement:

Naicker, SS and Rees, SJ (2018) Performance analysis of a large geothermal heating and cooling system. Renewable Energy, 122. pp. 429-442. ISSN 0960-1481

In this example, the data is properly referenced in the body of the article* and the ‘Data statement’ is clearly labelled as a discrete section of the article in the outline and can be linked to directly with an anchor link.

The statement itself is very clear:

Data statement

The data collected in this work has been made publicly available at the University of Leeds Research Data Archive [23]. This archive includes the high frequency temperature and flow rate data for each loop. Data definitions and error protocols are documented with this data.

* While a good example, even this is imperfect as it doesn’t contain all the appropriate elements in the Reference list (i.e. it isn’t labelled as a dataset, there is no publisher):

S.S. Naicker, S.J. Rees Geothermal Heat Pump System Operational Data: High Frequency Monitoring of a Large University Building

Get in touch

We would be interested to hear from Research Data Management support at other universities. Have you had similar experiences or are we just unlucky? What advice do you give your researchers? Do you have any clever ways of checking data access statements?

Perhaps the problem isn’t peculiar to data DOIs and also affects cited journal articles, i.e. it simply reflects journal editing processes and software anomalies? If you’re a publisher who happens to be reading this, please let us know your policies and processes. How can we best avoid these problems in the future?

Example 1.

The article:

Dijkstra, AG and Prokhorenko, VI (2017) Simulation of photo-excited adenine in water with a hierarchy of equations of motion approach. Journal of Chemical Physics, 147 (6). 064102. ISSN 0021-9606

The problem:

Data access statement in the Acknowledgements section which states:
“Simulation data are available at” – this is correct but the underlying link was formatted as so it did not resolve correctly.

Status: Fixed (on the first time of asking)

Example 2.

The article:

Mengoni, M, Luxmoore, BJ, Wijayathunga, VN et al. (3 more authors) (2015)Derivation of inter-lamellar behaviour of the intervertebral disc annulus. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 48. 164 – 172. ISSN 1751-6161

The problem:

The dataset cited in the reference list was displayed correctly but the underlying link was (presumably an automated process). We asked for it to be corrected and it was, eventually, updated…introducing an entirely new error with a couple of rogue characters appended to the DOI which consequently doesn’t resolve:

Mengoni, Wilcox Ovine annulus fibrosus interlamellar material model calibration data-set
University of Leeds, UK (2015)

(should be
Status: Attempted fix introduced a new error

LGBT History month: Showcasing LGBT related research

This post is by Library Research Support Advisor Kirstine McDermid, Dr Jill Liddington and Dr Kit Heyam.

Lister anne
Portrait of Anne Lister (1791-1840), by Joshua Horner, ca. 1830

Lesbian landowner Anne Lister (1791-1840) was a scholar, traveller and businesswoman who inherited the Shibden Hall estate near Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  Anne chronicled her romantic affairs with women in her diaries, which are held in the West Yorkshire Archive Service. These extraordinary journals run to four million words, with entries detailing her clandestine relationships with other women written in own secret code. These private diary entries burst with candid depictions of her life as a romantic and sexual lover of women. Due to Anne Lister’s resolute self-acceptance, she is often regarded as the ‘first modern lesbian’.

Anne Lister’s diaries © West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale (ref: SH:7/ML/E) Shibden Hall collection

Dr Jill Liddington, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, opened up the Anne Lister diaries to scholarly scrutiny. Her first book, Presenting the Past (Pennine Pens 1994, 2010) digs deep into the archives to examine how Anne has been interpreted and presented by successive generations of editors and historians. In critically appraising these different portraits, Jill Liddington tries to come closer to the real Anne Lister.

Later, in Nature’s Domain (Pennine Pens 2003), Jill Liddington tracks Anne Lister’s life over nine intensive months, April to December 1832. Here is presented Anne’s determined courtship of neighbouring heiress Ann Walker. The seduction is detailed candidly in Anne’s journals, largely of course in code.

Finally, in Female Fortune (Rivers Oram 1998), her major work on Anne Lister, Jill Liddington presents Anne Lister over a longer and particularly rich period: December 1833 to May 1836. Through her affair with wealthy Ann Walker, Anne Lister contrived to consolidate these two neighbouring estates. She develops the coal deposits on their land, managing these business ventures with considerable flair and energy. Yet it is the diary entry about Anne Lister’s ‘marriage’ to wealthy Anne Walker at a small York church in April 1834 that most startles and amazes contemporary readers.

Jill Liddington adds:

‘Readers of Female Fortune murmur to themselves: “She wasn’t very nice, was she?” Then they wonder: “How did she get away with it all?” Some recent commenters suggest Anne Lister was the ‘first modern lesbian’. I wonder. Largely through inheriting Shibden’s ancient acres, she was in fact a staunch traditionalist. A classical scholar, her religious observance remained traditional Anglicanism, and her politics unflinchingly ‘true blue’. Did she in fact ‘get away with it all’ because, as a member of the local landed gentry, she was in fact the “last traditionalist lesbian”?’

Find out more about Jill and her work at

King Edward II

Edward II - British Library Royal 20 A ii f10 (detail)
An illuminated detail from BL Royal MS 20 A ii, Chronicle of England [folio 10], showing Edward II of England receiving his crown. Held and digitised by the British Library.
In December, I was awarded my PhD for a thesis on someone who is a familiar sight in LGBT History Month: King Edward II (1284-1327). My thesis, based in the School of English, explored the development of his reputation over the period 1305-1700. Edward II, who reigned in England from 1307 to 1327, is remembered today primarily for his close relationships with his male favourites, Piers Gaveston (c. 1284-1312) and the two Hugh Despensers (1261-1326 and c. 1286-1326). Edward antagonised his other nobles by giving these three men disproportionate favour, power and influence – and during the four centuries after his death, historians came to the consensus that his relationships with them were sexual and romantic. Over my five years of part-time study at Leeds, I aimed to discover how this consensus was reached.

This might sound like straightforward historical research – so how did I end up in the School of English? To answer that question, we need to look at how Edward became part of what we now call ‘LGBT history’ in the first place. Of course, medieval and early modern people didn’t understand sexual behaviour in the same way as we do now, so it’s not helpful to think of Edward as straightforwardly queer: instead, it’s more accurate to think of him as someone who possibly engaged in behaviour which is now practised by people who identify under the LGBT umbrella.

My research revealed that that Edward was being accused of sexually ‘transgressive’ behaviour during his lifetime. A version of the political poem ‘The Last Kings of England’, written around 1312, compares Edward to a goat. As far as we know, this isn’t because he had horns or a penchant for munching the flowers in the palace garden: in fact, it’s because goats were associated with lustful behaviour. Of course, this isn’t very specific. The writer of ‘The Last Kings of England’ might have been suggesting that Edward was having sex with men, but they also might have been saying he committed adultery, or engaged in some other kind of sexual misconduct. Later writers, in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, were similarly reluctant to spell out what Edward was doing: they accused him of sexual bad behaviour, and claimed that his favourites encouraged that behaviour, but they didn’t join the dots.

But everything changed in the 1590s, with Christopher Marlowe’s play Edward II. Marlowe unambiguously presented Edward and Gaveston as lovers – and, it seems, he paved the way for historians to do the same. After Marlowe, writers of all genres – poetry, plays, political pamphlets and history books – are far more likely to indicate unequivocally that Edward and his favourites were in sexual and romantic relationships. The answer to ‘Why is Edward II part of LGBT history?’, then, turns out to be the same as the answer to ‘Why is this research based in the School of English?’: because the text that had the most influence on Edward’s reputation was not written by a historian, but a playwright.

Kit Heyam

Love Data Week: What’s your data story?

This week, 12-16 February, is Love Data Week themed around “data stories”.

A research intensive university like Leeds generates huge volumes of research data, whether climate data from the Priestley Centre and ICAS, interview transcripts from social scientists and humanities scholars in the LHRI or 3D models of viruses from the electron microscopes at the Astbury Centre:

Human beings, algorithmically assisted though we may now be, don’t find raw data intuitive, especially in the age of Big Data, measured in giga-, tera- or even petabytes, and though our information technology would appear magical to the oral tradition of our forebears, we are not so very different and still understand ourselves and our world through narrative, whether that of our planet or our own human story.

Not to say that storing, curating and preserving the raw data isn’t crucial. Information in the digital age is vastly more fragile than symbols inscribed on papyrus or parchment – bits and bytes can be corrupted, even disappear, like a story passed from mouth to mouth. So it’s important to ensure your data is properly looked after throughout the research lifecycle and beyond.

Like storytelling, and science itself, data analysis is a collaborative activity and it is good practice to make your data available from a specialist repository so that other scientists and scholars can access it. Some examples are the Environmental Information Data Centre (EIDC) for climate data, the Electron Microscopy Data Bank (EMDB)  or Leeds’ own research data repository.

Use the Registry of Research Data Repositories to identify a suitable repository for your discipline.

In academia, the traditional story-telling medium is the journal article, from which it’s increasingly common practice to link to external datasets with a data availability statement. We’re also starting to see ‘data papers’ while social media, blogs and social media, can be leveraged to tell the story of your research and its data to a broad audience within and without the ivory tower – check out @undertheraedar on Twitter (Alasdair Rae, an urban and regional analyst from the University of Sheffield focusing on spatial data, GIS, neighbourhoods, housing markets, transport, commuting, quantitative data analysis, internet search data and geovisualization).

Then there’s data journalism which has become an established feature of mainline news outlets including The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent. A picture tells a thousand words and data journalists are experts in deploying the data visualisation or infographic, the Leeds Insitute of Data Analytics offer a range of training courses including data visualisation best practice using Tableau software.

So what’s your data story and how will you tell it?


A ‘safe’ and shared space for research: the LCS Structured writing group

This is a guest post by LCS Research Interns Serena Vandi and Rachel Johnson.

The School of Languages, Cultures and Societies Research Team has just completed its first successful semester of running a structured writing group for research-active colleagues.

For many researchers, writing can be difficult to prioritise, particularly during term time when the focus tends to be on deadline-driven teaching and administrative tasks. For this reason, the LCS Research Team took inspiration from Dr Alice Kelly’s writing group model to provide colleagues with a safe, supportive space for writing during the teaching term. Alice reported on the writing group she runs in Oxford at the LCS research away day in May 2017:

Dr Kelly has also written about how structured writing groups could have a transformative effect on the morale and productivity of early career scholars in the Times Higher – How to make writing in the humanities less lonely.

Each writing session covers half a day, and is based on the ‘pomodoro technique’: four writing slots (plus one optional one) of twenty-five minutes, separated by five or ten minute breaks. At the beginning participants share some refreshments. Then they discuss their writing goals for the session in pairs. At the end, the group again share next writing steps and feedback on how the session has gone. This structure is outlined on a slide projected in the room so that everyone can bear it in mind, but the time-keeping, as well as the bookings and the refreshments, are managed by the LCS Research Team. This way, the participants can focus wholly on writing and (in breaks) sharing ideas and goals. All sources of distraction are forbidden: no phones, emails, or social media allowed! The shared structure and rules are key to the effectiveness of these sessions. Participants have repeatedly reported that these are the reasons that motivate them to attend the writing sessions, rather than working from a personal office or from home.

The structured writing group has been active since September 2017, with good attendance from across LCS. The feedback has been very positive. Participants have said that the sessions provide protected time for research in which writing can, and must, take priority over admin and other responsibilities. They valued the extra push to write: the absence of distractions and the expectation of commitment, and we have had reports of improved concentration when writing both in and out of the sessions.

LCS researchers have not only found the sessions useful for improving productivity. Feedback from staff also showed that the experience has helped them enjoy writing as well as giving them the opportunity to meet colleagues from other areas of the School. Building this sense of community is particularly important and useful for a School of our size and diversity (c. 500 staff, around ninety-five of whom have research in their contracts). The social aspect of this initiative has strengthened the sense of research community in the School, encouraging people from different language and disciplinary backgrounds to share an activity that is often thought of as an individual one. The group offers an environment where one can find inspiration, advice, and simply enjoy a chat.

During the first semester, the group was active on Wednesday and Friday mornings (9:30-12:30). In response to feedback, the sessions take place this term on Monday afternoons (12:45-15:35) and Wednesday mornings in Research Meeting Room 2, on level 13 of the Edward Boyle Library.

The Library runs similar sessions in the Research Hub, book online or see here for more information: Shut up and Write: tomatoes, biscuits, peace and quiet.

Give us your search strategies!

Image source: Pixabay (CC-0)

This post is by Library Research Support Advisor, Kirstine McDermid

We’ve had a few researchers through the doors of the Research Hub recently who have told us that their publishers are requesting search strategies in order to publish them alongside papers.

It is encouraging to see that search strategies are becoming more of a prerequisite for some publications – especially for systematic reviews. However we were concerned to hear that one publisher appeared to be suggesting that the author retrospectively add keywords that had not been searched for to the published version of a search strategy. If they thought the search was inadequate it would be reasonable to ask the authors to revise it and take account of any new results but it is clearly bad practice to publish a false search strategy.

Like all good science, search results need to be transparent, open and reproducible.  In systematic reviews we need to see how the study came about the evidence, what search methods, and databases were used so that systematic reviews can be quality assessed, understood and validated, and can also be easily updated in the future. We’ve recently made a search strategies resource to facilitate making search strategies open access.   Openly accessible search strategies can also be used by other information specialists and researchers to develop searches that go on to inform future research projects. It is important to get the search right from the outset and essential that all searches conducted for the project are recorded accurately – not fabricated upon publication.

Rightly so, the researcher in question submitted only the search terms that were actually used, and they did not follow the poor advice of the publisher to improve their search strategies after the event; this would only be appropriate if the review was redone to incorporate the new results the extra search terms brought up.

The Library’s Research Support Team work with researchers to get their searches right from the outset and can advise on how to record all searching activity. If your project is funded we can use our expertise to do the searches on your behalf and provide neat search strategies documentation and search methods text in preparation for publication.

Contact Lucid if you require literature searching support for your next research project.

Seven ways to increase the visibility of your research

This post is by Library Research Support Advisor, Sally Dalton

So, you’ve published your research and you’re now hoping to sit back, relax and get ready for all those citations to roll in?

Unfortunately the hard work doesn’t stop here!

Now you need to promote your research to make sure it reaches the widest possible audience, this is part of the job of being a researcher. By making your research more visible you could potentially open up future collaboration / job / publication opportunities, increase citations to your work and increase the number of people finding, reading and building on your work.

Image source: (CC-0)

1. Promote your research at conferences

Conferences are a great opportunity to promote yourself and your research. Even if you aren’t presenting your work you can use the conference as an opportunity to meet other researchers and start to develop your research network. Keep an eye out for names of researchers you would like to meet and practice introducing yourself and your research. You may only have a few minutes so make sure you’re prepared!

2. Carefully consider which journals you are going to publish in

Choosing where to publish in an academic matter but there are certain questions you may want to ask yourself before choosing where to publish. Are the articles in the journal easily discoverable? Are they indexed in services such as Web of Science or Scopus? Does the journal have suitable open access options? Have you and your colleagues heard of the journal? The answers to these questions will determine how visible your article will be to other researchers. Think Check Submit provides a simple check list to make sure you choose trusted journals for your research.

3. Sign up for an ORCiD 

Having and ORCID can help to make your research more visible. ORCID is a digital identifier that helps to distinguish you from other researchers. You can link all your research outputs to your ORCID and you can keep it throughout your career. It is particularly useful for researchers with common names, who change their name throughout their career or who change institutions. No matter what changes are made you will always have the same ORCID, so other people can easily see details of your research outputs. More details on how to sign up for a free ORCID can be found here.

4. Make your research open access

Open access publishing makes scholarly works available online, free for anyone to find and read. The potential readership of open access articles is far greater than that for articles where the full-text is restricted to subscribers. Making your research open access will make it more visible. There are 2 ways to make your research outputs open access; by self-archiving in an open access repository or by publishing in an open access journal. More information on open access can be found on our open access pages.

5. Share your research data where appropriate

There is growing evidence that sharing data can increase the visibility of research. Sharing your data could allow other researchers to validate your work, build upon it and could potentially help to open up future collaboration opportunities. Learn more about managing and sharing your data on our Research Data Management pages.

6. Promote your research online

Promoting your research online will help you reach your potential audience, connect with other researchers and help you to start developing a network of online colleagues. There are a number of different social media tools such as Twitter, Instagram, Blogs and LinkedIn. Whichever tool(s) you use it is important to identify who your audience is, engage with them by asking questions, speaking up about issues that interest you and use eye catching images, videos or visualisations. You don’t need to spend a long time keeping your social media accounts up to date but you do need to be willing to write and check your account(s) regularly.

7. Track when your research is being used

Keeping up to date with who is discussing, citing or sharing your research is important. You can use this type of information on CVs and when applying for funding/jobs etc. To check who is citing your work you can look at your articles on sites such as Web of Science, Scopus or Google Scholar. If you are an early career researcher it may be more appropriate to use Altmetrics. Altmetrics looks at who is talking and sharing your research on places such as social media, in news outlets and on course syllabi. For more information on Altmetrics have a look at our Altmetrics pages.

The Research Support team run regular workshops on increasing the visibility of your research focused on different faculties, book online here (N.B. currently for postgraduate research students only, let us know if you would be interested in similar sessions for research staff).

Further reading


Shut up and Write: tomatoes, biscuits, peace and quiet

Over the summer and during the autumn term we have been piloting Shut Up and Write sessions for researchers up on Level 13 of the Edward Boyle Library. Similar sessions have been running successfully for some time for undergraduates, but we weren’t sure what the interest would be from RPGs and staff.

It was considerable!

Sessions booked up quickly which led us to schedule weekly slots – alternating morning and afternoon – for the whole of the autumn term. We continue to monitor progress.

Il pomodoro

The sessions utilise the ‘pomodoro technique‘, named after the tomato-shaped timer used by Francesco Cirillo who developed the technique 30 years ago. Rather than a tomato we tend to use an Apple (iPhone), more sophisticated if less characterful, but the principle is the same with over 2 hours dedicated to focused writing time split into 25 minute ‘sprints’. The idea is that this structure enables you to concentrate and not become over-tired. After each sprint there is a short break to grab a brew and a biscuit or chat. The full process is outlined on our handout (word.docx) which includes links to useful resources as well as tips to running your own sessions.


So why do researchers who may have their own workspace want to come and sit in a structured, silent session in the Library? Why did we have good sign up over the summer when there are lots of free spaces to study in all the University Libraries?

Here are some of the reasons people find the session useful:

1. For PhD candidates in particular, writing can be a lonely pastime. It’s easy to feel isolated. In SUAW, the individual is part of a group and has opportunities to chat to others and feel part of a community.

2. For academic staff, it can be difficulty to carve out protected writing time. If you’re in your office, there are the regular distraction of emails, knocks at the door and all the other work you need to be getting on with. Shut up and Write is in your calendar; it’s protected, quiet time.

3. Getting out of your usual space can be stimulating and lead to greater productivity or new ideas. The same old four walls may not always be doing you a favour.

4. One PhD candidate noted that the regular writing slot is helpful psychologically and also in terms of ensuring there is new written work to discuss in supervision sessions. Put simply, if you know you’ve got time to write, you don’t have to worry about not writing the rest of the time.

5. Free tea and biscuits!

Turn up and Talk

As a counterpoint to Shut up and Write we’re hoping to pilot a series of sessions to facilitate conversation among researchers.

The Research Hub provides a great space for informal events and we would like academics from across the campus to use it to present their research and to develop cross-disciplinary networks.

Some ideas might be:

  • Speed networking – facilitated networking via timed one-on-one conversation
  • Data conversations – come and talk about your quantitative or qualitative datasets and associated issues
  • Conference clinic – come and practice your presentation in a supportive environment

Let us know what you think and get in touch with any ideas of your own.