Category Archives: Library and the information environment

It’s my data, and I’ll share if I want to

By Tegan Darnell

As a Higher Degree by Research student at USQ, by default, you own the I.P. for your research data. Here are some ideas for maximising your research impact by sharing your data openly with a Creative Commons license.

What is research data?

Research data is described by the Australia National Data Service (ANDS) as

The data, records, files or other evidence, irrespective of their content or form (for example, in print, digital, physical or other forms), that comprise research observations, findings or outcomes, including primary materials and analysed data.

In order to share your data, you will need to have thought of lots of things in advance – before you collect your data (or, with human or animal data, before you apply for ethics approval). You will need to be super organised and create a data management plan.

What is data management?

Data management includes all activities associated with data other than the direct use of the data. It may include:

  • data organisation
  • backups
  • archiving data for long-term preservation
  • data sharing or publishing
  • ensuring security of confidential data and
  • data synchronisation

It is important because good data management practices aligns with your responsibilities under the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Planning

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first hour sharpening the axe. – Abraham Lincoln

Develop a Data Management Plan. This is a document that contains details of how you will deal with the data you will be gathering. The process will help you to:

  • Make explicit who owns the copyright and intellectual property of the research
  • Secure the protection of research data by making a plan of when, where, how and who will back up the data
  • Organise data by establishing a version control and/or naming convention system
  • Aid data sharing and gaining data citations – increasing your research impact!
  • Ensure long term access to research data – check out the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research for required retention periods
  • Gain access to existing research data sets to reduce your workload

If you are applying for a grant, you may be required to complete a Data Management Plan as part of your grant application.

The Human Research Ethics Application form will ask questions about how you are going to handle your research data, so before you complete your ethics application, it is an ideal time to do a data management plan.

To assist you to develop data management strategies, USQ has a Data Management Plan template you can use.

Publishing

Data can be published via:

  • sharing information about research datasets through metadata records in repositories, most often at institutions (eg. this record in the CSIRO Data Access Portal)
  • metadata records put into Research Data Australia or listed in discipline-specific repositories
  • online repository services such as Figshare
  • through Data journals
  • informal publication such as via personal or commercial repositories or websites

Most research data is stored and/or described in a research data repository.  We have data described in our USQ ePrints repository.

What to consider:

(information provided by ANDS)

Check out this awesome example of open data from Flinders University, the Australasian Heritage Software database. Kooky!

If you are interested in publishing your data, contact researchlibrarian@usq.edu.au, where a librarian will be able to guide you through the process and refer you to any services and resources you might need.

Welcome to 2017! Letter from the Editor

To Our Distinguished Readers,

If you’re feeling like me, you may be wondering if the world has turned upside down as we move into the new year. 2017 has started with what seems like a sly sarcastic smile.

The here and now

The here and now

But it is no good waiting around for the future to rain down, be thrust upon us, or uncomfortably inserted. We, the truth seekers, thinkers, and questioning people of the world, must play a part in its creation.

This means there is only 1 thing to do: get down to some seriously rigorous research!

We will be starting the year off next week (and for a few weeks) with posts about preparing (physically, emotionally, and academically) for Confirmation of Candidature, from some USQ researchers who have lived through it.

We’ll have a look at the increasing emphasis on technology and Big Data in research, and some ways to build basic skills in Data Science.

Later in the year we will look more at the writing process. We will cover how to get started, how to keep going, how to improve your writing, and even get some advice on research blog writing!

There will be information about developing an online personal learning network (PLN) when you are conducting research away from a university or research institution.

Also, look out for some posts by awesome guest bloggers later in the year. *Sshh*

Most important of all: This is your space! Claim it.

If there is something you would like to see written about and discussed on ReDBlog, or you would like to write about your research journey, please get in touch! We love hearing from you.

 

Most Sincerely,

Tegan Darnell

Editor, ReDBlog

 

Loving the world of research

 By Tricia Kelly

What does the word “research” mean to you?  To me it is word that opens up an amazing world where we strive towards making the impossible possible.

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I think about the research that has been undertaken in health and the positive life-changing outcomes of that research for so many people from babies through to the elderly. I think about the ripple-effect these outcomes have for parents, siblings, children of those that have better lives because a researcher engaged in research to make a difference.

I think about the research that has changed the way we look at our interaction with the environment and our place in various urban, regional and rural ecosystems and the outcomes that improve our practices so that generations from now will be able to enjoy and care for their country, and in the broader sense, their world and universe.

I think about the incredible research that has led to huge improvements in almost every aspect of our lives from the food we eat, the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, the cars we drive, the buildings we work in, the homes we live in, and even the insect repellents we use to keep the mozzies at bay!

All these amazing advancements that we sometimes take for granted have only come about because of research and dedicated researchers.

In previous posts, authors have shared the journeys they have been on with their research – and many of these are about making what seem like impossibles in our lives (such as juggling family, work and study commitments) into the possible (such as achieving Confirmation or getting through to the other side and completing their thesis).  Having completed a Master of Applied Science by research as well as my Doctorate, I know first-hand just how tough it can get sometimes, but found that the elation at reaching various milestones along the way helped immensely. Tap into the network of researchers and research support you have around you – the interaction with others at various stages of the research cycle can provide great tips and tricks to help keep on track and motivated.

So if I sound like I am passionate about research, I am! In fact, I’m so keen that I have made research my career.  I am one of the Research Librarians from the USQ Library Team.  Based at the Springfield Campus but working across all campuses, my role is to support researchers in Health, Engineering and Sciences while my colleague, Tegan Darnell (the awesome editor of this Blog!), supports researchers in BELA.  We work in combination with a fantastic team of Liaison Librarians to provide the tools, training and support for research students and academics on-campus and online. For more information about the services provided please check out our “Help for Researchers” page on the Library’s website.

Digital You

By Tegan Darnell, & USQ Library

As a researcher, you need to be especially aware of your online profile. Research and other outputs need to be found and read, and that means found online.

I often say, “If it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.” This means YOU! You need to know what is already out there about you, whether you like what people see, and whether your work is actually ‘find-able’.

Researcher profiles

Creating and maintaining your research profile can be as simple as ensuring your USQ profile & ePrints publication list is up to date, but we highly recommend that all USQ researchers also have an ORCID ID and a Google Scholar profile.

USQ Profile

If you are USQ staff, this is your primary profile, and where many people will find you. You should include – a photo, descriptive text, most recent and most notable publications.

Google Scholar

Many people search Google Scholar because it’s easy. Google Scholar indexes “scholarly materials” – it includes a very large number of scholarly databases, but not commercial websites, and not law reports.  Google Scholar also indexes books and book chapters. This is good for humanities and social science academics (though not perfect). You can manually add publications that aren’t already in Google Scholar.

You can export your Google Scholar citations to a spreadsheet, and then add in citations in judgements or government reports etc. to make a more complete record of your citations and impact. Include in your profile – a photo, USQ email address, research areas, and the URL for your USQ staff profile as your “Homepage”.

Google Scholar will suggest a list of publications to you.  You “claim” the ones that are yours. You can also opt to allow Google Scholar to automatically keep your profile up to date.

ORCID

ORCID is a non-commercial organisation providing permanent digital identifiers for researchers.  This is a unique number that’s associated with you.  You can use this in ePrints, when applying for grants, and when submitting articles for publication.  It ties all publications and funding under any of your name variants to you.

Go to orcid.org and sign up. Include a description of your research interests under “Biography”.

You can include links to websites in your profile.  We recommend you add links to your USQ profile and your Google Scholar profile. If you have publications in Scopus or a ResearcherID, we highly recommend that you link those author IDs to ORCID so that both profiles are automatically kept up to date. This will be particularly relevant to researchers in the sciences. If you have data-sets in ANDS you can also link these to your ORCID profile.

In future, USQ’s systems will be able to use your ORCID ID to automatically harvest information about your publications and funding from other places (for example, from Scopus).  This means that will need to manually tell the University less about your output, and the University will be able to report more fully and accurately about all your publication and funding activities.  All of this will save you time!

Social Media

Social media are increasingly being used for purposes other than being ‘social’. Academic networks such as LinkedIn, ResearchGate, and Academia.edu are used by researchers around the globe to keep in contact with colleagues and collaborators.

Twitter

The most popular Social Networking tool for researchers is Twitter. This 140-character micro-blogging site can be invaluable professionally. As a ‘real-time information network’ it can connect you to just about anything that sparks your interest and give you up to date access to what is happening in your field.

Academia.edu

Academia.edu is a platform where you can share research papers, monitor deep analytics around the impact of your research, and track the research of academics you follow. Placing your publications and presentations on social media will make it easier for others to encounter your work, not only because they are available on a social network, but also because they improve the search engine optimisation (SEO) of your research.

ResearchGate

ResearchGate will help you connect with researchers who aren’t on Academia.edu, but ResearchGate also text-mines the publications you’ve uploaded to find out who you’ve cited; they add both researchers you’ve cited, and researchers who have cited you, to your network, as well as colleagues from your department and institution.

LinkedIn

Set up a LinkedIn profile to improve your visibility and to network with other researchers. LinkedIn is built for business people, not academics, so you will need to translate the traditional scholarly CV into the format on LinkedIn. Make sure you add a photo, make your profile ‘public’, and work hard on getting your ’Headline’ just right. In your ‘Summary’ section, provide concrete details about your research and why it matters.

Your mission?

Google yourself (*psst* Make sure you are logged out of your Google account first!).

Then,

  • decide on what you would like your online profile to be,
  • improve the accessibility of your outputs by making available what you can, and
  • communicate and interact using tools such as a blog, or Twitter.

For more information on Social Media for researchers, contact your Research Librarian.

 

Not sure what all this Shut Up & Write Tuesdays nonsense is? Well here’s what you need to know…

By Siobhan O’Dwyer

Shut Up & Write Tuesdays is pretty simple. You shut up, you write, and it’s on Tuesdays. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity. When it’s done right, Shut Up & Write Tuesdays is a powerful way to develop, maintain, and protect an academic writing practice.

Developed by creative writers in San Francisco in the late 2000s, the Shut Up & Write model was quickly co-opted by academic writers and has been gaining in popularity ever since.  Although there are no set activities and no feedback is provided on the writing that’s produced, academics have found that writing together in a public place makes the writing process visible and social, provides a positive sense of peer pressure, enhances networks, and increases productivity (Mewburn, Osborne & Caldwell, 2014). But for those who work remotely or part-time, have family responsibilities, or juggle teaching and research, it can be hard to meet in a physical location. So in 2013 I created Shut Up & Write Tuesdays, a virtual Shut Up & Write group that allows academics from all over the world to come together on Twitter.

A recent evaluation (O’Dwyer , McDonough, Jefferson, Goff & Redman-Maclaren, in press) found that  Shut Up & Write Tuesdays fostered a sense of community, provided support and guidance for writing, shifted the emphasis from product to process, and led to quantifiable outcomes such as academic journal articles, books, book chapters, and PhD theses. By virtue of the digital format, these experiences were also international and inter-disciplinary.

From humble beginnings in 2013, Shut Up & Write Tuesdays has expanded into a global community. There are now three Twitter accounts – @SUWTues (for folks in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific, and parts of Asia), @SUWTUK (for folks in the UK, Europe, and parts of Africa and the Middle East), and @SUWTNA (for folks in America and Canada) – which received more than one million views in the first six months of this year alone.  And as Shut Up & Write Tuesdays has grown, it has also come full circle, with many of our online participants being inspired to set up offline groups.

Whether you’re writing online or face-to-face, the steps are simple:

  • Set your intention for the session. Telling others what you’ll be working on keeps you accountable.
  • Use the Pomodoro Write for 25 minutes, have a 5-minute break, rinse and repeat.
  • Share your progress. Telling others how you went is a powerful way to reflect on your own practice.
  • Encourage the progress of others. Supporting others helps you build a community and learn that you are not alone in your writing struggles.
  • Reward yourself. Treating yourself to coffee, cake, or a walk in the sunshine is the most important part of the writing process.

Editors Note: USQ researchers can join others to write on Toowoomba and Springfield campuses at 10-11am on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month. Check your ReDTrain Bulletin email for details.

Wikipedia: the Original Virtual Makerspace

By Robyn Edmanson

wiki

The cover of the book commemorating Wikipedia’s 10th anniversary. Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Within research on the architecture of academic participatory libraries, there’s a worrisome discord between the rhetoric and reality of allowing library users to fully participate in library systems, particularly in terms of information seeking. An example is the reluctance of many academic librarians to acknowledge students’ research information seeking behaviours and the value of open source tools like Wikipedia.

Despite research showing 70 percent of students use Wikipedia as a kick-starter to research, some still equate openness with unreliability, mostly due to a persuasive argument almost a decade ago against it based on its perceived lack of authority, completeness and reliability. Until Nature compared the error rate of Wikipedia with Encyclopedia Britannica I would have agreed, however, take a look at the information architecture in most Wiki entries and I’m sure you’ll be as impressed as I am. The information is presented logically, comprehensively and with illustrations to aid understanding.  Wikis are now a valuable, freely accessible tool in students driving need for background information for their assignments. And the best part is Wikipedia’s collaborations with librarians and other ethical mavens to ensure accuracy.

Wikipedia has leapt mountains of intellectual scorn from some quarters to encourage collaborations between cultural institutions such as museums and libraries through initiatives such as #1lib1ref where one librarian added one reference to advocate through editing wikis on topics such as LGBT, Asia Pacific Art, Toowoomba and even the University of Southern Queensland. There aren’t many web sources to which librarians, or library users for that matter, can contribute, but Wikipedia is one of them, so embrace your inner intellectual maker and critically contribute to our collective intelligence or run the risk of being left behind.

USQ’s Inaugural Software Carpentry Session

By Francis Gacenga

This week 29 USQ researchers staff and students from across USQ’s research institutes, centres and faculties participated in the first ever Software Carpentry Workshop in Toowoomba.

Image courtesy of USQ Photography

USQs Inaugural Software Carpentry class

Software Carpentry workshops aim to help researchers “get more done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic lab skills for research computing”1. The hands-on workshop at USQ’s Toowoomba campus covered basic research computing concepts focusing on task automation, data management, program design, and version control. A common challenge faced by most researchers is getting the most done within time and funding constraints. IT systems are designed to help but sometimes create complications and get in the way. The researchers who attended the Software Carpentry Workshop were introduced to ways of getting the most of IT services and systems to efficiently complete common research tasks.

The researchers first learnt how to automate common tasks such as directory, folder and file management, using pipelines of commands and how to build efficient and automated workflows using the Unix shell, a computer operating system commonly used in Virtual Machines (VMs) and High Performance Computers (HPC). A basic introduction to programming with Python was provided and participants familiarised with using Python for data analysis and presentation. The participants got an introduction to automated version control using Git and learnt how to use Git to track changes, version and merge files while keeping repositories in sync across different computers facilitating collaboration among different people. The workshop provides an essential foundation in getting the most out of research computing and data services and infrastructure provided at no cost to researchers at USQ by the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR)2, National Computational Infrastructure (NCI)3 and Research Data Services (RDS)4 through the QCIF (Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation)5.

The event has received positive feedback and there are an additional 15 who have expressed interest in attending a second session to cover statistical analysis. The workshop provided a gentle introduction to working with a computer command line interface, opening up new possibilities and resources that enhance researchers outcomes and experiences. The format of Software Carpentry Workshops make it easy for all to learn as no background training is required. At the workshop there were three instructors and seven helpers in the room ensuring that help was always available when required.

The lessons covered are available online for the participants and anyone interested to access freely online at http://software-carpentry.org/lessons/. There is also a vibrant and very helpful software carpentry community online that is ready to provide ongoing help as well as ongoing local support from QCIF’s eResearch Analysts.

The workshop was organised by the Office of Research Development, sponsored by the ReDTrain initiative, supported by QCIF and the Software Carpentry Foundation and administered by certified instructors and volunteers from UQ and USQ. Researchers had opportunities to learn as well as network over the two days. The workshop was a success and there are plans to run more Software Carpentry Workshops in the future. If you would like to learn more about Software Carpentry or are interested in attending a workshop contact the author of the blog at eResearchServices@usq.edu.au.

 

Reference:

  1. http://software-carpentry.org/workshops/
  2. https://nectar.org.au
  3. https://www.rds.edu.au
  4. http://nci.org.au
  5. https://www.qcif.edu.au

eResearch and Librarians

By Robyn Edmanson

As a librarian I’m interested in the future skills we need to support researchers. In the past decade, eResearch practices and processes have evolved along with library support services.

eResearch is:

‘research activities that use a spectrum of advanced information and communication technologies and that embrace new research methodologies emerging from increasing access to advanced networks, services and tool’

from The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 2006

Since then, eResearch has grown both locally and internationally alongside the portability and sophistication of ICTs.

So too data collections, sample sizes and data management practices have evolved and improved as researchers, and librarians supporting their work, have come to grips with new skill-sets surrounding five key areas:

  1. Collaborative technologies: IM, Sharepoint, Google Tools, Social Bookmarking, new video conferencing technologies such as zoom
  2. Research data management: experimental, observational and/ computational data; data storage and curation; derived data and more
  3. Scholarly communication: Endnote, Zotero, Refworks, Mendeley; Creative Commons licensing; electronic publishing – both Open Access and subscriber; bibliometrics & altmetrics; institutional repositories; author identifiers, e.g. ORCID ID, Researcher ID.
  4. Visualisation: Learning Analytics and dashboards
  5. Data collection & analysis: qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods analyses, data mining, programming languages such as R and Python for meaningful information.

While librarians’ skills have evolved with advances in these key areas, data analysis is a new and exciting area of eResearch involving open-source software and a new digital mindset. The automation requirements of a lot of eResearch projects require programming and analysis skills which is where librarians can help with a new Library Carpentry Toolbox supported by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS).

Software training for librarians is an important new tool made possible with open source technology; important new skills to safeguard against data loss, enable data re-use and ensure against copyright mismanagement.

Editors Note: USQ eResearch is running ‘Software Carpentry’ sessions on the 18th -19th July 2016. Find out more about ‘Software Carpentry’ here.