Friday, 30 November 2018

Open Data in Practice: success stories and cautionary tales

Open Data in Practice is a series of events that provide researchers and those who work with them an opportunity to share their experiences of data management and open data, including the opportunities it creates and the challenges it presents.

We held the first, of what we hope will be many more, Open Data in Practice event on Thursday 15 November 2018. On the day, staff from different departments shared their data stories including their success with open data, insights into project managing research data and the development of open research initiatives.

Aidan Horner (Psychology): 'Psychology's open science working group'

The event was opened by Aidan Horner, one of our lecturers in the Department of Psychology, who spoke eloquently about what open science is and why we should care about it. Aidan came along to talk about Psychology's Open Science Interest Group, a group that discusses and shares best practice in open science and provides support for those outside of the group who wish to engage in open science. Aidan went on to give a valuable insight into his own open research practice of sharing data, sharing code, using the Open Science Framework to share project information and sharing preprints.

Fleur Hughes (Social Policy and Social Work): 'Data Management in the Welfare Conditionality Research Project'

Fleur Hughes, project manager for the Welfare Conditionality research project, gave those who attended an appreciation of what is it like to manage and also prepare data for archiving for a large and complex project. This collaborative project involving researchers and PhD students from six universities, required planning to achieve its goal to share and archive the valuable longitudinal research data it generated. Fleur spoke about the sensitivities of the data collected and the decision to archive the data with the Timescapes Archive, a specialist resource of qualitative longitudinal research data “which serves as a safe place for primary researchers to store large volumes of data for ongoing use”.

Cylcia Bolibaugh (Education): 'Reproducibility, open data, & GDPR'

Cylcia Bolibaugh of the Centre for Research in Language Learning and Use in the Department of Education was next to take the floor. Cylcia spoke briefly about Education Researchers for Open Science, an open science working group within the department, and then went on to talk about her concerns and the difficulties encountered in defining personal data, with anonymisation and sharing.

Kevin Cowtan (Chemistry): 'Open data and the scientific gift culture'

Last but by no means least, Kevin Cowan gave what one attendee described as a “really inspirational” talk on the significant benefits he has gained from openly sharing his research data. Kevin is an interdisciplinary data scientist working in the fields of X-ray crystallography and climate science. If Kevin’s slides whet your appetite why not read his blog post on the value of open data for scientific research.


In addition to questions about data management (e.g. recording datasets in PURE, restricting access to data), a number of questions were asked about preprints, for example: when can you or can’t you post a preprint; how are DOIs for preprints reconciled with DOIs then assigned to published versions; what are the benefits?

For more information see:

Want to join in future conversations?

You can attend future Open Data in Practice events and benefit from your colleagues’ experiences, or come and present your own experiences. We welcome talks and input from early career researchers as well as from more experienced academics or research support staff; research students are welcome to attend. Speaker slots are available for our next Open Data in Practice event so please get in touch. Your talk should not be longer than 20 minutes.

If you have any questions about Open Data in Practice, contact the Library’s Research Support Team. See our web pages for guidance on: Research Data Management and Open Access.

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