The changing Open Access landscape

In this post, Mike Dainton, Head of Scholarly Communications Services, brings us up-to-date on the Open Access landscape – an essential area of knowledge for anyone hoping to publish their research. For a basic introduction to Open Access, see the Library Services webpages.

The announcement of Plan S in 2018 heightened discussion about Open Access (OA) amongst research communities.  A key tenet of Plan S is to cease using public money to publish OA in journals that also charge a subscription fee to libraries (so called ‘hybrid journals’).

It is acknowledged that flipping to Fully OA will take time, so an interim option for publishers is the ‘Transformative Agreement’ (TA). These should allow libraries to move spending from subscriptions to OA. Typically, an upfront fee provides read access and covers the cost of OA publishing, across a publisher’s complete journal portfolio. We’ve entered into many such agreements over the past year, significantly expanding options for all researchers, including PGRs, to publish OA. You can find further details here.  Currently, Wellcome funded authors must abide by a Plan S aligned OA policy and a new UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) policy will come into force in April 2022.

Continue reading “The changing Open Access landscape”

How to measure the quality of research: who is DORA and why does it matter for PGRs?

In this post, Judith Hegenbarth, Head of Research Skills in Library Services, introduces the responsible use of research metrics and UoB’s Commitment to Responsible Research Assessment.

"We love DORA" badge

Any government minister will tell you that performing research costs money, and that public spending on it has to be justified.  The allocation of research funding is based on a perception of ‘quality’, and part of the equation is whether an individual, research group or institution has performed ‘quality’ research in the past.

Metrics

Measuring quality is a contentious issue, particularly when it concerns the ‘performance’ of an individual researcher or scholar.  In the past, the number of times a publication has been cited by other researchers has been used as a proxy for influence and thereby quality.  The h-index became a shorthand for author excellence.  This kind of metric has been shown to privilege certain fast publishing disciplines which produce multi-authored papers.  For those researchers who take career breaks to raise families, or lone scholars who publish larger works less frequently, a single measure isn’t helpful or fair.  There’s more discussion of this on our Influential Researcher intranet page (including Canvas course)

Continue reading “How to measure the quality of research: who is DORA and why does it matter for PGRs?”

ReproducibiliTea at the University of Birmingham: Embracing Open Science in Lockdown!

In this post, Catherine Laverty, a PGR from the School of Psychology, tells us about her experiences of open research and the ReproducibliTea initiative.

Back in early 2020 I was approaching the midpoint of my PhD (and as it turned out the start of a global pandemic!) and found myself in a place where I was questioning how to make sure my research was as rigorous and open as possible. I had heard of the open science movement and seen various bits of advice on twitter about how to be a better scientist but in all honesty had no idea where to start. I knew the replication crisis was on the horizon and wanted to make sure I was doing my upmost to make positive steps towards good scientific practices but was admittedly a little lost.

Around the same time, I began to speak to two other early career researchers (ECRs) that were in exactly the same position – Mahmoud Elsherif & Sonia Rishi. Together, we decided to navigate the landscape of open science and establish the University of Birmingham’s ReproducibiliTea Journal Club as a place where others could join and learn alongside us.

Continue reading “ReproducibiliTea at the University of Birmingham: Embracing Open Science in Lockdown!”

Spotlight on the RDF: “Attribution and co-authorship”

In one of our occasional series of spotlights, we take a closer look at a specific descriptor from the RDF.

In this series of “Spotlight on…” posts, we’ll be delving into the detail of the descriptors in Vitae‘s Researcher Development Framework (RDF).  Each one of the sixty-three descriptors is a characteristic of an excellent researcher, and we’ll be looking at how UoB PGRs can develop these characteristics.

Recently, a question from a PGR found its way to my e-mail inbox, and it got me thinking about the various influences on attribution and co-authorship that can be tricky to navigate for those new to publishing their work.

Listing the authors tells readers who did the work and should ensure that the right people get the credit, and take responsibility, for the research. 

Committee on Publication Ethics, https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2018.1.1

While it may seem initially obvious, authorship is in fact an area which is influenced by factors including disciplinary culture. There may be some hidden expectations in your department or discipline, and it’s an area of research culture that all researchers new to publishing should be familiar with, and influencing positively.

Continue reading “Spotlight on the RDF: “Attribution and co-authorship””

Spotlight on the RDF: “Project planning and delivery”

In one of our occasional series of spotlights, we take a closer look at a specific descriptor from the RDF.

In this series of “Spotlight on…” posts, we’ll be delving into the detail of the descriptors in Vitae‘s Researcher Development Framework (RDF).  Each one of the sixty-three descriptors is a characteristic of an excellent researcher, and we’ll be looking at how UoB PGRs can develop these characteristics.

project planningEffective project planning and delivery involves a wide range of skills and strategies which underpin a multitude of research activities.  In research, projects can vary from small-scale activities (such as a pilot study or organising a research-related event) to very large-scale, multi-team endeavours (such as clinical trials).  While smaller projects can be successfully delivered with ad hoc planning, larger projects require a more rigorous approach.  Continue reading “Spotlight on the RDF: “Project planning and delivery””

Is research a risky business?

Topics around project management come up fairly regularly on this blog, because I think that getting to grips with these kinds of techniques is really helpful in terms of managing your time.  But good time management isn’t the only thing that’s going to keep your research on track.  There’s another strand of project management which is equally useful – risk management.  This is about acting now to increase the chances of things going well.

Graphic showing risk management cycle: identify, evaluate, mitigate, monitorWe all engage in risk management on a daily basis: when we look both ways before crossing the road, for example.  We assess the risks and make changes accordingly: if we judge a road to be particularly fast/busy, we might walk a bit further to the pedestrian crossing.  But risk management in research goes a lot further than health and safety.  Continue reading “Is research a risky business?”

Visualising your PhD: the big picture

CaptureWe’ve talked before on this blog about the value of proper project planning to complete specific (writing) tasks and how to create a Gantt chart to manage a project, but detailed project plans can be tricky to create for your whole PhD.  Although it’s possible to create plans despite uncertainty (e.g. around research methods or likely results), it can be time consuming.  What’s needed is more of an overview. Continue reading “Visualising your PhD: the big picture”

De-colonizing: emphasizing the universality of the university

In this post, Dooshima Lilian Dugguh reflects on the De-Colonizing: Past and Present Workshop held on 13 May 2019 in the College of Arts and Law. This two-day multi-disciplinary workshop examined de-colonization in relation to both research and school curricula.

Reading the workshop title “De-colonizing: past and present”, I am sure that several participants had a rough guess that it was centered around discussing historical realities of colonized nations. But I am also certain that many, like me, were amazed at the understanding that beyond the initial idea is a whole new perspective that exports the concept of de-colonization and applies it to academic endeavors such as impactful research and development of academic curricula, giving an opportunity to rethink research and taught patterns of university courses. This workshop underlined two very important aspects: de-colonizing research and de-colonizing curricula.

De-colonizing asks us to examine assumptions regarding racial and civilizational hierarchy which in the past informed a lot of thinking about how the world worked, what was worth studying in it, and how it should be studied.  SOAS blog

Continue reading “De-colonizing: emphasizing the universality of the university”

Sending your research out into the world

On Wednesday 19 June 2019, there is a deadline for PGRs hoping to graduate in July to complete all the requirements for the award of their research degree.  Among a few other things, this includes submitting an electronic copy of your thesis to the University of Birmingham eTheses repository.

deposit etheses screenshot

Continue reading “Sending your research out into the world”

Specialization and overspecialization through your research: the forest and the trees

In this post, Alex Feldman, a recently completed PGR in the School of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, shares his thoughts on specialisation.

It’s a jungle out there, as the old cliche goes. Although we prefer the seemingly protective ivory walls of academia, we still live by the same law of the jungle. Whether we say “publish or perish” or “eat or be eaten,” some truths endure whether we’d admit them or not. You want to advance in your field, but you don’t want to be disposed when your field’s fashions change; such is the academic’s conundrum.

I’m no expert on academic fashions, but it depends on your circumstantial approach. Whereas conventional wisdom once advised planting your flag in some underpopulated area and holding on tight, you’re also aware we now have newer standards to follow: inter-disciplinary research, cross-field inquiry, discourse analysis, etc.

You need to specialize in something to be taken seriously in that field. Continue reading “Specialization and overspecialization through your research: the forest and the trees”