8th Data Conversations: How Digital Humanities Impacts Research Data Management

Recently, Lancaster University Library held the 8th Data Conversations: How Digital Humanities Impacts Research Data Management. This year was different – no free pizza, but the delight of inviting external attendees to listen and contribute (and send gifs over chat!) was a welcome addition. We were joined by four of our own PhD students from a range of humanities subjects. Read on to find out more.

As MS Teams filled up, we were delighted to welcome the first of our speakers, Ben Willis-Eve. Ben talks us through his experience with social media data and “how this is managed and the effects of using Digital Humanities (DH) methods and trying to navigate what is quite a grey area with how you can collect and store this data“ – with focus on the first two points of the below slide. This was all a lot more complicated than Ben thought before starting his PhD – one particular stand out consideration surrounds ethics and what Twitter expect as per their guidelines. The challenges of using hashtags is also discussed, as these are not ‘standard words.’

Next was a look at Bibliometrics for the social sciences from Anoud Abusalim, focussing on how bibliometrics can be used to inform policy in social sciences and humanities research. Anoud looks at second language writing (SLW), which she finds is heavily Americanised. With data collection procedures, organisation is key! You can see several helpful visualisations on the YouTube slides.


To round off the presentations, we next had Ellen Roberts and Samuel Oliver. Reviewing Shakespeare, Ellen focuses on linguistic make up of genre, while Sam focuses on meta language of politeness and impoliteness.

So, what is Corpus Linguistics? Well, corpus=body in Latin. It is an established digital method of studying large a large body of text(s) using specialist software. Ellen explores some of the challenges faced looking at tags in the Enhanced Shakespearean Corpus. Since play texts include stage directions, dialogue and character interaction, how can you meaningfully digitise this for study? Ellen uses a great example of name shortening too, from Theseus to ‘The’ – such a commonly used word!

After introducing Corpus Linguistics and tagging, Ellen seamlessly hands to Sam who discusses his PhD research “(im)politeness metalanguage in Shakespeare’s plays.” This presentation brought up interesting issues – how can text be meaningfully represented? With plays – how can it be translated to machine readable data e.g. stage directions, and the challenge of shortened character names? We must also consider the historical dimensions of words to ensure we understand the context of use.

As we reflected over the amazing work of all four speakers across the three DH presentations, we began the panel Q&A with an array of audience questions.

Anoud was unable to join for this part due to teaching commitment – thank you Anoud for your amazing multi-tasking!

Thank you to all attendees, we were delighted to have you! Did you miss out? Well not to worry, you can watch the full event via our YouTube page. On Twitter, use #ludatacon to catch up on comments and add to the discussion.

We can’t wait to see you all again in person, but for now we are planning another Data Conversations online and will share further details in due course. Happy Data Managing!



Promoting a culture of Open Research at Lancaster University

NoWAL Open Research Exchange of Experience, University of Manchester 13th June 2019

Our colleagues at Manchester University Library hosted a NoWAL Exchange of Experience Workshop on 13 June 2019. The Research Group met to share how academic libraries in the North West promote Open Research.

We organised a one hour workshop to present our Open Research approach and introduce an interesting method from the business world.

Open Research at Lancaster University

We started by talking about drivers for Open Research and introduced Open Research activities we’ve tried so far at Lancaster University to engage our research community, e.g. Data Conversations, Open Research Cafes, and an online survey investigating perspectives on Open Research.  See slides for more information:

Thinking strategically: The Mission Model Canvas

The Mission Model Canvas is an adaptation of a strategic business planning tool called the Business Model Canvas. It is a visual chart for planning new projects. The method is used at Lancaster University by our colleagues from Work in Progress who help students and staff to develop business ideas.

Mission Model Canvas

We believe using a Canvas approach helps us develop an Open Research community in a holistic way considering all building blocks of setting up a new “Mission”.

Workshop using the canvas

So, after introducing the canvas we broke out into smaller groups to apply the Mission Model Canvas to building a community of Open Researchers at our own institutions.  It was a great opportunity to discuss how we were all supporting researchers and the Open Research agenda at various institutions, to compare our different approaches, our key partners and channels, and to discuss where potential difficulties may lie.

Workshop in full flow

During the activity we added our key thoughts to post-its: orange to highlight tips or solutions; pink to highlight potential issues or barriers we may come across.

See the completed canvases:

The activity highlighted how we should approach Open Research more holistically, with the Library being an important facilitator but mindful of the roles of other stakeholders.

Working with the Mission Model Cancas

The blank mission model canvas was made available so that the exercise could be repeated at home institutions. Please use the download to try it yourself!

Takeaway Thoughts

We tried to summarise our “top tips” of developing Open Research initiatives:

  • Apply the Mission Model Canvas to your own institution
  • Accept the challenges – not every initiative will succeed
  • Be ever mindful of your institution’s culture
  • Identify and support: allies, advocates and early adopters
  • Libraries are great matchmakers
  • Community should be the goal rather than compliance

By Louise Tripp, Hardy Schwamm and Joshua Sendall


Professional Services Conference 2019 (PSC19)

At PSC19 we called upon the expertise and experience of colleagues from across Professional Services to develop approaches to community building.

50 professional service colleagues

We started by providing some context for our community building use case. We outlined our team’s work in the areas of Research Data Management, Open Access, Research Citations and Analytics and Open Research. We shared what we’ve done to engage with researchers so far. We explained why we want to continue to develop a community of Open Researchers.

 The Mission Model Canvas

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First Lancaster University Open Research Café 21 November 2018

Why have an Open Research Café?

During Data Conversations our researcher community demonstrated an interest in discussions that move beyond open data to broader discussions around open research paradigms and practices. The library explored possibilities with our Psychology department’s PROSPR (Promoting Open Science Practices) group about how we might provide a forum for those discussions. Enter the Open Research Café.

The Open Research Café is co-designed by PROSPR and the Library and will be a regular event built around the following principles:

  • Informal
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Community-led
  • Open to researchers and support staff from all levels
  • Facilitates discussions on different aspects of Open Research

What happened?

Continue reading First Lancaster University Open Research Café 21 November 2018

6th Data Conversations: Keep it, throw it… or lock it in the vault?

As the doors opened on our sixth Lancaster based Data Conversations and the smell of pizza drifted out, new and old faces joined our conversation about real life research data stories. We were lucky enough to have four engaging speakers, all of whom explained their experience of using data in different fields, and explored the long term value of their data which led to the question: ‘Keep it, throw it… or lock it in the vault?’

Continue reading 6th Data Conversations: Keep it, throw it… or lock it in the vault?

Open Research Update

A lot is happening in the world of Open Research at the moment! Here are a few words on what is important to us in the Library at Lancaster University.

Open Science versus Open Research?

Let’s start with the slightly confusing terminology. One of the “Goals of research and innovation policy” of the European Commission is Open Science which defined as “an approach to the scientific process that focuses on spreading knowledge as soon as it is available using digital and collaborative technology.” Moving to the useful FOSTER site they have an Introductory Course on Open Science which is very good and concise summary.

Meanwhile, the Wellcome Trust is advocating for Open Research, a way of “unleashing” the full potential of research. The publisher SpringerNature claims to be “a pioneer in the field of Open Research”.

Open Science = Open Research? It seems to be the case. Our colleagues at Cambridge state that both terms are interchangeable. We at Lancaster University will stick with Open Research as it seems to be the more comprehensive term including all fields of research.

Plan S – A gamechanger for Open Access?

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Impressions from Liber Conference 2018 in Lille

I was lucky enough to attend this years 47th Liber Annual Conference from 4-6 July in the French city of Lille. The theme was “Research Libraries as an Open Science Hub: from Strategy to Action” which is very much close to my heart. I want to highlight a few interesting presentations and talks I attended. If you want to find out more, presentations are available at https://liberconference.eu/2018-presentations/ and Zenodo.

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Connecting the Bits

Glasgow: location of the unconference (CC0: https://pixabay.com/en/glasgow-scotland-city-tourism-2997987/)

We are members of the Digital Preservation Coalition which is a members organisation which exists to secure our digital legacy. Members include businesses, HE institutions, funding bodies, national heritage and cultural organisations and are drawn from every continent.

Last week all members were invited to the annual un-conference where we come together not only to share experiences and network but also to help set the Digital Preservation Coalition’s training and development agenda for the year ahead. The ideas is that members have the opportunity to raise the issues which really matter to them and then discuss how the DPC can take action to move forward on these issues.

Continue reading Connecting the Bits