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The importance of being (R)eproducible

Reproducible Research (RR) or reproducible data analysis is the idea and practice to complement scholarly journal articles with all the information needed to reproduce the results they present.

Very often scientific studies rely on complex textual explanations of what has been done to analyze the data that can overwhelm the reader that has to accept them as an act of faith.

To avoid this, a good way to understand better what has been done is to provide the raw data and an univoque description of the procedures used to analyze it. This practice will allow the scientific community to reproduce the results, work along with the data and assert the validity of the results.

Many tools have appeared with the advent of Big Data and the need to analyze large datasets, specially around R, a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics that’s becoming a kind of standard de facto in open science. Here are some tools of the R ecosystem that allows to publish the results along with the methods and the data.

  • RStudio IDE is a powerful and productive user interface for R, free, open source and multiplatform.
  • rOpenSci is a collection of analyses and methods can be easily shared, replicated, and extended by other researchers, accessible through the R statistical programming environment.
  • KnitR is an elegant, flexible and fast dynamic report generation with R that allows to incorporate R, Python and other live code snippets in a document, and comes packaged with RStudio.
  • Slidify is a tool to write slides in R Markdown, a format that combines the core syntax of Markdown with embedded code chunks that are executed.
  • RPubs is a tool to publish and share directly from R Markdown.

Last year during the Open Education Week (11-15 March, 2013) the UOC took part in the project ORIOLE (Open Resources: Influence on learners & educators), in collaboration with The Open University (OU) UK and the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), by launching the ORIOLE survey 2013 about the reuse of educational resources.

The ORIOLE Survey 2013 collected information about the contexts in which open resource use may occur, looking particularly at attitudes about reuse of educational resources (OER) in teaching. What influences open resources in education is a topic of relevance to anyone taking on forward engagement with open education and the answers lie with those who are working directly in the delivery of learning and teaching, and those who support this work.

logo and mission

In 2011, the ORIOLE project developed and distributed an online survey (conducted Chris Pegler, OU), based on earlier UK-based RLO surveys and research, and directed specifically at practitioners in the UK higher education and further education community. In 2013, a further survey was distributed, this time with a more international focus, available in English and Spanish and with some modified questions. This second version, ORIOLE Survey 2013, was made possible through the collaborative work of Chris Pegler and myself (I joined to ORIOLE project during a visiting fellowship to OU in late of 2012) and our institutions.

The results of ORIOLE Survey 2013 were published last month in Qualitative Research of Education:

Santos-Hermosa, G. (2014). ORIOLE, in the Search for Evidence of OER in Teaching. Experiences in the Use, Re-use and the Sharing and Influence of Repositories. Qualitative Research in Education, 3(1) 232-268. doi: 10.4771/qre.2014.46

I invite you to have a look and comment :-)

For more information about both ORIOLE project and survey, you can check the following:

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Citing the social web

 

At universities and in academia in general, people are well aware of the need to make responsible, ethical and legal use of information in their academic work and, thus, the need to clearly identify ideas and material taken from other sources and authors. In short, they are well aware of the need to avoid plagiarism.

Authors of scholarly works are also aware of the need not just to cite their sources, but also to cite them correctly in accordance with the most common citation styles in each field (APA, MLA, Vancouver, Chicago, ISO 690, etc.).

This good practice has been helped in great part by the growing popularity of bibliographic reference managers (Mendeley, RefWorks, Zotero, etc.) that make this often tiring task that accompanies the writing of an academic or research paper much easier.

Recently, we have seen a need that researchers and authors of academic works and articles wouldn’t even have imagined a few years ago: the need to include citations from the social web.

The UOC Library is well aware of this new need and has started work on new guides and self-training videos to respond to our users’ requirements.

In the meantime, while we wait for these guides to be made available to our users, this post offers a look at some examples of how to cite texts taken from the leading sources on the social web in accordance with the American Psychological Association (APA) style, as can be found on its website (http://www.apastyle.org/).

 

1. Blog:

Surname, initial. (Year, month day). Title of the blog post. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxx.xxx

 

2. Twitter:

User. (Year, month day). The full post [Twitter post]. Retrieved from http://twitter.com/user

 

3. Facebook:

Username. (Year, month day). The full post. [Facebook update]. Retrieved from http://facebook.com

 

4. YouTube, Vimeo, etc.:

Surname, initial. [Screen name] (Year, month day). Title of the video. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/specificURL

 

And if you want to cite this post:

Cervera, A. (2014, July, 7). Citing the social web. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://labs.biblioteca.uoc.edu/blog/

 

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Finding out about Serial Solutions

As part of the project to analyse new library software, we attended a Serials Solutions presentation.

Library software companies are preparing updates to their old fashioned systems, bringing them into line with the new concept of library systems.

It is no longer enough to have a good ILS with lots of features.

This may have been the priority in the past, but now the focus has to be on the users.

Google is easy, you enter a few words in the search box and get the results. Libraries need to work on that and provide more valuable information. If they don’t, users will never use them.

We already know about Serial Solutions’ Summon, which is the discovery tool used by the UOC’s Library. We have already talked about it here on the blog.

SerialsSolution

The number of installations of Summon is increasing every day thanks to a good marketing campaign and its adaptability in comparison with current library systems.

Another of the products that they have launched is Counter, a powerful tool to analyse the use of the resources offered in Summon. Analysing this data was a tough task for librarians who had to spend lots of time organizing the information.

But, are there plans to develop an ILS? Everybody has heard the rumour that Serials Solutions are developing an ILS called Intota.

During the presentation, Serial Solutions staff stated that they were focusing on all their efforts on Summon, which is understandable as it is the market leader.

However, they are working on developing Intota and have started with Intota Assessment. As far as I understand, it is a complement to Counter, helping analyse the collection of books and serials and letting those responsible use this information to make decisions about collection development.

They gave us information on the development of Intota, saying that it will be step by step. They are to develop different parts of the software, letting libraries work with their own ILS and Intota simultaneously until development is completed.

That is hard to understand, but from the point of view of the company, aware of the fact that the ILS market is full of alternatives, spending efforts to develop a competitive system is a lost war.

Serial Solutions are focusing on what they know. They are experts in electronic resources management. This is what sets them apart, alongside having a discovery tool as powerful as theirs.

We’ll have to see how the market plays out and if their strategy works as they’ve planned.

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Citing is easy with WorldCat

It is taken as read that faculty, researchers and doctoral students must know how to properly cite any source of information they consult and use in their knowledge creation process, and that they must know how to produce the bibliographies that have to accompany their research work and scientific articles.

They normally use the most common bibliographic reference managers (Mendeley, RefWorks, Zotero, etc.), which make this laborious part of their academic and research work much easier.

A bibliographic reference manager is software that, once installed and registered on, lets users create their own bibliographic database, storing the reference data of articles, books or web pages consulted for their subsequent entering as citations in any text.

These bibliographic reference managers let users export the citations used in the text as a bibliography in a wide variety of the most common bibliographic formats (ISO 690,  APA, Chicago, Vancouver, MLA, etc.).

Degree students, however, do not normally use bibliographic reference managers. Likewise, they are not well versed in the criteria for citing documents or the correct presentation of bibliographies, despite the efforts of library and language services at universities and their providing guides, manuals and all kinds of resources to help them learn how to cite correctly and produce bibliographies in accordance with basic criteria and standards such as ISO 690:2010.

Students are often unaware of a very useful resource for citing documents correctly in any of the most commonly used bibliographic styles: WorldCat. It is the online catalogue from the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and thought to be the largest Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) in the world with a bibliographic collection covering more than 10,000 public and private libraries from around the globe.

When citing a document in a given bibliographic style, users can search for it in WorldCat. In the document’s bibliographic record, they simply need to click on the option to “Cite/Export” at the top right. Just one click provides access to the bibliographic citation in the most common standards (APA, Harvard, Chicago, MLA, Turabian).

capturaWordCat

This quick and simple way of citing sources and producing properly formatted bibliographies should make life easy for students.

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