Unpaywall and Open Access Button

”Click here to purchase article”.

You have probably seen this several times when searching for articles. You find that perfect article for your research or student thesis, but you are not allowed to read more than the abstract if you don’t want to pay for it. This is called a paywall, and if you don’t pay, you won’t get access to the article behind it. Thanks to the library employees and students at the university get access to a high number of articles online, but there are still articles that the library’s subscriptions will not include, and that are therefore not available to read. This can be very frustrating.

Lately there have been several tries to find a solution to this problem. At the Open Access Week 2014 a web browser extension called Open Access Button was introduced. You install the extension, and as soon as you hit a paywall you click the button. The extension will look for the article in other places, and in many cases it will give you a way to access the article. April 4th another extension was launched, namely Unpaywall. Unpaywall works pretty much like the Open Access Button, and the two complements each other, giving you wide access to a high amount of articles.

Both Open Access Button and Unpaywall looks for articles in open databases like ArXiv, PubMed Central, Google Scholar, and more.

The green lock to the right lets you know that Unpaywall has found a free version of the article. By clicking on the lock, you can access the article.

Kristoffer Karlsson

What is a data management plan good for?

A data management plan (DMP) is a term that we hear quite often nowadays. It is not uncommon outside Sweden that researchers have to submit a DMP to be able to apply for research funds. This will probably be the case in Sweden as well in the future, and it is therefore of importance that researchers in Sweden are informed what a DMP is and how they can use it for their own benefit.

A DMP is pretty much what it sounds like – it’s a document describing how you plan to manage your data during and after a research project. The document describes things like how the data will be stored, if and how you are going to make the data freely available, and what kind of data you are working with. But a DMP is more than just a document for administration. Foremost it’s a document for the researcher to simplify the process of research. If you use it, many tasks relating to your research will gain from it.

The most important aspect of the DMP is that it significantly simplify for the researcher to return to a research project at a later point in time. A well structured and documented DMP makes it possible for you to get an overview over what data you have used before, what role they have in the research, and why you have made certain decisions.

What does a data management plan contain?

There are several guides to what a DMP should contain. Digital Curation Centre has a checklist, for example, that lists questions regarding administrative aspects, data collection, metadata and documentation, and more. By going through the checklist and answer the questions you will take a stance on several important issues regarding your research.

A living document

A DMP is not supposed to be just an administrative task when applying for research funds. You should update the document regularly when you make new decisions in your research. If you for example make changes in your data, removing or adding a column, or changing a definition, you should write this down in your DMP. This way you can always go back and check the exact process of your work.

Why should you write a data management plan?

There are several reasons why to write a DMP, except the obvious one that it might be needed to require funding. A DMP is a good way to structure the research process and ahead of time reflect on several important decisions about the research. If you work in a research team a DMP can be a way to help distribute fields of responsibility between the team members. The DMP also makes the task to describe and make a plan for your research data, both for making them freely available and to make sure you yourself can re-sue them at a later time. If someone questions your research, you have a document where every decision is recorded. This makes it very easy to defend your choices during the research, even several years after the project has ended. Lastly, you may want to return to a research project a couple of years later. A DMP makes it easy to read up on everything that you did, and makes sure that you don’t forget anything important concerning the project or its data.

Kristoffer Karlsson

Who owns the research data?

Who actually owns the data that scientists collect? Who has the right to request to see collected research data? Do researchers bring their collected data if they start working at another institution? When it comes to research data are many questions. In this post I hope to clear up some of them.

Who owns the research data that researchers collect? The institution where the researcher work is responsible for the research conducted at the university. That means that the institution has ownership of the research data collected by researchers at the institution. According to the Freedom of the Press Act (1949:105) and the Public Access and Secrecy Act (2009:400), the institution is responsible for archiving and giving access to the research data, as well as to protect it from unauthorized access.

Can scientists bring their research data if they start working at another university? Since the institution has ownership of research data, the researcher is not entitled to bring the data to another institution without the approval of the institution where data were collected. The researcher can request to have their research data extradited using the Public Access and Secrecy Act.

Who has the right to request research data? Thanks to the Public Access and Secrecy Act, all Swedish citizens have the right to request to see the collected research data. The institution shall hastily make the requested research data available to the person who has requested it. The exception is if the requested data are classified. In such cases, the university deny the request.

When is research data classified? Research data concerning for example study participants’ health or sex life, psychological studies, or health condition and personal circumstances may be classified. The fact that a document is classified means that not everyone has the right to request the data, and that the institution may deny a request to access it.

What is a public document? Any text, image, or other recording that can be read, listened to, or otherwise comprehended only using technical aids is defined as a document (Freedom of the Press Act (1949:105)). Any document held by a public authority, or received and prepared by an authority, is classified as a public document. Virtually all research documents, in the form of surveys and questionnaires, video and audio playback and more are considered public documents, and as long as they are not classified, anyone can make a request to access them.

Kristoffer Karlsson