19 June 2013

Open access publishing and figshare

Time for something more science and work related on the blog today. I want to share something with you that, as both a publishing professional and an ex-researcher, I highly recommend you familiarise yourself with. First, some background.

There is an important issue related to research publication in the UK at the moment; open access (OA). Open access means the material is available to any reader free of charge and there are two (or three) types of OA publishing:

Gold OA

The author pays for their paper to be published as an open access article in an open access journal. The article is immediately available on the publisher's website.

Green OA

Delayed open access. The paper is initially published under a subscription model, i.e. the reader pays for access to it. After a delay, or embargo period, the article is made open access and the author may deposit a copy of their final peer-reviewed paper in an open access institutional or subject repository.

Hybrid OA

The author pays to have their paper published as an open access article within a subscription journal.

Thus, as the publishing world moves toward open access, it shifts from a reader-pays model to an author-pays model and this will have an affect on researchers, funding bodies, academic institutions and libraries, and publishers. For open access articles, publishers will lose subscription revenue and so will need to generate their profit from the open access author charges. When applying for grants and funding, researchers will need to budget for publication and then, carefully consider which journal they should choose to spend this budget on. In addition to this, some funding bodies and organisations now stipulate researchers must make their research data available and accessible in order to receive the full funding they have been allocated.

There are many positives with open access publishing; making research more collaborative, progressive and dynamic, advancement of research, allowing the public access to your work, taxpayers can see the outcome of research investment, greater exposure for the work of a researcher/research group, greater access for researchers in the developing world, increased citation, and much more.

As you can imagine, OA is a very important issue for my company; a scientific publisher, and they  speak about it on an increasingly regular basis. As part of that, I recently attended a colloquium with Mark Hahnel and Aldo de Pape from figshare; a repository where users can make all of their research outputs available in a citable, sharable and discoverable manner.

It is an elegant solution to the problems of what to do with the plethora of data that isn't published in peer-reviewed journals (often because it is never submitted, e.g. negative data) and still receiving credit for it. Not only was I sat there thinking why hasn't anybody already done this but also how many researchers would think it's quite a good idea. It is also a method for long-term preservation of research output — all content is backed-up and stored at 12 major research libraries around the world — in a digital format using digital object identifiers or DOIs. How inferior I felt to his ability and success was significantly outweighed by how impressed I was. I do wonder which sort of communities would be likely to use it. Physicists, chemists, biologists, theoreticians, experimentalists, modellers, and so on. If you're a researcher, would you use it?

How does it work?

The website is largely aimed at the individual researcher, allowing you to store all of your content (privately and/or publicly) all in one place and in the cloud. You can also link it with ORCID. They also work with publishers to directly host content.

The user is able to upload any file format and these are all visualisable that's a mouthful of a word in the browser; figures, datasets, media, papers, posters, presentations and filesets. This is actually much more of a big deal than it sounds and the files can be disseminated in a way that the current scholarly publishing model does not allow. On a lot of publisher websites, the reader is often required to download the material for personal viewing. With it being rendered in the browser, the reader can immediately digest the material.

Also included, and a big win, are the metrics provided for each object; views, shares and cites, where  the cumulative metrics of a researcher’s uploads appears on their profile. Thus, users can see and quantify the true impact and reach of their work.

Want to know more?

Sign up to figshare!

Let me know how you find it and whether you think you would use it. So far, I have created an account but am yet to upload anything.

You can also read an interview with the founder Mark Hahnel on Gobbledygook (a PLOS ONE staff blog by Martin Fenner) and a Google search will direct you to a number of different interviews and articles.


Image credit: biblioteekjeCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

17 June 2013

What's in my handbag?

I've done a what's in your bag post before but it was some time ago. I would ordinarily avoid doing another post of the same type but my lifestyle and priorities were quite different then — I no longer carry around a calculator, my lab book or cycling gear, for one — so maybe it's worth re-visiting. Also, there are prizes to be won! MoneySupermarket.com are giving away Mulberry items worth over £1,000.

So, what's in my handbag? Usually a mixture (but perhaps not all) of the following:


Oxfam purse ... £10
Passport ... £75
Money ... £9
Stamps ... £3
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini + purple Cellapod case ... £205
Casio Exilim EX-Z85 9.1 MP camera ... £175
Specsavers glasses (+ black case) ... £150
Accessorise sunglasses ... £12
Tangle Teezer mini (Virgin Atlantic exclusive) ... £12
Red Moleskin diary ... £9
Black Moleskin notebook ... £10
SanDisk Cruzer 16 GB USB ... £10
Pens ... £3
Work badge
H&M knitted hat ... £6
Faux leather gloves ... £15
Water bottle
Beconase ... £9
Blink contact lens eye drops ... £6
Spare toric contact lenses ... £2
Nail file ... £2
Dove compressed Go Fresh Pomegranate Anti-Perspirant 75ml ... £3
Elizabeth Arden eight hour hand cream ... £13
Cath Kidston mirror ... £8
FLO Refillable perfume atomizer ... £10
The Body Shop strawberry body butter ... £6
Rimmel Royal lipgloss in 161 Delicious ... £4
Asthma inhalers
Eyelash curler ... £5
Hair clip ... £2
Collection2000 Super Size mascara in Black ... £3
Zirtek antihistamines ... £7
Kleenex ... £2

Not pictured

House keys
Amazon Kindle app books ... £16
Mozzypop faux leather handbag ... £30


Bringing the grand total to ... £830.


Sheit. That's a fair amount of investment inside my bag. Yikes! And it's also made me realise how many cosmetic and medicinal items I carry around, especially since a) I consider myself to be low maintenance and b) I barely use most of it. The majority of the items speak for themselves I would say. There may be times I will use a different bag, swap/leave out some items, carry foodstuffs, and maybe have my DSLR (which is at least £350 all-in!) but the current stocktake is fairly representative.

Some items were difficult to cost. For example, I pay for insurance on my mobile so if that were lost, stolen or damaged, it would be replaced 'free of charge'. And how much does someone pay to replace a set of house keys?

So, what's in your (hand)bag?

15 June 2013

Science Showoff

I've been meaning to blog about this for a little while now after attending my first ever Science Showoff on 23 May in Bristol, where fun and lols were had by all.

You're probably wondering what Science Showoff is? It's an open mic night for all communicators of science; scientists, science communicators, science teachers, historians and philosophers of science, students, science popularisers and anyone else with something to show off about science.

It happens at least once a month in London, but also all over the UK. It began in October 2011, brought to you by the same people who founded Bright Club from University College London (UCL) and raises a hell of a lot of money for charity. Each person's set lasts no more than 9 minutes and can be on pretty much anything you want in any style you please.

If, at this point, I've already made you want to take part, visit www.scienceshowoff.org to sign-up for an event.

I'm a big fan of both stand-up comedy and science so this sort of event is right up my street. Its  existense was brought to my attention by friend and colleague Ceri-Wyn Thomas, who was featuring at the Bristol event. She is a brilliant scientist, super funny female and wonderful wordsmith. I was in!

A pretext to the evening aboard the Grain Barge is given on their blog here, described in comedic and accurate prose. Far better than I could manage. My post will merely provide some thoughts and photos of the evening. The 10 participants, along with the compere Steve Cross, had me guffawing for hours!

Ceri's set 'Ecdysis: One woman’s intimate relationship with stripping off’ on arthropods was brilliantly funny whilst also being educational. She does a cracking Welsh accent — helped by having Welsh parents no doubt but still great nonetheless — and was rather animated. So much so in fact, she is but a blur in this photo.

Combining music, science and comedy was this fellow, Mark Lewney's idea. And his execution was perfect!

A comedic tag team also featured as Emily Coyte and Audrey Nailor joked about the science of memetics and it being much more than a penguin who can’t talk to girls or a grumpy cat. They were also very animated. Cue another blurry photo. When their set ended, I had a strong desire to heckle 'Cool story bro!'... I resisted my urge but treated Audrey to it after she came off stage. The result of which was for her to hug me! Pretty much the best heckle outcome ever.

Becky Holmes combined her two passions in life; science and firemen! I particularly enjoyed her use of an infrared camera. Oh and her managing to rope our co-worker Gui into strutting his stuff in firefighting gear!

Ross Exton — whose arm looks freakishly long and misshapen in this photo thanks to the lights — presented us his MegaAnimal. More specifically, replacing the worst parts of a human with the best parts of other creatures. Brilliant.

Sadly, I didn't get photos of all the presenters — I was clearly far too busy laughing and enjoying my cider. The others included the problem with scientific faith and cycle helmets; the world’s longest running scientific experiments; observing cell biology fundamentals with a microscope from Argos; firework and pyrotechnics; and Louisiana's state reptile, the alligator.

The whole evening was fantastic! There were several points of pure hilarity but it was also very enthusing. Myself and the secret acapella group might even have something (very early) in the pipeline along the lines of combining music, science and comedy with a chance that we're going to sign ourselves up for Bristol's next Science Showoff.

If I haven't made you want to take part then perhaps you will visit www.scienceshowoff.org to find the next one near you because I definitely recommend going; you'll have a great night!

12 June 2013

Bad habits

Everyone has bad habits. Even the most exceptional of people have at least one. Whilst I might list perfectionism as one of mine — trust me, it's sometimes just a complete pain in the arse — I am far from perfect. Such as? Well, I don't drink enough water and often hold in my wee for far too long. Maybe that's why I don't drink more water? I don't go to bed when I should and snooze in the morning too much. OK, so none of those sound that terrible but did you really think I was about to tell you my absolute worst habits? Then you need to address your expectations, mis amigos.

Just the other day, I was talking to someone about how much I like reading but how little of it I do as a hobby. And it's a habit I really want to get out of. But actually, it's not just that. It's this: 

Perhaps this photo could be interrupted in a number of different ways. That I read too many books at once, never buy bookmarks or have terrible taste in literature?! Whilst some of those may be true, it's something else. A significant number of books I start reading remain unfinished. Some of the ones in that photo have remained that way for a long time now. Years. And the photo excludes the selection of unfinished, or downloaded and unread, books on my Kindle app:

But why do I do this? No idea really. Considering that I attempt to complete everything I start, this is clearly an area I feel is exempt to that. On a slightly deeper level, I do wonder (worry? No, it's probably not at that level. Yet.) what this could mean. But I think there probably isn't too much to delve into with that. Do I have literary attention deficit disorder? Maybe. There are plenty of books I have finished but the number of books I put down — and yes, leave the bookmark in because well, I will come back to them surely — is growing. Do I go back to them? Do I hell! Very few, anyway. I guess that's why I don't buy bookmarks. Who does buy bookmarks?

Getting through the selection of half-read books is something I keep telling myself I will do but it's not happening; I just keep downloading more! With that in mind; I am listing all of the ones I currently have — somewhere, on this blog maybe? — and I am frickin' reading them! If I weren't expecting to fail, I would even say I'd review them.

Wish me luck!

11 June 2013

Happy 5th Blog-a-versary

It's that time again. Time to remember just how long ago I pitched up in this corner of the interwebs. This post is coming from York today as I am there for a conference. Don't worry, I am working; I just queued this one up.

Five years ago today, I posted my first blog post; Hello!. I'd had other blogs before but I was determined to make this one something I would stick at and be proud of. Whilst my efforts have been intermittent, I'm quite pleased with how things stand after half a decade. I wonder where this blog and I will be in another 5 years?

Anyway, Happy Blogaversary to this small but almost perfectly formed virtual suitcase full of words, thoughts, feelings, laughs and memories. p.s. sorry I missed your fourth blogaversary! I do love you, I promise.

You all know how much I love cake; and here's one of a batch I made at the weekend in honour of today.

Cupcakes? Yeah, Jen we've seen you do those before. Wait, there's more...

It might look a little more like an 's' but that's actually how the cutter looks. They were quite fun to make and yummy, too. I really want to make a rainbow layer cake and an ombre cake now.


Ombre cake image credit: raspberri cupcakesCC BY-NC-ND 2.0

06 June 2013

Well, that's just peachy.

O hai! Have you missed me? Well, I've blinkin' missed you! *pinches your proverbial (virtual?) cheeks* I couldn't work out for a couple of days why I felt out of kilter or why I kept thinking there was something I was forgetting to do. Then I realised it was because I wasn't blogging! Blogging every day for a month will do that to you.
But absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? ; ) And boy do I have a post and a half for you today. Ya know, just to stave off those feelings of bereftness you're all experiencing...
If you've seen me at work at all this week or been keeping up with me on Twitter, you might have some idea on the subject matter. Anyway, let's snap to it!

I live in a pretty awesome flat. In a pretty awesome location. With a pretty awesome flatmate-cum-friend. All discovered through the pretty awesome random-room-locator website spareroom.co.uk. My living situation couldn't get any better, really.

Or at least that was how things stood at the end of May. Until I had quite the bombshell dropped on me on Sunday evening that my aforementioned flatmate-cum-friend had decided she wanted to live on her own. My immediate reaction(s)? My face flushing red as I processed the comment, and then acting completely nonchalant, in an s'cool bro stance. But where had this come from?

There had been a few negative vibes of late but these were incredibly slight and since I am an over-analyser I put it down to me probably just imagining it. Thus, the confession still came as quite a shock. Before all of this, I'd described us as – and genuinely believed we were – getting on really well. We would go swimming and to the gym together. She'd driven me 95 miles home to see my parents and back! We'd bought plants at the garden centre, planted them in the hanging baskets outside and spent an afternoon cleaning all the windows. We had evenings in watching tv series and drinking red wine. Plus evenings out. I genuinely considered us to be friends. Meaning it's not just the inconvenience of having to move. It's finding out that you're not considered to be someone's friend in return.

I could not think what had gone wrong. What had I done? Was it the packet of quavers crisps I'd eaten from her stash? Surely not, she pinched plenty of my milk without any issue from me. Was it that she'd decided (or felt the need) to set up a cleaning rota? I was sticking to it pretty rigidly so it couldn't be that. Maybe I spent too much time with her/around the flat? Maybe I spent too little time? I was racking my brain. I concede that the choice to live on her own is understandable; she owns the place and I can definitely relate to wanting that if you are able to afford it. 

But then the conversation went a little like this:
Names have been changed to pronouns to protect the guilty innocent and I have distilled the conversation for your impatience reading pleasure.
Her: I want to live on my own.
Me: Oh. OK.
Her: Sorry.
Me: It's OK.
Her: It's a bit shit for you, though.
Me: Yeah...
Her: Or you know, maybe it will be good.
Me: red face.
Her: Oh, I have been dreading telling you. I can sleep now.
Me: What do you want, a hug?
Her: I will miss the money, though.
Me: white-as-sheet face as the penny really starts to drop.
Her: I need to stop spending it on rubbish.
Me: my money you mean? Good to know.
Her: Maybe I will rent Monday to Friday...
Hold up. Hold. the fuck. up.

So, wait a minute – and forgive me for having to process really quickly here – you don't actually want to live on your own? You just want the weekends to yourself in exchange for having a semi-stranger pay you money for a bed? Confused is not the word.

And so, it ends there. I don't probe. I don't ask. I barely even manage to process what she's said and the implications. All I manage that evening is to create a new 'room wanted' advert on spareroom (and Gumtree, and easyroommate, and RoomBoodies!) as every bone in my body screams I need to get out of here. Now. Most of my nights this week have thus consisted of refreshing this page:

The end of the saga you think, right? Yeah, apart from the emotional havoc and stress it has created, I thought so too. That is, until Monday evening. I'm refreshing the above-pictured page in the same way an ebayer might on a purchase they're currently winning but desperately willing to end. Another slimline conversation for you:
Me: not talking to you, *refresh*, not talking to you, *refresh*
Her: I saw you put an advert up.
Me: Yeah.
Her: Had any interest?
Me: Some.
Her: When did you say you were looking to move?
Me: As soon as possible. You only told me yesterday, so I don't know how soon I'll move out.
Her: I should put an advert up.
Me: 'Live on your own' you said.
Her: What date did you put?
Me: Yesterday's date.
Her: Do you mind if I take photos of your room?
Me: No. Not really my room anymore is it?
Her: Removing some of my belongings from the room to take photos.
Me: red face.
Her: Whilst attempting to take photos of the lounge Do you want to be in the photo? i.e. get out of the photo.
Me: No. I'm going.
Her: Oh it's so difficult to make this flat look nice. Literally, my biggest care right now.
Me: *refresh...refresh...refresh* Oh! This new advert sounds ideal... Oh wait, that's where I already live. Those are my converse in the photo.
This, ladies and gentlemen, was all said without an ounce of sorrow or guilt, or really much consideration for how I might be feeling about or taking the situation. Oh no, there was even some level of excitement for pastures new and being free of some sort of shackle. Or maybe I'm over analysing again... Well, that's great. Peachy. I'm happy for you.

You know what it's like? It's like your partner has told you they don't want to be with you anymore. That you should go your separate ways. That you'll be OK, you'll find someone new. But unlike a relationship, you don't feel entitled to ask why? You're not even sure you want to know why. You sure as hell can't start begging them to reconsider and take you back. That you'll change and things will be different this time. And there definitely isn't any break-up sex to soften the blow.

Now all that's left is awkwardness and no matter how hard I tell myself to be normal and not take it personally, I can't stop myself. It's made worse by the fact that nowhere on her advert does it mention Monday-to-Friday or part time. When I decided to bite the bullet and ask her via e-mail why it doesn't mention this small, insignificant fact – which, by the way, to continue the analogy, felt exactly like asking a partner, ex-partner, if they cheated when you were together – her response was, and I quote: "No, I didn't want to put it. I thought it would restrict too many people." What in the blue hell is that? Of course it will restrict people. It will restrict those who are actually looking for Monday-to-Friday. What a time-waster. It's bullshit. She wants me out and I get the fucking memo.

It wasn't long before questions of when I would be out so that she could show potential new flatmates the room. Friday, tomorrow, she has a guy coming round who would only want the room for 3 weeks out of 4. Newsflash: this is not living on your own, love! And now I'm just not sure if I believe any of what comes out of her mouth.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, in the vein of Nicole's recent – and brilliant! – post When's the last time you told the truth about your life, I thought I'd speak my truth. Maybe because if you can understand all this, I will eat my hat, but not before begging you to explain to me what the fuck just happened?! I'm sure people see me as quite a strong, hard-faced person but this, this has an effect. It knocks your confidence; leaves you wondering why you struggle to, or at least want to, interact with and trust people. Wondering whether I am a nightmare to be around, be friends with and/or live with? And mainly, it just makes me sad.

I debated leaving it there but I don't want anyone going away feeling down in the dumps. To that end: never fear, Jen bounces back. My friends at work have been truly exceptional in their offers of support and assistance. (So, I can't be all that bad, can I?) Whilst I don't want to speak too soon or jinx it, I'm pretty sure I've found a new place with a nice person and things might be looking up.

02 June 2013

#Project365: May 2013

You'll be happy to know it's time for another round up of Project365 for May 2013. Super happy, right?

1. My work badge. 2. Spring. 3. My bag purchase from Mozzypop. 4. One of my father's motorcycles. 5. Ice-cream down South!
6. A visit to Walsall's Arboretum. 7. Supplies and ingredients for this Somerset bean stew. 8. Acquainting myself with a new TV series, House of Cards. 9. April showers in May. 10. Lunch in a very British pub.
11. Lunch with Dr Mini Jen at italian restaurant Zizzi. 12. Feet up in the window seat at dusk. 13. Throwback biscuits Crawford's Morning Coffee. 14. Ducks in my bathroom. 15. My Stroopwafels addiction continues.
16. Patisserie Valerie Black Forest Gateau. I want all of the special occasion cakes on that website. 17. Vegetable stir-fry. 18. My decorated cupcake at the Eurovision party. 19. New shoes. 20. Window flower.
21. Awesome steak, mustard and rocket sandwiches are awesome. 22. Cool evenings with the front door open. 23. Science Showoff (blog post coming soon). 24. Friday Supper Club dinner and the terrible-tasting but pretty-looking mojito. 25. Dot To Dot Festival in Bristol. 
26. Window-seat sunshine. 27. This sausage and red wine risotto. 28. I finally went back to the gym, even managing 3 consecutive days in one week. 29. A TV programme I adore: 24 Hours in A&E. 30. Some rather sexist advice from an academic professor. He thought he was being particularly helpful with my wardrobe choices for a symposium dinner.
And May 31 all on its lonesome here. Sheet music for the (not-so-secret) secret acapella/harmony ensemble with 3 female co-workers.
That's your lot and that's all I've really got to say about that.

Happy Sunday!