Mendeley has a vision: to change the the way we do research, for all researchers!
Today’s guest blog post comes from Olayinka Fatoki, who works in Information Science at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. Olayinka tells us how she is sharing Mendeley with researchers and shares some of the feedback she’s received after her workshops.
In March 2014, I was in a training room during the TEEAL/AGORA workshop at the Kenneth Dike Library of the University of Ibadan, when I first heard of Mendeley. The facilitator took a group of researchers and librarians through a session on using the reference manager to organize citations and manage their references. I was fascinated by the power of this tool and the electrifying applause from the participants at the end of the session.
Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) through partnerships with institutions in Nigeria organizes 3-day workshops which highlights Research4Life programmes, The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) and Reference Management software, Mendeley. As the Training and Outreach Officer for ITOCA in Nigeria, the responsibility of delivering training sessions on Mendeley soon fell on me and so I had to learn expressly and became conversant with the application. Mendeley is easy to learn and use especially with the different user guides available. At each of the TEEAL/AGORA workshops, with at least thirty-five participants, I have discovered more about Mendeley features and the saving grace it brings to researchers.
As a researcher myself, I use Mendeley for my work and have also organized training for PHD students, and lecturers in my faculty. Fifteen workshops and several training sessions down the line, I am always very happy to see the relief, excitement and brightened up faces after each Mendeley session.
Some of the testimonies shared by participants at the end of different Mendeley training sessions are as follows:
“I think Mendeley is great. The fact that a search and reference tool like this exists beats my imagination. It’s great for research.”
“I have had Mendeley for six years but I have just discovered it is a unique program, that I am able to download and keep my download in it as a backup for my work is unique. It is an essential tool for me as a researcher.”
“Mendeley experience has opened a novel pathway for literature search, archiving and retrieval. Thus making research reporting easy and fun. Thanks to the MENDELEY TEAM!”
“Excellent tool for management of references. How I wish I could have been introduced to this immediately I enrolled for my postgraduate study. It will definitely help and boost my writing.”
“Mendeley is the best thing that happened to me in the world of referencing. I simply love it!”
It gets better when participants from these workshops send in exciting stories about how they have been sharing the knowledge about Mendeley with friends and colleagues. Gradually and steadily, as more and more researchers and librarians learn about Mendeley, the way we do research indeed is changing – Thanks to Mendeley!
In July, some of us Mendeleyans had the amazing privilege to fly over to Washington to visit the NASA HQ for the New Horizons Pluto Flyby. During our trip, we had the chance to meet some of NASA’s scientists, one of whom is planetary geologist and a program scientist Sarah Noble. Sarah’s specific interested are in space weathering on environments such as the Moon, Mercury, and asteroids.
We recently got in contact with Sarah again, to speak with her about being a women in planetary geology.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am a program scientist at NASA Headquarters. In my job I have two main hats to wear, grants management and mission work. I manage several Research and Analysis (R&A) programs for the planetary science division, making sure that we find and fund the best planetary research. I also serve as a program scientist on missions, like the recent LADEE mission to the Moon, and I’m currently the Deputy Program Scientist for our next Mars rover, Mars 2020. A program scientist serves as a sort of liaison between HQ and the science team, it’s our job to make sure that the mission actually produces good science. I also get to do a little science once in a while, my research is mostly working with Apollo samples to understand the effects of space weathering on the properties of lunar rocks and soils.
Is this what you wanted to be, when you were growing up? If not, what did you want to become?
I think I always knew that I would work for NASA, though as a kid, of course, I wanted to be an astronaut, didn’t every kid?
With Moon rock and the giant microscope I use to study it.
Doing a Q&A just before the LADEE launch.
What is your background and how did you get to where you are now?
I started my undergrad as an aerospace engineering major (because it was the only major with the word “space” in it), but quickly realized that I was much more interested in science than engineering. I switched to geology and fell in love with it, I also minored in both political science and art, because why not? I continued on the geology path in graduate school, specializing in planetary geology. After completing my PhD, I took a year or so off from science to scratch my political science itch and went to work for Congress. As an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, I worked as a committee staffer for the Space and Aeronautics subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Then I went back to science, in what I like to call my “NASA-nomad phase, where in the span of a few years I worked at NASA Johnson Space Center, then NASA HQ, then NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, then NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and finally back to NASA HQ.
Apart from being a lunar/planetary, what else are you/do you do?
In my spare time, I’m an artist. My day job tends to leak over into my art, most of my paintings are of the Moon and planets – they are so beautiful and amazing that I can’t help but paint them.
What are the best and worst parts about working in planetary geology?
In planetary science, we literally get to discover new worlds. Like NASA’s New Horizons mission that flew by Pluto this summer, giving us our very first pictures, and ESA’s Rosetta mission that has brought us incredible views of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. And every time, every new world, they are more amazing and incredible than we had imagined. But it’s a two-sided coin, space is hard, and vast, so our data is always limited. It took New Horizons nine and a half years to get to Pluto (and that’s just from launch, it doesn’t include the nearly three decades of work lobbying, planning, proposing, and building to get the mission off the ground), it will be a long time before we go back.
Is there a problem attracting girls/women to planetary science?
At the graduate school level, we are doing pretty well, about 40% of planetary grad students are women. Recruiting isn’t the problem, retaining is a bigger issue. Those numbers fall off precipitously among tenured faculty and senior researchers.
Me sporting #thatothershirt
With my Pluto painting
Have you had any role models or mentors in your field/during your career? If so, how did they support/encourage you?
My PhD advisor, Carle Pieters, was/is an amazing mentor. She was a women in planetary science back when there weren’t any women in planetary science. When I was her graduate student, her door was always open and whenever I would knock on it, no matter how busy she was (and believe me, she was always busy), she would give me her full attention. No phone calls, no quick glances at her computer, her full attention, which taught me that what I had to say was important and worthwhile.
Are there any particular challenges you’ve faced as a woman in STEM?
Imposter syndrome (the feeling that you are not as smart or qualified as those around you and that one day you will be found out) is something that I have struggled with. It turns out to be quite common among scientists, particularly female scientists, and actually I have found it to be very comforting and reassuring to realize that most of the people around me are struggling with the same feelings. One thing I try to remember to do when I mentor early career scientists is to talk about my failures, not just my successes, it’s important to realize that everybody fails sometimes and it’s not the end of the world. When we only talk about our successes it makes us appear superhuman, and that can be a tough standard to compare yourself to.
What has been your best experience, as a women in STEM?
I help run the Women in Planetary Sciences event at our annual meeting, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. I used to attend those events when I was a graduate student and it would be maybe twenty people crammed into someone hotel room swapping war stories. Now we fill up the big ballroom, well over a hundred women (and a few men) gathering to support each other and offer advice. Every year as the women are gathering, I take a minute to look around, take in the scene, and remember how far we’ve come.
Is there anything you wish you’d had, to support your career path?
My career path has not been a straight line, I have stepped away from doing research, first to work for Congress, then again at HQ, and I wish there had been more people telling me that that was okay, that getting a tenure-track faculty job wasn’t the only correct path, that I wasn’t “throwing away my science career”. I have no regrets about those decisions, they were the right ones for me, and I love my job. There are lots of ways to be a scientist, and all of them are valid career choices if you end up happy and fulfilled.
Which woman in STEM, dead or alive, do you most admire, and why?
I’m a big fan of Poppy Northcutt – She was the first women engineer to work in mission control and helped to design the return-to-Earth trajectory for Apollo 8. There’s a great picture of her in mission control, fashionably dressed, tousled blond hair, sitting in the midst of a sea of men in short-sleeved white shirts with ties and horn-rimmed glasses – the unofficial uniform of Apollo. One of these things is not like the others, clearly, and yet, everything about her body language and expression says she was right where she belonged, comfortable and confident. It’s hard to be the first, the only, and I love that she didn’t shy away from her “otherness”, didn’t buy herself a white shirt and horn-rimmed glasses.
What advice and encouragement can you offer to girls wanting to enter a career in STEM?
Follow your passion and your curiosity. Science is hard, but if you love it, it’s worth it.
What is your science/tech dream?
Part of me still wants to be an astronaut, or more to the point, I want to visit the Moon, do some field geology, see the Earth rise over the horizon.
If you are, or know, a women in STEM who would be interested in contributing to our Women in STEM blog series, then please email us! We’d love to here your story!
There’s an increasing drive in the scientific community to do more with the data that comes out of research. As funding bodies and governments begin to mandate that all research outcomes must be made available, researchers are looking for ways to publish their data, share it, and make it available for other researchers. The new Mendeley Data repository is designed to help them do exactly that.
“If you think about it, the output from scientific research hasn’t changed in the last 500 years or so,” said Joe Shell, Head of Research Data Management at Mendeley, “It’s always been about the research article, the meta of the experiment if you will, and takes the form of ‘we asked this question, here’s the answer’. What we want to do is enable researchers to show their working, and most importantly get credit for that.”
The platform allows researchers to upload the raw data from their research, and give it a unique identifier (a versioned DOI), making that research citable (please see our FAQs to find out what a DOI is, and how this works in Mendeley Data). For partnering journal websites (so far ScienceDirect, Cellpress, and others in future), the article links to the research dataset on Mendeley Data, enabling readers to quickly drill down from a research article to the underlying data; while the dataset also links to the article.
Researchers can also “privately” share their unpublished data with collaborators, and make available multiple versions of the data relating to a single research project, creating an evolving body of data. As science increasingly moves towards longitudinal studies, which involve repeated observations of the same variables over long periods of time, this will be invaluable.
Mendeley Data has been developed in close collaboration with the research community, to ensure it addresses their needs. “Since we kicked off the project we’ve been having a few users come in every week to test it out,” Joe said. “We’re getting really good feedback on usability”. The Mendeley Data team has been working closely with Mendeley Advisors, and other scientists and publishers to ensure the product serves their needs.
In line with that, and the Mendeley ethos, Mendeley Data is a free service and datasets are licenced under a choice of open licences. Research datasets are permanently archived with DANS (Data Archive and Networking Services) based in the Netherlands. Further, all the features of the web App will be available via a publicly available API (Application Programming Interface) enabling other Apps to build on top of, and interface with, the research data repository. The API will be released in the next few weeks, and you can find out about it first by following the Mendeley API on Twitter.
We’re also proud to announce that Mendeley Data will be collaborating with the Hivebench Electronic Lab Notebook, in the aim of helping researchers to capture and archive data from their experiments, as they collect it in the lab, providing a truly end to end data management solution. This integration is a great example of how one can use the Mendeley Data API.
Do you collect, share or consume research data? We want to make something that serves your needs – we would be delighted to hear your feedback and ideas for Mendeley Data! Please follow the feedback button on the bottom of the Mendeley Data page, comment on this blog or write to email@example.com.
They’re here! Your new research features are now visible on Mendeley.com – check it out now!
Feature: Suggest Mendeley’s Data Science team have been working to crack one of the hardest “big data” problems of all: How to recommend interesting articles that users might want to read? For the past six months they have been working to integrate 6 large data sets from 3 different platforms to create the basis for a recommender system. These data sets often contain tens of millions of records each, and represent different dimensions which can all be applied to the problem of understanding what a user is looking for, and providing them with a high-quality set of recommendations.
With the (quite literally) massive base data set in place, the team then tested over 50 different recommender algorithms against a “gold standard” (which was itself revised five times for the best possible accuracy). Over 500 experiments have been done to tweak our algorithms so they can deliver the best possible recommendations. The basic principle is to combine our vast knowledge of what users are storing in their Mendeley libraries, combined with the richness of the citation graph (courtesy of Scopus), with a predictive model that can be validated against what users actually did. The end result is a tailored set of recommendations for each user who has a minimum threshold of documents in their library.
We are happy to report that two successive rounds of qualitative user testing have indicated that 80% of our test users rated the quality of their tailored recommendations as “Very good” (43%) or “Good” (37%), which gives us confidence that the vast majority of Mendeley reference management users will receive high-quality recommendations that will save them time in discovering important papers they should be reading.
For those who are new to Mendeley, we have made it easy for you to get started and import your documents – simply drag-and-drop your papers, and get high-quality recommendations.
On our new “Suggest” page you’ll be getting improved article suggestions, driven by four different recommendation algorithms to support different scientific needs:
Popular in your discipline – Shows you the seminal works, for all time, in your field
Trending in your discipline – Shows you what articles are popular right now in your discipline
Based on the last document in your library – Gives you articles similar to the one you just added
Based on all the documents in your library – Provides the most tailored set of recommended articles by comparing the contents of your library with the contents of all other users on Mendeley.
Suggestions you receive will be frequently recalculated and tailored to you based on the contents of your library, making sure that there is always something new for you to discover. This is no insignificant task, as we are calculated over 25 million new recommendations with each iteration. This means that even if you don’t add new documents to your library, you will still get new recommendations based on the activity of other Mendeley users with libraries similar to yours.
If you are a published author, Mendeley’s “Stats” feature provides you with a unique, aggregated view of how your published articles are performing in terms of citations, Mendeley sharing, and (depending on who your article was published with) downloads/views. You can also drill down into each of your published articles to see the statistics on each item you have published. This powerful tool allows you to see how your work is being used by the scientific community, using data from a number of sources including Mendeley, Scopus, NewsFlo, and ScienceDirect.
Stats gives you an aggregated view on the performance of your publications, including metrics such as citations, Mendeley readership and group activity, academic discipline and status of your readers, as well as any mentions in the news media – helping you to understand and evaluate the impact of your published work. With our integration with ScienceDirect, you can find information on views (PDF and HMTL downloads), search terms used to get to your article, geographic distribution of your readership, and links to various source data providers.
Please keep in mind that Stats are only available for some published authors whose works are listed in the Scopus citation database. To find out if your articles are included, just visit www.mendeley.com/stats and begin the process of claiming your Scopus author profile. If not, please be patient as we work further on this feature.
Mendeley has restyled and simplified the profile page to make it easier to use with improved layout and visual impact. The card-based design and progress bar make updating profile fields a breeze, while the brand new publications feature allows published authors to bulk import their publications from Scopus, de-duplicate them and showcase their work in the publications section. This more comprehensive publications list can also improve the quality of the article recommendations available via Mendeley Suggest.
Feature: Mendeley supports Elsevier sign in
If you’ve registered with another Elsevier product such as My Research Dashboard, ScienceDirect alerts or Scopus, you can now use the same username and password to sign in to Mendeley rather than registering a new account. This will save you from having to remember (yet another!) username and password, as well as giving you access to Stats based on Scopus if this information is already held in your Elsevier account.
Mendeley.com now features a new navigation, which makes it easier to move around the site and makes our Apps clearer and snappier. As always, we welcome your feedback – please comment on this post or head over to our feedback channel, and help us to improve Mendeley further.
What makes a successful PhD student? Hermes believe it is high quality skills in your field, excellent communication skills, proficiency in leading technologies and an international network of peers. At the Hermes summer school, they aim to provide training and opportunities in all these areas.
Hermes is an international summer school committed to excellence in materials modelling and science communication. The interdisciplinary school is organised by PhD students from a variety of different institutions. They also bring together leading academics in materials modelling, top science communicators and leading data visualisation specialists to teach and work with you over the course of your stay.
Participants come from top institutions across the globe, and over the five days they create a lasting network of early-career scientific researchers. During the school they work together in groups, utilising their newfound skills to produce a scientific visualisation and explain it at a widely accessible level.
Hermes has been designed from the ground up by PhD students for PhD students, each of them having previously attended a Hermes summer school and been inspired to build upon what they learnt for the next school. The aim is to provide PhD students with what they want and need, regardless of their career aims. Participants will come away from Hermes feeling more confident about moving forward in their careers, will have research skills at the forefront of their field and will have gained world class skills in data visualisation and science communication. How do we know this? All of the Hermes organising committee are previous participants.
Continuing in the spirit of the highly successful Hermes 2012 and Hermes 2014 conferences, Hermes 2016 promises to provide an enriching experience for all participants. Next years summer school will be held 27th – 31st July at Cumberland Lodge, near Windsor. Applications for the summer school are now open, and you can apply here!
You can find Hermes in twitter at @Hermes_Comms, where you can get regular updates on the upcoming summer school.
Last month we briefly announced that Mendeley is evolving! A team that is heavily involved in that evolution is the Mendeley Social Team, who are working to bring you all new and improved Stats and Suggest features associated with your Profile.
Fran is a Product Owner within the Mendeley Social team. She’s been in London for over a decade doing a whole heap of stuff: studying Physics, launching scientific journals, working in funding departments, and striding around the financial services before settling at Mendeley.
How do you describe your role within the Mendeley Team?
It’s my job to care a lot about what we build and why we build it. I gush a lot about how excited I am to be working on the shiny new Mendeley we’re creating!
What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?
The cake. The people. The parties. Oh, that’s three things. #sorrynotsorry
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Watching movies and relaxing. I also run a theatre charity, and half marathons… and I make my own clothes.
Anna has just joined the Mendeley team, having previously been a product manager at ScienceDirect. Her background is in computer science and information retrieval.
How do you describe your role within the Mendeley Team?
For now I’d describe my role as the newbie! I’m taking over responsibility for Mendeley profiles, though, learning the ropes as I go.
What is your favourite part about working for Mendeley?
I love being part of a company where we’re trying to help researchers do their work better, and sometimes by working together with researchers and implementing what’s come out of their research. That’s true of working at Elsevier and, here at Mendeley in particular, the data science team is a great example of that.
But if you want my absolute favourite thing about working at Mendeley, I’m going to have to say the cupboards full of breakfast cereals!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
If I could get away with doing nothing but eating pizza, drinking wine and reading a good book, I would. But since I can’t, I also go running. 😉
What are the Social Team are working on?
Firstly, your profile will feature enhanced statistics information to provides any published author with an aggregated view on the performance of their articles, including metrics such as citations, Mendeley readers and group activity, academic discipline and status of your readers, as well as mentions in the news media.
Moreover, you’ll be able to easily import your publications from Scopus, which has the highest-quality source of data on published articles, and for articles published on ScienceDirect we additionally provide information on views (PDF and HMTL downloads), search terms used to get to your article, map of where your readership comes from, and provides links to various source data providers (ScienceDirect, Scopus, media outlets)
In addition to these statistic features, you’ll be getting improved article suggestions, which will provide four different recommendation algorithms tp support different scientific needs:
“Popular in your discipline” – Shows you the seminal works in your field
“Trending in your discpline” – Shows you what articles are being read right now
“Based on the last document in your library” – Gives you articles similar to the one you just added
“Based on all the documents in your library” – Gives you the most tailored set of recommended articles by comparing the contents of your library with the contents of all other users on Mendeley.
These suggestions will be constantly recalculated and tailored therefore ensuring that there is always something new for you to discover. For users who are new to Mendeley, we make it easy for you to get high-quality recommendations by providing a drag-and-drop way for you to quickly add a paper and get related document suggestions.
So there is lots to look forward and explore as Mendeley evolves. As always, we welcome your feedback through the usual channels – we also have a brief questionnaire on your experience with the new suggest features.
Myth: Open Access journals are not peer-reviewed.
Reality: Most OA journals conduct peer-review, just like their subscription brethren. An inspection of the website of a journal helps you tell if the journal is doing quality work.
How many articles have they published, are those articles found in curated databases such as Scopus or Pubmed (NB: Google Scholar is not a curated database, it’s a scrape of the web).
How many readers do their articles have on Mendeley?
Are the articles consistent in appearance, readable, well-formatted, free from typographical errors, etc.
Myth: Publishing in Open Access journals is the only way that peer-reviewed articles can be Open Access.
Reality: There are two routes through which OA can be delivered – gold OA is through journals and green OA via repositories. The belief that all OA articles are gold hasn’t been true since the beginning of the OA movement and, in fact, in almost all fields (bar medicine and biomedical sciences), OA publication in green.
One reason for the misconception is that open access repositories are a relatively novel and less well-known resource. In this digital age however, there is ever increasing access to repositories – many of which listed on the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR). These repositories are a great source for the (legal) sharing of published, peer-reviewed articles.
Myth: Publishing in Open Access journals is expensive. Reality: Costs for publishing in OA journals are often on par with page charges or color figure fees in subscription journals. Many universities have institutional funds that can be used to pay these fees, many publishers will waive fees for those with substantiated financial hardship, and some society journals don’t charge anything at all. There are low cost options, too, such as PeerJ (Heliyon, which is an Elsevier journal comparable to PLOS ONE and has a comparable publication fee).
However, it’s well known that many peer-reviewed OA journals do not charge publishing fees – the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has been tracking the number of fee-less OA journals for almost a decade, and recently reported that more than 60% of peer-reviewed Open Access journals are free to publish in.
Myth: Open Access authors pay author-side fees themselves.
Reality: A study carried out by the Study of Open Access Publishing (SOAP) revealed that <15% of author-side fees are paid by the authors themselves; the vast majority of these fees are covered by funders and occasionally by universities.
In addition to this, authors who follow the green (rather than gold) OA publishing practice, never pay any fees to do so. Through gold OA publishing, roughly one third of peer-reviewed OA journals have author-side fees. This means that only one third of <15% of OA authors have to front up the cash for the publication of their article – despite half of peer-reviewed OA articles being published in fee-based journals!
Myth: Sending my best work to an Open Access journal will harm my career.
Reality: OA publication can be the best way to get your work out there. It’s often faster, disseminated more broadly, and could even be more highly cited.
Myth: Publishing Open Access means giving up the widely-recognized brand names that colleagues respect.
Reality: Many of the largest funders now require OA publication, and no publisher wants to exclude good work. You can still publish in Cell, Science, or Nature – just pick the open access option when your article is accepted.
Myth: Traditional publishing prevents authors from making that same work available through Open Access channels. Reality: Many traditional publishers actual allow authors to follow through on green OA routes, and others will do so upon request – see the Sherpa RoMEO database to find out more about various publisher policies. This sort of green OA is lawful, despite the rights having been given to the publisher. Even when this is not the case, authors could retain the rights through author addenda or Rights-retention policies of employers or funding bodies (e.g. the Wellcome Trust, NIH, Harvard and many other universities).
Myth: I have my pre-prints on my website (or in a repository, like arXiv). I don’t need Open Access.
Reality: You are in fact already practicing OA – a form called “green OA” to distinguish it from paid “gold OA” – Congrats!
Myth: Academic freedom is restricted when authors are forced to publish Open Access.
Reality: While this may hold true for gold OA, it certainly doesn’t for green! Green routes are entirely congruous with traditional, non-oOA publication. For this reason, it is important to ensure clarity between gold and green OA, especially in the context of OA mandates that may be imposed upon researchers.
(See the this weeks Guardian articles on Open Access myths and last year’s on Open Access challenges for even more information)
From our founding, we have been working to help researchers save time whilst writing and organizing their documents. Now Mendeley is expanding our role to help researchers with two other important aspects of their professional life: promoting and showcasing their work, as well as understanding and evaluating the impact of their work.
In the coming weeks and months, Mendeley will be rolling out a number of improvements, new features, and entirely new sections of our site that will help researchers with these important professional needs.
Mendeley Profile – your professional public face
We continue to refine the look, feel and functionality of your Profile page. This will make it easier for you to complete your profile, and for others to see your professional interests and achievements, at a glance. Over time this will also make profiles more discoverable.
We are also extremely excited about the upcoming integration between Mendeley and Scopus – the leading scientific bibliographic database. This will give Mendeley users an easy way to access and add curated metadata about millions of publications. By claiming your profile on Scopus, you will be able to import all of your publications at one time, saving you from tedious manual entry.
Mendeley Stats – see your impact One of the brand new features that Mendeley will be introducing shortly is the ability for you to see statistics on your published articles, to help you understand and evaluate the impact of your published work. If you are a published author, Mendeley Stats will allow you to see a number of metrics that will give you a unique, broad picture of how effectively your work is reaching its audience.
Along with these new features, our data scientists are also hard at work on developing a suite of tools to help you stay up to date with developments in your field, connect you with other researchers who share your interests, and just generally help you sift through the deluge of information to give you insights into what really matters.
So Mendeley is evolving, and these features will improve and increase over time. We believe all of these new options will continue to deliver on our core mission of making life easier for researchers. It’s an exciting time for us, and we welcome your feedback as we push the boundaries of what Mendeley can do for you.
NASA’s New Horizons mission is expected to reach its primary target, Pluto, on July 14th 2015! Mendeley was invited to NASA HQ to witness the close approach of Pluto on the day of this historic encounter.
The research environment is changing rapidly, with an ever increasing focus on interdisciplinary collaborations. Often this means collaborators are in different countries, which further complicates the process of team work and communication. Today’s guest blog post is from Dr Erick Robinson (Ghent University, Belgium), who is part of the INQUA Project 1404. The primary aim of this project is to bring together young researchers experts within Europe to investigate the variable impacts of gradual versus abrupt palaeoenvironmental change on human cultural change. Dr Robinison’s post provides a summary of the project’s objective and requirements as well as it’s challenges and how they are overcoming those obstacles.
The long windows of time offered by data from the palaeosciences (archaeology, geology, physical geography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology) are essential to our understanding of the potential impacts of future climate and environmental changes on ecosystems and humans throughout the world. Over the last decade, interdisciplinary research in the palaeosciences has started to advance tremendously our knowledge of the shear complexities of past climate and environmental changes, and the diversity of ecosystem and human responses to these changes. These advances have included an awareness of a range of different climate and environmental changes with variable causes, durations, and magnitudes: gradual ecosystem changes in species composition, sea-level rise, abrupt climate changes caused by glacial meltwater outbursts, and extreme events such as tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. The short windows of time traditionally taken into account in modelling the potential impacts of future climate changes therefore risks a lack of knowledge regarding the relationships between environmental changes of different temporal durations and geographical scales of impact. It is imperative that future research considers these longer windows of time in order to understand the broader complexity and dynamics of environmental changes throughout human history.
Caption: An example of how cultural and environmental records can be studied in tandem. This figure shows a comparison of revised radiocarbon chronology for the Early and Middle Mesolithic in the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt area of northwest Europe (G-I) (calculated with OxCal 3) with selected climate records of the Northern Hemisphere that indicate multiple Early Holocene cooling events (A-F). A: timing of Ice-rafted debris peaks (Bond et al., 1997) indicating the frequency of sea-ice; Greenland (NGRIP) ice core δ18O record (Rasmussen et al., 2006) with GICC05 timescale calibrated into years relative to AD 1950, a temperature proxy; c: Greenland ice core (GISP2) K+ record (Mayewski et al., 1997), a proxy for atmospheric circulation and wind; d: Oxygen-isotope ratios of precipitation (δ18Op) inferred from deep-lake ostracods from the Ammersee (southern Germany) (von Grafenstein et al., 1999); e: Dongge Cave (China) stalagmite D4 δ18O record (Dykoski et al., 2005) providing information on past temperature; f: Hawes Water (UK) core HWLC1 δ18Oc record based on samples of authigenic calcite indicating temperature. The dark line represents the centennial-scale trend calculated omitting the abrupt cooling events (Marshall et al., 2007). The periods of the 9.3 cal. BP and 8.2 cal. BP cooling events are shaded blue (adapted from Robinson et al., Journal of Archaeological Science, 2013)
Extending the temporal scope of research to consider the relationships between millennial scale, centennial scale, and very abrupt climate and environmental changes across the period of the Last Glacial-Early Holocene (14,000-8,000 years ago) requires ‘big data’ approaches enabling the integration of regional datasets at the continental scale. The International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) Commission for Humans and the Biosphere (HaBCom) has recently funded an international research project aiming to integrate archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data across Europe for this important period in Earth and human history. This project (INQUA project) “Cultural and palaeoenvironmental changes in Late Glacial to Middle Holocene Europe—gradual or sudden?” is comprised of a majority of Early Career Researchers across the continent interested in exploring new frontiers in international interdisciplinary research. The project requires published data from all regions of Europe for the time period of focus to be integrated into a database that can be utilized for implementing a range of different computational modelling approaches. Big data research of this nature is challenging for many reasons, possibly the most important of which is specialists in one particular discipline or region integrating, interpreting and utilizing data from another discipline/region. Communication is therefore paramount in data quality assessment and research quality control. The Ph.D., Early Career Researchers, and Senior Researchers in the project are faced with the challenge of maintaining regular communication over the data that is integrated into the database, its employment in different modelling approaches, and the assessment of modelling outputs.
We are very happy to be partnering with Mendeley in facing these challenges in this new generation of international interdisciplinary palaeoscience research. Mendeley Team package provides the perfect collaborative workspace for integrating publications with useful data for the database that we aim to build in this project. Our research network is only able to meet once a year for an annual workshop, therefore Mendeley provides the central nexus of communication during the critical periods of data integration and modelling. The progress of the project will be determined by what our research network collaborators can contribute to the project amidst their busy schedules at their home institutions. We are excited to start this challenging and potentially very fruitful research project with the support of Mendeley.
We are delighted to be working with the Project1404 team, and to be able to support their team collaboration.
You can follow this projects updates through the Twitter hashtag #project1404 and find out more about Team plans here.