The INQUA Project is bringing researchers together – across disciplines, across Europe.

INQA

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.Robinson Riede Mendeley blog entry 1

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.

 

Free access to Science Direct for early career researchers

Research is not always a linear path, especially in a market squeezed by shrinking grant availability, changing job paths, and fewer permanent career positions.

Compounding the issue for early career researchers between positions is the lack of access to resources like current and archived research.

Elsevier is seeking to alleviate the pressures for between-jobs researchers by continuing a program to help early career researchers who are between positions stay up-to-date on their respective fields. The Postdoc Free Access Program grants complimentary access to books and journals on ScienceDirect for up to six months.

More details from Elsevier:

Post-Doc Free Access Programme: Back by popular demand.

Stay current in your field–even in an uncertain job market

In November 2012 and again in June 2013 we launched a programme to support young scholars in between jobs or looking for their first postdoctoral position. Applicants who qualified were granted up to 6 months free access to all our journals and books on ScienceDirect and able to use this access to work on grant applications and research project.

We were delighted with the response we got from the community; both from post-doctoral organisations who forwarded the application form link and from researchers who qualified for the free access.

One of the recipients of the 2012 program, Daniele Vergara of the University of Salento in Italy, wrote: “As a postdoc fellow in biological sciences, this program [gave] me the chance to maintain a vital scientific network, to read papers and write grants. In the absence of help from government and local institutions, the Elsevier program was a great experience, an innovative way to support postdocs during their research career.”

As the international economic situation continues to be challenging for scientists starting their career, we have decided to bring back this program. In order to give even more people the option to apply we have extended the application period to 7 months.

How to get the Free Access Passport

To qualify, candidates must complete a form verifying their credentials by September 30, 2014. Once approved, they will receive a personal code allowing access to ScienceDirect.

Qualifying criteria are:

  • Postdoctoral researchers who have received their PhD within in the past five years.

  • Candidates must have completed the last research position (either PhD research or a postdoc or equivalent) on or after January 1, 2014, or have a position that will end before October 1, 2014.

Applicants should submit a scanned image of a letter from their last academic mentor or advisor that states the position held and the date on which the position ended or will end. For more on the program and an application, visit elsevier.com/postdocfreeaccess

If you take part in this program, or did last year, share your stories with us! We would love to hear from you.

 

Mendeley on a Digital Mission to Texas

Great news! We’ve been picked by Chinwag and the UKTI to don our cowboy boots and Stetson hat before jetting off to the great Lone Star State on a Digital Mission.

“39 of the UK’s leading digital companies have been selected for the second annual Digital Mission to South by South West interactive (SXSWi), taking place in Austin, Texas from 11-17th March 2010. […] The successful companies were chosen from over 120 submissions by an advisory board of industry experts drawn from the UK community including: VC’s, export specialists, journalists and industry pundits to take part in the Digital Mission to SXSWi.”

(You can find the full list of participating companies here.)

There are some great presentations in the line-up at SXSWi, some of the ones we’ll be looking out for include: Can the Real-Time Web be Realized?; Crowd Sourcing Innovative Social Change and Is The Brain The Ultimate Computer Interface?

Digital Mission Union JackWe also hope to swot up on doing business in the US (not by watching re-runs of Dallas) but attending some special events and seminars set up for tech entrepreneurs. SXSWi brings together some of the brightest minds in the tech world and a line up of special programs showcasing websites, video games and start-up ideas. If you are planning to attend, let us know and we’ll be happy to hook up.

A big thanks to Digital Mission for making it possible and we’re looking forward to a great event!

Where did Mendeley go?

Happy Thanksgiving: Around 5pm yesterday Mendeley services ceased when all of our servers went offline simultaneously; we quickly realised that something was very wrong with our connection to them and this was confirmed by our hosting provider’s customer service calling us to let us know.

Twitter - Victor @ Mendeley- What are the odds

The details are not completely clear at the moment however we do know that the data centre suffered a very serious power outage, and it appears that there were some faults with their back-up generator and batteries too. In summary, we didn’t have much influence: our servers were stuck in the data centre without power, unreachable for around 2 hours, due to issues sadly outside of our control.

After we re-established contact, the process of checking data integrity, restoring backups as necessary, and testing the system took us another 8 hours – although some of us were up much longer doing their very best to ensure everything was back to normal. Well done Ben and Fred – excellent work! I hope you’re having a well deserved lie-in…

Please be aware that if you were syncing your data around 17:12 UTC yesterday then it would be worth checking everything is ok and contacting support if you are having any problems.

As we are growing in size, we continuously work on scaling Mendeley further. However, yesterday’s combination of events borders on the absurd, and if it were a Mr Bean movie, it would have been funny.

Our apologies that Mendeley was away for so long – we will surely have a word with our data center providers…Normal service has now resumed. Enjoy!

Websense is blocking access to Mendeley… dictators around the globe rejoice

Today a user told us that Websense, the internet censorship “content-control” software, websensehas marked the Mendeley website as “Illegal or Questionable” and blocked access to it. I wonder how that happened?

At least we’re in good company. Websense is blocking access to Amnesty International in many parts of the world (wait… now it makes sense! I’m a member of Amnesty!), and has also been blocking GMail and the MIT website just because they can.

Also, I think their logo exhibits a slightly flawed sense of humour. Yes?