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  • Arte: the European television channel (?)

    If you asked me what the best channel on French television is, I would probably reply without much hesitation: Arte. But if you asked a German person what the best channel on German television is, it is quite plausible that … Continue reading →
  • Sustaining open research resources – a funder perspective

    This is the second in a series of three blog posts which set out the perspectives of researchers, funders and universities on support for open resources. The first was Open Resources, who should pay? In this post, David Carr from the Open Research team at the Wellcome Trust provides the view of a research funder on the challenges of developing and sustaining the key infrastructures needed to enable open research.

    As a global research foundation, Wellcome is dedicated to ensuring that the outputs of the research we fund – including articles, data, software and materials – can be accessed and used in ways that maximise the benefits to health and society.  For many years, we have been a passionate advocate of open access to publications and data sharing.

    I am part of a new team at Wellcome which is seeking to build upon the leadership role we have taken in enabling access to research outputs.  Our key priorities include:

    • developing novel platforms and tools to support researchers in sharing their research – such as the Wellcome Open Research publishing platform which we launched last year;
    • supporting pioneering projects, tools and experiments in open research, building on the Open Science Prize which with the NIH and Howard Hughes Medical Institute;
    • developing our policies and practices as a funder to support and incentivise open research.

    We are delighted to be working with the Office of Scholarly Communication on the Open Research Pilot Project, where we will work with four Wellcome-funded research groups at Cambridge to support them in making their research outputs open.  The pilot will explore the opportunities and challenges, and how platforms such as Wellcome Open Research can facilitate output sharing.

    Realising the long-term value of research outputs will depend critically upon developing the infrastructures to preserve, access, combine and re-use outputs for as long as their value persists.  At present, many disciplines lack recognised community repositories and, where they do exist, many cannot rely on stable long-term funding.  How are we as a funder thinking about this issue?

    Meeting the costs of outputs sharing

    In July 2017, Wellcome published a new policy on managing and sharing data, software and materials.  This replaced our long-standing policy on data management and sharing – extending our requirements for research data to also cover original software and materials (such as antibodies, cell lines and reagents).  Rather than ask for a data management plan, applicants are now asked to provide an outputs management plan setting out how they will maximise the value of their research outputs more broadly.

    Wellcome commits to meet the costs of these plans as an integral part of the grant, and provides guidance on the costs that funding applicants should consider.  We recognise, however, that many research outputs will continue to have value long after the funding period comes to an end.  Further, while it not appropriate to make all research data open indefinitely, researchers are expected to retain data underlying publications for at least ten years (a requirement which was recently formalised in the UK Concordat on Open Research Data).  We must accept that preserving and making these outputs available into the future carries an ongoing cost.

    Some disciplines have existing subject-area repositories which store, curate and provide access to data and other outputs on behalf of the communities they serve.  Our expectation, made more explicit in our new policy, is that researchers should deposit their outputs in these repositories wherever they exist.  If no recognised subject-area repository is available, we encourage researchers to consider using generalist repositories – such as Dryad, FigShare and Zenodo – or if not, to use institutional repositories.  Looking ahead, we may consider developing an orphan repository to house Wellcome-funded research data which has no other obvious home.

    Recognising the key importance of this infrastructure, Wellcome provides significant grant funding to repositories, databases and other community resources.  As of July 2016, Wellcome had active grants totalling £80 million to support major data resources.  We have also invested many millions more in major cohort and longitudinal studies, such as UK Biobank and ALSPAC.  We provide such support through our Biomedical Resource and Technology Development scheme, and have provided additional major awards over the years to support key resources, such as PDB-Europe, Ensembl and the Open Microscopy Environment.

    While our funding for these resources is not open-ended and subject to review, we have been conscious for some time that the reliance of key community resources on grant funding (typically of three to five years’ duration) can create significant challenges, hindering their ability to plan for the long-term and retain staff.  As we develop our work on Open Research, we are keen to explore ways in which we adapt our approach to help put key infrastructures on a more sustainable footing, but this is a far from straightforward challenge.

    Gaining the perspectives of resource providers

    In order to better understand the issues, we did some initial work earlier this year to canvas the views of those we support.  We conducted semi-structured interviews with leaders of 10 resources in receipt of Wellcome funding – six database and software resources, three cohort resources and one materials stock centre – to explore their current funding, long-term sustainability plans and thoughts on the wider funding and policy landscape.

    We gathered a wealth of insights through these conversations, and several key themes emerged:

    • All of the resources were clear that they would continue to be dependent on support from Wellcome and/or other funders for the long-term.
    • While cohort studies (which provide managed access to data) can operate cost recovery models to transfer some of the cost of accessing data onto users, such models were not appropriate for data and software resources who commit to open and unrestricted access.
    • Several resources had additional revenue-generation routes – including collaborations with commercial entities– and these had delivered benefits in enhancing their resources.  However, the level of income was usually relatively modest in terms of the total cost of sustaining the resource. Commitments to openness could also limit the extent to which such arrangements were feasible.
    • Diversification of funding sources can give greater assurance and reduce reliance on single funders, but can bring an additional burden.  There was felt to be a need for better coordination between funders where they co-fund resources.  Europe PMC, which has 27 partner funders but is managed through a single grant is a model which could be considered.
    • Several of the resources were actively engaged in collaborations with other resources internationally that house related data – it was felt that funders could help further facilitate such partnerships.

    We are considering how Wellcome might develop its funding approaches in light of these findings.  As an initial outcome, we plan to develop guidance for our funded researchers on key issues to consider in relation to sustainability.  We are already working actively with other funders to facilitate co-funding and make decisions as streamlined as possible, and wish to explore how we join forces in the future in developing our broader approaches for funding open resources.

    Coordinating our efforts

    There is growing recognition of the crucial need for funders and wider research community to work together develop and sustain research data infrastructure.  As the first blog in this series highlighted, the scientific enterprise is global and this is an issue which must be addressed international level.

    In the life sciences, the ELIXIR and US BD2K initiatives have sought to develop coordinated approaches for supporting key resources and, more recently, the European Open Science Cloud initiative has developed a bold vision for a cloud-based infrastructure to store, share and re-use data across borders and disciplines.

    Building on this momentum, the Human Frontiers Science Programme convened an international workshop last November to bring together data resources and major funders in the life sciences.  This resulted in a call for action (reported in Nature) to coordinate efforts to ensure long-term sustainability of key resources, whilst supporting resources in providing access at no charge to users.  The group proposed an international mechanism to prioritise core data resources of global importance, building on the work undertaken by ELIXIR to define criteria for such resources.  It was proposed national funders could potentially then contribute a set proportion of their overall funding (with initial proposals suggesting around 1.5 to 2 per cent) to support these core data resources.

    Grasping the nettle

    Public and charitable funders are acutely aware that many of the core repositories and resources needed to make research outputs discoverable and useable will continue to rely on our long-term funding support.  There is clear realisation that a reliance on traditional competitive grant funding is not the ideal route through which to support these key resources in a sustainable manner.

    But no one yet has a perfect solution and no funder will take on this burden alone.  Aligning global funders and developing joint funding models of the type described above will be far from straightforward, but hopefully we can work towards a more coordinated international approach.  If we are to realise the incredible potential of open research, it’s a challenge we must address

    Published 26 July 2017
    Written by David Carr, Wellcome Trust (

  • Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography


    From the journal’s Aims and Scope page:

    “The Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography(JASE) brings physicians and sonographers peer-reviewed original investigations and state-of-the-art review articles that cover conventional clinical applications of cardiovascular ultrasound, as well as newer techniques with emerging clinical applications. These include three-dimensional echocardiography, strain and strain rate methods for evaluating cardiac mechanics and interventional applications.”

    Now available to University of Cambridge users from volume 8 (1995) to present.

    Access Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography via the ejournals@cambridge A-Z or at this link.

  • Nature Ecology and Evolution

    New on ejournals@cambridge A-Z : NATURE ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION.

    Nature ecology and evolution, a new journal published by the Nature Publishing Group, has now been added to the University’s site licence.

    “The journal will cover the fundamental science of evolution and ecology, from molecules through to ecosystems, as well as the applications to fields as diverse as conservation, behaviour and medicine.”

    Available to the University of Cambridge electronically from volume 1 (2017) to present.

    Access Nature ecology and evolution via the ejournals@cambridge A-Z or at this link.

  • Popular ebook titles, Easter Term 2017

  • Polish in the University and in the UL : the July 2017 Slavonic items of the month

    This week has seen the very welcome news that the pilot Polish Studies Programme, launched in 2014, has succeeded in attracting funding which will ensure that Polish will remain in the University academic programme in perpetuity.  To celebrate this wonderful … Continue reading →
  • Jane Austen 200

    This week, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death has been marked in many different ways, including a statue unveiling, and a first look at the new plastic ten pound note featuring Austen, which has already attracted comment over its … Continue reading →
  • ‘With a zeal and skill beyond praise’: the first woman to work at the University Library

    The portrait of Anne Jarvis, first female University Librarian 2009-16, was unveiled on the 7th July. Inquiring into the identity of the first female member of staff has revealed, more than 100 years earlier, a pioneer in women’s education and teaching, with a sideline in librarianship.

    Alice M. Cooke (Owens College Union Magazine New Series No.13, Vol.II, March 1895, classmark L985.c.57.1)

    In the period 1903-7, Alice Margaret Cooke (1867-1940) led a team cataloguing the library of historian Lord Acton (1834-1902), given to the University Library at his death by John Morley MP. She came to Cambridge at the recommendation of Adolphus Ward, Master of Peterhouse, from Owens College Manchester (later part of the University of Manchester) via the University of South Wales and Monmouth, Cardiff.

    As a student at Owens College, she had been the first woman awarded the prestigious Jones Fellowship in History in 1890 and in 1893 the first to graduate MA and gain employment as a lecturer. She had also cut her teeth in librarianship cataloging Earl Spencer’s Althorp Library, the nucleus of the collection of books and manuscripts for which Mrs Enriqueta Rylands built the Rylands Library in 1899.

    Lord Acton was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge from 1895 until 1902. His library contained around 60,000 volumes ranging from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, mainly on the ecclesiastical and political history of Europe since the Reformation. The library was partly inherited and partly collected by Acton, with the strong foreign component influenced by his family history. At his death, books lined every room of his homes at Aldenham Park in Shropshire and Tegernsee, Bavaria.

    His personal papers, too, were extensive: thousands upon thousands of his working notes, mostly on small slips of paper, arrived by purchase from the second Lord Acton shortly after the Library itself, although the Acton family correspondence, reaching back to the seventeenth century, did not arrive until the 1970s (and was augmented by a further tranche received under the government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme in 2015).

    Acton Library books awaiting the attention of Alice Cooke and her team, 1903 (classmark: UA ULIB 12/1/3)

    The sheer scale of the task was daunting, but armed with a classification scheme drawn up by Ward and soon assisted by further female colleagues (among them Anabelle R. Hutchinson, late of Newnham College), Cooke steamed ahead. The working space in the University Library, then housed in the Schools buildings in the centre of Cambridge, was cramped. While they waited for shelving to be erected and electricity installed on the ground floor at the west end of Scott’s Building, as the south range of the west court was called, books were piled up on the floor, including that of the neighbouring Arts School, normally used for University lectures and meetings.

    Alice Cooke’s periodic reports to the committee overseeing progress, the Acton Sub-Syndicate, tell of duplicates and rejects set aside, pamphlets catalogued, bound and labelled, quantities of incomplete and imperfect sets identified, appeals made for the return of books loaned by Acton to his friends, lists circulated to booksellers of desiderata to fill gaps, and nuanced revision to the overall classification scheme necessitated by growing knowledge of the contents of the library (‘gained’, as she gently put it, ‘during the process of turning over the books and pamphlets’[1]).

    Alice Cooke’s memoranda of outstanding work, 1907 (classmark: from UA ULIB 7/1/20)

    The work of cataloguing the Acton library continued up to the First World War, but the lion’s share had been achieved by the time Alice Cooke left in 1907. ‘It is impossible to speak too highly of her work in selecting, arranging and cataloguing the books in that great collection’ said Professor Sorley of the Acton Sub-Syndicate. ‘Her method, her constant and unflurried activity, and her command of every detail, have been remarkable, and have earned the respect of everyone acquainted with this department of the University Library’[2].

    Alice Cooke combined librarianship with teaching History at Newnham College for the last two years of her time at the University Library and it was to Newnham she returned as Director of Studies in 1922. Between times, as lecturer and then reader, she had established the Medieval History Department at Leeds University. During World War One she patrolled the streets of Leeds as a policewoman. She retired in 1927 and spent the last years of her life back in Manchester, an invalid, in the care of a community of Catholic nuns.

    Oldest surviving photograph of Library staff to feature a woman, solitary Miss D. Allen, typist, 1923 (classmark: UA ULIB 12/2/9)















    [1] Acton Sub-Syndicate minutes 1903-13, classmark UA ULIB 5/1

    [2] Horner and Haworth Alice M. Cooke: a memoir (1940)


    I.B. Horner and E.A. Haworth Alice M. Cooke: a memoir (Manchester University Press, 1940) classmark 9450.d.1217

    Fernanda Helen Perrone, ‘Cooke, Alice Margaret (1867–1940)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 13 July 2017]



  • Biomedical & Life Sciences ebooks and a free lunch

    The Moore Library are investing in a 6 month evidence based scheme which will open up access to Springer Nature Biomedical & Life Sciences ebooks published between 2015-2017 inclusive. This collection will be switched on from early August and will be available on the SpringerLink platform until the end of December, after which time the most popular titles will be purchased in perpetuity.

    To promote the collection launch, staff from Springer Nature are running a training session combined with a free lunch at the Moore Library in their ‘Glass Room’ on Friday 28th July.


    12.30 – 13.00 Springer Nature eBooks at the University of Cambridgepresented by Renee Reagon, Senior Licensing Manager

    13.00 – 13.30 Springer Nature ebook Metrics and what they say about the University of Cambridge’s usage and researcher activitypresented by Matt Peck, Account Development Manager UK & Ireland

    13.30 – 14.00 Q&A and Discoverability and marketing of Springer eBookspresented by David Corbett

    This session will be of particular interest to University of Cambridge Science librarians and academics/researchers, but will also be of general interest to other Faculty or College librarians. Please let Yvonne Nobis ( know if you are interested in attending all or part of the session.

  • Denis Mack Smith, 1920-2017

    We were saddened to hear last week of the death of Denis Mack Smith, CBE FBA FRSL, considered to be the greatest English historian of modern Italy. Born on March 3, 1920, he wrote extensively on the history of Italy … Continue reading →
  • New titles on Very Short Introductions Online

    New titles are regularly added to Oxford’s Very Short Introductions Online, the most recently published titles are listed below.

    Evolution (2nd ed.)



    Jewish History

    European Union Law

    Catholicism (2nd ed.)

    Shakespeare’s Tragedies

    Globalization (4th ed.)

    Clinical Psychology

    Organic Chemistry

    Intellectual Property


    This popular and accessible series offers concise introductions across a wide range of subject areas; Arts & Humanities, Law, Medicine & Health, Science & Mathematics & Social Sciences.

    You can browse by subject or search the collection of currently 525 titles, and you can search at the chapter level. You can create your own personal profile which will give you the option to save titles you are reading, copy, paste and annotate the text.

    The most popular VSI title amongst University of Cambridge users in 2016, attracting 3,609 “hits” was Rousseau.

    Some of the more recent titles are not yet available in iDiscover, these will be loaded in early August.


    Please contact the ebooks team on with any questions.

  • Are you an BNF / BNFC app user? – important information

    Following the recent launch by the publishers of the British National Formulary (BNF) and British National Formulary for children (BNFC) of a new, faster, easier to use and access app, NICE has confirmed that its BNF app will be withdrawn later this year.

    Aimed at prescribers, pharmacists and other health and social care professionals, the BNF and BNFC provide details of the medicines licensed in the UK and how they should be prescribed, including their side-effects, contra-indications and doses.

    The new app has been purpose built for iOS and Android platforms. This has enabled an intuitive design and enhanced features around search and interactions checking and updating mechanisms.

    For the first time adult and child BNF content is available through a single app, providing ease of use and saving space on users’ devices.

    The new app is fully portable and users don’t need to be connected to the internet to access it; this means the BNF and BNFC’s authoritative guidance is readily available at the point of care in a digital format to suit the needs of health and social care professionals.

    To encourage users of the existing NICE BNF app to migrate to the new one, NICE has announced that the existing app will no longer be updated.

    Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said: “There are over 50,000 regular users of the current NICE version of the BNF app so it is imperative that the transition to the new improved app runs as smoothly as possible.

    “To make sure that happens we’ll be reminding users via a banner displayed at the top of each page of the current app that from 13 July it will no longer be updated and will be completely withdrawn later this year. Users will be signposted to information on the NICE website about the new app, including how to obtain it and the benefits it offers.”


    The post Are you an BNF / BNFC app user? – important information appeared first on Medical Library.