How to incorporate open access into your research

International Open Access Week banner

Researchers at leading Queensland universities are incorporating open access into their research.

To find out what they are doing to make their work more accessible, attend the Open in Action: making openness in research a reality event on Wednesday 26 October 2016.

Associate Professor Adrian Barnett (QUT), Associate Professor Bela Stantic (Griffith University) and Dr. Carlos Bustamante Diaz (UQ) will provide an insight into why they have chosen to incorporate open access into their research practice.

They will also discuss the practicalities of open data and open access publishing for researchers.

Have a question for the speakers? Stick around after the talks, and you’ll have a chance to quiz them during the Q&A panel session.

Open in Action: making openness in research a reality is a joint initiative of Griffith University, QUT and UQ to celebrate International Open Access Week (24-30 October 2016).

Afternoon tea will be provided. Register now.

Open in Action: making openness in research a reality

2pm – 4pm
Wednesday 26 October 2016

QUT Gardens Point Campus
The Gibson Room, Z1064
Brisbane City, QLD 4000


  • Associate Professor Adrian Barnett (QUT)
  • Associate Professor Bela Stantic (Griffith)
  • Doctor Carlos Bustamante Diaz (UQ)

A quick Q&A with Dr Natalie Osborne

Dr Natalie Osborne

Dr Natalie Osborne

Lecturer in the Griffith School of Environment, Dr Natalie Osborne discusses her career, participatory action research and saving the world.

1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always wanted to be a writer – I loved reading, and spent most of my childhood hiding in little nooks reading books. I was pragmatic (cynical?) though, and thought I’d need a day job too. Turns out I’m a much better academic writer than I am a novelist or poet!

2. Tell about a previous job (work experience/volunteer work) that you’ve had.
As unbelievable as it is to anyone who knows me, I taught dance classes for a while. After I graduated high school and didn’t quite know what to do next, I worked as an administrator in a real estate office by day, and in a dance school by night.

3. Which 3 apps do you use the most on your mobile device?
Twitter, Facebook and Podcasts.

Twitter is a key way I keep up with new developments in my field. It’s how I follow current events and activist campaigns, and how I network with colleagues. Bit of self-promotion thrown in there too!

I do a bit of activism and have recently gotten involved in a participatory action research project with a group of Brisbane activists on Lefebvre’s idea of The Right to the City. Facebook is a key organising tool for us; we use it to plan meetings, share draft work, get help and support, organise volunteers, and promote events using pretty dubious Beastie Boys and David Harvey memes.

I also spend a fair bit of time on public transport commuting between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, so the ‘podcasts’ app on my phone gets a lot of use. I love ‘Welcome to Nightvale’ and ‘Stuff you Missed in History Class’.

4. Which 5 celebrities would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?
Tough question for the socially anxious – I’d go with Margaret Atwood, David Harvey, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Mehreen Faruqi, and John Oliver. I’d hope that my hosting duties would prevent me from having to speak to any of them, though, because I would feel utterly intimidated!

5. Tell us about your favourite fictional character.
I could try and be highbrow here, but if I’m completely honest I’m going to go with the character whose picture I have on my office wall: Leslie Knope, from Parks and Recreation. She is an incredibly hard-working and energetic idealist, fiercely intelligent and kind, and she makes things happen.

6. What’s the best thing about your current role?
The best thing is the people I’m working with. My colleagues, my students, participants in research projects – every day I am surrounded by smart, passionate, dedicated people. They are working to make the world better, they give me hope. It’s a tremendous privilege to be in their company.

7. What sparked your interest in environmental planning?
I want to save the world, of course! I’ve always been passionate about social justice and the environment (I trace it back to watching Captain Planet a lot as a kid) – environmental planning seemed to offer me a way to link these two ideals.

8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’ll be just edging out of the ‘early career researcher’ category so I hope by that point I’ve contributed some valuable work on social justice in cities to the national audience, and perhaps I’ll be starting to make an impact internationally.

I hope I’ll have stronger, deeper ties to grassroots organisations, and that I’ve had a hand in researching, planning, implementing, and reporting on some exciting radical planning interventions with activist partners that are making cities better, more just, and more sustainable from the bottom up.

9. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Getting a tenure-track job! I did not think that was going to happen. That aside – I guess being invited to do research with some pretty inspiring activists and community organisers. It meant a lot that they found me trustworthy and that they wanted to work with me.

10. Tell us about your current research.
My most recent endeavour is called ‘Grassroots in the Gabba’ – it’s participatory action research, working with Gabba Ward organisers and activists involved in the Right to the City – Brisbane group.

The research is focused on experiments in participatory democracy, grassroots urban politics, and radical/insurgent planning practice for a more just, sustainable city. It’s early days yet, but really exciting. The first paper will be based on a tactical urbanism event called ‘Break the Boundary’ that was run in August, and I’ll be co-writing it with one of the activists involved.

11.What wise advice do you have for new researchers?
The research environment in Australia is increasingly marked by hyper-competitive funding rounds and short contracts, and the recent emphasis on impact can too easily become corrupted into hype. This environment is not conducive to critical thinking or high-quality research. When we’re focused on making ourselves ‘competitive’ we make it impossible to imagine a better way to do things.

So, my advice for new researchers is to work cooperatively and collaboratively. Work horizontally, and reach out to the people in even less secure situations than yourself. Work on what you have a passionate and ethical commitment to, not what will churn out the publications. Protect your research from corrupting influences, and build a base of support and kindness that will allow you to speak truth to power as necessary.

12. What’s the best resource you’ve discovered in your Griffith University Library?
I don’t think I can pick one – the Learning Advisers are an amazing resource who provide invaluable support and input into my teaching practice. I don’t think I would’ve gotten through my PhD without inter-library loans and Bonus. The referencing tool is a lifesaver.

And although the online resources are great, when my inspiration is flagging I like to visit the library itself. Whether it’s for a change of scenery, to get some advice from one of the excellent librarians, or to wander the stacks and smell the books. To draw from Rupert Giles (famous fictional librarian), sometimes “the getting of knowledge should be tangible – it should be smelly”.

13. Can you give us your 3 best research tips?

  • Read a lot – never stop reading. In the measured university, reading is sometimes construed as a waste of time, but reading is how you tune, maintain, and improve your most important research instrument. Read often – and openly!
  • Be open to working with people who might be a bit outside the ‘norm’ in your discipline. For me, that often means working with people outside of academia – people at the grassroots. For you, that might mean working with someone in a different branch of science, or who uses different methodologies, or whatever. Great things happen at the margins – they’re the frontiers!
  • Keep a research/field notes journal. In my line of research, field notes are a source of data, but I think journaling is valuable in any project. It’s very easy to forget the little mistakes, changes, and decisions we make throughout the conduct of research, but these are important for reflection and reporting. I also find research journaling valuable for collecting emerging questions and ideas, and tracking how my thinking and analysis develops over the life of a project.

Where can you find free stock images?


I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect photo. You know what I mean; the image with the right subject matter, colour composition, and orientation which basically just screams ‘I’m the one’.

And I don’t want to pay for it.  Nor do I want to infringe copyright law by pinching a photo from a random website.

But unless you are a talented photographer, graphic designer or illustrator, creating an image from scratch is simply not an option. And even then, you surely wouldn’t have time to create an original image. Every. Single. Time.

So what is one to do? Well, there are websites out there who provide images for re-use under Creative Commons (CC) licences.

A CC licence allows you to use the image for free without infringing copyright. Some have a bunch of conditions attached. For example, you can’t adapt or change the work or use it for commercial purposes.

Some have no conditions at all, like Pixabay. I’ve been using Pixabay for years and years. If you haven’t used Pixabay, and have a website, blog, any social media at all, or are generally existing in this century, you need to get onto it. Now.

Pixabay images have a Creative Commons CC0 license. Basically, this means you can adapt and use them for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source.

But in the hunt for the perfect image, I need more options. Surely ol’ Pixabay isn’t the only one of its kind. What other sites provide quality images for free, don’t require attribution, and have images that don’t look too ‘stocky’? I mean, I want to keep it ‘real’ people.

So I asked the Internet a simple question: Are there other free image sites that could give Pixabay a run for its money? And the Internet answered (well, Google did). And yes, yes there are.  Here’s what I found (trust me, you’ll want to bookmark these):

Can’t find the image you need? If you don’t mind attributing the source of the work, there’s a bucket load of Creative Commons images out there.

Head to CC Search to find almost all the images on the Internet with a CC licence (be sure to read the little disclaimer on the CC Search page).

4 free apps to help you search our databases


Griffith University Library subscribes to a gazillion databases (this may be a slight exaggeration) to provide you with the information you need for work or study. And you probably search them on a daily basis to write your essay, thesis or academic paper.

But did you know that some of your favourite databases have a mobile app? They make it super easy to access information on your mobile device, regardless whether it’s a smartphone or tablet; android or apple device.

We’ve rounded up 4 database apps to help you out.

1. PressReader

Available: iTunes and Google Play
Get your favorite publications and discover new titles that you’re sure to love. Choose from thousands of magazines and newspapers and read it from cover to cover, just the way the title was printed. See the PressReader page on the Library website for instructions on how to access publications from home.

2. EBSCOhost

Available: iTunes and Google Play
Whether you need eBooks, magazine articles, journal articles or newspapers, EBSCOhost has a database for you. And they cover a variety of subject areas – business, science, art, nursing, criminal justice. The list is endless. This free app ensures you get the most from searching EBSCOhost database content, provided courtesy of your library.

3. AustLII

Available: iTunes and Google Play
AustLII puts the power of Australia’s most popular online free-access resource for legal information right into the palm of your hand. Get access to law on your mobile device wherever you are. Browse legislation from the Commonwealth and from every Australian State and Territory, and cases from over 140 courts, tribunals and boards.

4. Bluefire Reader

Available: iTunes and Google Play
Download eBooks from Proquest’s Ebrary on your mobile device and read them on Bluefire Reader. With just a tap you can highlight, bookmark, annotate, look up a definition and share excerpts via email, Facebook and Twitter.

Preparing book proposals for scholarly publishers


So you want to write a book?

We have no doubts one of our talented undergraduate students could be the next Andy Griffiths, Paul Jennings or Colleen McCullough.

But we aren’t talking about a novel or popular nonfiction. We are talking about a scholarly book; a book with authority, usually written by a professional or someone with say a PhD.

And they are a different kettle of fish entirely. So this post is for more for those students or staff members who hold an advanced degree looking to write a scholarly publication. Yes, HDR students and researchers, we mean you.

Before you write your entire book on Goblinproofing one’s chicken coop (it’s a real book!), you need to submit a book proposal to a scholarly publisher.

University of St. Thomas, scholar, Dr Stephen Brookfield says there are three stages involved in submitting a book proposal to a scholarly publisher (Handbook of Research on Scholarly Publishing and Research Methods 2014, p.1).

‘The first is to overcome one’s sense of impostorship, the feeling that books are written by “real” academics with startling original things to say’, he says.

‘The second is to write the proposal itself. This involves describing the genesis of the idea for the book, establishing a strong rationale as to why the book ought to be published and summarizing its succinct purpose’.

‘The final stage is to select and then approach a publisher’ says Dr Brookfield.

To find out more, read Dr Brookfield’s chapter on ‘Preparing book proposals for scholarly publishers’, in the Handbook of Research on Scholarly Publishing and Research Methods (available as an eBook via Proquest’s eBrary database). He describes all stages in detail and provides multiple examples drawn from book proposals that were accepted.

Information Services also has resources to help you get published. Check out the Get Published Research Guide for academics.

A walk on the threatened side


Griffith’s resident botanist, Professor Catherine Pickering is offering two exclusive nature-filled mornings at our Gold Coast campus – and you’re invited to come along.

There’s no better way to spend a spring morning than walking through Griffith’s interactive rare and threatened plant walk.

Over the last few years, we have been upgrading the landscaping to showcase stunning local plants that call our city home. The campus now has over 250 species, including more than 20 plants that are threatened with extinction in the wild.

This includes the largest terrestrial orchid in Australia and the incredible rare native olive with only 17 plants left in the wild.

The walk will culminate in a morning tea at Griffith’s Red Zone where Professor Pickering will talk further about her work and her exciting new gardening app GroNATIVE. The app is a dream tool for all Aussie gardeners and was developed in partnership with Griffith’s School of Environment and Gold Coast-based environmental company Natura Pacific.

The free and easy-to-use app will help users create native gardens that include more water-wise plants, reduce the chances of spreading weeds and provide habitats for local birds and butterflies

So come along for a lovely walk to see what rare and threatened locals are growing at Griffith.

Register for free online.

Rare and threatened plant walks

10am 20 October 2016 OR 9.30am Tuesday 25 October 2016.

The Red Zone, 58 Parklands Drive, Griffith Health Centre (G40).

Read the rest of this entry »

Sharing research data (and spreadsheets) with the world


We all know sharing research data is important. But a whole lot of work goes into making this happen on an international scale. And that’s where the Research Data Alliance (RDA) comes in.

According to the RDA website, they are an ‘international organization focused on the development of infrastructure and community activities aimed to reduce barriers to data sharing and exchange, and promote the acceleration of data-driven innovation worldwide’.

Basically, they play an important role in developing the infrastructure that drives data sharing globally.

Experts from around the world – from academia, industry and government – are the cogs behind the RDA wheel. They come together to form Working Groups and Interest Groups to propose solutions and recommendations to facilitate data sharing or in RDA-speak, outputs.

RDA Outputs ‘are the technical and social infrastructure solutions developed by RDA Working Groups or Interest Groups that enable data sharing, exchange, and interoperability’.

But it’s not just the RDA who are dedicated to sharing. Information Services has fully embraced the concept as well.

eResearch Services, Senior Software Engineer, Kim Keogh undertook an analysis of RDA Outputs to determine which ones were suitable for Griffith to adopt. The resulting spreadsheet was shared with the RDA Organizational Assembly to help other organisations like Griffith.

And now the spreadsheet has gone international. According to eResearch Services, Director, Malcolm Wolski, the spreadsheet has been circulated far and wide. It’s even made it to Germany!

Mr Wolski said a Director at the Max Plank Institute in Germany personally thanked him for his team’s work on the RDA Outputs analysis. The Director was so impressed with the analysis, he circulated the spreadsheet around the Institute. Go team!

If you have an interest in reducing the barriers to data sharing and exchange, you should join the RDA. It is free to join the various Interest Groups and Working Groups. Griffith is also a member of the Organizational Assembly of the RDA.