Exploring Elements integration with figshare for Institutions

15th October 2015

Through a dedication to our continuous development methodology, we’re always working to make Elements even more useful than before. For a long time, it’s been the standard in research information management, helping researchers and institutions organise, showcase and report on everything from publications and research data to grants, teaching and professional activities.

You may know that we also have a number of partners within the Digital Scienceportfolio, all dedicated to serving the needs of scientific research. One of the most well-known of these is figshare, a repository in which users can make all of their research outputs available in a citable, shareable and discoverable manner.

figshare for Institutions brings this marvel to research establishments by providing these benefits for all their academics. The platform hosts images, graphs, videos, datasets, and many different file types, with an abundance of storage space. The platform lets academics publish negative results (mitigating the ‘file drawer effect‘), and helps them showcase all outputs of their research to the world by making them shareable and embeddable. It aids in the publishing of data that might otherwise never be uncovered, and helps researchers get credit for all the work they do.

There’s a great case study outlining the implementation of figshare alongside Elements at Loughborough University – including extra Arkivum storage security – the short post is available at figshare’s blog.


figshare for institutions interop


The reason for this blog post, though, is because we now have something special to share: in the summer of this year, we released Elements v4.16, containing a brand new integration between Elements and figshare for Institutions. We think it’s worth taking a look into what this feature means for researchers.

Making use of figshare for Institutions as a data source

Here’s a potential process for a researcher making full use of this integration:

  • The researcher uploads a data set to figshare for Institutions, choosing whether to make it public, or restrict it only to themselves or their institution / department, and setting an embargo period if necessary.
  • Elements automatically harvests metadata from the upload and captures it in their Publications module, and a link to the original figshare item and files is displayed.
  • Elements then works its data-connecting magic to enable the researcher to link the item to relevant institutions, co-authors, grants, professional activities, equipment and so on.

All of this is done with minimal administrative input from the researcher. Elements’ harvesting and linking capabilities reduce the manual effort needed to create these connections and attributions, while maintaining its usual high standard of accuracy and data quality. After the dataset is uploaded and its metadata captured by Elements, further uses of the integration now become apparent.

figshare then makes the dataset viewable, shareable and embeddable, if the researcher desires, on a public page, with a DOI automatically generated for linking to it.

It can then be given an Altmetric score (another of our Digital Science partners) in order to track the impact of the research in the wider world. The Altmetric integration can then be utilised to allow deeper understanding and discovery of relevant content and conversations.

The dataset can then be linked to an ORCiD record, the persistent researcher identifier, which has already benefitted from its own integration with figshare.

Finally, with these links made from within Elements, the metadata can be used as part of generating academic CVs, and the institution can use all of this information to understand and report on this research activity, for the purposes of faculty evaluation or funder requests.


figshare for institutions


Funding open data policies

Critically, this integration caters to the needs of funders requiring the data used to create research outputs to be made freely available. At present, this charge is being led by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), who state their expectations on their website: “EPSRC-funded research data is a public good produced in the public interest and should be made freely and openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner.”

With figshare for Institutions integrated, Elements becomes a key hub from which to report on Open Data in this case; links are made between grants, research outputs, and the data used to create them, and this can be demonstrated to show compliance with such funder policies. We expect more funders to bring in policies like this in future, and as such, are committed to providing solutions to help prepare.

What this means for researchers

As well as saving significant time and effort administrating the outputs of researchers’ work, this integration further encourages one of the key movements supported by both Symplectic and figshare – making research data more open.

By giving researchers the tools to be able to upload portfolios of research outputs, including a variety of file types, without having to worry about storage limits – and to make these openly accessible to the public and research community in a discoverable way– we hope this will contribute to a culture of collaboration where it is easy for researchers to learn from the methodologies and findings of others.

We expect these possibilities to become even more useful over time, as funders and institutions introduce more Open Access mandates. We’ve already developed the Open Access Monitor with this future in mind (which was well-received in the research community) to help institutions prepare for these challenges, and hope this integration contributes to the same goal.