At Digital Science, it’s safe to say that we love data, and the stories that emerge from it. These stories are often hidden within the data, waiting to be uncovered by simply asking the right questions. In 2019, we used Dimensions as our story source and ran a range of Research Days with different communities. From charities looking to empower their causes or campaigns, through to early career researchers wanting to find out more about role models in their fields, the themes were broad. We also worked with researchers looking to place their research within the bigger picture and university administrators needing a helping hand in their impending REF submissions.

We started the year by contributing a research strand to UK Black Tech’s Sickle Cell Hackathon. The event took place on 16th February 2019 at the Design Museum in West Kensington, London. The two-day event brought together employees of a sickle cell charity, patients, and researchers that wanted to find out more about the disease. After brief introductions, we got to work. We broke into two groups; One group was working on creating apps to better support sufferers of sickle cell disease, while our group dove into Dimensions with us. Our aim was to introduce new people to data science and to build their confidence in analysing and presenting data. We were taken on a tour of Dimensions from our resident data science and innovation team, Hélène Draux and Simon Porter, before being let loose on the tool to interrogate it with anything that interested them relating to sickle-cell. Our teams found out about the leading researchers in sickle cell disease, such as Prof Julie Makani, and investigated the distribution of research funding for sickle cell disease and compared this to other diseases that are similarly prevalent. The weekend culminated in presentations from our newest data scientists, and answers that led to further questions, and a desire to get data crunching again soon!

On Wednesday, 28th August 2019 we headed down the road to visit our friends at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Armed with banners, pastries and laptops, we were there to run a Digital Science Research Day, the first since our research strand at the Sickle Cell Hackathon in February 2019. This time the aim was a little different. We had a mixture of academic and support staff, who found different and interesting ways to use Dimensions in answering their research questions.

Though the weather was warm, the lecture theatre and computer lab we had been given to use for the day were thankfully cool. From early-career researchers in infectious diseases, to employees leading on public engagement and strategic research decisions in the School, we introduced Dimensions to the group before letting people try it out. Dimensions’ user interface is intuitive enough for a first-timer to dive straight in, experimenting with radio buttons and sliding scales to shape their research questions.

Leah Kenny, a Research Assistant at LSHTM said:

It was a really great opportunity to learn about different platforms that we can use in our research. More importantly though it was a great way to think about research and outputs differently than we do traditionally in academia. 

Meanwhile, Anna Kramer, Strategic Research Coordinator at the School said:

It was really useful to me on the policy citations and a great resource going forward from a REF impact perspective.

Karl Byrne, Public Engagement Manager at the School and our co-organiser for this event said:

I wanted to hold a Research Day at LSHTM to give researchers an opportunity to look at an area outside of their expertise, investigate something that a research grant might not stretch to, and to have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from different parts of the school. Those who attended were able to interrogate the available data to elucidate meaningful, interesting results. 

On Thursday 10th October 2019, we held a Digital Science Data Dive for Ada Lovelace Day, with a focus on representation in research. Our small group of attendees discussed the benefits and challenges around recruiting and retaining a diverse research workforce. One of the issues that consistently comes up in these discussions is the lack of visible diverse role models in research. Falling down the Dimensions rabbit hole, our attendees were able to find new role models within their areas of interest, and explore their career paths through Dimensions’ integration with ORCID, which creates individual research profiles in Dimensions. This includes a history of grants won, papers published, and a comprehensive understanding of where their research has been discussed using Altmetric data, to see whose work is capturing the most public attention.

Our data stories can only be as awesome and diverse as the people asking questions of the data. That’s why in 2020 we are inviting you all to get involved. If you would like to host a Digital Science Research Day, please contact us, no matter where you are in the world, in your research area, or your career. We’d love to share your own data stories, so get in touch!