How to organise your own Open Science Café?

During my weekly trendwatching round I came across the FOSTER portal.
The FOSTER portal is an e-learning platform with training resources for those who need to know more about Open Science, or need to develop strategies and skills for implementing Open Science practices in their daily workflows.

They recently published a very interesting article /manual about how to organize your own Open Science Café with all the necessary tools, how to set-up instructions etc. The main goal of the Open Science Café is to connect the different stakeholders as they are listening and sharing thoughts in a roundtable conversation initiated by statements on a set of cards. Such a great idea!Photo

Below you can find the link to the original article written by Martine Oudenhoven and everything you need to organize your own Open Science Café.

Source: Organise your own Open Science
Foster portal:



Blockchain “(r)evolution” – in academia? 

Today, 6th of December, TU Delft hosted the Blockchangers Tech Deep Dive, an event for software developers interested in meeting developers from leading blockchain platforms: Mattereum, Bitcoin, BigchainDB, Hyperledger, IBM, Microsoft, IOTA and Parity.

Most of us heard of Bitcoin and probably of blockchain. What is the difference?

Blockchain is a technology that seems to be a leap change in the business models of the  “digital relationship” as we’re witnessing now. But it is much more than an optimisation of the online interactions in the context of new technologies. It is a proof of evolution of our society, from a centralised system thinking towards a distributed one and the benefits of the change can go beyond imagination. The Next Web explains that the businesses or institutions will keep a role in the constitution of the distributed system, but the system itself is autonomous by definition and powered by its own members [1].

Bitcoin is a digital currency that exists (only) on a specialised blockchain. It is not the only one. See in Business Insider a comparison between todays important cryptocurrencies [2].


Concept & implications
The online interaction let aside, this is not a new concept: it was discovered in remote places, applied locally, in small isolated communities (see video below – [3]), being in place for hundreds of years. The concept is about authority belonging to an entire community instead of its concentration into one entity (a person, a company, an institution – as we know it now).

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Because of this, there are consequences
– at the level of trust, as we don’t have to look for credentials of only one person or institution. We reach a zone of comfort with trusting an entire community and, the greater the community, the more secure will be any transaction inside that community, the higher the trust.
– on the freedom of information: the knowledge becomes available to everyone in community, at the same time, in a public community/network ledger.

Read more details about the technology at the end of the article.

There are already many applications. If you’ll search online, you’ll get already businesses specialised in data storage like MaidSafe or Filecoin, hubs like Blockchain Hub, social platforms Akasha, search engines BitClave that operate on the blockchain technology, as well as applications or experiments of universities, like Blockcerts, from MIT.

Why is blockchain interesting for academia? 
For more reasons! First, as the Blockchain for Science – a think tank and hub –  puts it in their mission statement: because it will “Open up Science and knowledge creation by means of the blockchain (r)evolution”. The flow of knowledge will obviously change in a decentralised system, everyone will benefit from free and reproducible data, the innovation power of such a friction-free information system can increase many-fold.


Lambert Heller from TIB [4] makes the case of the”crucial advantages” of the use by education and research institutions of the new business model of blockchain technology with “smart contracts” for scientific archiving. He envisions the possibility for the universities to participate in networks with blockchain technology by contributing with server capacity or by winning, buying/selling cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, the funding agencies or governmental institutions – as stakeholders – could provide a crypto-currency for the specific network. He sees the possibility for research institutions to make their own blockchain network and discusses the extent to which these networks can be open or closed to the public and why.
In the actual context of the accountability of the institutions to the society, the exposure of the “smart contracts” to the public scrutiny weights as an advantage for the institution success.

Another idea, coming from the director of the Knowledge Media Institute from UK’s Open University, specialised in distance learning, is to make a public ledger of validated academic qualifications with high impact on the recruitment of the graduates. But the biggest impact would be the “cut out of the middleman in distance learning: the university”. That would be, in his words, “the university of one”. This is already happening – he says, but the added value of the technology to this model would be in the added trust. Times Higher Education cites: “Everyone in the system can check what a student has learned – which certificates they have accumulated – rather than having to rely on a particular institution to store these data” [5]. This model implies, in my understanding, self-made curricula to get a self-made specialisation, while the technology provides all the necessary certifications for everyone to see.

Early adopters of the technology, the MIT’s Media Lab, introduced Blockcerts, a standard for creating, issuing, viewing and verifying blockchain-based certificates. This year, in July, they started issuing “tamper-proof” Digital Diploma’s  that are registered in the bitcoin network.

TU Delft counts as well as an early adopter, with its 10 years old Delft Blockchain Lab, part of the Dutch Blockchain Coallition.  And, like all early adopters, they already have results: one success, in the beginning of this year, was the development of an mortgage marketplace based on blockchain technology. Their declared goal was to “re-invent trust and money” [6]. Delft BlockchainLab is the host of the Tech Deep Dive event mentioned in the beginning of this article.

One last thought: beginning October, an “archeology coin” named Kapu was launched for Archeology. It has great impact on archiving and in the cultural heritage protection [7]. Does this mean that we could expect for every field and type of data a new digital currency to be invented? How will this be adopted by the universities?

Who knows? The future will tell.
In any case, brace for impact: there is no escape from this technology!

Further reading…

Blockchain technology
There are in fact three technologies that made the blockchain possible. None of them are new, but their combination is [8]. These technologies are:

  1. the private/public key cryptography,
  2. a P2P network with a shared ledger and
  3. a protocol (that requires the existence of an incentive “to service the network’s transactions, record-keeping and security“). 

The key cryptography takes care of the identification of an individual with a private and a public key.

Any transactions made between two persons is recorded in a data block containing the digital signature, the time and the information related to the transaction. A chain of transactions recorded at different times is at the origin of the name of this technology: a blockchain (see figures below).









 The transactions range from simple to complex, like contracts that execute themselves – known as “smart contracts”. “Smart contracts help you exchange money, property, shares, or anything of value in a transparent, conflict-free way while avoiding the services of a middleman.” [9].

These transactions are recorded by the entire network at the same time, so every node in the network receives the same reliable information.

The reliability comes from the network protocol, that takes care of the authorisation of a transaction. That happens by the execution of a mathematical problem that is called “proof of work” [4]. This proof of work is a code that runs simultaneously on more computers, doing what it’s known as “mining” a new block. The one computer that solves first the problem, authorises a new block in the chain and gets an incentive: a bitcoin (BTC – in the bitcoin network) or an ethereum (ETH – in the Ethereum network) or any other coin in any other network where such a technology functions.

For a better understanding, follow this 17 minutes demo of MIT experts on how blockchain works.
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[1] How blockchain can build communities completely free of hierarchy, TheNextWeb,, published on Sep. 2017, accessed on Nov. 2017
[2] How Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other major cryptocurrencies compare to one another, Business Insider,, published on Sep. 2017, accessed on Dec. 2017
[3] Bitcoin, blockchain, and the future of money, Quartz,, Quartz, published on Oct. 2017, accessed on Oct. 2017
[4] Provision of scientific objects using smart contracts on a blockchain – how and why?, Lambert HellerTIB Blog,, published on July 2017, accessed on Nov. 2017
[5] What blockchain technology could mean for universities, TimesHigherEducation,, published on 31 Aug. 2017, accessed on Dec. 2017
[6] TU Delft Blockchain Lab,, accessed on Dec. 2017
[7] Archeology and Blockchain: a social science data revolution?, The Guardian,, published on Oct. 2017, accessed on Dec. 2017
[8] How does blocktechnology work?, Coindesk, accessed on Nov. 2017
[9] Smart Contracts: The Blockchain Technology That Will Replace Lawyers, Blockgeeks,, accessed on Nov. 2017

Recommended: “Why do they come? The Library as place and brand”

Why the students come to the Library?
Why don’t they stay at home and study?
Is a library without books still a library?
Why are the User Experience (UX) methods and research so important for the libraries?

These are few of the many interesting question that Cristian Lauersen (director of Roskilde University Library) asks in his blog, which I read few days ago.

The blog post is called “Why do they come? The Library as place and brand” and if you wonder what are the answers to all these questions, I recommend you to read it.



Soms komen trends bij elkaar.

SemanticScholar is hier een mooi voorbeeld van. Het combineert data mining, natural language processing en artificial intelligence om uit de almaar groeiende hoeveelheid publicaties datgene te vinden wat het meest relevant is.

SemanticScholar is gemaakt door AI2 en biedt een non-profit platform dat het mogelijk maakt om te zoeken naar academische publicaties. Het bevat op dit moment meer dan 40 miljoen publicaties op het gebied van computer science en neuroscience. Binnenkort komen daar de publicaties op het gebied van biomedical sciences bij. Bronnen die gebruikt worden zijn o.a. arXiv en PubMed.

De makers claimen dat hun product sneller en beter relevante publicaties vindt dan bijvoorbeeld met Google Scholar of PubMed mogelijk is. Wat betreft de content, dat door computers wordt opgehaald en verwerkt, zijn ze zich er gelukkig bewust van, dat dit niet waterdicht correct is. Daarom wordt de mogelijkheid geboden om correcties te melden via de FAQ.

Bij het zoeken naar een artikel biedt het programma mogelijkheden om via suggesties voor nieuwe termen de zoekopdracht te verfijnen. Ook kan er worden gefilterd op bijvoorbeeld jaar en documenttype. Vervolgens kunnen interessante artikelen worden bewaard in een leeslijst na inloggen met een bestaand Twitter-, Facebook- of Google account.

In een interne evaluatie door de TUDelft Library in 2015 was het toen beperkt aantal bronnen en wetenschappelijke werkvelden de reden om even af te wachten hoe dit platform zich zou ontwikkelen.
Intussen is er content beschikbaar vanuit meerdere bronnen en nu lijkt de tijd rijp om SemanticScholar opnieuw op waarde te schatten.


Visit to the Erasmus University Library

A few weeks ago I’ve visited the newly renovated Erasmus University Library in Rotterdam (EUR), together with my colleagues Karin and Nicoleta.
This is a short impression of that visit.
The first thing you’ll see when you enter the library is the clean and modern open staircase, which is the crown jewel of the renewed design. In fact, the staircase and the two entrances in front of the building are brand new. Before the renovation, the only entrance to the library was via walkway tunnel from the main building. On the wall next to the staircase you’ll see a beautiful tiled panel made by the students and staff. Climbing the stairs, on the way to the second floor, you’ll see “De Communicatiewand” made by the Dutch artist Wim Strijbosch. This art piece was preserved from the old building and fully restored during the renovation.

On the left side is a small chill area with comfortable chairs standing next to newly designed study spaces – each with own environment friendly led light and 2 electrical sockets.

The second half of the ground floor, which is separated by glass doors, is reserved for silent study spaces and there are a lot. This is a very good choice because during the exams period that’s what the students need the most – good and quiet study spaces.

When you arrive on the second floor you’ll find the information desk of the library but also the Self Service Library where you can return and borrow books without any staff assistance. Next to the information desk you’ll find the reading area where you can read books, magazines, newspapers and see the new library acquisitions. In the middle of the building is positioned the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet – an association library working closely with the Erasmus university for the last 50 years serving its members but also the Erasmus students with its own special collection.

On this and on the second floor you’ll find also the book collections, which are placed in book cabinets not higher than 1.50 cm., which is really nice especially when you browse the collection with someone else – you can still talk to each other keeping an eye contact. Also a lot of books are placed with their covers facing the users, which is really great if you want to quick scan the collection.

There are a lot more innovative and interesting (and some very simple!) solutions to see in the EUR library – from the water tab where the students can quickly refill their water bottles (which is a must during the exam weeks) to the silent study cabins for one person and many, many more. So if you want to see them all I’ll advise you to visit the EUR library in person.
Short facts about EUR Library:
The library renovation lasted for 2.5 years before it opened for public on 29th of May this year offering around 900 study spaces for the students and 50 flex workspaces for the staff.

UX quiz question: Which entrance is users favourite- turning doors on the left or automatic door on the right?

Hint: check the usage of the doormats 😉


The battle between fake and factual news

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom”, said Edward Osborne Wilson, an American entomologist and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. [1] While we are being overwhelmed by information on a daily basis, the spread of false or manipulated information is dominating media and conversations. Misinformation is everywhere and it is hard to ignore. But what is fake news, and how can we recognise and tackle it?

Fake news
According to Denise-Marie Ordway from Journalist’s Resource of Harvard Kennedy School describes it as “a term that can mean different things, depending on the context. News satire is often called fake news as are parodies.” And also “…., conspiracy theories, …, hoaxes”. [2]
Paul Chadwick from The Guardian, “Defining fake news will help us expose it.” He points out, as he describes, a “draft definition of fake news”, as following:
Fake news means fictions deliberately fabricated and presented as non-fiction with the intent to mislead recipients into treating fiction as fact or into doubting verifiable fact.” [3]

 Pixabayfig1: photo from Pixabay
LiAnna Davis, deputy director of the Wiki Education Foundation, states that “Wikipedia has been dealing with fake news since it started 16 years ago.” [4] But as a reliable source on this topic, Wikipedia defines fake news as: “Deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention.” [5]

While fake news and its significant impact is increasing, many preserve confidence in their own ability to detect misinformation. According to Pew Research Center “It is difficult to measure the precise extent to which people actually see news that has been completely fabricated – given that news consumers could see but not recognize made-up news stories as well as mistake factual stories for false ones.” [6] (see fig 2)

fig2: Source: PEW Research Center

The necessity of truth
Patrick Engleman, a high school chemistry teacher, states in an interview with nprEd: “You can’t trust everything you hear. In a time when access to information is easier than ever.” [7] In the same article, Susan Yoon, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, suggests teachers to give students the tools to think like a scientist: “Teach them to gather evidence, check sources, deduce, hypothesize and synthesize results. Hopefully, then, they will come to the truth on their own.” [7] According to The Guardian’s chief revenue officer Hamish Nicklin, “The world needs the truth now more than ever. In a world where the most important people in the planet are using fake news to undermine the values so many of us hold so dear, it has never been so important that we have a strong and vibrant media, and remember that facts and truth are sacred.” [8]
Even companies like Lush (cosmetics) are also concerned with the significant impact of fake news. According to writer Annabelle Letten from Lush, “Both the BBC and The Guardian have dedicated teams made up of developers, filmographers and journalists to ensure the stories they cover are fully researched and thought-provoking.” [8]

Solutions: Library’s crucial part
It is crucial for education institutions and libraries to provide guidance and tools in order to recognise and separate fake news from authentic factual news. Many academic libraries in the worldwide (most of them in the US and UK) have created Library Guides (or LibGuides) around this subject, such as Harvard, Cornell, NYU, UC at Berkeley and Penn State. [9]

As Eric Novotny from Penn State’s University Libraries points out: “Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not.” [10]

Significantly, Berkeley Library of the University of California has not only provided researchers and students a list of fake news websites, but has also pointed out the effects of fake news and has summed up solutions for detecting fake news. [11] (see fig3)

5 way to spot fake news
fig3: Source Berkeley Library
Harvard Library has provided a list on Fact-Checking Sites and Plug-Ins. [12] Many university libraries in the US (Cornel [13], Illinois [14], CPP [15], Yale [16]) and UK(Cambridge [17]) have organised workshops in order to highlight this problem.

Finally, Journalist’s Resource [2] adds: “Some other resources that may be helpful are the Poynter Institute’s tips on debunking fake news stories [18] and the First Draft Partner Network, a global collaboration of newsrooms, social media platforms and fact-checking organizations that were launched in September 2016 to battle fake news.” [19]

[1] Wikipedia. [online]: E. O. Wilson
[2] D.-M. Ordway. [Online]: fake news conspiracy theories journalism research
[3] P. Chadwick. [Online]: defining fake news will help us expose it.
[4] A. Kamentz. [Online]: the earth is flat check wikipedia.
[5] Wikipedia. [Online]: fake news.
[6] A. M. J. H. Michel Barthel. [Online]: many americans believe fake news is sowing confusion.
[7] A. Wolfman-Arent. [Online]: the ongoing battle between science teachers and fake news.
[8] A. Letten. [Online]: what fake news and how do-we tackle it.
[9] LibGuides Community. [Online]: LibGuides Community.
[10] E. Novotny. [Online]: fake news.
[11] University of California,Berkeley Library. [Online]: fake news.
[12] Harvard Library. [Online]: fake.
[13] Fake news workshop cornell [Online]: fake news workshop.
[14] Fake news workshop illinois [Online]: fake news workshop.
[15] Fake news workshop CPP [Online]: fake news workshop.
[16] Fighting fake news workshop [Online]: Fighting fake news workshop.
[17] PhD clinic workshop [Online]: PhD clinic workshop.
[18] A. Mantzarlis. [Online]: 6 tips to debunk fake news stories by yourself.
[19] First Draft news. [Online]: draftnews.

The open access road to content

While nowadays there is a lot of content being published open access, 45% more than in 2015 (Alperin 2017), there is still a lot of scientific literature subscription based, behind the paywall. This year, the gap between content discovery and its access shrunk substantially. Due to initiatives from organizations or publishers, different solutions were launched for finding and accessing full-text articles wherever they can be backtracked via their DOI. New tools to browse preprint articles appeared, publishers are changing their publishing model to gold OA, money is invested in infrastructures of preprints and, in the absence of an OA versions online, active requests are sent to authors to ask them to put their article version in repositories. (Piwowar and Priem 2017)

Launched in the beginning of the year, Unpaywall tool reached a large audience fast. It’s a browser extension (free for Chrome and Firefox) from Impact Story, the founders of oaDOI – see previous article about it. The extension looks for a free version of articles behind the paywalls by searching into a vast number – 5300 – repositories world-wide (DOAJ, BASE, PubMed Central, CrossRef, DataCite, Google Scholar) and goes beyond oaDOI by looking directly in the page of articles themselves, parsing them to find a link to a pdf (Chawla 2017). It is the legal approach that differentiate it from SciHub.

It is a simple elegant solution, effective in more than 50% of search cases (Piwowar and Priem 2017): on the webpage of an article, a lock appears in the right of the page (fig. 1). The colour code is gold and green for Gold OA and Green OA, blue for lack of information because of browsing behind the paywall and grey color when no information is found.

Fig. 1 Example of Unpaywall browser extension results on a webpage of an article with Gold OA – from

Unpaywall is doing almost the same as the Open Access Button (OA Button). This is as well a free tool, developed in 2013, which extends its search functionality to requesting an article or data directly from the author when no free version is found online (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Example of OA Button on a Gold OA article

Moreover, in July 2017, JISC announced a project “assessing the feasibility of a service in the discovery/interlibrary loan (ILL) workflow utilising Open Access Button functionality to aid the discovery, creation and promotion of open access content” (Fahmy 2017). On their blog, OA Button reports that Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis successfully implemented the service and reported six-numbered savings (OpenAccessButton 2017).

On the practical side, trying out Unpaywall and OA Button for the same article gets us different results – as expected – because of their use of different full-text databases (Open Access Button/about 2013).

Continue reading

Smart Campus, voor het gemak

Verleden jaar werd de TUDelft Library vereerd met Deens bezoek, waarbij Lars Binau vertelde over de Smart Library als onderdeel van de Smart Campus van DTU (Technical University of Denmark) [1].

Onderdeel van dit project is het gebruikt van sensoren die in de lampen zijn ingebouwd, wat natuurlijk heel slim is. Lampen zijn doorgaans overal aanwezig waar mensen zijn en er is stroom.

Het prettige van sensoren is dat er zoveel mee gemeten kan worden. Er zijn klimaatsensoren voor het bepalen van bijvoorbeeld de temperatuur en luchtvochtigheid, maar ook sensoren die het geluidsniveau meten of de aanwezigheid van mensen.
Met de verzamelde gegevens is de logische volgende stap om iets met die gegevens te doen. Lampen en airco’s kunnen bijvoorbeeld worden aangestuurd, afhankelijk of er mensen zijn, waarbij ook de voorkeur van die groep mensen een factor kan zijn voor de werking.

Een lamp of airco zelf kan ook weer sensoren hebben om door te geven of het apparaat wel goed werkt.
Door gegevens van apparaten met elkaar te combineren, zoals van een airco met de aanwezigheid van mensen, kom je al snel uit op een samenspel van verbonden apparaten en dan komt de term IoT (Internet of Things)[2] om de hoek kijken.

Naast gemak voor mensen leveren al die sensoren veel gegevens op waar bedrijven graag op inspelen.
Een bedrijf [3] heeft plannen om gegevens vanuit een stofzuigerrobot, over de indeling van een huis, te verkopen. Een ander bedrijf [4] heeft een aardige verzameling artikelen geschreven over gebouwbeheer en AI (Artificial Intelligence)[5].

Diverse mensen zijn bezorgd over deze ontwikkelingen en Elon Musk, bekend van onder andere de Tesla, heeft dan ook een oproep gedaan aan de politiek om regelgeving rond AI te maken [6], voordat het te laat is.
Er zal sowieso steeds meer regelgeving komen vanuit de overheid; ook een Smart Campus zal een manier moeten vinden om optimaal gemak voor studenten en werknemers te bieden, zonder privacy aan te tasten.

[1], 31-7-2017
[2], 31-7-2017
[3], 31-7-2017
[4], 31-7-2017
[5], 31-7-2017
[6], 31-7-2017

Boost your innovation with Accept Mission

Generating ideas usually isn’t such a problem for me. On the contrary, I sometimes deliberately hold back and avoid sharing the many sparkles of my mind, as other people sometimes mistake them for solutions when all I”m doing is thinking out loud. Most innovative products are the result of an innovation process which started with many, collaboratively generated ideas stacked on top of each other instead of that one brilliant first thought.


With Accept Mission, a new tool & game developed by Creatieve Koppen, you can create an online brainstorm with people participating in their own time, on their own device. Participants vent their ideas anonymously (as undercover avatars) and discuss and rate the ideas of others without fear of being criticised. Engagement is triggered by scoring points. This not only seems effective, but also a lot of fun.


I’m currently looking into an opportunity to try this out, as Accept Mission offers a free trial with limited participants and features!
Check out the demo video:


Stop phubbing and grow a Forest

I love my phone. It feeds me news, connects me to my family and friends and allows me to search and find any relevant information 24/7. My phone is my camera, calculator, calendar, watch, health coach, weather man, TV and radio. But checking something on my phone sometimes takes more time than I want. While checking my mail, I casually click on Facebook or Instagram, just for fun or out of curiosity. Does this sound familiar? There’s even a word for it: phubbing.

Forest is an app on your phone that keeps you from seeking distraction. When you want to concentrate, you can plant a virtual tree and while you stay away from apps other than Forest, your tree will grow and prosper. It sounds like a simple reward, but somehow the gamification is just right and it works! So next time you need to make your deadline, try to keep focussed with Forest. It is available for iOS and Android.

Forest app

Open Access: the Dutch Consortium – publishers deal

From Science Guide I found out that, as more contracts of the Dutch Consortium with their publishers were made public by Leo Waaijers in 2016, the resistance put up by Elsevier and Springer to the exposure of their individual contracts raised a question mark about their real intentions, especially related to the Open Access policy.

Two weeks ago, due to the leak of Elsevier’s contract, the publisher came under scrutiny because of the terms of its three years Open Access pilot (2016-2018) that seems set up to fail.

Image from Science Guide’s article “Leaked Elsevier contract reveals pushback”

Science Guide says that the deal shows restrictions imposed to the researchers, the raise of collective fees and the short range of publications from their portfolio where the researchers could publish Open Access – a rather “disheartening picture of the so called ‘Golden deal’ reached by the Dutch universities with their major publisher: Elsevier” [1].

Still, one has to look at a broader picture: the business case for these deals and the win-win situation for both universities and publishers.

The contracts’ descriptions are available – for anyone interested – on the openaccess website where, for every publisher, one can find listed the Terms & Conditions of their deal, links to the publishers’ websites with More information and, in four cases, details over their Workflow [2].

Continue reading

Snapshot: A Cambridge user experience (UX) study

Snapshot is a very interesting and highly detailed user experience (UX) study conducted by Andy Priestner and David Marshall from the Futurelib innovation programme at the Cambridge University Library. The main objective of this project was to explore and uncover the research and information behavior of the postdocs and PhD students. The team used a ‘cultural probe’ as preferred UX technique for this study. During the two week long research period the participants were asked to complete a lot of different interactive and creative tasks like for example – completing a daily research diary, photo study, cognitive mapping and more.
This approach helped the Futurelib team to get better, holistic view of how the participants accessed information, about their routines, the choices they made and most importantly, what opportunities there were to improve their experience of library services.

Some of the key findings the team discovered were for example: the importance of immediate peer community and inter-disciplinary collaboration for the participants. Another important discovery was the need for better visibility of the library online services but also the type of support, expertise and assistance that the library staff can offer to the researchers.

This May, Andy will help bring existing UX practices to the next level at the TU Delft Library together with the Library R&D team.

You can read the full rapport here:

Source: Futurelib blog, Snapshot rapport


2017 Library Trends from the NMC Horizon Report

Last week, New Media Consortium published its annual Library Edition report [1].
See below the trends, challenges and developments related to the technology adoption in the academic libraries.

Image capture from page 3 of the NMC Horizon Report – 2017 Library Edition

While eager to read the details, don’t jump over the executive summary that identifies ten themes in the academic library’s landscape – wherein lays the foundation of the 18 topics presented above.

More in depth reading on the NMC website (or click on the image above).

For a quick introduction to the report you can watch the video summary on the NMC YouTube channel [2].



[1] NMC Horizon News,, accessed 31 March 2017
[2] NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Library Edition, YouTube,, accessed 31 March 2017

Luxafor, status & productivity tool

Imagine this. You are sitting in the office, trying to concentrate. Slowly you are getting in the flow and you are confident that you’ll finish your work on time today but then… co-worker walks in your room asking “Can I borrow your phone charger?”. “Of course” you reply, handling over the charger to your colleague.
Sounds familiar, right? But as a result of this interruption you lose your focus and it takes you another 25 minutes to get in the flow again.

This is a very common problem at co-working environments and there are always people and companies who are trying to find a good solution for it. One of these companies is called Luxafor. They designed a small LED light (also called Luxafor) that you can easily attach to your device and show your status to others.

This is how the Luxafor led light works: the user connects the Luxafor to his computer via usb or bluetooth. Once connected, the light show to all team members approaching your workplace your availability. When you are available, Luxafor shines green and when your are busy it shines red. For more detailed information watch the video below.

According to the company, this very simple visual tool could save you a lot of precious time just by keeping you focused on your important tasks.Luxafor

Luxafor will be available in 3 different models : Mini, Flag and Bluetooth,
if the project succeed to get the required fundings in Kickstarter.

Source: The VergeKickstarter.

Content break-down and its impact

A month ago I came across an article that looked at content in a completely different way. Dominik Grau, the Chief Innovation Officer of Ebner Group, writes about the transformation of his company from a 200 old year “print-centric publisher into a content and services company with a large e-commerce engine as one of the bases of the future monetization”. [1] Dominik Grau draws a clear cut: “Ebner Group is not making magazines but content”. He says “we care deeply about excellent content. Formats and channels come second”. ​ He enumerates the channels: the paper, the website, the video’s, the books.

Well, nothing new for us here. What intrigued me was his “dissection” theory of the content in “Minimal Information Units” or MIUs and their allocation per article part (title, introduction, paragraph, photo, video, interview, infographic and list of facts) [2]. To each of these parts he gives a weight in MIU and distributes them on different delivery channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) for maximum impact. He sees the traffic of content to the user as a matrix and every touchpoint in the matrix counts to the total impact for an article.
He goes further than that and calculates the impact of an event if set up for exposure on the right channels: it is what he calls “an event package”.

With no further consideration, this model provides us, the library, with a simple mechanism to help researchers – both content producers and followers – maximise the impact of their work, be it a scientific article or not.

[1] Exclusive insights into the transformation of 200-year old Ebner Media Group, LinkedIn – Pulse, published 12 December 2016,
[2] How to maximise the impact of your content, FIPP, published on 13 December, 2016,

Piracy in science

So… do I dare google for Sci-Hub, to see for myself what it is all about? I know it is a site that illegally offers more than 60 million scientific papers, grabbed from behind the publisher’s paywalls and libraries’ authentication screens and offered to be downloaded for free. I also know that its founder Alexandra Elbakyan has been featured on as one of 10 people that mattered in 2016 [1]. If everyone’s using it or is at least checking it out, shouldn’t I be allowed a little peak? started in 2011 when Elbakyan decided to help others with her skills to circumvent legal access when she could not get or afford to pay for the articles she needed for her own research project. In 2015 she got sued by Elsevier which led to her losing the domain [2]. However, Elbakyan would not give up, motivated by weekly thank-you notes, some with financial support [1] and supportive tweets [3], she moves to other domains when necessary.

An online survey by Science Magazine last May, showed that only 12% of the more than 10,000 respondents thought it is wrong to download pirated papers and 59% of the respondents admitted to having done so a few times (33%) or even daily / weekly (26%) [4].  And it’s not just people who don’t have access. Even scholars who’s institutional or academic libraries pay heavy license fees to offer the content through their websites or Discovery systems, still seem to prefer the easy, hassle-free Sci-Hub, or simply want to support the pressure piracy sites put on publishers to move towards open-access business models.

I dare. The user interface is in Russian, but it’s so easy to use there is no need to translate. I copy-paste a DOI from an article (2016) related to a project I am working on and in less than a second, there it is. One click, no messy splash page. Just the content. OK, I get the appeal. The only English button asks me to donate with Bitcoin.

Screenshot 2017-01-25 10.54.15

One more example of how scientific readers are taking control is #ICanHazPDF a popular hashtag on Twitter. When you want an article you can’t access, you tweet the DOI or URL with this hashtag and wait for one of your followers to mail it to you. Then you are supposed to delete the tweet… [5]. This practise is not always piracy, as the article you get might be a preprint or the author’s version, legitimately published in green OA in an institutional repository. Or you might get it directly from the author, a common practise that is allowed by most publishers, see for example Elsevier’s Sharing Policy [6]

Open Access as a default, we are working hard to get there. Libraries will try to maintain a relevant collection for its patrons, but cannot afford to provide access to all scientific content that is wanted or needed. In the meantime: be open, publish open access yourself and if you cannot access what you need: try document delivery / Inter Library Loan. We do not promote piracy, but we need to be aware of what is happening globally and how that is affecting the scientific community. We’ll keep you informed.

[1] – 20-1-2017
[2] – – accessed 20-1-2017
[3] –– accessed 20-1-2017
[4] – – accessed 20-1-2017
[5] – – accessed 25-1-2017
[6] – 25-1-2017


Open Access articles rush: oaDOI and Google Scholar

Finding open access article versions of the ones behind the paywall seems pretty easy with Google Scholar. Yet, with a new identifier, the oaDOI (, Impact Story promises going beyond Google Scholar for articles with a DOI.

oaDOI.orgShort history: last summer Impact Story, one of the main players in altmetrics, challenged everyone to make a profile on their website and check out their “openness” by introducing a new OA badge.
In their effort to complete the profiles with open access output, Impact Story made a workaround Google Scholar in order to find any free full-text for a paper with a DOI. They search in specific sources like DOAJ, DataCite, CrossRef’s database and the BASE OA Search Engine and institutional  repositories, plus in their own list of DOI indexes and even in the articles page itself for a link to a free version [1].
In practice, after testing the oaDOI with multiple articles from behind the paywall, I found out it comes down to luck to find  an open access version which Google Scholar does not find.

We don’t know how long it will take Google Scholar to take over, but the great news about the oaDOI is that, unlike Google, it’s open: it has a versioned open API to build upon it.

oadoi widget Wayne State University Library
By now, Zotero is searching by oaDOI, Max Plank Digital Library is experimenting with its SFX lookup service for DOI using an oaDOI and Wayne State University Library has introduced a widget to search oaDOI [2].

Try it yourself at

See also and see the number of OA publications that someone has, with a percentage of “openness” added to his Impact Story profile.


[1] Introducing oaDOI: resolve a DOI straight to OA, accessed on 31st October 2016
[2] oaDOI API, accessed on 31st October 2016

Tools, tools en social media voor academia

Picture of different tools

image: Todd Quackenbush via Unsplash

Dat er voor wetenschappers veel handige tools en communities beschikbaar zijn, wisten we al uit het onderzoek van UKB collega’s Bianca Kramer en Jeroen Bosman. Zij hielden een wereldwijde enquete die uiteindelijk door meer dan 20,000 mensen werd ingevuld. De resultaten publiceerden ze in eerste instantie als 101 innovations in scholarly communication, maar later werd de 101 weggelaten (in Amerika staat 101 ook voor een introductie cursus, bv Math 101). Er werden door de respondenten wel meer dan 400 tools genoemd. De dataset is beschikbaar via Zenodo en is al zeer de moeite waard om er in Excel met te “spelen”: welke tekstverwerkers zijn het populairst onder al publicerende Engineering & Technology PhD candidates? Filter, filter, count: Word, LaTeX, Google Docs en dan een “Long Tail” met onder andere Authorea, Overleaf, Scrivener en Libre- of OpenOffice, maar ook veel waar ik nog nooit van had gehoord. Welke reference management tool wordt het meest gebruikt in Nederland, ongeacht discipline?
EndNote [1]. Enzovoort, enzovoort. Interessant om te weten, en zeker goed om een keer wat dieper in te duiken.

Kramer en Bosman gaan met de resultaten op zoek naar research workflows en willen ook de link gaan leggen met open science workflows. Zij richten zich specifiek op de volgende activiteiten in de research cycle: Discovery, Analysis, Writing, Publishing, Outreach en Assessment.

Andy Miah, hoofd wetenschapscommunicatie en future media van University of Salford, geeft een iets andere doorsnede van veel gebruikte tools die zeker ook interessant is. Hij maakte een alfabetische lijst van social media for academia. Social media is ruim geinterpreteerd: de lijst bevat ook handige hulpjes als en Doodle. Eigenlijk van alles wat het dagelijkse werk van een wetenschapper gemakkelijker maakt. Wat ik leuk vind aan deze lijst is dat Andy deze tools ook echt allemaal zelf heeft uitgeprobeerd. Achter sommige tools staat een link EXAMPLE naar zijn persoonlijke pagina of zijn account in de genoemde tool.

Loop er eens door heen en check hoeveel je er van naam kent, zelf weleens gebruikt (hebt) en ontdek nieuwe “gems”. Na de Z (voor Zotero) komt een lijst met gesneuvelde tools: oude bekenden? Zelf ken ik 59 van de 125 genoemde tools – net iets minder dan de helft – en gebruik ik er 52.

[1] Bosman, J., & Kramer, B. (2016). Innovations in scholarly communication – data of the global 2015-2016 survey [Data set]. Zenodo.

Augmented reality in education has become more a trend thanks to Pokémon Go

Augmented reality is not a new technique; it has been used in Google Glass and Microsoft Holograms many years ago. But unfortunately Google Glass was no success, maybe because there were no gamification elements included. Augmented reality has many possibilities and can be used in education in different ways such as in flight academy, industrial design, medical training or architecture. It is very useful for studies like industrial design and other studies where students have to make a model. Students or companies can make a prototype and test it for some aspect of design (IKEA Augmented Reality).

IKEA Augmented Reality

There is also an application for pilots, learning to fly with augmented flying helicopter in difficult situations [1]. Augmented Reality can help pilots to get more information, especially in a situation such as during bad weather.

Glasses Help Helicopter Pilots See Through Smoke and Fog

Augmented reality is widely used in medical education on different levels, for example learning new skills to students and nurses with new training products but also monitoring difficult surgery on distance [2]. The difference between virtual and augmented reality is that in the first one the patient is virtual in contrast to the augmented reality where the patient and his/her problems are real. Because of augmented reality students can start practicing earlier with real patients in a monitored setting instead of longer practicing in simulated situations with virtual reality.

Augmented Reality Helps Guide Neurosurgeons

Thanks to Pokémon Go augmented reality is now big success as a gaming business model. Pokémon Go is a very popular game on the mobile phone, as one of the most downloaded games (more than 100 million) in more than 27 countries [3]. In contrast to other games, Pokémon Go forces you to walk around, go out of your house and your comfort zone. You have to be physically and mentally active; find and catch virtual Pokémons in the real-world, going to Pokémon-stop places for more information and catch items, finding strategies to make stronger Pokémons and reach higher levels. A negative aspect of this game is the security for the players and possible inconvenience for non-players. This is caused for example by the Pokémon players going out at night and/or going to dangerous places to find Pokémon. Success of Pokémon goes so far that this year, Pokemon Go is part of a degree course in the university of Idaho (US) and Salford (UK) [4] [5].

Like every other game, after a while Pokémon Go will not be a hype anymore. But what will remain, is our knowledge and experience of platforms like Pokémon Go, which will be the mainstream in augmented reality. They are very interesting to use for different causes. As an example, in architecture education this platform can be used by teachers to load some educational material and create some exercises. Students can follow the descriptions to find a place and take a picture using the coordinates of the place. This kind of technology probably would be used more and more for education in the future. More importantly, augmented reality is going to reach a next level in our life. As Meron Gribetz pointed in his TED Talks, “Augmented reality uses all data that we make everyday and builds an extra layer on top of our real-world”.

TED Talk Meron Gribetz

[1]VR and IT’S impact on training
[2]New system brings augmented reality to the operating theater
[3]Pokemon go heres how you can defeat any gym battle

[4]Now university offers degree Pokemon Lecturer

[5]Pokemon Course in Idaho

A Day in the Life of a (Serious) Researcher

How would you design a research library to respond to the preferences and needs of today’s researchers?” were the librarians of Cornell University asking, in their quest to envision the future Research Library.

To answer to this question, the librarians had to hear from researchers themselves. They realised they had to accept the evidence and understand what research means for a researcher. Finding the researchers’ work patterns and their main struggles could be the key to finding what kind of responsibilities could the future research library assume in order to serve its purpose.

With no precedent for such an approach, the librarians had considered the following:

The evidence: it was obvious that today’s researchers work differently than twenty years ago (for example) because of the “unpredictable change in the way information is created, stored, transmitted and used”. They had to look at their new practices, places & spaces, resources and tools, wires and equipments.
What research requires: the research library is expected to respond to the needs and pressures of three “stakeholdes”: the common good (the research partners and the society) – knowledge flow, the institution – role in the campus and budget distribution and the individual researcher – faculty members, graduate students and undergraduate students.
Towards the model of the Future Research Library: there are clear core practices that have to stay, like access to information – organised and findable and new services, like an increasing role in publishing or new specialties, like designing and developing new information technologies, all emerging for the library of the future.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.36.35The librarians interviewed 21 researchers and used a mapping and logging method for their study “A Day in the Life of a (Serious) Researcher”. They focused in the interviews on different aspects of a researcher’s professional life:

– academic activities
– seeking information
– library resources
– self management
– space
– circum-academic activities
– obstacles
– brainwork
– technology

The findings of their study and their insights bring us to one conclusion: there are so many ways the researchers do research that there is no way the library could serve all their individual needs. Instead, the analysis of all the work patterns resulted into three main spheres of practice:

  • the process of research
  • academic networking
  • managing self

The way Cornell University Library imagined they could approach the researchers needs in these spheres of practice and empower the researchers to achieve their academic research goals lead to a model of the future Research Library as an academic hub and an app store.

You can read all about it in A Day in the Life of a (Serious) Researcher – Envisioning the Future of the Research Library.