Thing 17: Creative Commons and Copyright

If you are thinking of using externally sourced material (see Thing 6) in any of your online presentations, it’s important to understand the basics of what you can and can’t use. This post won’t/can’t cover it all (governments are grappling with the complexities of online copyright as we speak!), but we’ll look at Creative Commons (CC ) and how it frees us to share and reuse online.

CC is a non-profit organisation that offers a simple, standardised way to give public permission to share and/or use your creative work. CC licenses offer various levels of permissions, from ‘all rights reserved’ to ‘some rights reserved’. CC licenses are now commonly found on photos, blogs (including this blog), published material, teaching resources, music and more.


Let’s take a moment to understand the CC license that this blog has.

Look down in the bottom right hand corner of the page. You will see an area in the sidebar with the CC logo and some text describing the nature of the licence.

Use the CC license page to understand the different elements of this licence, and think about whether any of these might be appropriate for any of your work.

In Thing 6, we looked at images in Flickr that were either openly available or available with some rights reserved. If you’re interested in looking beyond Flickr, try the Creative Commons Search Page, which allows you to search for CC-licensed content on Wikimedia, Google Images, Europeana, YouTube, SoundCloud and more.


  1. If you’ve uploaded images on Flickr, go through the steps of adding a CC license (you don’t have to retain it or go to the final step if you don’t want to).
  2. Consider adding a CC license to your blog or another piece of online work by using the ‘Choose a license’ page.

Exploring further

  1. Explore Open Spires to see types of Open Educational Rerouces (OERs) are available online.
  2. If you’re interested in copyright online beyond the basic CC licenses, you can explore endlessly. You might be interested in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US, which helps control access to online works. The UK Government recently commissioned the Hargreaves Report, which looks at streamlining copyright in the digital age.
  3. For general copyright information, you may wish to look at Surrey’s pages on Copyright.
  4. You might also explore issues related to open access, particularly in scholarly communication. For some interesting places to start, take a look at Surrey Research Insight’s blog

Week 8 Blog post

We’ve covered a lot of Things this week, and we hope you can see that far from being more red-tape and hoops for you to jump through, this week’s Things are more about making sure you get proper credit for the work that you do and maximising your impact.

If you’d like to talk about all three Things together in this blog post, feel free. Perhaps you still have concerns about sharing your research online at all? Or feel that one of the sharing routes is more appropriate than the other for research?

Alternatively, you could talk about just one Thing. Perhaps you found one of the tasks quite challenging, or have been particularly moved by one of the Things that we’ve talked about. If you’ve read around the Things this week, you should have found that some people are extraordinarily passionate about these issues.

As we’ve talked about CC licenses, we’d like you to find an appropriately licensed image from Flickr (or another media site) that you can include in your post. Make sure it allows sharing! If you’re logged into Flickr, you can use the ‘Share’ button to grab the photo for your blog directly. Otherwise, you can either download and then upload to your blog, or grab the HTML or link for embedding.

Don’t forget to tag your post Thing 14, Thing 15, Thing 16 and Thing 17.


Thing 16 – Altmetrics

You might be familiar with traditional metrics for measuring the impact of research. For example, publications have their citation count; journals have their impact factor; and individual authors have their h-index. Did you know that it is also possible to measure your impact from sharing research online and through social media? Although subject to the same flaws as traditional metrics, article Level, or Altmetrics can apply to people, journals, books, data sets, presentations, videos, source code repositories, web pages and more. Altmetrics cover not just citation counts, but also other aspects of the impact of a work, such as how many data and knowledge bases refer to it, article views, downloads or mentions in social media and news media.

The term ‘Altmetrics’ was first coined in 2010 and the method has been growing in popularity ever since. Although not yet commonly used amongst researchers, higher level bodies like publishers and research councils are adopting them and it is possible to view the Altmetric ratings for articles from publishers such as PLoS, Nature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell and Springer.

Several services exist to aggregate and calculate Altmetric scores, including:

Perhaps the most well known is, which is run by Elsevier, who also manage the publication database Scopus. For any particular piece of research, calculates a single score, and presents it in the form of a coloured ‘donut’ which reflects the composition of the altmetrics sources used.


Visit and explore the services offered on the site. What are the benefits for publishers, institutions or individual researchers?

Follow the instructions to install the Bookmarklet app. This will allow you instantly to view the altmetric score for any individual piece of research. Try finding the abstract for a well-known paper in your research field and have a look at the altmetrics associated with it.

Thing 14 – Open Access and Surrey Research Insight

In the last few Things, we looked at alternative ways of sharing your research online and measuring the impact from it. In order to give your research proper academic credibility, it is important to provide readers with links to peer-reviewed, published articles. However, this presents the reader with a problem: Access.

(If your research is not yet published, there is also the problem of copyright, which we will talk about later.)

Traditionally, research is written up into articles, which are submitted to a publisher, peer reviewed, and then published in an academic journal. Institutions must pay both to submit the article, and to buy the access to the article (called a journal subscription).

This limits the availability of academic papers to subscribing institutions, journal members, and one-off fee-payers.

Open Access is about making research papers freely available to anyone who is interested.

From Surrey Research Insight’s pages on Open Access:

Open Access Basics

Open Access (OA) means making research publications freely available online.

There are no password or subscription barriers so your research is free to be downloaded and read by a global audience.

OA and visibility

OA papers are highly visible and immediately available. They are highly downloaded from a large number of countries. Downloads from SRI Open Access, the University’s OA repository, have recently passed the 2 million mark. Researchers, practitioners and the wider public from over 200 countries access SRI Open Access papers every day.

High downloads, in turn, are linked to higher citations and thus higher impact.

OA routes

There are two main routes to OA: Green and Gold.

Green Gold
How Your author’s version is posted in SRI Open Access. You don’t pay the publisher. You make a one-off payment to the publisher.
What Author’s version. Publisher’s version.
When Immediately or after an embargo period depending on the publisher’s policy. Immediately upon publication.
Where SRI Open Access repository Publisher’s website, plus:

  • SRI Open Access
  • Funder’s repository
Copyright Copyright usually belongs to the publisher. Usually published under a Creative  Commons (CC) licence. This sets the terms for re-use.

Most subscription journals offer a Green option, and many also offer Gold. Purely OA journals, like PLOS, offer the Gold option only.


Open access to research is encouraged by funding bodies, all of whom have relevant policy to support it.

Despite this, OA is not yet widely adopted as researchers are slow to let go of the traditional system and publishers are slow to let go of their rights and subscriptions. The debate around OA is widely and vehemently discussed online.


If you have already published a paper through a journal, is it available through OA? Use the Surrey Research Insight OA database to check. If your publication isn’t there, it might still be possible to provide OA to the research. Use the Sherpa/Romeo database to check the policies of the journal, and consult the Surrey Research Insight team to find out how to proceed.

Thing 13: Sharing research online

Videos and podcasts are a growing part of sharing information, and sharing research through presentations. In the last Thing we looked at some of the tools for making and sharing media. Now we’re going to look at applying those tools to research. We’ll explore some new tools for creating presentations, and you’ll take a look at sites like Slideshare that let you share your research and presentations online.

Presentation tools

Most of us are, by necessity, familiar with PowerPoint and/or its Apple counterpart Keynote. There are open source alternatives, although you may find they’re not always compatible in the ways you need (there’s a list at Alternative To).

Prezi is growing in popularity and offers an interesting alternative to the usual static slides you normally see. Prezi allows you to zoom, pan and layer levels of information, although these tools need to be used well in order to be effective. Instead of presenting a linear story, you can move around a storyboard, highlighting connections.

Prezi can take some getting used to, but it’s worth jumping in and giving it a try. Take some time to experiment with it and think about what it could offer to help you share your research, present a subject to students or colleagues, or create an informational or induction presentation. You can even use Prezi as a collaboration tool – it’s great for mind mapping with colleagues.

We particularly like this presentation by Ned Potter of the University of York on how to make good Prezis. As well as showing you what Prezi can do, it’s a great example of exactly that – a good Prezi: The how to make a great Prezi, Prezi on Prezi

Presentation sharing tools
In Thing 10: Finding presentations and podcasts, you had a quick look at using tools like SlideShare for finding information and presentations. Now we’d like you to think about uploading your own research or presentations to them. As a recap, we suggested the following tools:

These tools give you the opportunity to store all your research presentations or teaching material in one place. Maybe you gave a presentation at a conference, and you’d like other people to have access to it (or you’d like other people to see that you’ve been providing expert comment on the topic). Perhaps you use presentations as teaching tools, and you want your students to have access to lectures after the class. These sites bring your presentations to a much wider audience than you can ever hope to reach with handouts or even an institutional website. They also let you embed your presentations in blogs and websites.

Have a look at each site (and feel free to look at others), and pick at least one to try. If you have a presentation floating around, upload it. Many of these sites let you upload PDFs as well as PowerPoints and other formats, so you could even give your audience a guided tour of a recent research poster. If you don’t have any presentations to upload, think about when or how you might or might not use these sites.

Exploring further: Some notes on presentations in general

Since we’re on the subject, let’s talk about what makes a good presentation in general. As well as our workshops Basic Presentations Skills and Advanced Presentation Skills, and our pages on Presenting your Research on SurreyLearn, there are blog posts, courses and books galore on this.

Presentations should be engaging and interesting, and the standard bullet point format, while effective in the right context, can be the opposite of engaging.

If you’re looking to breathe life into your presentations, there are some basic things to keep in mind:

  • Cut text. Less is better.
  • Don’t read out your slides – they’re there to support what you are saying, not replace it.
  • Keep to one point per slide.
  • Use good images (studies even show that this improves retention!)

Further reading

Week 7 blog post

This week’s Things may require a lot of work, particularly if you haven’t used these tools before and want to give them a proper try. If you have used them, let us know what you thought and how they enhanced your research, teaching or other work. Do you think they can help you find new audiences for your work? If you haven’t, explore them and let us know how you think you could use them. Please do upload samples of your videos, screen captures or podcasts – real examples are always welcome!

Don’t forget to tag your post Thing 12 and Thing 13.

Thing 12: Making and sharing media

You will NOT need to make or upload a podcast or video to complete this thing, but this post should give you some idea of the tools available to do so. Please take some time to explore these tools and think about how they might be useful to you. If you’re feeling brave, we do encourage you to try them out – even if it’s only for a brief screen capture or a video to introduce yourself.

Making your own podcast or video can be fairly straightforward, and there are lots of free tools to make it easier and add bells and whistles. For now, we’ll deal separately with screencasts, which offer a video recording of action on a computer screen (with or without an audio track) and standard videos.


Screen capture tools allow you to make a video, often narrated, showing how to do something on a computer. They record your mouse as well as everything you click on and show on your screen. Screen capture is a great way for showing students, colleagues or a wider audience how to use an online tool.

There are a number of screencasting tools available, both free and for purchase. An example of this is Adobe Captivate, which has some great features, but it isn’t free. It certainly isn’t necessary to spend lots of money to make a good screencast, however, and we’ll cover a couple of free tools that do the job.

Some general tips:

  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Write a script and run through what you’ll be demonstrating in advance


Screencast-o-matic is fairly intuitive, so you can get started right away. You may want to create an account (so that you can store and keep track of your videos), and you can also watch a short demo that walks you through the recording steps.

To begin, press ‘Start recording’ on the top right. A frame will appear (make sure Java is enabled – if this is an issue then you can download an app); you can drag and resize this frame to suit your needs, and you’ll also see some options for size, etc. Once you’re ready, simply press the red button and go. If you don’t want to record anything, make sure you mute your computer’s microphone (otherwise you’ll get a lot of white noise).

When you’ve finished, press the ‘done’ button and choose where to upload your video

You can download a free version of Jing. You will get a ‘Sun Launcher’ button on your screen.

Hover over the sun and choose ‘Capture’. Click and drag to select a portion of your screen, and then release the mouse when you are happy with the image you have selected.

From here, you can do two things: 1) take a still screenshot or 2) make a video. You can annotate your screenshots with text or arrows. When you’re happy with what you’ve done, click the ‘save’ button.

Other free screencast tools:

Video and audio recordings

If you want to make an audio podcast, you just need a relatively modern computer and a microphone. Many computers have built-in mics that will do the job, although you may find that investing in an external mic is worth it for the improved sound (use a USB mic designed for the job if you want to avoid extra purchases like an external sound card). You can use any standard tool on your computer to record your sound; Windows Sound Recorder on Windows is free, and many Macs come with Garageband. You can also download a free tool like Audacity, which will also give you tools to clean your recording up a bit (this can be useful if you’ve made any mistakes or want to piece together parts from different attempts). The JISC-funded Steeple project has a great tutorial on Audacity.

If you want to do a video podcast, you’ll need a video camera. This could be a simple USB webcam or something more expensive; you can even use your smartphone. Again, you can use Windows Movie Maker or iMovie if you want to stick to free tools.

Publishing your video or screencast

You can put your video up on a video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo, and these are often the best place to start. Once you’ve uploaded a video there, it’s easy to grab a code snippet that allows you to embed your file in a blog, on WebLearn or on another website.

Other helpful notes

If you need copyright-appropriate images, clips or sounds/music to use in your podcasts, videos or presentations, there are some great search tools out there:

Further reading

Thing 11: Reference management tools

Although you may or may not consider them ‘social media’, reference management tools are one of the single most useful digital tools for a researcher today. Gone are the days of painstakingly changing each of your in-text citations to a footnote, or changing each full stop in a reference to a comma because a journal required it. Online reference management tools allow you to:

  • import references from different sources (e.g. websites, library catalogues, bibliographic databases)
  • manage and/or edit the references once they’re in the system, and add manually any references that you cannot find online
  • export references into a document, either as a single bibliography, or individually (often called ‘cite while you write’) which generates a list of references.
  • format the bibliography according the referencing style of your choice, and re-format if/when necessary

There are a number of commercial products out there, some of which you may have heard of or be familiar with. Endnote and RefWorks are two of the most common.

There is a quick how to guide for endnote here

There are also free reference management tools, and we’ll focus on those today. If you’re interested in a comparison of reference tools before you make your decision, there’s a lot of information on Wikipedia here


There are lots of reference management tools, but for this Thing we’ll look at a few of the free ones: Zotero, Mendeley and Colwiz. If you’re not already using a reference management tool for your writing, we encourage you to try out one of these tools (or give RefWorks or Endnote a go). If you don’t feel that you need to store or manage references at the moment, we still encourage you to read about the tools and explore their sites to get an idea of when they might be useful.

Zotero is an open source tool that started as a plug-in for Mozilla Firefox but is now available as a standalone application compatible with the Firefox, Chrome and Safari. It’s free to use, although there are premium options available for a subscription fee. You will need to install Zotero Standalone if you wish to use Zotero to add citations to documents in Microsoft Word.

Zotero provides a great quick start guide on its documentation page, and Sharon Howard has built a Zotero Wiki resource for a British Library course. In addition to the standard import/export tools, you can also attach files or notes to references, sync multiple computers with your account, add items by ISBN or DOI, and assign collections or tags to your items to help you organise them. Zotero also offers mobile apps.

Zotero takes advantage of its syncing and online capabilities to offer social networking; you can create groups and share your reference lists with others.

Mendeley also requires you to create an account and download the programme, but it’s a desktop feature that avoids the issue of browser compatibility. Like Zotero, Mendeley offers a free version as well as the option to pay for premium features. Take a look at its getting started videos to get a feel for how it works.

Mendeley offers some great tools beyond the basics. If you are starting with a great deal of files you want to organise (rather than researching from scratch), you can pull data from your computer into Mendeley. You can also use Mendeley’s PDF editor to annotate your PDF articles. Like Zotero, you can sync your account across various computers and the cloud. There’s also an iPad/iPhone app.

Like Zotero, you can share your references with others. Mendeley takes this one step further by allowing you to set up a closed group and share full-text articles.

Colwiz focuses on collaborative work as well as reference management. Although not exclusively for scientists, it takes a scientific focus and offers support for referencing in LaTex as well as Word and Open Office.

Colwiz also offers desktop and web-based services, although some features are only available on the desktop version. Colwiz’s real strengths come in its collaborative tools. It has features to help manage team schedules and tasks, including slightly more sophisticated groups, personal and shared calendars, team task management and more. Users can also set up research profiles (much like a Facebook or similar profile) and add contacts.

Exploring further

Try using one of these tools to add citations and build a reference list for a short paper. Can you import your references? Try changing the reference style after you’ve started.

Week 6 blog post

This week we’d like you to talk about one of the resources you found while exploring Things 9, 10 and 11.

Perhaps it was a Wikipedia page, or a podcast, a MOOC or some reference management software. Now that you’ve read about and ideally played with one or more of these tools, tell us how you think you might use them in your own work. If you already use these tools or similar ones, let us know how they work for you.

Don’t forget to tag your post Thing 9, Thing 10 and Thing 11


Thing 10: Finding presentations and podcasts

Broadcasts, lectures and other information formats such as slideshows are available online more than ever before, and they can be an important and useful source of information for your own current awareness as well as for your teaching and research.

Podcasts are a great way to make available things like a series of talks, course lectures or training update videos. Podcasts are audio – or increasingly video – files broadcasted online (for example, recordings of radio programmes, lectures, readings, drama, interviews or music). You can usually listen to or view a podcast online, but they can also be downloaded, and you can usually subscribe to a series of podcasts via RSS so that it automatically downloads to your computer or mobile device (iTunes makes this easy).

Podcasts aren’t the only way to put presentations online, however; sites like Slideshare allow users to post presentations of all sorts. YouTube can also be a treasure trove of quality information.


1. Find some podcasts, and pick one or two to subscribe to. Some places to start:

  1. Browse for presentations in your area of interest on Slideshare(or alternatives such as Note & Pointand Speaker Deck.
  2. Investigate research and presentation material on YouTube. Try the TEDTalks channel, or course highlights from MIT.

Exploring further

Presentations and podcasts can serve as a great tool for expanding or updating your interests, however online learning has now evolved to the point where it is possible to receive semi-formal education in any topic, for free, from anywhere in the world. Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs, are extremely popular and well respected. These highly interactive courses take place in a virtual classroom and can even have homework.

In fact, The New York Times called 2012 ‘the year of the MOOC’ as this was the year when some of the biggest providers were first established, namely Coursera, Udacity, and Future Learn.



Have a look at Coursera’s list of courses. Take note of the range of subjects offered and the varying depths of specific knowledge. Also note the course providers – some highly respected institutions in there, tutoring people for free!

Have you spotted any courses that might be valuable for you or your research? Perhaps there are courses that might improve your employability?