SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service over the past week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Brunel University (01 Sep 14)
  • Cardiff University (29 Aug 14)
  • CONSER (10 Sep 14)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (12 Sep 14)
  • Exeter University (05 Sep 14)
  • Glasgow University (04 Sep 14)
  • The London Library (04 Sep 14)
  • Royal College of Nursing (02 Sep 14)
  • Royal Society (08 Sep 14)
  • Royal Society of Medicine (05 Sep 14)
  • Southampton University (14 Sep 14)
  • St Andrews University (5th Sep 14)
  • Swansea University (15 Sep 14)
  • University College London (08 Sep 14)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

Follow Up to Repository Fringe 2014

It has now been about a month since Repository Fringe 2014 and we wanted to bring you a somewhat belated follow up post to share presentations and other resources with you. Firstly though a huge thank you to all who joined us at the end of July for two days of all things repository. It was brilliant to have our biggest ever turn out this year! We had a great time and we hope you did too!

Image of Round Table Discussions at RepoFringe 2014

Round Table Discussions at RepoFringe 2014


Throughout the event we endeavored to blog as many sessions as possible. You can find these in our LiveBlog Day One and LiveBlog Day Two. You can also find links to specific sessions within the Programme page – where you will also find links to most of the Slides and, where available, Owen Stephen’s blog posts on the event (thanks Owen!).

Image of Participants talking at Repository Fringe 2014

Participants talk at Repository Fringe 2014

During RepoFringe 2014 we were also out and about taking pictures. You can find all of these – and add your own if you would like – in our Flickr Group. If you are/have written a post or article on your own travels to Repository fringe you are more than welcome to use any of the images uploaded by our RepoFringe account as they are all shared under Creative Commons licenses.

Your Blogs and Tweets

You were brilliant throughout Repository Fringe 2014 contributing to the event, tweeting magnificently and, in some cases, also blogging your own experiences. You can view all of the key tweets and updates in the Storify we have created, tracking discussion and articles about the event. You can also see Adam Field‘s excellent tag cloud by clicking on the image below.

Adam Field / @Godbfrey tweets his World of the #rfringe14 tweets

Stephanie Taylor, ULCC, wrote about her trip to Repository Fringe, and highlighted her colleague Rory McNicholl’s participation in the winning Developer Challenge entry from the Repository Linter Team in this blog post on the ULCC Digital Archives Blog.

The full team for Repository Linter was Richard Wincewicz, Paul Mucur and Rory McNicholl and you can access their code here on GitHub. They did a great job but did have stiff competition in the Challenge from Are We There Yetttt?, a team composed of Miggie Picton, Marta Riberiro and Adam Field. Our Developer Challenge was sponsored by the lovely people at the Software Sustainability Institute who are running their AGM and Hackday in London this week. For more details on what they do and upcoming events take a look at the SSI website.

Image of The Developer Challenge Teams at RepoFringe 2014

The Developer Challenge Teams at RepoFringe 2014

Sarah Fahmy at the Jisc Open Access Good Practice project blogged about the team’s time at RepoFringe on their project blog. Meanwhile David Young at the Jisc-ARMA OA Good Practice Pathfinder Project wrote about his own, and his colleague Ellen Cole’s adventures at the event on the project blog and on the Northumbria Research Support blog.

Clair Waller blogged about Repository Fringe 2014 – sharing a “Part 3″ post on the Jisc End-to-End Open Access Process Review and Improvements project blog, to compliment our Live Blog posts. And Jackie Proven, from the Open Access support team at St Andrews, blogged about her team’s experience at the Fringe in “Open Access at the Fringe“.

Other Useful Resources

A number of useful URLs were circulated on Twitter around the event.We’ve captured a few of our favourites, and added additional access to our Twitter archives for Repository Fringe 2014.

Thank You!

We’ve have tried to collect up all of the relevant blog posts, slides and resources for this post but if we’d missed yours out just let us know and we’ll be happy to update this post! We would also be happy to share your own reflections or follow up posts to this year’s event, just get in touch to let us know.

Huge thanks again to all who came along to Repository Fringe 2014, and to all of you who completed our feedback survey which we will use to help us shape future events. If you have any other feedback do leave a comment here on the blog or drop us an email, we’d love to hear your comments and ideas!

Image of Repository Fringe participants networking

Lovely Repository Fringe participants networking at coffee on Day One

SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service over the past week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Bristol University (04 Sep 14)
  • London Business School (02 Sep 14)
  • NERC: Natural Environment Research Council (01 Sep 14)
  • Nottingham University (02 Sep 14)
  • Robert Gordon University (01 Sep 14)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

Sign up for the new COBWEB Newsletter!

Image of the first COBWEB newsletter released July 2014

Earlier this summer we were delighted to release our first COBWEB: Citizen Observatory Web newsletter. Our first issue included updates on the COBWEB's recent work with schools, an update on our new co-design projects with community groups around the Dyfi Biosphere, as well as the latest updates and events attended by the team. 

You can view the newsletter online or you can subscribe to receive future COBWEB newsletters by email.

We are very happy for anyone to sign up for our newsletter - whether based in one of the UNESCO Biospheres in Wales, Greece of Germany or not. We would also welcome your feedback on this first newsletter - what would you like to see more of (or less of)? Are their particular aspects of the project you would like to see highlighted in the newsletter or hear on the website? Do let us know by emailing us:



Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 13:30
Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome to the new Statistical Accounts of Scotland blog

Welcome to the first post on the new Statistical Accounts of Scotland Blog. My name is Helen Aiton, and I am the User Support Manager for EDINA, based at the University of Edinburgh. I’m also a member of the Statistical Accounts of Scotland Editorial Board, which means I help to steer the development of the Statistical Accounts of Scotland service. I’ve been a huge fan of the Accounts since I started doing that back in 2001.

In this blog I will give a brief outline of how the Old Statistical Accounts came about – future posts will draw out more of what is in these Accounts, The New Statistical Accounts and will feature guest posts from those who regularly use the Accounts including academics. Please get in touch with us if you would like to share your own guest post on your experiences, thoughts, or personal highlights from the Accounts.

Painting of Sir John Sinclair

Portrait of Sir John Sinclair.

In the late 18th century – a decade before the first modern census of Great Britain – Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, MP for Caithness, decided he’d undertake the modest challenge of recording the agricultural and social statistics for the whole of Scotland. And, although he’d been inspired by German statistics gathering, he definitely had his own idea of what “statistics” might mean:

the idea I annex to the term is an inquiry into the state of a country, for the purpose of ascertaining the quantum of happiness enjoyed by its inhabitants, and the means of its future improvement; but as I thought that a new word might attract more public attention, I resolved on adopting it, and I hope it is now completely naturalised and incorporated with our language.

In order to gather data on every part of Scotland for his comparative analysis of physical, economic and social life, Sir John wrote to the ministers in every one of the 938 parishes asking them to complete a survey for him. A pretty ambitious survey too… 160 questions… plus an additional 6 in the addendum and then 5 additional questions in his follow up letter about schools, alehouses, housing, employment and jails… A total of 171 questions!

Sir John Sinclair, Extract from the first letter to clergy, 25th May 1790:

… In many parts of the Continent, more particularly in Germany, Statistical Inquiries, as they are called, have been carried to a very great extent; but in no country, it is believed, can they be brought to such perfection as in Scotland, which boasts of an ecclesiastical establishment, whose members will yield to no description of men, for public zeal, as well as for private virtue, for intelligence, and for ability…

Not everyone replied promptly to Sir John’s first request… This is the fifteenth circular letter to the non-responding clergy date April 1797:

I AM very much disappointed, at not having hitherto received the Statistical Account of your parish. There are very few now deficient, and you cannot imagine the bad effect which the want of those must have, in the opinion of many who are perpetually inquiring, whether the Statistical Account of Scotland is, or is not, completed? It is unnecessary for me, I am persuaded, to urge you more upon the subject. You may easily judge of my impatience and anxiety about it, when I can think about any literary matter at so busy a time in Parliament as this.

I remain, with esteem, your faithful and obedient servant, JOHN SINCLAIR.

And finally by July 1797 the six remaining errant clergy receive a letter from Whitehall in red ink…

SIR JOHN SINCLAIR presents his compliments to

He sets out for Scotland next week, and will be much disappointed indeed, if he has not the pleasure of finding the Statistical Account of                      ready for him; as, on his arrival, he must bring the Work to an immediate conclusion. There are now only six deficient parishes; and from the Draconian colour of his ink, any Statistical delinquent may fee, what the rear rank has to look for. Sat sapienti

Sir John published individual volumes of the parish accounts as the returns came in over the years. Eventually in 1799 – some 9 years after his first requests went out – Sir John had collected twenty-one huge volumes of data about Scotland, its people, its agriculture, its “quantum of happiness”. About 13,000 pages!

Image of Volumes from the Statistical Accounts of Scotland

Volumes from the Statistical Accounts of Scotland.

The accounts contained so much more than “facts”. There were statistics like the price of sheep; numbers of births, deaths and marriages; records of flora and fauna; and measures of the number of fishermen, labouring servants, Jews and “negros” but it also included rich accounts of daily life of ordinary people in each parish, local history and folklore.

The returns Sir John collected depend on how the minister interpreted the questions. All of the survey responses are seen through the eyes of the minister and so there’s a lot of opinion and judgement there too… and the accounts were edited before publication as well…

The next post will consider Sir John’s questions and show how they shaped the general structure of each of the Parish reports. Here is a one of the more unusual questions

  • Question 151: Are the people of the country remarkable for strength, size, complexion, or any other personal or mental qualities

How would you answer that question? And how has your Parish changed since the Old Accounts? We would like to hear your thoughts on your “parish” in the comments below.

If you are looking up your own (or perhaps an ancestor’s) parish remember that anyone can access the Statistical Accounts Online service from anywhere in the world. You can browse images of the pages for free, or you can subscribe to access full transcripts and a wealth of useful additional features and related resources. To find out more you can watch me giving an introduction to the service in this video:

Click here to view the embedded video.


Meeting the Author

The literary city of Edinburgh has its own, distinctive and well known, psychological profile. The relations between its various districts reveal it, as does the array of prospects with which the inhabitant or visitor is so often greeted. Stuart Kelly, in his book Scott-Land, has put it well:

The poet Hugh MacDiarmid referred to Edinburgh as a ‘mad god’s dream’. It exemplified antisyzygy, his preferred creative term, meaning a ‘zigzag of contradictions’… The Edinburgh I walk through each day is part Piranesi, part Peter Greenaway. I can’t tire of its soaring bridges that never cross water, its Tetris blocks of Gothic tenements framed in classical Palladian arches, its tug-of-war between secret vennels and stately locked doors.

Edinburgh’s centre is riven, bifurcated: on one hand, the vertiginous, overlapping, haphazard, medieval Old Town, and on the other, the geometric, unfolded, planned, neoclassical New Town.

This profile gives the city something like its own mental world, its own personality – a complicated one, naturally enough, perhaps even one in need of analysis or treatment, but a clear character. It’s almost like you can know the place as you know a person.


But at the same time the city has been imagined and rewritten by so many writers who have loomed almost as large in their readers’ minds as their books – Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark, Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, to name only some of the most prominent. These strong authorial personalities have drawn our attention, too, and coloured our sense of the city they animate in their writing. Part of the point of Palimpsest is to allow us to explore and compare the cityscapes of individual writers, as well as the way in which literary works cultivate the personality of the city as a whole.

So how good would it be if you could somehow come face to face with one of the most influential of these formative authors, whose depictions of the city established a precedent and example against which all their successors are measured? Well, a fantastic collaboration between Palimpsest, the UNESCO World City of Literature Trust and Artemis Scotland allowed us to try this experiment out before an enthusiastic audience at the Reading the City event, part of last month’s Edinburgh International Book Festival.

IMG_4616-800x600   Image of Sir Walther Scott's participant badge at the Book Festival

After reading some evocative extracts from works set in Edinburgh, James Robertson, one of the finest chroniclers of contemporary Scotland, had the chance to put a series of searching questions to Sir Walter Scott – who had unexpectedly returned from the beyond to mark the bicentenary of the publication of Waverley in 1814. Their exchange took in topics including the Edinburgh of Scott’s life and times, the nature of his celebrity, and (with a little poetic or historical licence) his views on the monument erected in his honour and the current debate around Scotland’s constitutional future. It was great to witness this interaction across two centuries of literary history, made all the more intriguing by the knowledge that James Robertson undertook a PhD on Scott some years ago!

Image of James Robertson interviewing "Sir Walter Scott" at the Reading the City Event.

James Robertson interviews “Sir Walter Scott” at the Reading the City Event.

Sir Walter enjoyed his time in Edinburgh so much that he’ll be returning to meet more of the city’s inhabitants and visitors at the Playfair Library in the University’s Old College during Edinburgh’s Doors Open Days on 27 and 28 September. And this time he’ll be accompanied by another of Scotland’s fine complement of nineteenth century authors, so make sure you don’t miss the chance to come face to face with a couple of the authors of this most literary of cities.

Sir Walter also took time out of his busy festival schedule to give Summerhall TV an exclusive interview on his take on modern Scotland and the upcoming Scottish Referendum:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Related resources

New release of Research Data MANTRA (Management Training) online course

The Research Data MANTRA course is an open, online training course that provides instruction in good practice in research data management. There are eight interactive learning units on key topics such as data management planning, organising and formatting data, using shared data and licensing your own data, as well as four data handling tutorials with open datasets for use in R, SPSS, NVivo and ArcGIS.

This fourth release of MANTRA has been revised and systematically updated with new content, videos, reading lists, and interactive quizzes. Three of the data handling tutorials have been rewritten and tested for newer software versions too.

New content in the online learning modules with the September, 2014 release:

  • New video footage from previous interviewees and introducing Richard Rodger, Professor of Economic and Social History and Stephen Lawrie, Professor of Psychiatry & Neuro-Imaging
  • Big Data now in Research Data Explained
  • Data citation and ‘reproducible research’ added to Documentation and Metadata
  • Safe password practice and more on encryption in Storage and Security
  • Refined information about the DPA and IPR in Data Protection, Rights and Access
  • Linked Open Data and CC 4.0 and CC0 now covered in Sharing, Preservation & Licensing

MANTRA home pageThis release will also be more stable and more accessible due to back-end enhancements. The flow of the learning units and usability of quizzes have been improved based on testing and feedback. We have simplified our feedback form and added a four-star rating button to the home page. A YouTube playlist for each unit is available on the Data Library channel.

MANTRA was originally created with funding from Jisc and is maintained by EDINA and Data Library, a division of Information Services, University of Edinburgh. It is an integral part of the University’s Research Data Management Programme and is designed to be modular and self-paced for maximum convenience; it is a non-assessed training course targeted at postgraduate research students and early career researchers.

Data management skills enable researchers to better organise, document, store and share data, making research more reproducible and preserving it for future use. Researchers in 144 countries used MANTRA last year, which is available without registration from the website. Postgraduate training organisations in the UK, Canada, and Australia have used the Creative Commons licensed material in the Jorum repository to create their own training. The website also hosts a ‘training kit’ for librarians wishing to increase their skills in supporting Research Data Management.

Visit MANTRA and consider recommending it to your colleagues and research students this term!

Usage Statistics

According to Google Analytics, the following organisation’s websites were the top ten referrers to the MANTRA website for the academic year 2013-2014 (discounting Data Library, EDINA and Information Services):

  • Institute for Academic Development, University of Edinburgh
  • LIS Links (India)
  • Digital Curation Centre
  • eScience Portal for New England Libraries at University of Massachusetts Medical Library
  • Oxford University
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA)
  • Carleton University (Canada)
  • Glasgow University
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • Jisc

Social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Slideshare provided a large number of referrals; several more came from other UK institutions, and HEIs in Australia, the rest of Europe, and North America—University Library pages especially. Forty percent of sessions came  from a referring website.

Visitors to MANTRA over the year came from 144 countries. Google searches accounted for 4,000 sessions, 25% of the total. Nearly ten thousand visits were from new users (based on IP addresses) over the year from 22nd August, 2013 – 23rd August, 2014. Here is a link to a Google Analytics summary spreadsheet extracted from our account.

We expect to have more detailed usage statistics over the forthcoming year due to moving the learning units out of the authoring software (Xerte Online Toolkits) onto the main MANTRA website.

Postscript, 15 Sept: See my Storify story, “Research Data MANTRA Buzz” to find out who’s been talking about MANTRA on twitter!

Robin Rice
Data Librarian




SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service over the past week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • British Library (29 Aug 14)
  • Cambridge University (01 Sep 14)
  • CONSER (03 Sep 14)
  • Kent University (01 Sep 14)
  • King’s College London (01 Sep 14)
  • Leeds University (29 Aug 14)
  • London Metropolitan University (27 Aug 14)
  • National Library of Scotland (01 Sep 14)
  • Queen’s University Belfast (28 Aug 14)
  • Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (01 Sep 14)
  • Southampton University (31 Aug 14)
  • Strathclyde University (27 Aug 14)
  • Trinity College Dublin (26 Aug 14)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

Free September training sessions

Darren Bailey from Ordnance Survey has begun a new tour of English schools to run teacher training events providing hands on training in Digimap for Schools.

The first event in Hatfield yesterday (1st Sept) had a great turn out of keen teachers, eager to get to grips with the service.

Teacher training in Hatfield

Teacher training in Hatfield

Upcoming events will be held in:

  • 15-9 Lancaster
  • 16-9 Aldershot
  • 18-9 Manchester
  • 22-9 North Cheam
  • 23-9 West Drayton
  • 29-9 Appley Bridge
  • 30-9 Dewsbury

If you would like to find out more information about one of these events, please contact Darren -



SUNCAT feature library: Institution of Civil Engineers

This is the seventh in the series of guest posts written by one of SUNCAT’s Contributing Libraries. This month, Annette Ruehlmann, Librarian at the Institution of Civil Engineers, writes about the library and its serials collection.


The Institution of Civil Engineers was founded in 1818 by a small group of idealistic young men and granted a royal charter in 1828 where it declared that its aim was to “foster and promote the art and science of civil engineering”.

The Library was founded in 1819 when the first periodicals were purchased and books presented, including the personal library of the Institution’s first president, Thomas Telford. Located on the first floor of the ICE headquarters at One Great George Street, the ICE Library collection was designated as being of outstanding national importance by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. With over 130,000 titles, the ICE Library is the largest single resource in Civil Engineering in the world.

Interior of the Institution of Civil Engineers Library

Inside the Institution of Civil Engineers Library. (© Institution of Civil Engineers Library)

Its serials collection spans the globe, with titles in over 30 languages, and dates from the seventeenth century to the present, covering all aspects of civil engineering and related sciences. It includes, for example, not only a complete set of the ICE’s own publications but lengthy runs of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London and of the Franklin Institute Journal, along with important nineteenth century and twentieth century technical periodicals such as The Engineer and Concrete and Constructional Engineering.

In total, the Library holds over 5000 periodical titles and technical report series and subscribes to approximately 300 current journals. A similar number are received under an exchange programme with engineering organisations from all over the world – a unique collection in the UK.

Some print journals found in ICE Library

Some of the print journals you can find in the Institution of Civil Engineers Library. (© Institution of Civil Engineers Library)

Recently the Library has increasingly moved to electronic provision, with the digitisation of the Institution’s proceedings and subscription to electronic access where possible. Over three hundred journals are taken in this form, with access to many more through the databases to which the Library subscribes. These expand the library’s provision to the newer related sciences in the environment and ecology, as well as to legal and management titles.

You are welcome to visit the Library & Archive in person or request photocopies or PDFs either directly or through the British Library interlibrary/document supply scheme.


SUNCAT would like to thank Annette for writing this post. If you would like to write a post on your SUNCAT Contributing Library and its serials collections please let us know.