Aerial Digimap data: The mapping service where it’s always sunny

The latest Digimap addition is aerial photo images, covering the whole of Great Britain to 25cm precision. The University of Edinburgh has just subscribed to Aerial Digimap, so the great news is that staff and students can now access these wonderful images, overlay them onto other map layers, and combine them with building height and topology data to make amazing and beautiful three-dimensional maps of the whole of Britain.

Map created using Aerial Digimap

I’ve used Aerial Digimap to label the entrance to Argyle House, home of EDINA. © GetMapping and University of Edinburgh. This map contains OS data.

Digimap is a visual interface that allows users to explore, annotate and download mapping data covering the whole of Great Britain.* Digimap’s historical map data go back as far as the 1840s, while geological, marine and environmental data have been available for some time.

It’s strikingly sunny in the images of Edinburgh. The Digimap team confirmed this is a UK-wide phenomenon: “Aerial Photography can only be captured on clear days, so it’s always sunny in Aerial Roam!”

You can watch a guided tour of Aerial Digimap’s features and a demonstration of how to make the most of them by EDINA’s Ian Holmes in this recently recorded webinar: 

Click here to view the embedded video.


To get started with Aerial Digimap, login with your EASE account at:

* For mapping data covering Northern Ireland, please see Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.


Pauline Ward is a Research Data Service Assistant based at EDINA, supporting staff and students at the University of Edinburgh


Highlights from the RDM Programme Progress Report: May to July 2016

The following key results were highlighted in the RDM Programme Progress Report:

  • There were 42 new users and 69 data management plans created with DMPOnline.
  • An additional 1.5PB has been procured for DataStore’s general capacity expansions.
  • The Roslin Institute has deposited 16 datasets into Data Vault.
  • DataShare upload release (2.1) went live on 23 May 2016.
  • There are now 334 dataset records in PURE, an increase of 124 records from the last reporting period (February to April 2016).
  • 54 datasets have been deposited into DataShare.
  • The University of Edinburgh was recommended as a preferred supplier on the Framework for the Research Data Management Shared Services for Jisc Services Ltd (JSL) for the following Lots:
  • Lot 2: Repository Interfaces
  • Lot 3: Data Exchange Interface
  • Lot 6: Research Data Preservation Tools Development
  • Lot 8: User Experience Enhancements
  • A total of 390 staff and postgraduates attended RDM courses and workshops during this quarter.
  • A total of 3,649 learners enrolled for the 5-week RDMS MOOC rolling course from March through July, 2016 and a total of 461 people completed the course in the same time frame.
  • There were 5,198 MANTRA sessions recorded from May to July with 58 to 60 percent identified as new users.
  • Set up an RDM Forum in collaboration with College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) Research Officer and Research Outputs Co-ordinator. The first RDM forum is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 September 2016.

Data Management Planning highlights

We currently hold sample data management plans for grant applications submitted to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

 Active Data Infrastructure highlights


An additional 1.5PB has been procured for general capacity expansions. This capacity will primarily be deployed to the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) and the College of Science & Engineering (CSE).

MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine (IGMM) has purchased an additional 1.2PB of capacity, and this is now deployed in their dedicated file system.

Data Stewardship highlights


The large data sharing investigation was completed for DataShare and reported previously. Upload release (2.1) went live on 23 May 2016. Download release planned following ‘embargo release’ and ShareGeo spatial data migration.

Data Vault

There was a soft release of Data Vault in February 2016, with the Roslin Institute depositing 16 datasets during this quarter.


There are now 334 dataset records in PURE, an increase of 124 records from the last reporting period (February to April 2016).

Research Data Discovery Service (RDDS)

Two PhD interns are working on School engagement activities (dataset records into PURE / datasets into DataShare) for Divinity & Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine; contracts end 16 September 2016. One PhD intern retrospectively added DataShare metadata to PURE for data deposits prior to PURE Data Catalogue functionality; contract to end 16 September 2016. A fourth PhD intern (to work with School of Informatics) is awaiting for approval.

Data Management Support highlights

A total of 390 staff and postgraduates attended RDM courses and workshops during this quarter.

Other related research data management support activities to highlight

  • A talk was given ‘Understanding and overcoming challenges to sharing personal and sensitive data’ at the ReCon (Research Communication and Data Visualisation) Conference, 24th June 2016, The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI).
  • ‘Working with sensitive data in research’ guide was written for research staff and students in social sciences.
  • Another guide is being written on ‘Sharing and retaining data’ for research staff and students in social sciences.
  • Set up an RDM Forum in collaboration with College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) Research Officer and Research Outputs Co-ordinator. The first RDM forum is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 September 2016.

Other activities to highlight

The outcome of Jisc RDM Shared Services bid that was submitted in March 2016

The Procurement Panel has recommended University of Edinburgh as a preferred supplier on the Framework for the Research Data Management Shared Services for Jisc Services Ltd (JSL) for the following Lots:

  • Lot 2: Repository Interfaces
  • Lot 3: Data Exchange Interface
  • Lot 6: Research Data Preservation Tools Development
  • Lot 8: User Experience Enhancements

Unfortunately, the Procurement Panel has decided not to recommend University of Edinburgh for the following Lots:

  • Lot 1: Research Data Repository
  • Lot 4: Research Information and Administration Systems Integrations

National and International Engagement Activities

From May to June

Stuart Macdonald and Rocio von Jungenfeld ran three workshops for the IS Innovation Fund project, Data-X: Pioneering Research Data Exhibition, with PhD students from across the University. Introduction to Data-X: Pioneering Research Data Exhibition

In June

Stuart Macdonald presented peer-reviewed presentation to IASSIST conference, Bergen: Supporting the development of a national Research Data Discovery Service – a Pilot Project

Robin Rice presented a poster at Open Repositories 2016, Dublin: Data Curation Lifecycle Management at the University of Edinburgh

Pauline Ward presented a lightning talk at Open Repositories 2016, Dublin:  Growing Open Data: Making the sharing of XXL-sized research data files online a reality, using Edinburgh DataShare

Stuart Macdonald was an invited speaker at NFAIS (National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services) Fostering Open Science Virtual Seminar: NFAIS Fostering Open Science Virtual Seminar

In July

Robin Rice gave two presentations (invited and peer-reviewed) at LIBER 2016, Helsinki: University of Edinburgh RDM Training: MANTRA & beyond; Designing and delivering an international MOOC on Research Data Management and Sharing

Robin Rice filled in for Stuart Lewis as invited speaker for JISC-CNI 2016, London: Managing active research in the University of Edinburgh

This is the last quarterly report as the Research Data Management (RDM) Roadmap Project (August 2012 to July 2016) came to a close on 31 July 2016.

There will be discussions with the RDM Steering Group to decide how future reporting will be conducted. These reports will be released on the Research Data Blog as well.

Tony Mathys
Research Data Management Service Co-ordinator



Research Data Management (RDM) Forum

RDM Forum is a newly created platform to bring together both researchers and research & IT support staff from across the University whose role involves helping academics in managing their research data. The aim of the Forum is to share good practice, exchange experiences as well as discuss current and future challenges related to data curation, preservation and publishing. We hope that the Forum will allow its participants to learn from one another and gain a new perspective on some common issues.

The Forum takes the form of meetings as well as e-mail updates (done through the RDM Forum mailing list) and an online platform (SharePoint website) for sharing useful resources, engaging with each other and keeping up-to-date with recent developments in RDM.

The first meeting took place on 7th December 2016. There were 24 in attendance and participants had the opportunity to introduce themselves, ask questions, and provide their expectations and suggestions for future RDM Forum meetings, which have been summarised below:

  • Overcoming challenges:
    • Supporting academic engagement
    • Going beyond funder requirements
    • Engagement beyond training
    • Avoiding last-minute arrangements
    • Addressing concerns about data sharing and reuse
  • Finding solutions that will work
    • Early training
    • Establishing workflows for standard processes
    • Developing an Information Governance structure for data
    • Sharing real-life scenarios
  • Forum structure
    • Forming several user groups focused on specific aspects of RDM
    • Organising meetings around specific themes
    • Updates from Research Data Service team
    • Forum as a platform for training
    • Forum to meet every two months at different locations

If you are interested in joining the Forum mailing list you can do so at:
RDM Forum SharePoint website (access by request) is available at:

Cuna Ekmekcioglu
Senior Research Data Officer


Highlights from the RDM Programme Progress Report: February to April 2016

The membership of the Research Data Service Virtual Team across four divisions of IS was confirmed and met for the first time (to replace the former action group meetings) on 11 February where it was agreed meetings would be held approximately every six weeks for information and decision-making.

In February, the DataShare metadata was mapped to the PURE metadata and staff in L&UC and Data Library trained each other for creating dataset records in Pure and reviewing submissions in DataShare. It was agreed that staff would create records in Pure for items deposited in DataShare until the company (Elsevier) provides a mechanism for automatically inputting records into Pure.

In March, Jisc announced that the University of Edinburgh was selected as a framework supplier for their new Research Data Management Shared Service.

A review of the existing ethics processes in each college is in progress with Jacqueline McMahon at the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) to create a University-wide ethics template. There is also engagement with the School ethics committees at the School of Health in Social Sciences (HiSS), Moray House School of Education (MHSE), Law and School of Social and Political Science (SPS) in CAHSS.

The Research Data Management and Sharing (RDMS) Coursera MOOC opened for enrolment on 1 March 2016. This was completed in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill CRADLE project. Research Data Management and Sharing (RDMS) MOOC stats from the Coursera Dashboard reveal that as of 23 May 2016, there have been 5,429 visitors and 1,526 active learners; 335 visitors have completed the course.

The large data sharing investigation was completed for DataShare and reported previously. (Two new releases in DataShare defined: upload and download). Upload release (2.1) to go live 23 May 2016.

PURE dataset functionality is now included in standard PURE and Research Data Management (RDM) training. There are now 210 dataset records in PURE.

Four PhD interns were hired in mid-March to act as College representatives for the IS Innovation Fund Pioneering Research Data Exhibition. They will be employed until mid-December 2016.

A total of 363 staff and postgraduates attended RDM courses and workshops during this quarter.

There were 30 new DMPonline users and 55 new plans created during this quarter.

There are now 210 dataset metadata records in PURE.

A total of 56 datasets were deposited in DataShare during this quarter.

The total number of DataStore users rose from 12,948 in the previous quarter to 13,239 in this quarter, an increase of 291 new users.

National and International Engagement Activities

In February

  • Stuart Lewis gave a DataVault presentation at the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC) in Amsterdam.

In March

  • A University news item was released to mark the launch of the Research Data Management and Sharing (RDMS) MOOC on Coursera.
  • Stuart MacDonald gave an RDM presentation to trainee physicians at the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh Course: Critical appraisal and research for trainees, Edinburgh.
  • Three delegates from Göttingen University were hosted here. The delegates have shared interests in RDM and visited to gain more insight into RDM support and experiences here.
  • Robin Rice gave an invited talk about the RDMS MOOC and web-based Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) tool to Learning, Teaching and Web and elearning@Ed Showcase and Network monthly gathering.

In April

As part of my responsibilities to cover the one year interim of Kerry Miller’s maternity leave, I will be writing blogs for this page until Kerry returns next summer.

Prior to this post, I worked the past 12 years as the geospatial metadata co-ordinator at EDINA. My primary role was to promote and support research data management and sharing amongst UK researchers and students using spatial data and geographical information.

Tony Mathys
Research Data Management Service Co-ordinator


Highlights from the RDM Programme Progress Report: November 2015 – January 2016

Data Seal of Approval have awarded DataShare Trusted Repository status their assessment of our service can be read at In addition a major new release of DataShare was completed in November, this makes the code open in Github as well as making general improvements to the look and feel of the website.

The ‘interim’ DataVault is now in final testing and will be rolled out on a request basis to those researchers who can demonstrate an urgent need to use the service now rather than waiting until the final version is ready later this year. The phase three funding for development of the DataVault has been received from Jisc, this runs from March to August, so the final version should be ready for launch sometime after this.  The project was presented at the International Digital Curation Conference in February 2016.

Over the three month period a total of 328 staff and PGR™s have attended a RDM course or workshop.

Work on the MANTRA MOOC is expected to be finalised in February and launched on 1st March, at the following URL:

Continue reading

New MOOC! Research Data Management and Sharing

[Guest post from Dr. Helen Tibbo, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill]

The School of Information and Library Science and the Odum Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the MANTRA team at the University of Edinburgh are pleased to announce the forthcoming Coursera MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Research Data Management and Sharing.

CaptureThis is a collaboration of the UNC-CH CRADLE team (Curating Research Assets and Data Using Lifecycle Education) and MANTRA. CRADLE has been funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop training for both researchers and library professionals. MANTRA was designed as a prime resource for postgraduate training in research data management skills and is used by learners worldwide.

The MOOC uses the Coursera on-demand format to provide short, video-based lessons and assessments across a five-week period, but learners can proceed at their own pace. Although no formal credit is assigned for the MOOC, Statements of Accomplishment will be available to any learner who completes a course for a small fee.

The Research Data Management and Sharing MOOC will launch 1st March, 2016, and enrolment is open now. Subjects covered in the 5-week course follow the stages of any research project. They are:

  • Understanding Research Data
  • Data Management Planning
  • Working with Data
  • Sharing Data
  • Archiving Data

Dr. Helen Tibbo from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill delivers four of the five sets of lessons, and Sarah Jones, Digital Curation Centre, delivers the University of Edinburgh-developed content in Week 3 (Working with Data). Quizzes and supplementary videos add to the learning experience, and assignments are peer reviewed by fellow learners, with questions and answers handled by peers and team teachers in the forum.

Staff from both organizations will monitor the learning forums and the peer-reviewed assignments to make sure learners are on the right track, and to watch for adjustments needed in course content.

The course is open to enrolment now, and will ‘go live’ on 1st March.

Hashtag: #RDMSmooc

A preview of one of the supplementary videos is now available on Youtube:

Please join us in this data adventure.

Dr. Helen R. Tibbo, Alumni Distinguished Professor
President, 2010-2011 & Fellow, Society of American Archivists
School of Information and Library Science
201 Manning Hall, CB#3360
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3360
Tel: 919-962-8063
Fax: 919-962-8071


Highlights from the RDM Programme Progress Report: August – October 2015

The RDM Roadmap 2.0 has been completed, approved, and published online and work has started on achieving the deliverables. A copy of the Roadmap is publicly available on the RDM webpages and can be downloaded from

The RDM Services brochure has now been published in both paper and electronic form and is proving very popular with researchers. The electronic version can be downloaded from

Work on DataVault is progressing well and an interim DataVault service is now nearly complete. The Software Sustainability Institute has worked with the DataVault team to road test the interim solution, as a result some optimisations to the process were identified and are being coded up. DataVault user events have been held in both Manchester and Edinburgh, both events were well attended and the general impression of the current DataVault functionality was positive. Further, round three, funding is being sought from Jisc in December to continue this joint development effort.

Jisc has provided funding for up to nine PhD students to be employed one day per week for four months within their school. Their role will be to help researchers within their school record their research data as Datasets in the PURE system, and to direct any RDM or DMP queries to the RDM team for further support. The Dataset records in PURE will provide the Edinburgh University contribution to the national Research Data Discovery Service, this will increase the discoverability of Edinburgh data and ensure that more researchers are meeting the requirements of their research funders to make their data discoverable and reusable. Applications for the first set of three PhD student interns have been received and are currently being shortlisted, the successful applicants should be able to begin work before the end of 2015.

In October some minor questions were received about the DataShare application for Data Seal of Approval (DSA), these were responded to and DataShare has now been approved for the DSA. This is a major achievement for the entire DataShare team who have worked hard to make DataShare a Trusted Digital Repository.

Over the three month period a total of 173 staff and PGR’s have attended a RDM course or workshop, an additional 20-25 staff have attended research committee meetings or small group presentations where RDM has been on the agenda. Both regular and on demand RDM sessions (courses, workshops, & presentations) will continue to be offered and we are currently in the process of scheduling 30 courses, workshops for January to June 2016 as well as a number of presentations.

The “Data Management and Sharing� Coursera MOOC is well under way with a December launch anticipated. Sarah Jones, DCC, is our video instructor, using scripts adapted from MANTRA.

National and International Engagement Activities

10th August meeting in London with other Alan Turing Institute members to discuss RDM requirements to be provided by member institutions.

17th of August a one day RDM event was organised for Danish visitors from the University of Copenhagen to present UoE RDM services, outreach activities and ELNs.

31st August Dealing with Data conference.

7th/8th September meeting with Gottingen University to talk about digital scholarship, including RDM.

7th October DataVault engagement event at Manchester University.

29 October, Educause conference, Indianapolis. Robin Rice was on a panel with Jan Cheetham & Brianna Marshall, University of Wisconsin and Rory Macneil, RSpace: “Drivers and responses toward research data management maturity: transatlantic perspectives.

Kerry Miller

RDM Service Co-Ordinator


Analytics Platform Trial

Information Services is evaluating a new collaborative platform for data-science and analytics as part of its expanding portfolio of services for researchers. We are looking for researchers with suitable problems who expect to achieve results in the one-year trial. We will be able to work closely with a small number of projects to help them get the most out of the platform, and training will be available. In addition, we encourage further researchers to use the platform with less formal support.

The Aridhia AnalytiXagility Platform

AnalytiXagility is a purpose-built, user-friendly, collaborative platform for data science and analytics. It allows your team to easily create, discuss, modify and share analyses in a single, secure system accessed conveniently through a web browser.
The platform handles routine data management tasks such as confidentiality, availability, integrity and audit, reducing time to insight and discovery. In particular, it is ideally suited for:

  • Exploring, comparing and linking structured datasets including data quality profiling
  • Supporting data management, accountability and provenance
  • Processing large datasets that do not fit in memory

Bring your team

Project members collaborate through a private workspace configured with compute, storage and analytical tools. Embedded social media tools allow teams to post and share questions, updates, comments and insights, building an active record of the research undertaken.

Bring your data

Users import their datasets using the secure and reliable file transfer mechanism, SFTP. Working files (documents, images, analysis scripts) can be uploaded directly through the web interface, and tagged for easy management and retrieval by the team.

Bring your analysis

AnalytiXagility provides an analysis platform, based on R, which can be accessed through a web browser. Combining R with an SQL database and an associated access library allows researchers to analyse their data in a faster and more scalable way than with R alone.

Generate your output

The platform supports generation of PDF reports for communication and publication using LaTeX templates, such as those provided by many leading journals, in which users can embed active analytical scripts to auto-generate images and tabular data within the report at runtime.

More information

If you are interested in participating in the trial, please email with the subject “XAP Trial�.

Further information can be found at:

Steve Thorn
Research Services
IT Infrastructure


New data analysis and visualisation service

Statistical Analysis without Statistical Software

The Data Library now has an SDA server (Survey Documentation and Analysis), and is ready to load numeric data files for access by either University of Edinburgh users only, or ‘the world’. The University of Edinburgh SDA server is available at:

SDA provides an interactive interface, allowing extensive data analysis with significance tests. It also offers the ability to download user-defined subsets with syntax files for further analysis on your platform of choice.

SDA can be used to teach statistics, in the classroom or via distance-learning, without having to teach syntax. It will support most statistical techniques taught in the first year or two of applied statistics. There is no need for expensive statistical packages, or long learning curves. SDA has been awarded the American Political Science Association Best Instructional Software.

For data producers concerned about disclosure control, SDA provides the capability of defining usage restrictions on a variable-by-variable basis. For example, restrictions on minimum cell sizes (weighted or unweighted), use of particular variables without being collapsed (recoded), or restrictions on particular bi- or multivariate combinations.

For data managers and those concerned about data preservation, SDA can be used to store data files in a generic, non-software dependant format (fixed-field format ASCII), and includes capability of producing the accompanying metadata in the emerging DDI-standard XML format.

Data Library staff can mount data files very quickly if they are well documented with appropriate metadata formats (eg SAS or SPSS), depending on access restrictions appertaining to the datafile. To request a datafile be made available in SDA, contact

Laine Ruus
EDINA and Data Library


Dealing with Data Conference & RDM Service Launch – summary

University of Edinburgh Research Data Management Service LogoInformation Services (IS) held a half-day conference in the Main Library on the subject of ‘Dealing with Data’ to coincide with the launch of the University of Edinburgh’s Research Data Management support services on 26 August.

University researchers presented to over 120 delegates from across the disciplinary and support spectrum on many aspects of working with data, particularly research with novel methods of creating, using, storing, or sharing data. Subjects included Big Data for disease control, managing West Nilotic language sound files, sharing brain images, geospatial metadata services, visualising qualitative data via carpets!

Dealing with Data Conference

The RDM Programme team are currently collecting feedback and will report on this and the conference in more detail via this blog.

‘Dealing with Data Conference’ delegates then gathered in the Main Library foyer to hear brief talks by Professor Jeff Haywood, Professor Peter Clarke and Dr John Scally followed by the formal launch of the RDM Services by the University’s Principal, Sir Timothy O’Shea who underlined the successful collaboration between research and support service communities in establishing research support services worthy of a leading UK research-intensive university.

University of Edinburgh RDM Service launch by Sir Timothy O'Shea

A ‘storify’ story of tweets collected during the launch and the conference is available, with pictures and perspectives from various attendees.

The launch of the IS-led RDM Services is the culmination of work detailed in the RDM Roadmap which began in earnest in August 2012 following approval of the RDM Policy by the University Court in May 2011.

Details of available and planned RDM Services for University of Edinburgh researchers were reported on in the blogpost: RDM Roadmap: Completion of Phase 1

Conference presentations can be downloaded from Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA) at:

Stuart Macdonald
RDM Service Coordinator