Supporting collaboration and research excellence with OSF

The University of Oklahoma has joined the Center for Open Science’s Open Science Framework (OSF). OSF is a free and open-source project management tool designed to support researchers from any field or specialty throughout their project lifecycle. It is a web and Markdown-based collaboration tool which allows researchers to store their research materials in one, secure location privately, or make the entire project publicly accessible. 

As of May 2019, University of Oklahoma researchers now have institutional access. OU researchers and scholars can create a free institutionally-branded account by logging in with their university-issued 4x4. 

Using Open Science Framework (OSF) to Teach Data Management Practices in a Senior Biology Capstone Course

In May 2019, Brent Tweedy, OU science librarian, taught a senior capstone course for OU biology students at the OU Biological Station on Lake Texoma. 

“One of the learning objectives of this course was to improve the students’ knowledge and skills related to data management while conducting their independent research projects,” Tweedy said. “I used Open Science Framework (OSF) as the primary tool to address this learning objective along with openly available data management course materials available from OU Libraries.” 

Tweedy said OSF provided a good platform to allow the students to collaborate and test their data management skills because of its ease of use, flexibility, and numerous integrations of 3rd party software like Google Drive, Dropbox, and many others. 

“The students’ pre- and post-survey data indicated that they self-assessed their skills with data management, file naming, and data formatting as having significantly improved,” Tweedy said. “They also rated both OSF and the library’s workshop resources as highly effective and that their inclusion in the course was responsible for their improvement. Using OSF in capstone courses and other courses where data is collected serves as a good framework for teaching data management skills that are applicable in any career the students choose to pursue."

Students' also found using OSF for the course to be helpful:
students looking for specimen in a creek

What were some of the positive aspects of this experience with OSF?
  • "It keeps things organized and makes sure nothing will get lost in the future."
  • I never knew I could use a website like this that would help me manage scientific data and keep track of it for decades!

Can you recall any specific data management practices that you learned that you think you will use in the future?
  • For (my) personal and professional life, I would use this to save documents and store them correctly for future use."
Data source: an anonymous survey of students enrolled in the course
More information, including student's projects and the course's template, can be found on OSF.

Learn more about using OSF in capstone courses and class projects by contacting Brent Tweedy.
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