Energy Data Centre: Open access week

26 Oct 2021

Open Access Week is an international campaign that provides an opportunity to highlight activities that contribute to enabling research outputs to be as openly available as possible. 

This year the Energy Data Centre is joining in by sharing some of the existing and new activities we undertake to support this.  

New bitesize guides to data management topics 

We are launching four brief guides available to download from our website. These all have the same format, covering a summary of the key issues, an introduction and discussion of relevant topics, and a section for further reading on the topic.  

Data Management checklist: what questions should one consider when embarking on a project which will collect or use data for research. Access here. 

Depositing data in the Energy Data Centre: how to deposit data into the EDC, this draws on the existing guidance we provide. Access here. 

Data behind the academic publication: Overview of policy and practices on data supporting publications, what is expected both by research funders and the publishers of academic journals. We have concentrated on the journal publishers used by the UKERC community. Access here.

Research software credit and citation: Overview of the state of the art to credit academic software including the newly released software citation feature implemented in a variety of systems including GitHub.  Access here. 

Assisting data discovery 

One of the things that can make data difficult to find is that it is located all over the place. All kinds of bodies and projects publish useful energy data, so the EDC also links to data held elsewhere. This means that, just as for data stored in our archive, we create a catalogue record for the data outside of the archive.  

The record contains metadata (data about the data), such as a description and energy category, which helps people find it through their a search, just as they would find the data in our archive collection. The only difference being that the catalogue record will link to another website rather than linking to data in our archive. 

Recently we’ve been reviewing our data links to add new ones that might be useful, using our knowledge of the domain. We started by looking at sites where we expect to find relevant data such as the UK and devolved governments, the Office for National Statistics and industry bodies like network operators. We reviewed the CREDS (Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions) report “A data strategy to promote the clean growth of UK industries” which has a very useful assessment of available data sets. Finally, we assessed the links we had by UKERC Theme and by IEA (International Energy Agency) energy category and we looked harder for data sources in themes or categories where we didn’t have many links. 

We welcome suggestions of data we should link to. You can send suggestions to or submit them here.

Keeping information current 

The EDC keeps a record of publications that are held on external services. Some of the problems linking to another service is that they may redesign their website or change the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) to where the publication is located. This impacts the quality of service that the UKERC Energy Data Centre (EDC) provides. If the external service changes something we could end up with a lot of broken links. A solution to this problem is to periodically check every URL and make sure it goes to where it is supposed to. 

A small system with a handful of URLs can be done by hand, clicking each link, and checking if the publication appears. However, this is impractical where the number of external publications number in the thousands.  

For the UKERC EDC, we have automated the checking process using a series of programs. These check each URL held in the system in turn. These scripts record the HTTP status codes and the URL which was returned. You need to check if the address being returned is correct as just relying on the status code being OK does not indicate whether it has gone to the correct place, just that the URL works. For example, you check which resolves to, this is the correct website but has a different address to the one you checked initially. Once there is a list of problem URLs – which should be only a small subset – we then undertake the final checks by hand, resolving problems and updating the records where necessary.   

This activity is routine but takes time, we target sections of the service every month and once we get to the end we need to start at the beginning again.