Why Open research matters
Open Research aims to
- improve the quality and reliability of research
- support a culture of transparency, openness, and honesty towards other researchers and the public
- maximize public benefit and avoid resource waste
Open research is research done well. It encompasses the European Code of Conduct of Research Integrity whose principles are:
- Reliability in ensuring the quality of research, reflected in the design, the methodology, the analysis, and the use of resources
- Honesty in developing, undertaking, reviewing, reporting, and communicating research in a transparent, fair, full, and unbiased way.
- Respect for colleagues, research participants, society, ecosystems, cultural heritage, and the environment.
- Accountability for the research from idea to publication, for its management and organisation, for training, supervision, and mentoring, and for its wider impacts.
Most funders require that you make copies of your publications available on an open access basis. However, you can benefit from openly sharing your work long before you reach the stage of submitting articles and books for publication.
Open Research Resources
Stages of the research process and openness
This diagram illustrates the stages of the research process where openness is possible.
Tools for Open research
Secure online tools are available to make all stages of your research project openly available as soon as possible. Researchers in different subject areas use specific tools. Choose the tools that suit you, your research, and your colleagues to maximise your dissemination potential.
Pre-register your idea
Pre-registration means making a time-stamped, read-only version of your research plan available before you begin your research. It involves creating a research plan and submitting it to a registry and then adding a report and results once the study is complete. Benefits are:
- greater transparency regarding any supressed null or negative test results. If things do not go as described in the pre-registration, then this can be described in the final report
- your idea is recorded and cannot be ‘stolen’ by someone else
- others interested in your idea can contact you and offer valuable opportunities for collaboration and development
Once it has been submitted your pre-registration cannot be changed as it serves as a formal record of your intended project. Always check your funding conditions for any registration requirements, and ask colleagues about their practice
Sites you can use to pre-register your projects include:
- The OSF platform offers an end-to-end open research solution, but the process is started with a short form where you outline your ideas and there is also plenty of advice on how to start.
- https://aspredicted.org/ AS Predicted is another platform focussing on pre-registration.
Share your grant proposal
- increased recognition for the work
- improved public and scholarly transparency
- engage with a broader community, inviting collaborations and related research
- encourage Early Career researchers (ECRs) and postgraduate researchers by giving examples of layout, tone, and content
Platforms you can use:
- Open grants a platform to share your grant proposals and a source of examples of successful grants.
- RIO end-to-end platform which offers an open and public peer-review process for various research outputs including grant proposals
- UKRI funded projects must be recorded in ResearchFish and are then accessible using the UKRI Gateway to Research.
Medicine and health care research
- NIHR grants should be registered through ResearchFish
- Systematic reviews should be registered with PROSPERO
If you are engaged in a clinical trial it should be registered with a recognised open registry:
- ClinicalTrials.gov accepts prospective and retrospective registration of medical studies in human volunteers.
- EU Clinical Trials Register accepts interventional clinical trials that are conducted in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as clinical trials conducted outside the EU / EEA that are linked to European paediatric-medicine development.
See the NHS web page for more information and information about registration of NHS funded projects.
Share your research process, methodologies and experiments
Open science platforms
Open science platforms offer end-to-end services to build, save and organise all the elements of your research. As you finish each part you can make it open to all.
Open Science Framework
OSF allows different levels of access to be set for different parts of your project. This means that as you complete each stage of your work you can make the data and files available in a controlled way.
It is useful if you wish to collaborate internationally as you can add contributors and manage their access to the project. OSF can also be used as a data repository functionality, so you can keep all your files in one place.
Octopus has been adopted by JISC. Eight research stages can be created, linked together, and shared on the platform:
- Problem – a defined problem
- Hypothesis/Theoretical Rationale – an original hypothesis relating to an existing published Problem or the rationale for how you think the Problem could be addressed
- Method/Protocol – a practical method of testing an existing published Hypothesis
- Data/Results – raw data or summarised results collected according to an existing published Method (can be linked to a data repository)
- Analysis – a statistical or thematic analysis of existing published Data or Results
- Interpretation – a discussion around an existing published Analysis
- Translation/Application – "real world" applications arising from an existing published Interpretation
- Review – a considered, detailed review of any of the above kinds of publication
Publish data and code as it is collected
Research data is usually archived at the end of a project or when it is required to support a publication. However, data can be made available at any stage of the project – as soon as they are complete as a dataset and prepared for sharing (see our guidance on making you data FAIR – as open as possible and as restricted as necessary). Archive your data in any reputable data repository (use https://www.re3data.org/ to find a suitable one) and use Octopus or OSF to link your data sets to ongoing work or publications.
Data repositories can support different versions of the same data set – e.g., the raw data, processed data and data following analysis, or longitudinal data collected at different times adding to the original data set. All of these are open to deposits from any researcher where the data meets FAIR criteria:
- Zenodo is a European Union resource and it supports DOI versioning
- UK Data Service has guidance on preparing your data so that different versions can be identified and cited.
- https://figshare.com/ a platform where you can store, share, and discover data and research outputs such as posters and presentations
- Data Dryad
Code and software
As your projects evolves you may be creating new code. You can make these available early on to raise the profile of your research, invite collaboration and improve your scholarly reputation. As well as the general platforms above, you can use:
- https://github.com/ Share your code and contribute to the world's largest collection of software. Sharing to GitHub has the advantage of access to developers worldwide who can help you fix bugs and overcome problems.
Open-Notebook research involves making the raw data available openly at the point of creation. It is the ultimate in transparent research processes, as the research process is documented and made open access in real time. Lab notebooks can be centred around individuals (see examples related to research on Huntington’s disease by Tamara Maiuri and Rachel Harding) or around groups identified by a common topic (e.g. Malaria) . Platforms include:
Publish pre-prints and working papers
A preprint is a preliminary version of an article, shared for comment before formal peer review. Preprints should be shared on a dedicated preprint server, where they have DOIs and citable references and the policies and background of the service indicate that it is robust and reliable.
The Directory of Open Access Preprint Repositories lists available preprints servers. It helps researchers find the most appropriate platform for them, enabling them to browse through existing repositories by discipline, location, language, functionalities, and other facets. Use the Support for Open Science tab to identify the features you want for your research. For instance, look for a platform that has a preservation policy if you are looking for long-term access.
The benefits of making your pre-prints available are:
- Ideas and discoveries can be disseminated quickly. Preprints can speed delivery of lifesaving innovations to practitioners across the world or establish priority in a discovery.
- Many disciplines recognise preprints as part of the formal publication cycle, and they can be cited in further works.
- Open peer review at this stage can allow the authors to acknowledge and correct errors before publication.
- Potential collaborators could find your research and move it forward more quickly
The risks are:
- The risk of dissemination faulty research. If the research is found to be faulty, it may reflect negatively on the authors. This is mitigated by the opportunity to correct errors through open peer review before formal publication.
- Some publishers may not want to publish works that have been presented as pre-prints. Check publishers’ policies as most are happy with the concept but others are not, or have conditions (e.g. using a particular pre-print platform)
- As with any publication, make sure you are not releasing information too early. Ensure you are not releasing sensitive information. This might be:
- where research is covered by Trusted Research restrictions
- material that includes commercial potential
- Personal or identifying data.
- Make sure all your collaborators and other stakeholders are happy with an open research approach and the dissemination of pre-prints. Include it in your privacy statements for your research participants.
If you choose to create and disseminate pre-prints on any of these platforms remember to record it in KAR using the pre-print item type. You can also link the pre-print record in KAR with records of related publications in KAR and with data records in KDR.
Publish your article or book open access
Once your work is ready for formal publication continue to make sure it is available on an open access basis.
- Publish in an open access journal or as an open access book
- Follow our Open Access web guidance
- Compile a Data access statement
Whichever route you choose, record your publication in the University’s academic repository KAR and upload a copy of the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) which will be open access alongside a link to the publisher’s version of record.
Making Open research work
Register for an ORCID ID and ensure that your work is accurately identified with you. This will ensure that you accrue the benefits of early and wider dissemination. Most platforms and services as well as traditional publishers, will expect you to have and ORCID ID. See our web pages for more guidance on getting and registering your ORCID ID.
To make sure your work is shared safely and can be used and understood by scholars on a global basis you need to make sure you and your files are prepared:
Use FAIR Principles throughout. Try to make sure the files you share are:
F – Findable – Make sure you upload your work with full and accurate metadata and a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). The best way to do this is to use one of the platforms listed in this guide
A – Accessible - Make it clear how scholars can use your work by applying clear licences like Creative Commons. Make sure the licence is as open as possible but as restricted as necessary, to enable maximum dissemination and use while protecting your and any third-party interests. See our web guidance for more information.
I – Interoperable - Make sure you have saved your files in open or standard formats so they can be opened, read, and used by scholars in the future and across the globe and are capable of being used in many types or brands of software.
R – Reusable – as well as having full and accurate metadata in an internationally understood format, make sure you have all the permissions you need to use and make your work available. Ensure you detail the provenance of any data you are citing and include links.
Open peer review
While your work shared on these platforms will not be subject to a formal peer review process, once your work is openly available on the internet it will attract attention and citation and it will be open to others to criticise and comment. There are three elements of open peer review:
- Open identities –your identity and those of your reviewers will be known
- Open reports – comments and opinions will be available for review and comment from others, and reply from yourself.
- Open participation – anyone will be able to participate. Comment will come from the wider scholarly community and not from a select few.
of open peer review:
- reviewers tend to try to be more constructive and polite
- conflicts of interest can be seen
- you can identify and correct mistakes and see more opportunities before your project is finished or before you are committed to publication
Use a platform like https://web.hypothes.is/ to annotate and share comments openly.
Once your work is openly available you can share it using social media. See our guidance on how to make the best of Social Media for your research. Use KUDOS to manage and keep track of your research works in social media. Make sure you have a DOI assigned to each work and use the DOI in your posts so it is all joined up.
Podcasts and articles
- Everything Hertz
- The Black Goat
- Cruwell et al (2020) Seven easy steps to Open Science.
Click the button below to email the Research and Scholarly Communication team for advice about Open Research.