The UKRN open research programme aims – through training, sharing practice and evaluation – to accelerate the uptake of open research practices.
Now that the programme is up and running, I will aim to provide monthly updates here, both to keep you informed and to share our thinking as the programme evolves, to give you the chance to influence that.
The programme is split into three workstreams: training, evaluation, and sharing practice. That is how I’ll frame this update, although of course there are strong relationships between the workstreams.
Earlier in 2022, the (now) 19 partner institutions were asked to identify their training priorities and resources relevant to open research.
We’re currently writing that up as a paper but, in brief, the headlines were that the priorities included:
- preregistration; effective practice in the recruitment of staff; open data, materials, protocols and methods; best practice in acknowledging contributions; and practical topics such as version control and data visualisation.
Institutions identified hundreds of resources developed or used locally, but only around 10% of these were openly licenced.
Our next steps are to use these insights to draft a topic map / syllabus of what institutions do, and could do, in open research training.
This will be a living document; for example, it will likely be significantly revised once the results of the open research survey (see below) are available. However, we will aim to have a version available in February 2023.
Alongside this, we are thinking about both (micro)accreditation of the trainers who will take training as part of the programme, and the endorsement of training materials.
The latter is likely to be based on making visible when (and possibly how) particular resources are used by trainers in the programme – effectively a managed crowdsourcing model.
There are two fairly distinct parts to this workstream: an open research survey; and the development and use of methodologies to evaluate particular interventions, such as training.
The survey asks researchers about how important 14 open research practices are in their work, how often they engage in those practices, where they turn to for support, and how good that support is.
The approach has been designed to get as close as possible to a representative sample, acknowledging that we can’t do a fully stratified sample without access to Human Resources data, which we won’t have. So, we have a sampling frame, and we will target both efforts to elicit responses and our analysis to get the best possible coverage across that frame.
The survey will be open at various times in partner institutions, but the last survey will close by the end of March 2023, and the analysis (already scripted) will be done in April.
At the same time, we are aware that some institutions have recently done their own surveys, often based on the ‘BORS’ instrument, and so where possible we will re-analyse those data as well.
In terms of methodologies to evaluate particular interventions, we have started developing a framework based on the HM Treasury Magenta book, focusing on process, impact and value for money. We know that we need to make sufficient progress on this soon to enable some reasonable baseline to be set.
The programme aims to support institutions as they improve the ways in which open research is recognised and reward for example in recruitment and promotion procedures.
This is the work of the ‘OR4’ working group. It has set up an advisory group which is currently reviewing the project plan, after which the plan will be put on the UKRN website.
The next steps for OR4 are to identify perhaps four or five institutions who will act as case studies in using the management tools and training to be developed, and to gather and analyse information from UKRN institutions on current practice.
This analysis, plus information about training and other institutional support for open research, is being added to version 1 of the programme’s ‘living website’, which at this point is a page for each of the partner institutions.
Those are being built over the next couple of months, so you will be able to see them develop from the current templates.
Written by Neil Jacobs, Head of the UKRN Open Research Programme