UKRN provides seed-funding and in-kind support to a range of initiatives aimed at improving open research practices. Alexandra Freeman from Octopus.ac explains what this partnership has meant to them.
Octopus.ac is a publishing platform that is designed specifically to incentivise best research practice. It is free to read and publish to, instant (like a pre-print server), and has open post-publication peer review. It also doesn’t publish ‘papers’, but smaller, linked units of work – like datasets, analyses, research problems. This allows faster sharing of work, more specialist and timely peer review, more fluid collaboration and smaller author groups (giving recognition to who did what work).
Support for Octopus’ principles is overwhelming – but it faces two huge challenges. One is ‘getting the word out’ to researchers around the world, in all disciplines. The other is changing the policies of those who set the incentive system for researchers to recognise these newer research outputs: funders, journals, institutions. This is where UKRN comes in.
This is an example of where it doesn’t all come down to money – UKRN’s partnership with Octopus is not financial, and yet it is hugely beneficial. UKRN has given us ways to reach both researchers and policy-makers. Its networks reach into institutions at all levels. They are at the table in discussions with funders and journals when discussing how to improve the quality of research, research assessment and research culture. Since Octopus and UKRN are in such perfect alignment it’s a dream partnership – Octopus can operationalise best practice improvements, and UKRN can help ensure take-up and usage of Octopus. We’ve been able to do joint webinars, blogs, and Octopus is part of UKRN presentations and training.
Without UKRN’s support, I doubt that Octopus would have been around the tables and in the rooms that it has been. And with the growing Reproducibility Networks worldwide, we’re able to stretch our tentacles through that too. We are incredibly proud, and grateful, to be part of that.