Open Research Programme

A five-year programme supported by Research England, UKRN institutional members and project partners

March 2022 Update

UKRN has launched a five-year programme of work across our consortium of institutional members, supported by our project partners and Research England, to accelerate the uptake of high-quality open research practices, and the many benefits to research quality, integrity and public trust in research that will consequently flow. The programme’s objectives are:

    1. Developing and delivering innovative, multi-institutional, high-quality training in open and transparent research practice;
    2. Developing and delivering a framework for ongoing evaluation of institutional practice and learning in open research, leading to the embedding of a culture of continuous research improvement;
    3. Sharing effective practice among partner institutions and across the sector, and promoting the alignment of incentives, embedded in institutional practice, to drive uptake of open research.

The programme is designed to be sufficiently robust to inform the wider sector. This will ensure that the systems we develop for sharing and supporting effective practice are informed by current practice and sufficiently flexible that all types of institutions and disciplines can participate. The materials and guidance that we develop will be shared across the sector, to extend and maximise the reach and impact of the project. We will also ensure that the knowledge generated by this approach informs national policy development, for example relating to research integrity and research assessment systems.

Open research practices in scope include sharing of intermediate research artefacts and processes, pre-registration of protocols, management of data (including source material of different kinds), reproducible workflows and open source scripting languages, version control, reproducible computational environments, guidance on ethics to allow data sharing, licensing of data and code, and how best to navigate copyright law, privacy law, and University regulations around open research practices. Institutional practices in scope include those related to recruitment, appraisal, recognition, reward and promotion.

Specifically, the programme will:

    1. Train – curate existing training materials from partners plus UKRN short topical animations, briefings, more detailed primers and train-the-trainer workshop materials; identify gaps and effective practice in current provision (Year 1); train consortium trainers, and develop new training material where gaps have been identified (from Year 1); roll out training workshops (both pre-existing and new provision) across consortium members, with iterative development (Year 3-4); publish with permissive licenses the UKRN collection of training material, and disseminate to the sector (ongoing, complete by Year 5).
    2. Evaluate – develop, pilot and roll out a survey of open research practices across consortium institutions, and individual- and institution-level reporting tools; collect case studies that capture examples of effective practice across a diverse range of institutions and disciplines (Years 3-5); measure indicators of training uptake and impact (Year 4-5); and share survey results, case studies, tools and frameworks across the consortium and wider sector, and incorporate these results into institutional review processes (Years 4-5).
    3. Share – develop a searchable ‘living’ section of the UKRN website that documents – for each institution, in a common format – details of current open research training, practice and learning (Year 1); add sections, organised by type of open research practice, that include case studies and evaluation outcomes, demonstrating learning and effective practice (Years 2-5); add further sections on recruitment, appraisal, recognition, reward and promotion processes; develop an external engagement plan, and engage with new research organisations (Years 3-5); and develop a long-term business model, to enable UKRN to operate and provide services sustainably (some in partnership) beyond the programme (Years 4-5).

Beyond the diverse group of HEIs, the programme partners are the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Data Readiness Group (Oxford), EBSCO, Griffith University, Jisc, Project TIER, Protocols.io, Research on Research Institute, Software Sustainability Institute, Springer-Nature, UK Data Service, VIRT2UE project, and Wiley.

We define medium- to long-term success as providing the groundwork for:

    1. growing and embedding high-quality open research practices across the institutions in UKRN; and
    2. seeing growth in UKRN as other institutions join, and
    3. achieving wider sectoral uptake of open research practices.