Here are 12 things you, as a researcher, can do to be more open. Some will be applicable to all research, others are possibilities which might be relevant to some disciplines and contexts more than others.
Explore the possibilities; be as open as you can be, and as closed you need to be. The University’s publications and research data support teams are here to help you tackle any or all of these. Please contact us if you need support or would like more information.
General tips for good practice which are likely to be required by research organisations, funders and publishers:
1. Make your research publications Open Access. This can be done either via the publisher (Gold Open Access) or through deposit in CentAUR, the University’s publications repository (Green Open Access), under a suitable open licence.* Monographs as well as articles can be published by Open Access means.
2. Make it FAIR. If you collect or create primary data that support your research findings, make them FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable) by depositing them in a data repository under an open licence, in usable formats and with appropriate documentation and metadata, and cite the data using the DOI or other unique identifier in your publications.
3. Release your code. If you create research software or write code to perform data analysis, preserve and release the (commented, documented) code under an open licence using a data repository or code repository platform (e.g. the University's GitLab or GitHub), and cite the code in your publications, by version and using a DOI or other unique identifier where possible.
4. Archive web resources for long-term preservation and use. If you create an open web resource, such as an online database or a digital collection, implement it using open standards (e.g. following Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines) and sustainable infrastructure to optimise its usability, and archive the content and resource documentation to a suitable data repository for long-term preservation.
Opportunities to make your practice more open, not all of which will be appropriate to all disciplines and contexts:
5. Use a preprint server or open journal submission system (where the preprint is published by the journal prior to and during peer review) to get your research findings into the public domain as soon as possible. (If you are using a preprint server make sure that your journals of choice allow posting of preprints: you can check journal/publisher policies at SHERPA RoMEO).
6. Engage with open peer review. You can do this either by submitting to journals/publishers that operate an open peer review process, or by reviewing for these journals and posting your reviews online.
7. Pre-register your research plans. If you undertake empirical research, pre-register your hypotheses, study design and materials using a public registration platform such as the Open Science Framework or consider publishing your study as a registered report (an empirical journal article in which methods and proposed analyses are peer-reviewed and the results accepted for publication prior to research being conducted).
8. Advertise your data or software as a research resource. If you create a dataset or software that is a substantial output in its own right and has the potential to be re-used, publish a peer-reviewed data paper or a software paper to advertise its value as a research resource and garner citations.
9. Share your methods and materials. Explore the potential of online workflow and collaboration tools, such as Electronic Lab Notebooks and citizen science platforms (e.g. Zooniverse), which can enable you to share your methods and materials, open up new research possibilities, and allow stakeholders – including those from outside the academy – to contribute to the design and implementation of research.
10. Teach Open Research. If you are responsible for teaching, introduce your students – undergraduates as well as graduates – to the concepts and practices of Open Research. For example: explain why Open Access, and data and code sharing are important; use open data in your teaching and exercises; ask students undertaking experimental projects to pre-register their hypotheses and study designs; teach reproducibility by setting an assignment to replicate a published study; get students learning programming to set up an online code repository in GitLab; run an open peer review exercise.
11. Discuss with journals. If you sit on the editorial board of a journal, consider tabling these issues for discussion if policies have not already been debated or adopted: introducing a data and code availability policy (see example); introducing an open peer review submission system and preprint-friendly policy; offering a registered report option; converting the journal to a fully Open Access model, if it is subscription-only or hybrid Open Access.
12. Join an Open Research community or project. For example, help to develop open standards and tools that support open practices in your discipline; use your public profile and involvement with research stakeholders (such as learned societies) to promote Open Research activities and policies.
*'Open licence' means a licence that permits anyone to freely access, use, modify, and share the licensed material for any purpose. This may include licences conformant with the Open Definition that are commonly used for scholarly works and datasets, such as the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY); and Open Source licences typically used for software source code, such as the Apache License 2.0 or the GNU General Public License (GPL).