Becoming an open researcher means sharing your research so that others can read, use, re-use and build upon your work. This approach is gaining momentum as research funders, institutions and researchers seek to make their methods, materials, data, software and results easily discoverable and accessible to maximise the pace of discovery.
Making your research open means that members of the public can gain access to your research as well as interested researchers, students and commercial companies, potentially increasing the impact and reach of your work and boosting citations. An open research approach may also help to alleviate the perceived reproducibility crisis.
Open research activities can include:
- Pre-registering your study hypotheses and protocols
- Keeping an open lab notebook so others can keep track of your research
- Sharing data by depositing it in a repository such as the Reading Research Data Archive
- Sharing software using sites such as Zenodo or Github
- Posting your articles to a pre-print server, for example arXiv, bioRxiv, SSRN before submission to a journal
- Publishing in an Open Access journal
- Depositing your research articles in an Institutional Repository such as CentAUR
- Contributing open peer reviews if you are asked to review a manuscript
See how the Wellcome Trust, a research funder, explains open research in this YouTube video.
You may not be ready to embrace all these activities without first checking with your funders, supervisor, co-authors and the policies of the journals you might want to eventually publish your work in. However, there are some simple steps that you can take now.
Sign up for an ORCiD identifier
Make sure that all your research outputs are credited to you and not to another researcher with a similar name by signing up for an ORCiD identifier. This free and easy process will give you a unique identifier that you can use throughout your career when you are publishing your outputs, conducting peer reviews or applying for funding. Over a thousand staff and post-graduate students at University of Reading have already acquired an ORCiD identifier. Find out more in our handy LibGuide.
Publish your research in an Open Access journal
Not all students and researchers are lucky enough to have access to a library with subscriptions to lots of journals and books. By choosing to publish your research as Open Access, you are making your work available to everyone in the world that has an internet connection. There may be funds available to you to pay for open access publishing – check out the guidance for University of Reading researchers.
Remember to check that your preferred journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) before you submit your precious manuscript. There’s also good advice on how to make sure you are submitting to a reputable journal on the Think Check Submit website.
Deposit your outputs in CentAUR
Make your research available by the Green Open Access route by depositing your paper in an institutional repository. Most publishers allow the author’s accepted version of the manuscript to be made available, usually after an embargo period. Deposit in CentAUR is required by the University’s Open Access policy. It ensures visibility of your research even if you can’t publish in a fully open access journal (Gold Open Access). If you are University of Reading staff, you should deposit your outputs in CentAUR by logging in with your usual credentials. For students, you’ll need to contact the CentAUR team. Adding your outputs to CentAUR can help you comply with funders’ Open Access requirements and those of the next Research Excellence Framework exercise. Check out the latest CentAUR download and deposit statistics on the Opening Research at Reading Blog.
Share your Data
Many STEM journals now ask for the data behind the research article to be made available either in a suitable data repository or as supplementary material to accompany the paper. Your funder may also require you to have a data management plan. By putting the data in a suitable repository (such as the Reading Research Data Archive, Figshare or Dryad) you can preserve your data and even get a digital object identifier (DOI) to make your data easier to share, link to and cite. You can also add a Creative Commons license to your data to let others know how they can reuse it and to make sure that they give appropriate credit to you for your work.
Find out about Creative Commons licenses
An important aspect of sharing your research and allowing reuse is making sure that you apply the right license to your works. Creative Commons licenses can help you to make your research more open by stipulating what can be done with the work and making sure that you still get credit. The most open license is the CCBY version.
Read the University of Reading’s Draft Open Research Vision Statement
The University of Reading is committed to Open Research and has published a draft statement on how Open Research can be integrated into all stages of the research lifecycle. The presentations from last year’s Open in Practice conference organised by University of Reading are available on the Opening Research at Reading Blog.
This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information
This tip was written by Dr Karen Rowlett, Research Publications Adviser.