New booking system for Research Data consultations

We’ve recently launched a new booking system for consultations with the Research Data Team. Whether you’re new to archiving your data, or want a quick refresher, a member of the team will be happy to help.

You can access the new booking system via the UoR Research Data Archive webpage. Just choose between a 30 and 60 minute appointment, and whether you’d like it to be online via Microsoft Teams or in person. You can then select a time that works for you, and suggest a location if you’d prefer an in person appointment. Your appointment will be booked automatically, and we’ll get in touch if we need any further details.

A screenshot showing what the Research Data consultation booking system looks like

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Strengthening our community – University funding for small Open Research projects

The Committee for Open Research and Research Integrity (CORRI) is offering up to £5K to fund one or more small projects to promote the adoption of Open Research practices. The aim of the call is to facilitate collaboration around Open Research amongst our community.

Funding can cover costs for small equipment, access to data, research and travel, fieldwork and practical work, creation of training materials, and support for T&L projects about Open Research. Funds awarded must be spent by the end of July 2023, but it is expected that proposals will contain a vision of the impact and mechanisms for sustainability that will extend beyond the funding period.

Full details are provided in the call document.


Applications must be made by a member of staff (research, support or academic, any School or Function) whose employment with the University extends to at least July 2023. Projects can involve research students but the member of staff must oversee the project throughout the funding period, and ensure alignment with the University’s Strategy for Research and Innovation.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:


  • Deadline for applications: 6th January 2023
  • Announcement of award: 16th January 2023
  • Funding to be spent by: 31st July 2023

How to apply

Applications can be submitted using the online application form.


If you wish to enquite about this call please contact Dr Etienne Roesch.



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Open Access Week 2022 – ibicus – a python open-source software package for the bias correction of climate models

This image is from the Open Access Week website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

The theme of the 2022 Open Access week was Open for Climate Justice. PhD researchers Fiona Spuler and Jakob Wessel are working on the biases in climate models that lead to difficulties in relating the findings of global climate models to locally changing conditions and extreme events. Although these biases in no way invalidate the overall findings of climate change research,  predictions of climate change, they may affect the impacts felt by local communities directly and hamper activities such as the implementation of flood defence measures.

In this blog post, Fiona and Jakob describe ibicus – a python open-source software package for the statistical bias correction of climate models. The package was developed in partnership with ECMWF and as part of the ECMWF Summer of Weather Code.

Although climate models are continuously improving in their representation of the atmosphere, land, and oceans — not least due to the contributions of various researchers here at the University of Reading — model biases persist. A model bias is defined as a systematic difference between the distribution of a simulated climate statistic compared to the observed climate statistic during the same time period. These biases, or unrealistic representations, in the climate model are, amongst other things, due to the fact that climate models have limited spatial resolution and there are some processes that occur at smaller spatial scales than the model can explicitly capture.

These biases don’t affect the broad findings of climate science regarding the large-scale impacts of anthropogenic climate change. However, they do become an issue when trying to relate the findings of global climate models to locally changing conditions and extreme events: even though slightly misrepresented maximum precipitation events might not matter too much for the overall picture of climate change, they will matter a lot to the community that lives in this region and is asking what type of flood defences to put in place.

An option to deal with these biases is statistical bias correction, which essentially means applying a correction function to the distribution of a meteorological variable such as precipitation or temperature. Although these empirical methods can reduce some biases, they cannot correct fundamental misspecifications of the climate model and are prone to misuse. Nevertheless, bias correction has become common practise and is applied prior to most climate impact studies. Bias correction, if applied, should therefore at least be evaluated with care. This is where ibicus comes in by enabling users compare and evaluate a range of different methodologies in a transparent and easy-to-access way. The package is published open-source and comes with extensive tutorials and documentation, therefore making it as easy as possible to use the best bias correction method for the location and problem at hand.

A representation of climate change via stripes representing different temperatures over time. The stripes change from blue to red and warmer colours as the years progress from 1850-2021

Each stripe represents the average temperature for a single year, relative to the average temperature over the period as a whole. Shades of blue indicate cooler-than-average years, while red shows years that were hotter than average. The stark band of deep red stripes on the right-hand side of the graphic show the rapid heating of our planet in recent decades. Climate warming stripes were created by Ed Hawkins and are used under a CCBY licence

There already exist a variety of channels through which climate research and models are made publicly available – such as the IPCC, or the Copernicus Climate Data Store. However, this does not mean that communities – especially those at the frontlines of the climate crisis – have access to and can easily contribute to research on how climate change is going to impact their lives and livelihoods or develop plans on how they can reduce the impacts. This is due to various reasons – one of them being the unavailability of open-source software to relate the large-scale processes modelled on supercomputers around the world to local realities and impacts. Although ibicus in no way addresses this larger issue, it is with this bigger picture in mind that we developed it and will continue to work on it during our PhDs.

For more information on the package, have a look at the documentation, download the package, or have a look at our presentation at ECMWF here.

Fiona Spuler is a PhD student at the University of Reading at the Meteorology department in collaboration with ECMWF, working on hybrid statistical-dynamical models to improve seasonal forecasts. Jakob Wessel is a PhD student at the University of Exeter in collaboration with the Met office, working on statistical post-processing of weather forecasts with a particular focus on compound extremes.

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Open Access Week – What is the Open Climate Campaign?

The Open Climate Campaign

The theme of Open Access week 2022 is Open for Climate Justice. In this interview, I talked to two members of the Open Climate Campaign about their efforts to make research relating to climate change open so that progress to solving the climate crisis and preserving global biodiversity can be accelerated.


The logo of the Open Climate Campaign is a globe with an open padlock symbol at the top

The logo for the Open Climate Campaign from their website. This image is is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

I talked to Monica Granados and Iryna Kuchma about the campaign. Monica is the open climate campaign manager at Creative Commons, working with SPARC and eifl on the open climate campaign. Her background is as a researcher and she has a PhD in ecology. Monica has worked on climate change problems and when she was doing her PhD and postdoctoral work, she began to realise that the way we were doing science was not the most transparent,  most accessible or most equitable. She began to get interested in the concept of open science and thinking about ways to make science more transparent more accessible and more equitable. She has previously worked as a senior policy advisor at the Government of Canada and is now pat of the open climate campaign; a role that fuses her interests and expertise. Iryna manages the Open Access program at eifl and works with National Library Consortia in Africa, Asia and Europe. eifl was among those organisations that originally coined the term Open Access when the Budapest Open Access initiative was introduced. As I work with libraries in the global South, I was invited to join this campaign by Sparc and Creative Commons. It is really important for us to make sure that researchers from the global South are an instrumental part of this campaign and have a voice.

What are the key aims of the campaign?

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Making the most of SciFree – an interview with the company’s founder

SciFree is a clever tool that helps researchers at University of Reading find out which journals are covered by our Transformative Agreements and deals with publishers. With 17 publisher deals covering over 11,000 different journals it can be difficult to keep track of where researchers can publish their work as Open Access easily and how each deal works. The SciFree tool aims to make it simple and quick to find out whether a journal is included in a deal.

To find out more about how to use the tool, check out our previous ORRB post: Launching SciFree, a new tool for researchers at University of Reading

Access the SciFree tool

A conversation with Abeni Wickham

I talked to Dr Abeni Wickham, the person behind SciFree, about how she worked out that the tool was needed and set about building something to meet the needs of researchers and Libraries.

Abeni has a PhD in Molecular Physics and has studied at UCL and Imperial College in the UK. As she has worked as a researcher she understands the importance of publishing research outputs as Open Access wherever possible. Working with both researchers and librarians, she put together a tool that simplifies the complex landscape of transformative agreements and publisher deals that an institution may have signed up to.

Video snippets will only be visible to University of Reading staff and students via Yuja. A full recording of the interview is available on YouTube.

Why create the SciFree journal search tool?

I asked Abeni about her motivation for creating the SciFree tool.

How does the tool work?

Abeni explains how the tool will help you find out whether a journal is included a  Transformative Agreement or publisher deal that is available to researchers at University of Reading. The tool also helps by pointing you to the right Creative Commons licence and further information about how to qualify for the deal. An added bonus of the tool is that all fully Gold (or Pure Gold) Open Access journals that are included in the search will be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and so should be reputable publications. This takes away a checking step for the researcher.

Tips and tricks for getting the most out of the SciFree tool

If your chosen journal does not appear in the SciFree search, it does not necessarily mean that you won’t be able to publish Open Access in that title. Abeni describes how to work with the Research Engagement team in the University of Reading Library to make sure that you explore all your options for Open Access publishing.

Try the SciFree tool for yourself

Give the SciFree tool a try for yourself and find the perfect journal for your next Open Access publication. This companion blog post explains how to use the tool.

A screenshot of the journal search box in the SciFree journal finder tool

View the full interview via YouTube (for non-University of Reading readers)

Creative Commons License
This blog post and the version of the video interview hosted on YouTube are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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School for Agriculture Policy and Development Open Research Competition 2022/2023

This School for Agriculture Policy and Development (SAPD) Open Research Competition will recognize and reward researchers and students who aim to contribute to making research more accessible, transparent, or reproducible and who can demonstrate understanding of the principles and aims of Open Research (OR). It highlights and celebrates best practice in relation to OR in SAPD and aims to raise awareness and inspire others to become more open in their research.

The competition is open to SAPD research-active members of staff, doctoral research students, graduate students, and undergraduate students, who may apply either as individuals or as a team. There are two categories in this competition:

  • Research-active members of staff & Early Career Researchers (Post-Doc and PhD students)
    Entry in this category is by means of a one-pager case study describing how OR practices have been used in a research context.
  • Students (Undergraduate and Graduate students)
    Entry in this category is by means of a poster in which you showcase what OR is, what it means to you, and how you (could) make use of OR during your studies.

Winners in each category will be invited to present their case/poster in a 10 minute talk and 2nd place winners will be invited to give a 5 minute presentation on their case study/poster during the 3rd SAPD OR seminar (Wednesday 31st May 1-2.30pm). 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place will be determined by a panel of judges. Prizes will be awarded as follows:

1st place: £100 + certificate
2nd and 3rd place: certificate

In addition, shortlisted entries will be announced.

The closing date for entries is Thursday 6th of April at 5 pm.

The Award is administered by the OR Champions of SAPD. The panel of judges consists of: Simon Mortimer (Head of School), Robert Darby (Research Data Manager), and Karen Rowlett (Research Publications Adviser in the Research Engagement Team).

Please refer to the Competition Guidelines and Assessment Criteria before submitting your entry via the Entry Form.

Please send any enquiries concerning the SAPD OR Competition to Marcello DeMaria, at

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Launching SciFree, a new tool for researchers at University of Reading

The University of Reading has lots of Transformative Agreements with publishers whereby staff and students can achieve Open Access for their research outputs easily. In most cases, no invoices are generated and permission for funding for the article processing charge (APC) does not have to be sought in advance. A full list of our current publisher deals and agreements is available on our Open Access Libguide. 

For researchers, navigating through all the publisher deals and how this affects their individual journal choices can be complicated – the deals cover over 11,000 different publications. To simplify this process, University of Reading now has a tool that is customised to reflect our publisher deals. The SciFree tool searches by subject or journal name and lets researchers know if a journal is part of a deal and what to do next.

Please bear in mind that to qualify for the deals:

  • The corresponding author must have a current affiliation to University of Reading
  • You should declare your affiliation as University of Reading
  • You should use your University of Reading email address.

Find out more about SciFree by watching an interview with the company’s founder, Dr Abeni Wickham.

How to use the SciFree tool

The SciFree tool is available at: and is also accessible through the ‘Paying for OA‘ section of our Open Access Libguide.

If you know the title of the journal you want to check

Enter the journal name in the search box:
A screenshot of the journal search box in the SciFree journal finder tool In this case, the journal has been found and there is some additional information to help with your submission and in understanding the terms of the Open Access deal.
This journal is showing as ‘Included in Agreements’ – if you hover over the red tick, you will get the information ‘There is no additional charge to the author for OA publication’. This means that the author can request open access and not worry about invoices or prior approval for the APC from the Open Access Requests team. Clicking on the arrow to expand the information will take you to the relevant page for the deal in the Open Access Libguide. This gives additional information on how to access the deal and what the publisher process will be:

Screenshot from the SciFree tool

CCBY licence logoSciFree also indicates the type of licence that you should choose when you sign the publisher’s agreement. In nearly all cases, you should choose the CC BY version of the licence. This is the most open version and is in line with funders’ policies and the University of Reading’s Open Research mission. Clicking on the arrow in by the licence type in SciFree will take you to the relevant Creative Commons webpage that describes the properties of the selected licence. If you have a specific reason for wanting an alternative licence, you should check with the OA requests team first. It can delay publication if you choose the wrong licence that then has to be changed.

Screenshot of a striped padlock indicating hybrid open accessThe type of Open Access offered by the chosen journal is also indicated in the SciFree tool. In the example above, the journal is classified as a hybrid Gold journal. This means that the journal still charges a subscription fee for readers but also usually levies an additional fee for authors to make their work Open Access.


If you are looking for journals in a particular subject area

Use your subject name in the search box. The tool will return journals with this search term in the title. In the case below, you can see that 128 different journals have been found. You can scroll through them and find the details of the deal for each title.

Screenshot of the results when searching for a subject area - in this case Law

Your chosen journal is not found by the SciFree tool

The tool will not find all the journals that you may be able to obtain Open Access with if you are affiliated with University of Reading.

open Access LogoFully Open Access ‘Gold’ journals

Although the tool contains many fully open access journals published by large publishers such as MDPI, Copernicus, BioMed Central and Frontiers, it does not list all of the journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). If you want to submit to a fully Open Access journal listed in DOAJ, you need to complete the Open Access request form first to obtain funding.

Other hybrid Open Access journals

If you want to publish in a hybrid Open Access journal that does not appear in the SciFree search, please check the APC charged by the journal. If it is less that £1000 (excluding VAT), you may still apply for funding. Complete the Open Access request form to apply for funding. You should do this BEFORE you agree Open Access with the publisher.

Help and support

Further help and support can be found by contacting the Open Access team at University of Reading.

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Open Access Week 2022 – The evolution of Open Access for journal articles at University of Reading

Open Access – part of the University’s commitment to Open Research

A tray of small iced cupcakes with the open access logo in green or gold on top At the University of Reading, we’ve been encouraging our researchers to make their work Open Access for many years either by publishing their outputs as Gold Open Access or by using the University’s CentAUR repository to make them available via the Green Open Access route. This is part of the University’s commitment to Open Research. To date, the emphasis has been on making journal articles Open Access rather than books and book chapters, but this is likely to change as funders’ requirements also evolve to include a wider range of research outputs in their Open Access mandates.

For outputs published in journals, improved access to funding for Gold Open Access, both from funders such as UKRI and from the University’s own Gold Open Access Fund, and the growth of Transformative Agreements with publishers has led to an increase in the number of items that are published Open Access. This means that a large percentage of the University of Reading’s outputs published as journal articles are now openly accessible, discoverable and free to read, reuse and repurpose by users all over the world.

As part of our Open Access Week activities, this post looks at how Open Access for journal articles has evolved at University of Reading over the last 10 years.

How have Open Access publishing practices for journal articles changed over the last 10 years?

The Scopus database was used to find journal outputs where at least one of the authors declared a University of Reading affiliation. The Unpaywall simple query tool was then used to find out whether the articles were published as Gold Open Access or became open through the Green Open Access route via CentAUR or another institutional repository.

Bar chart showing the breakdown of Gold, hybrid and Green open access publications at University of Reading 2013-2022

The graph shows the breakdown of the different types of access to articles published from 2013 to the end of September 2022. In 2013, when the Research Councils UK funder mandate for Open Access began, only a small proportion of articles authored by University of Reading authors were published as Gold Open Access, 7.2% as hybrid Gold Open Access and 10% in pure Gold Open Access journals. In the same year, the University of Reading also developed its own policy on Open Access for research articles, encouraging authors to choose the Open Access route if they were able to do so. Authors began to be more aware of Open Access as a movement and something that they should think about when publishing their research outputs. This cultural shift also encompassed the use of institutional repositories to archive author-accepted versions of articles. The Green Open Access route was also not as well developed in 2013 as it is now, with only 22% of outputs available as author-accepted versions of published manuscripts. As an indication of the state of Open Access at this time, the data show that around 50% of the outputs published in 2013 may still be behind publisher paywalls (the black segment in the bars of the graph).

As the requirement for funded authors to publish Open Access became more established and the Open Access requirement for the REF2021 was imposed on UK University-based researchers, the pattern of Open Access publishing began to change. In 2016, the University of Reading also established a Gold Open Access fund that allowed unfunded staff and students to publish their work in pure Gold Open Access journals or hybrid journals with a relatively low article processing charge (APC). The effect of these measures can be seen in the chart above. By 2017, over 40% of journal outputs were published as Gold Open Access, split roughly 50:50 between pure Gold and hybrid journals. The proportion of outputs available via the Green Open Access route also grew to 37%. Overall, under 13% of total outputs for 2017 are currently behind publisher paywalls and available to subscribers only.

Transformative Agreements drive Gold Open Access in hybrid journals

Since 2020 there has been a growth in Transformative Agreements with publishers. These agreements have the aim of transforming publishers’ business models from subscription-based ones, where libraries pay to access content, to an ‘author pays’ model whereby journals are funded by the APCs paid to publish Open Access. The University of Reading has signed up for several of these JISC-negotiated national agreements and they are changing the pattern of Open Access publishing across the University, increasing the number of Gold Open Access outputs in hybrid journals. The deals include some of the major publishers, for example Springer, Wiley, Elsevier and Taylor and Francis, but also some smaller and Learned Society publishers such as Portland Press and Microbiology Society. Since 2019, the percentage of outputs published as Gold Open Access in hybrid journals has increased from 15% of total outputs to over 31% for the first nine months of 2022.

The continuing importance of Green Open Access

Green Open Access Logo of an open padlock

Despite the increase in the percentage of University of Reading’s outputs being published as pure Gold
or hybrid Gold Open Access, there is still a significant role for the Green Open Access route. At University of Reading, the Green Open Access route is particularly important for authors who are publishing in journals that charge a very high APC that cannot be funded from the University’s budgets. All researchers are able to fulfil funder’s mandates and increase the reach of their research by making the author-accepted version of their work available.  For most years, over 30% of articles are available via an author-accepted version of the article hosted in the institutional repository. The impact of publisher embargoes on the availability of these versions can be seen in the chart; for 2022 the proportion of articles that are available to journal subscribers only is over 22%. However, within 6 to 12 months, as publisher embargoes expire, more of this content will become available through the Green Open Access route. The new 2022 UKRI policy on Open Access requires that author-accepted versions in repositories are now made available to users without embargoes at the same time as the publisher’s version of record is released. This new requirement for funded authors should also reduce the time lag on the availability of items in the CentAUR repository.

Will all University of Reading’s journal articles be published Open Access in the future?

open Access LogoThe proportion of closed articles that are available to journal subscribers only is usually around 10% of the total articles published by University of Reading researchers each year. There may be several reasons that this content is not made available Open Access in some form. The journal may not have any mechanism for publishing Open Access or have a self-archiving policy in place, the researcher may not be bound by any Open Access mandates and so choose not to publish openly, the researcher may not be able to deposit the author-accepted manuscript in an appropriate repository or (despite University policy) the researcher may simply forget to deposit their manuscript.

It is possible that more publishers will negotiate Transformative Agreements over the next few years  and this could enable more of University of Reading research to be published Open Access. New deals would involve a large number of smaller publishers and it may be difficult to justify the time and money needed to set up lots of individual arrangements. As the aim of Transformative Agreements is to change the publishing model, it is also expected that many journals should flip from the hybrid model to pure Gold Open Access over the coming years. However, the cost of any further agreements or paying APCs as authors publish may well be prohibitive. A recent estimate of the cost of making the remainder of Reading’s journal outputs open access gave a figure of over £2 million per year in addition to the current six-figure spends from the UKRI block grant and the University Gold Open Access Fund.

How is Open Access funding managed at University of Reading?Screenshot of the University of Reading's Open Access Libguide

You can find out more about how researchers at University of Reading can publish their outputs Open Access by visiting our Open Access Libguide.

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Open Research Forum 18th May 2022

The recording for the Open Research Forum is now available to watch via Stream (University of Reading members only):

On 18th May, we held our most recent Open Research Forum on open peer review. We were delighted to be joined by a range of speakers who contributed fascinating and thought-provoking perspectives and insights into the world of open peer review.

We kicked off our session with a quick poll to capture the initial thoughts of our attendees. We asked whether they were in favour of open peer review. The results of this are shown below:

We were interested to see whether people’s attitudes would change during the session.

The Future of Peer Review: Four Schools of Thought

Presented by Stephen Pinfield, Professor of Information Services Management/Associate Director of the Research on Research Institute, University of Sheffield

Stephen Pinfield- Slides

The Research on Research Institute (RoRI) is an international consortium of researchers, research funders, and other key stakeholders. It aims to co-design and co-produce research projects together with stakeholders in the research system, providing evidence-informed insights that can be translated into practical solutions.

A recent RoRI report on the future of peer review  identified open and transparent peer review as an area of significant innovation. It identified four schools of thought regarding peer review which offer different perspectives and highlight aspects of peer review which are problematic.

The Four Schools are:

  1. Quality and Reproducibility
  2. Democracy and Transparency
  3. Equity and Inclusion
  4. Efficiency and Incentives

Whilst the Schools complement each other in some areas, there are significant tensions between them. Conversations between schools are suggested to provide creative ways to resolve these. There needs to be more heterogeneity in the peer review system, allowing for co-existence of different forms of review. The publishing peer review system needs to be aligned with broader developments in the research system. Finally, a requirement was identified for the research on research community to develop a rigorous evidence-informed understanding of the peer review system.

Open Peer Review at F1000Research

Presented by Eleanor-Rose Papas, Editorial Operations Manager and Peer Review Manager, F1000Research

F1000 Research- Slides

F1000Research and associated publishing platforms, including Wellcome Open Research, Gates Open Research, and Open Research Europe are platforms that aim to change the way science is communicated through the open and transparent publication of articles, associated data and peer review reports.

Since 2012, F1000Research have offered an open and transparent review model. The basis of this is that articles are published first before being subjected to open peer review. This has the benefit of  increasing dissemination, with authors able to revise articles according to the feedback they receive. All peer review reports are available to read, with reviewers acknowledged on the report. This means that the reviews can become part of academic literature, so are assigned DOIs and are data minable.

The review process is formal and invited, with reviewers provided with a code of conduct that they must adhere to. Therefore, F1000Research can preserve integrity, ensuring that readers can trust the peer review process.

eLife’s mission and the PRC model

Presented by Ailís O’Carroll, eLife Community Manager

eLife- Slides

eLife is a not for profit peer-reviewed open access scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciences. Its mission is to accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours.

eLife’s ‘publish, review, curate’ model involves researchers uploading a preprint to an appropriate server. The preprint will be subjected to consultative peer review with an evaluation summary provided. Public Reviews are posted alongside the preprint, with a response from the authors if they choose to produce one. Authors then have the option to transfer to another journal or to revise and publish with eLife. Public Reviews are also offered with a wider public audience in mind.

For this new system to work, eLife emphasizes the need for the research community to become involved. They work alongside PREReview, Sciety and eLIFE Community Ambassadors to improve the peer review process.

Open Research Forum on open peer-review- A personal account

Presented by Rémi Tailleux, Associate Professor of Physical Oceanography, Department of Meteorology, Open Research Champion for MPCS

Remi Tailleux- Slides

Remi discussed his experiences of open peer review as both an author and a reviewer for Copernicus journals and Nature Communications.

Remi highlighted the positives of open peer review. The paper is immediately available and has a DOI, meaning that it can be cited even if it has not yet been accepted for publication. The open discussion tends to discourage unprofessional reviews. Authors are also able to receive a wider range of comments, as anybody can comment on papers. This can help authors to receive greater feedback, resulting in a better paper.

Despite this, Remi discussed how in his experience, open peer review can lead to superficial responses. Reviewers and authors must take care in monitoring the responses they provide, as they will remain public forever. Traditional models of publishing enable editors to moderate exchanges between authors and reviewers. Editors in some models only intervene at the end of the open discussion, playing less of a filtering role than in the standard model.

Open Peer Review: A Journal Editor’s Perspective

Presented by Angelique Chettiparamb, Professor of Urban Planning and Governance, Henley Business School (Real Estate and Planning), Managing Editor: Planning Theory

Angelique Chettiparamb- Slides

Planning Theory is a high-ranking journal in spatial planning. The editorial board decided to join the Web of Science Transparent Peer Review (TPR) Program through their publishers-Sage Publishing-on a pilot basis. The board decided to review the initiative after one year of implementation and then evaluate whether the journal should continue with the program.

Authors could choose to opt in for TPR at submission. Reviewers had to opt in for the process, as opting out would have meant that the entire content for the peer review process of the article would not be published. However, reviewers could preserve their anonymity, as they had a choice to do so.

Since TPR came into operation on 1st April, statistics from Sage Track show:

  • 6 new submissions- all authors have opted in
  • 2 first revision submission- authors have opted in
  • 1 second revision submission- author has opted out of TPR
  • All reviewers have opted out of sharing their identity.

There was enthusiastic support from some participants, as TPR aligns with principles of openness and transparency. However, there were questions raised of whether TPR improved reviews in terms of providing constructive and substantial feedback. Some members of the editorial board were unsure what TPR was aiming to solve. There were concerns surrounding post-publication exercise of power, authors possibly refusing to review, and reviewers writing for an audience rather than producing a substantive review. However, open peer review acknowledges the contribution that reviewers make to a manuscript. This was suggested as challenging authorial ‘glory’ since publishing the review process shows how reviewers’ inputs can shape the final published output.

Panel Discussion/Q&A

We invited our speakers to contribute towards a panel discussion on open peer review. The discussion first focused on the unintended consequences of the process such as exercises of power and the quality of reviews.

The panel also reflected on changes or interventions within the wider ecosystem that would encourage a greater adoption of open peer review models. This included a spectrum of balancing concerns and incentives, such as enabling authors to preserve their anonymity and promoting the contribution reviewers can make to the publishing process. Thus, incentive systems need to be aligned to facilitate the open peer review process. Currently, review is a voluntary contribution from researchers as it is the expected activity of the academic community.

To inspire a cultural shift, aspects such as paying reviewers were touched on. However, this does not resolve wider issues, as there is a need for institutions to recognise peer review more as a scholarly output. Training researchers how to write good peer reviews could contribute towards this. Training sessions and structured mentoring programmes could help, as well as early career researchers receiving guidance from their supervisors.

After hearing from our speakers, this was the end poll:

It was fascinating to see how the talks influenced our audience’s attitudes towards open peer review.

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Open Research Forum 9th March 2022

The recording for the Open Research Forum on Wednesday 9th March 2022 is now available to watch via Stream (University of Reading members only):

Ersilia, a hub of Open Source AI/ML models for infectious and neglected diseases

Ersilia – Slideshow

Presented by Gemma Turon, a co-founder of Ersilia, and an appointee to a Software Sustainability Institute Fellowship.

The Ersilia Open Source Initiative is a non-profit organisation which provides artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) models to support health research and strengthen research capacities in Low and Middle Income Countries.

While low and middle income countries suffer the greatest impact from infectious diseases, they produce less than 10% of the scholarly output in this field, leading to a significant western bias in biomedical research, and drug development.

Ersilia seeks to redress this imbalance by providing reusable Open Source AL/ML models, building community tools and governance models, and improving the documentation and accessibility of resources.

One Image: Exploring Open Source Digital Imaging for Research

One Image 2022 – Slideshow

Presented by Eva Kevei, Associate Professor in Biomedical Sciences, and a member of the Open Hardware community at the University of Reading.

The One Image project, funded for 12 months by the University of Reading, was launched in January 2022 with the purpose of designing, building and testing imaging instruments for a variety of scientific applications and disciplines using Open Hardware design principles.

Money for research is always limited, even in the developed world, and existing, often bespoke, imaging equipment can be prohibitively expensive. One Image’s output will be cheap, accessible and customisable, with design files, code and documentation being made available under open licences. Open hardware makes experimental research more accessible at lower cost and has a role to play in correcting the existing bias in research towards higher income countries.

Annotating for Transparent Inquiry in qualitative research: making archival documents accessible

Annotating for Transparent Inquiry – Slideshow

Presented by Joseph O’Mahoney, Lecturer, Politics, Economics and International Relations, and Open Research Champion at the University of Reading

The Annotation for Transparent Inquiry Initiative developed a tool for qualitative researchers that enables them to create enhanced annotations in articles and link to digital copies of archival sources in trusted repositories.

One problem in archives-based research is the accessibility of primary resources: often the sources only exist as a single, physical copy which can only be accessed in person with no digital surrogates, which raises questions about the authenticity and credibility of quotations and citations in scholarly output.

The Annotation for Transparent Inquiry augments papers with an interactive overlay which provides extended metadata, annotated notes and facsimiles of the document, providing a much needed context for the source material.

Joseph was involved in the project to pilot this valuable tool and has published a practical guide based on his experience. You can find more information in his Open Research Case Study.

Open Research Champions business / updates

Open Research Survey

Marcello De Maria and Kirsty Hodgson presented the findings of the 2021 Open Research Survey to a meeting of the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity on 8th March. It was extremely well received and generated a great deal of discussion at the Committee, particularly in respect of the gaps in perceptions and requirements that were observed across different demographics represented in the survey.

 Electronic Lab notebooks

A question was raised regarding the employment of electronic lab notebooks. Christiana Bercea discussed her pilot project using OneNote, which was recently undertaken in the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy. This pilot was discussed at the 7th July 2021 Forum. It has proved successful, with a number of participating lab groups committed to continued use of OneNote.

 Thank you 2021 Champions!

Your work this year has been invaluable, we are extremely grateful to everybody for their contributions over the last year under what have not been the easiest of circumstances.

 2022 Research Champions Applications

While the Open Research Forum took place before the closing date for applications, we would like to thank everyone who showed interest and submitted applications.

 The Next Open Research Forum

Date TBC

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