University of Reading Open Research Award 2021

The University of Reading’s Open Research Award 2021 online celebration took place on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th June.

Wellcome Trust Lecturer in English Literature Dr Alanna Skuse won the Award with an outstanding case study on the challenges and benefits of publishing Open Access in the humanities; while Dr David Brayshaw and Dr Hannah Bloomfield took the prize for best presentation and shared third place in the Award with a discussion of the role of data sharing in the meteorology-renewable energy interface. Dr Ting Sun and Professor Sue Grimmond took second place with a study of Open Source software development in urban climate modelling; and Dr Luke Barnard and Professor Mathew Owens shared third place with another study of Open Source software development, this time in modelling solar wind.

Just under 90 people from across and outside the University joined us to celebrate researchers who have used open practices to make their research more accessible, transparent or reproducible. We had a superb set of researchers to celebrate, and heard four excellent presentations providing insights into a diverse range of Open Research experiences. Summaries of presentations and the Award Panel’s assessment are provided below, and slides from all speakers are available for download. A recording of the event will be made available shortly.

We were also privileged to welcome our keynote speaker Sarah de Rijcke, Professor in Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies and Scientific Director at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University. Professor de Rijcke is co-author of the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics and the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. Sarah discussed the impoverishment of research when it is governed by a narrow range of value criteria and assessment indicators. The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), the Leiden Manifesto, the pioneering work of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI), and the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science are all signposts to a more equitable, inclusive, collaborative and transparent research culture built on open foundations. Key to reforming research culture is the implementation of assessment and evaluation systems that are aligned to Open Research principles and that reward accessibility, transparency and reproducibility.

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and PVC for Research and Innovation, also presented an update on University progress in Open Research, and highlighted some of the milestones on our recent journey, including this year’s launch of the University’s Open Research Action Plan (download from Useful links on this page) and the Open Research Champions programme. Dr Phil Newton, Research Dean for Environment and senior management champion for Open Research, gave a welcome address at the start of the event and sent us on our way with some closing remarks. Both Professor Yaqoob and Dr Newton highlighted the University’s progressive position in the UK sector: it was the first to publish an institutional Statement on Open Research (in January 2019), and the Open Research Award competition, first run in 2019, has established a model that has since been replicated in several UK universities.

Slides

Winning entries in the Open Research Award 2021

Presenters are marked with a †. Following an abstract of the presentation, text in italics summarises the assessment of the Award Panel.

Winner of the Open Research Award (prize: £500)

Dr Alanna Skuse†: Surgery and Selfhood: lessons from open humanities publishing

Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England: Altered Bodies and Contexts of Identity is an Open Access monograph published in 2021. It is the product of a Wellcome Trust-funded postdoctoral fellowship undertaken 2016-2019. This is the second Open Access monograph I have published. I explore the challenges of publishing Open Access for humanities researchers, where there may be a limited range of suitable Open Access venues. I also discuss the benefits of taking the Open Access route for long form publications, including increased readership and opportunities for engagement with a non-academic audience.

This was a deserved winner, demonstrating a clear-eyed appreciation of both the benefits and the challenges of publishing Open Access in the humanities, and evincing a clear commitment to embedding openness in humanities research.

Alanna has been an early adopter of Open Access monograph publication. The Panel was impressed that Alanna is also working to influence emerging policy through her membership of the UKRI Early Career Researcher Forum, and to help her colleagues at Reading make informed Open Access choices through her role as an Open Research Champion.

Second place (prize: £250)

Dr Ting Sun† and Professor Sue Grimmond: Urban climate modelling using SuPy: enhancing the SUEWS community

Over 55% of the world’s population live in cities, so their activities are critical to the global environment; but cities occupy less than 0.1% of global land, and their weather and climate is poorly understood. It is essential to understand urban atmosphere-environment interactions, at various scales (building – neighbourhood – city) in order to build resilient cities under changing climates. We developed the Open Source urban climate model SuPy (Surface Urban Energy and Water Balance Scheme or SUEWS in Python) with the goal of delivering reproducible research and exciting urban climate teaching. In this case study we discuss how we developed an active Open Source user community by making strategic decisions about how to package, distribute and support the software.

This was an outstanding case study of a well-considered development and distribution of Open Source software for urban climate modelling research. A commitment to making the software user-friendly and developing the user community has resulted in re-use of the software in teaching and student projects and research workshops around the world.

The entry derived strong lessons about the need to support open resources with good documentation and user support, and to use the right online platforms to engage and sustain an active user community.

Third place and best presentation (prizes: £150 + £150)

Dr David Brayshaw†, Dr Hannah Bloomfield†, Dr Paula Gonzalez, Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, Professor John Methven, Dr Phil Coker, Dr Dan Drew, Dr Dirk Cannon: Meteorological data for the transition to future clean energy systems

Rapid increases in renewable electricity generation (such as wind and solar), mean that the need for high quality, openly available, climate information for managing energy-system risk has never been greater. The Energy-Meteorology research group has been at the forefront of addressing this interdisciplinary challenge for more than a decade. It has created numerous open-access datasets and models enabling researchers to explore climate risk to energy systems, including long term ‘artificial histories’ of renewable generation and tailored sub-seasonal weather forecasts up to 6-weeks ahead. The methods and datasets the group has developed are now in widespread use by academia and industry.

There was real substance to this case study of a research team engaging in sustained distribution of open data over a period of several years, and using these data to create a bridge between the fields of meteorology and renewable energy research.

David and Hannah’s presentation really brought out the team effort, and Hannah was articulate about her own learning journey from fist venturing into data sharing as a PhD student. She highlighted the critical importance of providing good documentation and designing datasets with the target users in mind. It was inspiring to see a research group building capacity in data sharing and developing data curation skills in the new generation of researchers.

Third place (prize: £150)

Dr Luke Barnard† and Professor Mathew Owens, Open Source modelling of space weather

We have produced a new, computationally efficient, numerical model of the solar wind. We made this model Open Source because we believe it is useful to researchers, educators, and space weather forecasters. Within a year this has resulted in new international collaborations, uptake by external university courses, and the further development of our model into an operational forecast tool at the UK Met Office, including our own research outputs. Open research practices have significantly raised the quality and the impact of our research outputs; for us, this clearly justifies the resources and effort required to implement open research practices effectively.

This was a well-articulated case study, which clearly set out the rationale for adopting an Open Source pathway to distribute novel computationally-efficient modelling software.

Luke spoke persuasively of the benefits realised as a result of making the software Open Source, which has led to new research collaborations, improvement in the model and quality of the resulting research, and has enabled him to win funding to develop the tool for operational use by the Met Office.

Speakers

Dr Luke Barnard is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Meteorology. Luke’s research focuses on how the Sun creates and controls the space environment near Earth. In particular, Luke is interested in how sporadic eruptions of mass and radiation from the Sun create the space weather that affects us on Earth from day-to-day. Using cameras on spacecraft that observe the Sun’s atmosphere with numerical models of the solar wind, Luke develops methods to improve the skill and reduce the uncertainty of space weather forecasts.

Dr Hannah Bloomfield is a PDRA in the Meteorology department working in the Energy-Meteorology research group. Her interests include understanding the impacts of climate variability and climate change on current and future power systems. Hannah has created numerous open access datasets of renewable energy generation and electricity demand which are used in academia, industry and teaching.

Dr David Brayshaw is an Associate Professor in the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences (Meteorology Department), where he founded the Energy-Meteorology research group in 2012. He has been involved in numerous academic and commercial research projects on weather and climate risk in the energy sector, including a leadership role in two major European energy-climate service prototypes. He leads several initiatives supporting interdisciplinary exchange and education in energy-climate science and climate services more broadly.

Sarah de Rijcke is Professor of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies and Scientific Director at CWTS, Leiden University, and Co-Chair of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI). Sarah specializes in social studies of research evaluation, which she considers in relation to epistemic cultures, knowledge infrastructures, valuation processes, and roles of research in and for society. She has a strong international public academic presence with global outreach activities in science policy, speaking frequently on the topic of research evaluation and metrics uses. She recurrently acts as expert advisor in European and global science policy initiatives. Most recently, she was invited to represent the Netherlands in a high-level UNESCO Expert Group to write a global recommendation on Open Science. Her present research is funded by a grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Her team regularly collaborates in research consortia funded by the European Commission’s Framework programmes and national research councils across Europe and the UK.

Dr Phil Newton is Research Dean for Environment and senior management champion for Open Research. He is a member of the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity and has been a driving force behind the Open Research initiative at Reading in the last few years. He published the University’s Statement on Open Research in 2019 and secured funding to implement the University’s Open Research Action Plan 2021-23.

Dr Alanna Skuse is a Wellcome Trust University Award holder in the Department of English Literature. Her research focuses on early modern representations of self-wounding. She has been a Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at Reading and Long-term Fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and has taught at Bristol and Exeter universities. Alanna has published two Open Access monographs, Surgery and Selfhood in Early Modern England (CUP, 2020) and Constructions of Cancer in Early Modern England (Palgrave, 2015), as well as numerous journal articles. She has written for The Conversation and organised numerous public engagement events as well as speaking at a variety of heritage and charity events.

Dr Ting Sun is a NERC Independent Research Fellow in the Department of Meteorology. His research is in the fields of urban climate and hydrology with a focus on understanding urban-atmospheric interactions for enhancing urban resilience and sustainability. He is an advocate for Open Research as a lead developer of several Open Source models, notably SuPy and SUEWS, and through these is a key contributor to the Open Source climate service tool UMEP (Urban Multi-scale Environmental Predictor).

Professor Parveen Yaqoob is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and PVC for Research and Innovation. As Chair of the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity, Professor Yaqoob provides strategic direction for the University’s initiative to develop its culture of Open Research.

Open Research Award Panel

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and PVC for Research and Innovation (Chair); Dr Etienne Roesch, Associate Professor, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences; Dr Phil Newton, Research Dean for Environment; Professor John Gibbs, Head of School, School of Arts and Communication Design; Dr Robert Darby, Research Data Manager.

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