Research Publishing

Steps to Open Research

Book People

Steps to Open Research


How to make your research more open 

Here are the 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 Library research support and research data support teams are here to help you tackle any or all of these.
 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: 

Make your research publications Open Access 
This can be done either via the publisher (Gold Open Access) or through deposit in the Research Information System (RIS), the University’s publications repository (Green Open Access), under a suitable open licence.* Monographs and monograph chapters as well as articles can be published by Open Access means in the repository, Cronfa 

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.  

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 Zenodo Community or GitHub), and cite the code in your publications, by version and using a DOI or other unique identifier where possible. 

Archive web resources forlong-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: 

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).
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. 

Share your methods and materials
Explore the potential of online workflow and collaboration tools, such as Electronic Lab Notebooks, open-source and citizen science platforms (e.g. Jupyter and 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. 

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; run an open peer review exercise. 

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). 

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. 

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. 

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. 

*'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 Licenses; and Open Source licences typically used for software source code, such as the Apache License 2.0 or the GNU General Public License (GPL). 


Derivative based on an original work. 
Reproduced with the permission of Reading University (2020)