Open Research Update

A lot is happening in the world of Open Research at the moment! Here are a few words on what is important to us in the Library at Lancaster University.

Open Science versus Open Research?

Let’s start with the slightly confusing terminology. One of the “Goals of research and innovation policy” of the European Commission is Open Science which defined as “an approach to the scientific process that focuses on spreading knowledge as soon as it is available using digital and collaborative technology.” Moving to the useful FOSTER site they have an Introductory Course on Open Science which is very good and concise summary.

Meanwhile, the Wellcome Trust is advocating for Open Research, a way of “unleashing” the full potential of research. The publisher SpringerNature claims to be “a pioneer in the field of Open Research”.

Open Science = Open Research? It seems to be the case. Our colleagues at Cambridge state that both terms are interchangeable. We at Lancaster University will stick with Open Research as it seems to be the more comprehensive term including all fields of research.

Plan S – A gamechanger for Open Access?

By now everyone will have heard of Plan S from Science Europe. Details of implementation will emerge at the end of 2018 but it already feels like there is a bit of fresh air in the Open Access world that felt becoming a bit stale and operational in the grind of REF Open Access checks and APC reporting. Currently, there are 11 national funders on board alongside some big charities although Jan-Robert Smits (Special Adviser on Open Access and Innovation in the European Commission) stated that there are talks with other major national funders and charities about adoption.

What will it mean in practice? Hard to say. Will it favour Gold over Green? It seems so but Jisc believe it will be “game changing” for the world of repositories (which offer Green OA). Will it mean the end of hybrid journals? Will journals flip or mirror? How do you set a cap for APC charges? What will it mean for authors (some of whom are already not happy).

Lots of questions but as our colleagues at Oxford point out this is what we know for sure so far:

  • Plan S is not REF 2021. Although UKRI is a signatory to Plan S, Research England has stated that OA policy for REF 2021 will not change (a big sigh).
  • Plan S will inform future iterations of UKRI (and probably other national funder) OA policies. So we should get used to the implications.

A “culture change” towards Open Research

One of my favourite reports of 2018 so far is the LERU paper Open Science and its role in universities: a roadmap for cultural change. What I like about it is not only that it stresses the “cultural” aspect of change but also that it provides a “Checklist of questions for universities” that embrace Open Research. In its “Checklist” in the Appendix (p.26) the document recommends a couple of things that we also feel will be crucial:

  • Develop a programme of cultural change, which is necessary to support the changes in principle and practice which Open Science brings.
  • Establish advocacy programmes, which should identify the benefits of Open Science approaches, whilst being realistic about the challenges.

This is where we believe the Library can make a difference. We are seen by most users as a neutral player in the centre of the institution’s teaching and research efforts.

Next stepping stone: Lancaster Open Research Café

In the spirit of culture change we have partnered with PROSPR (Promoting Open Science Practices) to organise Lancaster’s first Open Research Café on November 21st in the Library.

The Open Research Café will be an informal gathering, where people from all across the university (staff, PhD students) can meet and chat with others interested in supporting openness and transparency in research. Most importantly, there will be tea, coffee and pastries!

This event follows our popular Data Conversations series but will expand the scope of the discussions!