Open access / open science

“Open” is a word which researchers find increasingly relevant whether in relation to “open source”, “open science”, “open access”, or “open notebook”. As in other areas researchers need to pay particular attention to funders’ requirements and understand developments in making available both published output, and datasets.

There are a myriad requirements, policies and benefits behind the major research funding bodies’ push for open sharing of research outputs. From open access through mandates to post-project funder monitoring and the REF, it can be a confusing task to understand what is required of you and when.

Through the OpenScience Project (dedicated to writing and releasing free and Open Source scientific software), “Open Science” is defined in terms of four goals:

  • Transparency in experimental methodology, observation, and collection of data.
  • Public availability and reusability of scientific data.
  • Public accessibility and transparency of scientific communication.
  • Using web-based tools to facilitate scientific collaboration.

What, exactly, is Open Science? – Dan Gezelter

Research funders and access to data

For an overview please refer to the Funders Policy Chart.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

OECD “Promoting Access to Public Research Data for Scientific, Economic and Social Development”pdf state:

  • Publicly-funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest
  • Publicly-funded research data should be openly available to the maximum extent possible

Research Councils UK (RCUK)

RCUK Policy on Access to Research Outputs clearly states its approach to open data:

“Free and open access to publicly-funded research offers significant social and economic benefits. The Government, in line with its overarching commitment to transparency and open data, is committed to ensuring that such research should be freely accessible. As major bodies charged with investing public money in research, the Research Councils take very seriously their responsibilities in making the outputs from this research publicly available – not just to other researchers, but also to potential users in business, charitable and public sectors, and to the general public.”

Biotechnical and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 

BBSRC Data Sharing Policypdf state:

“BBSRC is committed to getting the best value for the funds we invest and believes that making research data more readily available will reinforce open scientific enquiry and stimulate new investigations and analyses.”

Its Policy Sharing Statement also outlines expectations – “BBSRC expects research data generated as a result of BBSRC support to be made available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner to the scientific community for subsequent research.”

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust Policy on Data Management and Sharing states “Making research data widely available to the research community in a timely and responsible manner ensures that these data can be verified, built upon and used to advance knowledge and its application to generate improvements in health.”

They support “open and unrestricted access to published research” through its open access policy.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

These approaches are not restricted to science funders.  The AHRC policy on open access to journal articles state:

“Along with the other Research Councils and Research Councils UK, the AHRC believes that free and open access to publicly-funded research offers significant social and economic benefits.”

Biomedical Research Infrastructure Software Service kit (BRISSkit)

The Biomedical Research Infrastructure Software Service kit (BRISSkit) project focuses on the development of open source software. The main aim of the project is to design, deliver and begin to exploit a national data hosting service for researchers in the field of Biomedicine and Bioinformatics. Components will be provided based on open source developed solutions which can be hosted externally where appropriate and accessed securely over the JANET academic network.

The service is being developed in partnership between the University of Leicester and the Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit based at the Glenfield Hospital in the University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust. BRISSkit is funded by the JISC UMF Shared Services and the Cloud Programme.

Uol - Open Access Publishing: Leicester Policy (Research Support Office)
Library Research Resources
Open Access Publishing: Requirements of Research Funders (Research Support Office)