AcWriMo: Applying ‘open and transparent’ in your research

Guest post: Dr Christine Daoutis, Open Research Manager, Library and Learning Services

Academic Writing Month is a great opportunity to reflect on writing practices, develop support networks with your peers and, of course, put time aside to make progress on your writing.

Take a moment to imagine what happens when, finally, that thesis, journal article, monograph or anything else you’re working on is finally complete. Your viva corrections done and approved, that article that took so long eventually accepted… It’ s all done; definitely a reason to celebrate!

What happens next, however, is as important as doing the research itself; it is, in fact, at the heart of the ‘why’ you wrote up this piece of research in the first place.

When writing a piece of research you expect others to be able to find, read and hopefully draw from it to inform other work, while acknowledging and citing you as the author. Your audiences may include your peers, prospective employers and collaborators and funders; they may also include practitioners in  your research area, policy makers, and the wider public. There is also an expectation that your audiences should be able, not just to access your research, but also understand its underlying processes: how was it designed? What data support your findings? How was the data collected and analysed?

And yet, research doesn’t always reach the audiences it intends to reach. A substantial amount of published research sits behind paywalls, which means it is unavailable, not only to people unaffiliated with research institutions, but also to researchers from institutions that don’t subscribe to the journal or don’t own the book. Even theses, which traditionally have always been available for anyone to read, will not be consulted if no one knows they exist. This means that a big part of your research may not have the impact that it should have. You, as the author, may not have the impact you should have. Further, even making publications available is not enough for others to be able to see the whole process and underlying data.

This is where Open Research comes in.  

Open Research (also referred to as Open Science) is any research practice that helps making research more discoverable (allowing others to find it, identify it and recognise you as its author), equitable (available to anyone who needs access to it), reusable (licensed in a way that allows others to share it and build on it, for the benefit of all), collaborative (e.g. citizen science and open source) and transparent (shared with enough information showing how it was designed, conducted, analysed and interpreted throughout the research cycle). There are many Open Research practices, some adopted more than others in different disciplines; but you can apply open practices whatever your discipline is. These practices can include open access, open data, study preregistration, open peer review, citizen science and many others.

You may already practise Open Research. If you have published an article open access, shared a preprint or publication in a repository, shared your data or even used openly licensed resources created by others in your writing, all these are open practices. If you are doing your PhD right now, at the end of it you will be expected to make your thesis open access. Open Research is not just about helping others access and reuse your findings; it has several benefits for you, the researcher, too. Whether you already make your research open or not, here are three key things you can do, right away, to engage with open practice.

  1. Do this 5-minute activity to create your ORCID or register your existing ORCID in the University’s repository[i]. An ORCID is a unique researcher identifier that ensures that your publications, grants, data and other research activities are correctly attributed to you. This will make your research more discoverable and help you keep a comprehensive research portfolio.
  2. Learn more about all things Open Research by taking the new Open Research in Practice online module. You can complete this at your own pace and earn the Open Research badge at the end: a micro-credential that you can add to your CV, website and social media.
  • Attend our Zoom sessions on Thursday 25 November.

Becoming an Open Researcher, on Thursday 25 November, 11:00 – 12:30 am, gives an overview of open practices, focusing on publications and theses. 

Research Data Management and Open Data, on Thursday 25 November3:00 – 4:30 pm, addresses research data specifically. Please register on SITS (Surrey Self-Service).

E-mail the Open Research team if you would like if you have a question on Open Research.

  • [i] Visit the Open Research Repository
  • On the top right corner, select Surrey Researchers sign in (use your university username and password)
  • Select Edit profile (top left corner). Scroll down. Under GLOBAL IDs, select Register or Connect your ORCID iD.