Surrey Open Research and Transparency Showcase – Opening Remarks

Let me begin by congratulating you all…
– Emily Farran, our Academic Lead, Research Culture and Integrity, and the organising team,
– Marta Torpor and her PGR team,
– Christine Daoutis and the Open Research team,
– the Open Research Working Group,
– and all today’s presenters. What a diverse group and fascinating set of topics and perspectives you represent. Well done for bringing this together in times that are so challenging for us all.  And undoubtedly, notwithstanding the diversity, and perhaps because of it, so much to learn from each other.

Open Research lies at the heart of a strong research culture.  It is about sharing the outcomes of your research equitably and widely – through open access, but it is about much more than access.  It is about how you do that research – to ensure it is based on a sound footing – how it is conducted, its underlying ethics, and its methodology, across all its many dimensions.

It underlies the very mission of our universities to benefit our society through what we do – our teaching and our research.

Our societies empower us to do meaningful, impactful research – often directly paying for our research with scarce resources that could be put to use elsewhere – so we owe them a debt of gratitude for the joy and privilege of being able to do research.  And we owe them our best efforts to undertake this research in ways which ensure it is well conducted, good and correct research – that can be checked and followed by others and disseminated as widely as possible – to practitioners, end-users and the interested public alike – so, rolling it all up, that is Open Research.

There is one more dimension that I wish to raise with you today and that is the impact of your research – captured, at least at Surrey, by the word Innovation. We see Research and Innovation as a continuum of activity moving your research down a pipeline towards impactful outcomes that fulfil our mission to benefit society – best practice, and the principle of being open as possible, closed as necessary, apply – do we need to consider how to extend Open Research principles to Innovation?  More conversations are definitely needed!

As a research community, at Surrey and elsewhere, our awakening to the importance of Open Research is a work in progress.  Globally, we see continued increases in the number of examples of research misconduct and retractions and corrections of published research, including from within our own institution.  I do not interpret this as our standards are slipping – quite the contrary – I interpret this as our standards are rising – we are both more empowered to be open and transparent and better supported to do so by such important groups as our Open Research team, our Doctoral College, our University Ethics Committee and our Research Integrity and Governance Office.

I know we can do more – for example, there is some excellent training on research methods within Surrey, but we need more. We do not need to reinvent them all for ourselves, but we do need to raise awareness of the importance of this training and raise its availability – a part of making Surrey one of the best places in the country to start a research career – itself a vital aspect of our refreshed Research and Innovation Strategy, to be launched later this year.

Over the next few hours, we will be hearing from our shortlisted candidates for two Open Research awards.

The Open Research Case Study Award is open to anyone in the University, and applicants were asked to discuss how they have used open research practices to achieve their research aims, and the challenges and benefits of doing so. Our goal is to create a series of case studies on our webpages, to demonstrate how we, at Surrey, practice Open Research.

The Surrey Reproducibility Society Recognition Award is open to Undergraduates through to ECRs. Applicants were asked to create “how-to” guidance on a specific open research practice, based on their experience of that practice.

Our goal is to publish the winning applications as peer-reviewed articles, in collaboration with F1000 research. We hope that you enjoy the presentations, and we look forward to announcing the award winners at the end of the programme.

You all have a part to play in Open Research and I am delighted to see you all taking your parts so seriously, grasping with both hands this opportunity to engage and interact.  I wish you a productive afternoon – and plenty of open discussion and food for thought.

As I said earlier, what a joy and a privilege.  Thank you.