10 tips for making your research open

What is open research, why should you choose open research and why does it matter to your research career?

These are some of the key questions you may have about making your research open. And they’re questions that formed the basis of an episode of our podcast for researchers – Making your research open – which you can listen to below.

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In this blog, we’ll explore open research and some of the themes from the podcast in more detail, including defining open research practices and how conducting research openly benefits you as a researcher. Plus we’ll cover some practical tips to help you with making your research open.  

Read the Making your research open podcast transcript.

Open research vs open access – what’s the difference?

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It’s easy to confuse ‘open research’ and ‘open access’. While they’re closely related concepts and are  often used interchangeably, they are not the same. And that’s why we’re starting by looking at what they are and the differences between them.  

“Open access focuses on unrestricted access to, and reuse of, the research article,” explained Carolyn Sutter, Head of Editorial Development at Taylor & Francis and past president of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), speaking on our podcast

“Conversations around open scholarship or open research reach beyond this to consider how the whole research workflow can be opened up. That is, how can researchers and scholars share the input and the different outputs that are involved in the process of carrying out their research?” 

Essentially, open access (OA) is the process of making published academic articles freely and permanently available online. Anyone anywhere can read and build upon this research without needing a subscription. For more detail on exactly how open access works and how to publish open access with Taylor & Francis, look at our handy guide to open access.  

Open research, on the other hand, is a much broader term that encompasses the way in which research is conducted as well as the many different ways it can be shared. So open research includes open access to articles, data, and other research information but also encompasses things like scholarly communication networks, citizen science projects, open lab notebooks, and open source software.

Why should you choose open research? 

Open research can have several benefits, both for you as a researcher and for society. 

“I believe that transparency is the essence of good science,” said Charlotte Tate, Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University, speaking on our podcast. “I think it allows us, as a scientific community, to evaluate all of the decisions that have been made for any particular research study. It also stops people from cutting corners, leaving out pertinent details. And then, finally, I think it allows us to really just double-check the work that’s been done.” 

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Recognized advantages of open research include: 

  • Greater transparency in the research process and the data underpinning academic publications. This can improve research integrity, preventing cases of data manipulation or misrepresentation and increasing confidence in published findings.

  • Higher citation rates for those publications available on an open access basis – much of this is because your work will be accessible to more people. 

  • Greater opportunities for collaboration are enabled by the sharing of data, protocols and publications. 

  • No duplicated efforts. Software code, data, and protocols can be shared and reused, which maximizes the impact a research project can have. 

  • Increased visibility of your work as people are able to cite your protocols, methods, data, and more, not just your published articles. 

  • Compliance with funder mandates that require data produced by research projects to be openly available. 

“It allows for more collaboration,” agreed Charlotte Tate. “It makes it known that you’re collecting these types of data. You’re doing these types of analyses. [People working on similar projects] can connect with you a little more easily.” 

How to make your research open: 10 top tips

1. Start small – share with colleagues 

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“I think they should start at the beginning, by sharing information with their colleagues,” said Charlotte Tate. “Sharing within their lab and sharing with incoming graduate students, for example.”  

This tip from our podcast is a great way to start making your work more open. Sharing with colleagues and receiving feedback can help you discover the most useful things you can share, understand which formats are most helpful, and so on. Doing this first will help you build confidence and move on to some of our other tips. 

2. Make your research publications open access  

Most academic publishers now offer open access journals and open access publishing options within subscription journals. Your institution may also have its own repository. For more detail on exactly how open access works and how to publish open access with Taylor & Francis, read our guide to choosing open.  

3. Make your data FAIR  

If you collect or create primary data that support your research findings, make them FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable). You can do this by depositing them in a data repository under an open license, in usable formats, and with proper documentation and metadata. You (and others) can then cite the data using the DOI or other unique identifier in your publications. There’s lots of helpful information in our guide to open data

4. Release your code 

If you create research software or write code to perform data analysis, you can preserve and release the code under an open license using a data repository or code repository platform. 

5. Use a preprint server or open journal submission system 

A preprint, also known as the Author’s Original Manuscript (AOM), is the version of your article before you have submitted it to a journal for peer review. Preprint servers, such as ArXiv, SocArXiv and bioRxiv, are online repositories that enable you to post this early version of your paper online. They are an opportunity to get your work out to your peers quickly. Although readers need to keep in mind that preprints will not have been through a formal peer review process. Read more about preprints

6. Take part in open peer review.  

There are many different models of peer review. Among those we offer is the open and transparent peer review process of the F1000Research platform. In this post-publication model, each peer review report, plus the approval status selected by the reviewer, is published with the reviewer’s name and affiliation alongside the article. Authors are encouraged to respond openly to the peer review reports and can publish revised versions of their article if they wish.  

7. Pre-register your research plans using Registered Reports 

Registered Reports change the way that experiments are designed and conducted by breaking the peer review process into two parts. The first round of peer review is much earlier in the process than the standard research workflow. It takes place after the experiment has been designed but before any data has been collected or analyzed. Find out more about Registered Reports  

8. Share your methods, materials, slide decks, and more with F1000Research 

In addition to publishing original research articles, the F1000Research platform gives you the opportunity to share a wide range of different outputs of your work, including documents, posters, slide decks, data notes, and study protocols. All of these outputs can be cited by you and others. 

9. Teach open research 

If you’re responsible for teaching, then you have the opportunity to introduce your students to the concepts and practices of open research. For example, you could use open data in your teaching and exercises or ask students undertaking experimental projects to pre-register their hypotheses and study designs. You could also teach reproducibility by setting an assignment to replicate a published study and much more. 

10. Choose to publish your book open access 

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If you write academic books, Taylor & Francis Open Access Books program allows authors and their funders to publish both OA chapters and books across STEM, Humanities, and the Social Sciences under a range of publishing licenses. Books can be single-authored or have multiple authors and we offer a range of text types, from monographs to conference proceedings, textbooks to short-form titles.  

Where to next?

If you’ve found this blog useful, make sure you listen to our podcast episode for more tips. And to find out more about open research and open access publishing, you can take a look at the resources below:   

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