Open Scholarship at Oxford
The University of Oxford is committed to open scholarship (also known as open science or open research), as indicated in its Strategic Plan 2018-23. To be successful in fulfilling these priorities, change is required across the Collegiate University, for example in research methods, dissemination channels, support tools and services, but most notably in the research culture of the institution.
What is Open Scholarship/Open Science/Open Research?
‘Open Science opens up new ways in which research/education/innovation are undertaken, archived and curated, and disseminated across the globe. Open Science is not about dogma per se; it is about greater efficiency and productivity, more transparency and a better response to interdisciplinary research needs. All this can have a profound impact on universities because, to deliver Open Science, both universities and university researchers should develop new perspectives. To embrace Open Science, universities and researchers need to embrace cultural change in the way they work, plan and operate. The result will infuse a culture of Open Science throughout the academic organisation and may support other evolutions in academic practice, such as the use of next-generation metrics in the evaluation of research output.’ From Open science and its role in universities: a roadmap for cultural change, LERU (League of European Research Universities).
Oxford Open Scholarship Case Studies
Although there is much to be done to engender open scholarship amongst Oxford researchers, there are a number of researchers already working in ways that typify open scholarship. Four varied case studies, one from each academic division and with different perspectives on open scholarship, describe examples of good practice and existing activity, with a brief assessment by the Project Lead of, in their opinion, the benefits and drawbacks of the open approaches they have taken. Summary below (read the case studies in full here):
1. I-Sicily (Inscriptions of Sicily). The project presents some interesting challenges in data description and citation and of working within cultural heritage abroad. A key message is that the open approach has encouraged collaboration and made it easier.
2. PCI (Peer Community In). This service runs peer-review on top of works disseminated via pre-print servers and is an example of a type of innovation that has the potential to disrupt traditional publication models. Authors appear to appreciate the open dialogue with recommenders.
3. PERL (Psychopharmacology & Emotion Research Laboratory). The PERL researchers have a broad open approach that underpins their research workflows. This is related to the approach taken by the WIN (Wellcome Institute for Neuroscience) which is a model that could be adopted by other groups. The open approach includes benefits to patients, for good science, and adding a competitive edge to their research and skills base.
4. Young Lives. The drivers for Young Lives going open includes access to outputs from researchers distributed across many countries and with minimal access to publications. The open approach enables them the project to communicate widely, supported by communications grant.
Main findings from the case studies:
- The variety of approaches and tools in use.
- The innovation on the part of these research projects in adopting openness.
- The projects offer practical examples of HOW to DO open scholarship.
- That the University can learn from these excellent exemplars to promote the benefits and support open scholarship more widely.
What else is happening at Oxford?
In talking to researchers it was clear there are many open scholarship activities underway around the University. This prompted the Bodleian Libraries to hold a workshop in November 2018, to explore how they might plan to support open scholarship. The wide ranging and valuable discussion resulted in a long list of ideas and suggestions for support. The Bodleian Libraries are currently focusing on actions that emerged from the workshop including:
- Working with Oxford Reproducible Research Group https://rroxford.github.io/ and Research Services on provision of an Open Scholarship website to complement the OA Oxford and Research Data Oxford sites.
- Collaboration with the Oxford Reproducible Research Group on an Open Scholarship conference – initially, collaboration for the Oxford-Berlin open research conference in September 2019.
- University of Oxford strategic Plan 2018–23. Priority 9: Invest substantially in the research environment, both human and physical (including the estate, libraries, collections, equipment and IT) by 2023. Priority 20: ‘Continued investment in digital tools and infrastructure to be a leader in open scholarship and support open access to collections and research data outputs.’
- The case studies were created at the request of the Oxford Research Information Management and Technology Sub-committee of the Research and Innovation Committee (RIMTS), and produced by Sally Rumsey, Head of Scholarly Communications & Research Data Management, Bodleian Libraries.