February 5, 2022

Brunel – UKRN survey assess need for Open Science support and training

This project is a collaboration between Brunel University London and the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN). The UKRN is the leading organisation for Open Research promotion at UK universities, with 57 universities currently involved. Brunel and UKRN developed a survey providing a brief (less then 5 minute), standardised tool to assess Open Research behaviours in academics, researchers and doctoral students within UK institutions. 

The need for this survey arose from a lack of existing tools to identify initiatives or training needed to support Open Science in a given institutional community. Additionally, we currently have no way or knowing or measuring the uptake and prevalence of Open Science behaviours, such as pre-registration, Open Data and pre-prints etc in the UK or globally. 

Dr Norris (Brunel) with collaborators Dr Charlotte Pennington (Aston University, UK), Dr Kait Clark (University of West of England, UK) and Prof. Marcus Munafò (University of Bristol, UK) identified that a tool was required to: 

  1. Assess current Open Research both within and across universities, and
  2. Identify what initiatives would best fit a given university. At Brunel, a new Open Research Working Group was established by Dr Norris, Prof Geoff Rodgers (Vice Provost – Research), Vice Deans of Research, Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee of Senate, Brunel’s Open Research and Rights Office and colleagues in Summer 2020. Brunel also joined UKRN as a Local Network member in Summer 2020, beginning Brunel’s collaboration with the organisation. 

Dr Norris (Brunel’s UKRN Local Network Lead) and the Open Research Working Group identified that a tool was required to assess current Open Research practices in staff and students at Brunel specifically, in order to drive future tailored initiatives at the university. In collaboration with aforementioned collaborators from other UK universities, the survey was developed, piloted and is now being rolled out across the UK, with Dr Emma Norris from Brunel University London as Lead Researcher. 

What has the initiative achieved so far?

Two overarching outputs are arising from this initiative: First, pilot data was collected at Brunel University London from over 235 respondents in Summer 2021. This data is being used to inform development of Open Research initiatives across the university by the Open Research Working Group, Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee of Senate and Open Research and Rights Office. This has provided the following benefits: 

  1. Providing Brunel’s Open Research Working Group with data on awareness and engagement with Open Research across the university 
  2. Informing the development of initiatives (e.g training workshops) to increase Open Research at Brunel over the next three years, guided by this evidence-base and benefitting the entire research community at Brunel. Second, data is currently being collected from the national rollout of the survey since October 2021. The questionnaire is being distributed to all member institutions of the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN): the leading organisation for Open Research promotion at UK universities. Data collection is due to close at the end of January 2022, with 35 universities currently participating and over 950 responses received so far (06.12.2021). 
  3. This provides benefits to other UK universities: providing data for participating universities which will be shared with UKRN Local Network Leads, to enable them to immediately analyse their data and implement initiatives and lobby for institutional changes informed by the data. 
  4. UKRN as a national organisation: providing data and analysis from across its institutions to give an overall estimation of current Open Research awareness and practice in UK institutions. 
  5. Internationally: providing a standardised tool that can be rolled out to assess Open Research at other universities globally. For example, within the development phase of this survey, we collated many other open science surveys and made these publicly available for reuse on the Open Science Framework.

How FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reproducible) is the practice? 

All aspects of this survey’s development and its associated data are already, or will be made, publicly available. The methodology of the development and roll-out of this Open Research survey was pre-registered on Open Science Framework (OSF), which is internationally indexed and searchable. Previous Open Science surveys that we collated in the development process have been made these publicly available for reuse. The data and resultant report from the Brunel University pilot is already available on OSF. The survey currently being rolled out across universities is already available on OSF with Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International License. Hence, organisers have made all aspects of the questionnaire publicly available to facilitate replication by other departments and institutions. 

Once data collection has ended in January 2022, all data and analysis scripts arising from the survey will be made openly available on Open Science Framework. The resultant paper summarising the results will be published as a preprint and published in a Gold Open Access journal (e.g Royal Society Open Science). Lead UKRN representatives from participating universities have been invited to gain authorship on the paper, as assessed by the CRediT: Contributor Roles Taxonomy for authorship.

About the applicant

Dr Emma Norris is a Lecturer in Public Health, within the Department of Health Sciences and Co-Chair of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group. Dr Norris is a researcher in behaviour change and health psychology, exploring evidence synthesis of behaviour change interventions, as well as development and assessment of physical activity, smoking cessation and digital interventions. Dr Norris is also an advocate for Open Science, interested in designing behaviour change interventions to facilitate Open Science behaviours in researchers. Dr Norris is Local Network Lead of Brunel’s Open Research Working Group & Co-Chair of the European Health Psychology Society’s Open Science Special Interest Group and Conference Organiser of the Behavioural Science and Public Health Network.

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