Openness and accessibility are words that are ubiquitous across all facets of society nowadays.
And in academia and research they are becoming more and more prevalent as Open Science also known as Open Research becomes embedded.
Ireland’s National Action Plan for Open Research outlines objectives and actions for the next chapter in Ireland’s transition towards open research.
The action plan which covers the period 2022-2030, serves as a roadmap for the implementation of open research across Ireland, outlining national goals and coordinated actions that will assist the research system as a whole to better support open research practices.
While the European Commission has stated that Open Science is a policy priority and the standard method of working under its research and innovation funding programmes as it improves the quality, efficiency and responsiveness of research.
It is under these umbrellas that University of Limerick is working.
Ashling Hayes, Head of Library Research Services in the Glucksman Library in UL said: “Open Science is research that is transparent and reproducible, engaged with citizens and whose outputs are openly available. Science thrives when it is shared and the openness of science is a critical principle for accelerating scientific discovery, promoting innovation, and ensuring that research serves the public good.
“By embracing Open Research, UL is not only advancing the frontiers of knowledge but also ensuring that research tackles the global challenges and serves the greater good by making it accessible to all.”
University of Limerick is actively promoting Open Science through various initiatives and practices and has been successful in securing funding for a number of projects.
Earlier this month (October 2023) Ireland’s National Open Research Forum awarded funding to three new UL projects covering different aspects of open research.
UL’s Glucksman Library received funding to develop a National Research Data Management framework that will describe agreed best practices for service provision and policies both at institutional and national level. The project will coordinate with projects funded under an earlier funding round, to ensure that their outputs are taken on board and mutual benefits towards the National Action Plan for Open Research are realised.
The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance for their project enabling the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) dissemination of research data and other outputs of arts practice research through an enhanced understanding of current practice, the publication of best practice guidelines, and the development of technical support training.
Funding was also provided to Lero, the UL-hosted Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software for their project on managing open source software in Irish universities.
Commenting on the funding specifically for the library, Ashling added: “The library has long been a supporter of Open Science and this funding acknowledges our expertise in the area. It will enable us to lead on national principles on Research Data management that will allow institutions to chart their way forward in the further development of their services and policies.”
Lero is another centre of the university that is at the forefront of Open Science/ Research.
At the YERUN Open Science Awards 2023, Lero was one of the five winning projects. It won for its Open Science Committee which was formed in 2022 to develop centre-wide strategies that lead to increased visibility for researchers, greater opportunities for collaboration and greater transparency in the research process.
Lero is hosted by University of Limerick with partner institutions in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Maynooth and others across the country which means its sphere of influence over promoting and developing open science principles and practices is nationwide.
An Open Science Programme Office (Lero-OSPO) has been established in Lero and is a dedicated platform with the goal of promoting engagement between Lero members, stakeholders, and the broader Open Source community and promoting Open Science activities within the centre.
The primary functions of the OSPO include overseeing the development and management of open source software at Lero, with responsibilities including open source library selection, license compliance workflows, managing Lero members’ relationship with the broader open source software (OSS) community, and more.
In addition to supporting Lero members’ interaction with the OSS community, the OSPO also advocates and promotes Lero’s Open Science policies and helps the Lero members with various activities and efforts related to Open Science.
Again, this is not being done in isolation. Lero’s Open Science Charter has been formulated in line with the EU’s Open Science policy and identifies eight ambitions.
They are Open Data, European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), New Generation Metrics, Future of Scholarly Communication, Rewards & Incentives, Research Integrity, Education and Skills, and Citizen Science.
The work that Lero-OSPO is doing has been recognised by the EU’s Open Source Observatory (OSOR). It has been shortlisted for the OSOR Community Award which honours innovative problem-solving, effective use of public resources, and active citizen participation in building digital infrastructures that serve our communities.
All work in this sphere align with UL’s Research Strategy “Wisdom for Action” where we are championing and celebrating the pursuit of research excellence while embracing the spirit of openness and discovery.
And leaving the last word to Ashling Hayes: “In the future I see Open Science as a fundamental principle of scientific research. It will be the cornerstone of a global knowledge ecosystem, democratising access to research, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, and catalysing breakthroughs that propel us toward a more informed, connected, and sustainable world.”
Image: UL Glucksman Library book retrieval system
Photocredit: © Sean Curtin, True Media