Open Research at the University of Wolverhampton: reimaging the research culture
The University of Wolverhampton has signed-up to the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) to support a more open and supportive research culture that rewards transparent and reproducible research.
The UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) is a peer-led consortium seeking to make research as rigorous as possible, supporting self-organising grassroots and top-down initiatives via a network of local and institutional leads.
Dr Westwood said: “Advances in science and research generally rely on transparency and reproducibility, but these can be undermined by cultural norms that value publication and grant-funding track records over verification and confirmation.
“Mounting evidence indicates that these norms can erode research quality and create a hyper-competitive environment that can deteriorate researchers’ wellbeing.
“This situation is unsustainable.
“Therefore, researchers, institutions, and organisations are engaging in mass self-examination with the view of reimaging research culture so that it is more open and supportive while rewarding transparent and reproducible research.”
To facilitate this shift, collective action is required from institutions, particularly universities.
In addition to seeking to be one of sixteen other universities who have signed up to UKRN and having assigned an institutional lead, Professor Maria Uther, the University of Wolverhampton has two local network leads, Dr Ian Lahart and Dr Samuel Westwood.
As part of their broader strategy to engender open research practices, which represent best practice in high-quality research, Dr Lahart and Dr Westwood plan to set up an open research working group.
Dr Westwood said: “This working group will be composed of action-oriented senior academics and experienced research staff that seek to make research as transparent, open, and accessible as possible by modifying policies and procedures at the department and institutional level.
“I will also lead an initiative that I founded at King’s College London; the RIOT Science Club, which is a seminar series promoting awareness and providing training in reproducible, interpretable, open, and transparent research practices.
“RIOT Science Club Evidence in recent years indicates that science and research more broadly is undergoing a credibility crisis, wherein findings from a broad range of disciplines are difficult to reproduce or even verify.
“The cause of this crisis is in large part due to inappropriate incentives and the lack of high-quality skills training.”
At the University of Wolverhampton, Dr Lahart and Dr Westwood, are seeking to deal with these primary causes through two initiatives, an open research working group and the RIOT Science Club.
The open research working group will be composed of action-oriented senior academics and experienced research staff that seek to reward transparent and reproducible research practices by changing policies and procedures.
The RIOT Science Club is a weekly seminar series, which thanks to a team of early career researchers, is now franchised to the University of Exeter, Erasmus Medical Centre, and Imperial College London. Presenters include junior and senior academics, while presentations cover a broad range of topics on the theme of open research. Participants can attend without need to register.
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