Open Scholarship for Academic Liaison Services

This post is part of a series written for Academic Liaison Services at the University of Kent, as introduction to research support. While we hope it is of more general interest, please read it with this in mind.

Butterflies released from a book

Warning to the reader: this post would be nothing without the links. Please click on them, explore them & ask about them – I’d love to include all the information here, but it would be a fearsome sight to behold, and rather less accessible.

What is open scholarship? Open research? Open science?

Firstly – the language. This is confusing – as much of the initial push to greater ‘openness’ has come from organisations based in STEM subjects, many of the terms used are science based. ‘Open research’ and ‘open scholarship’ are considered alternatives, but, as with ‘open science’ have others who feel this doesn’t accurately reflect the work that they do. At Kent, we are currently using ‘open scholarship’, but this is under review as we endeavour to create an inclusive lexicon of ‘openness’ at Kent. Where you come across these terms, especially in other organisations, they are roughly equivalent, but in expressing the principles to a researcher, there may be a need for some sensitivity.

  • OECD defines Open Science as: “Open science encompasses unhindered access to scientific articles, access to data from public research, and collaborative research enabled by ICT tools and incentives”
  • The Association of Research Libraries defines it as “Open scholarship, which encompasses open access, open data, open educational resources, and all other forms of openness in the scholarly and research environment, is changing how knowledge is created and shared.”
  • FOSTER open science as “Open Science is about extending the principles of openness to the whole research cycle… fostering sharing and collaboration as early as possible thus entailing a systemic change to the way science and research is done”
  • Vitae says of open research “It’s about making research more transparent, collaborative and efficient.”

… but why?

I could wax lyrical here! There are so many reasons. Specifically in the UK, the vast majority of research is funded (indirectly) by tax payers, but really I can do no better than Gema Bueno de la Fuenta at Foster open science. The link provides an easy to read introduction to the benefits and breaks is down into areas of benefit:

• Efficiency
• Quality and integrity
• Economic benefits
• Innovation and knowledge transfer
• Public disclosure and engagement
• Global benefits

And groups which benefit:
• Researchers
• Research teams
• Organisations
• Decision makers and financiers
• The general public
• National level

What does this mean for researchers?

The benefits for research are big – in a world of fully open scholarship, all aspects of research can be interrogated and challenged. Collaborative sharing of data and findings can speed information flow, innovation and discovery are no longer reliant on the inherent delays in making research available, such as with the rise of preprint servers and platforms.

We’re not there yet – open scholarship is fast paced, fun, and exciting, but it is not stable or predictable. There are many stakeholders and each innovation brings with it the need for adaptations, changes in culture and it rarely feels ‘comfortable’. Recently talk of the challenges in irreproducible research have highlighted how a change in one undocumented variable can fail to find the same outcome.

For researchers. there are challenges, in both navigating the wide range of available research, research output types, methodologies and systems that others are contributing and in contributing their research to the open scholarship world. ‘Open scholarship’ encompasses many areas, some of which I have pulled out below but this is by no means an exhaustive list – see, for example, 101 innovations in scholarly communication.

More resources!

More articles, more books, more data, more methodologies…. and in order to manage these, to filter them, to sort them, to evaluate them, we also have new systems to support the work – Google scholar? BASE? Open Knowledge maps? ISIDORE? Quantitative ways of measuring aspects of research – Altmetric Score, Scopus or Web of Science citation counts… with ethical frameworks on how to use them, such as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment and the Leiden Manifesto and guides to the tools such as the Metrics Toolkit and Periodic table of Scientometric Indicators.

How do we support this at Kent?

  • Information Literacy/ Digital Literacy
  • The Open Data at Kent project includes a specific deliverable on “Information to researchers about how to Find/reuse/benefit from open data” (more on data below!).
  • Support on Responsible Metrics

Data Management

Firstly, what is research data? As part of the Open Data at Kent project, we will define data in an agnostic way that represents the research at Kent. As a working definition, research data are material which validate inform or support research conclusions. They are the foundation from which information and knowledge are derived and which lead to the insight that moves research forward. Data can take many forms, such as experimental measurements, models, records, images, sketches and lab books.

Why share it? “Open research data is key to open science” – as with all aspects of open scholarship, there are general benefits, but specifically sharing data allows for the validation of the research findings, enabling other researchers to see the underlying information on which the research conclusions were based.

How do we support this at Kent?

Open publications

‘Open Access’ is often cited as the starting place of open scholarship – although not defined as such, it often means ‘openly available articles and conference proceedings’ with ‘open monographs’ being used regarding books. The research outputs from Kent are, in reality, far, far more varied from podcasts, video, performances, exhibitions, buildings to book chapters – the list goes on.

‘Publication’ in this context is very much up for debate, particularly around preprints or practice research works. Open Access is research findings that are free to all readers at the point of access, so they can use and share it easily. For journal articles and conference proceedings, there are three main routes to open access – Green, Gold and the emerging Diamond open access. For books, there are a wide variety of routes, and new models emerge frequently.
In the UK, Open access to articles is mandated, with a variety of conditions, by both the major funders and Research England through the REF.

How do we support this at Kent?

Copyright and Licensing

With open scholarship, the license that work is made available under is crucial in how open and available the work is for reuse. Work may be available to read or access, but if (for example) a dataset cannot be read by a machine, then it is limiting the use of that work.

How do we support this at Kent?

Continuing changes

These are some of the key aspects of open scholarship, but there are many more that are emerging. Equally, there are currently not generally accepted ways of facilitating many of these – they sit at the cutting edge of open scholarship and their adoption varies across discipline, media and researcher to researcher. The links below provide a rough overview of each area, but if anything catches your interest, do talk to us.

How do we support this at Kent?

2 responses to “Open Scholarship for Academic Liaison Services

  1. Hi Sarah,

    The exact page has gone, which is a shame, but I’ve changed the link to the more text-heavy version – still worth a read!

  2. Hi Sarah I do so want to read Gema Bueno de la Fuenta’s quote on Foster open Science but the link is now broken.

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