Research and academic publishing have long histories, and research practices are steeped in tradition. These traditional practices are largely closed in nature: blind peer review that occurs behind the scenes; publishing in paywalled research journals that are only accessible to a small proportion of the population; archiving data locally in closed access repositories. Breaking with tradition can be challenging, particularly when research culture still places considerable value on those traditions. For example, institutions still value publishing in high impact factor journals, many of which are not open access, by including this as a key performance indicator. In this context, incentivising open research practices has the potential to accelerate the transition to open research.
Reducing barriers to open research and encouraging researchers to engage in open research practices will advance the open research agenda. By providing support for open research practices and ensuring the decision to engage in open research practices does not adversely impact academics, institutions can increase the likelihood that researchers adopt open practices.
Given deep disciplinary differences in research practice, it is unlikely that one single action or incentive will be effective in encouraging or incentivising open research. Developing an overall strategy incorporating one or more activities and building on progress year on year will move the dial.
Institutions might like to consider developing a strategy that includes some of the activities or incentives outlined below. Very few universities in Australia offer incentives to support open research at the scale evident in Britain and parts of Europe. As such, many of the examples provided below are international examples.
There are many strategies institution can be use to encourage or foster open research practice.
Demonstrating an institutional commitment to open research is essential in promoting open research within the institution and supporting researchers in adopting open research practices. Examples of strategies include:
Commit to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).
Feature a KPI on open access or open research in institutional strategic plans, Faculty or School operational plans, or annual reports.
Open the university to the public through strategies such as opening in-house research seminars to the public, developing public lecture programs, engagement in Open Access Week, and public and community engagement programs in specific domains.
Support citizen science and co-design of research with participants.
Appoint academic champions in disciplines to take forward the open research agenda in their field.
Institutions can support open research practice by creating infrastructure that makes it easier for researchers to engage in open research practice.
Establish an open research platform with discipline-specific foci.
Establish an open access university press.
Provide systems that allow researchers to obtain a DOI.
See also the Infrastructure section of this toolkit.
Support the management of simple, efficient publication workflows, including capturing the author’s accepted manuscript version and pre-prints in the institutional repository.
Provide expert support and data science resources to assist researchers in making data FAIR and open.
Provide support for best-practice research data management, including assistance with the preparation of data management plans.
Assist researchers in obtaining Digital Object Identifiers for datasets.
Provide institutional support for national and international engagement such as funding attendance at open research conferences, supporting engagement in discipline-specific working groups, and sponsoring open research events.
Target institutional support at researchers who engage in open practices.
Customise support to institutional areas of excellence.
Support collaborative discipline-specific initiatives.
Profile open research ambassadors.
Feature and congratulate researchers on open research practices in key communications to staff.
Publicise open access articles (for example, via social media channels) where they have content that might appeal to areas outside of academia.
Deliver an engaging program of activities during Open Access Week.
Run training and engagement programmes for early career researchers.
Ensure any internal grant funding requires open access publishing of outputs.
Provide publication funds to support researchers to publish in gold, fully open access publications.
Provide small grant schemes to support open research practice, such as supporting researchers to make data open or attend open research conferences.
Include a demonstrated commitment to open access or open research in staff promotion and appointment criteria.
Implement an awards program that acknowledges open research practices.
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