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Lightning talk

University-led funding to foster transparent and reproducible research practices across disciplines

  • 26 September 2023 |
  • 16:00 |
  • Session 2 |
  • Auditorium 200

Incentivising the implementation of Open Science within the research process remains one of the key barriers towards engagement with open and reproducible research practices. Indeed, many researchers may ask themselves why they should implement Open Science within their research workflow if (from their perspective) such activities are not rewarded. Additionally, there is often a sense that challenges like responsible research evaluations and research assessments with a strong Open Science focus are too large to tackle for a single institution. However, in addition to valuing Open Science from a top-down-level and supporting its researchers with Open Science services, an institution can also fund research projects which implement Open Science themes (e.g., Registered Reports, Citizen Science, Open Data and Code) to incentivise such practices. At our university, researchers are offered the opportunity to apply for annual Open Science Grants of up to 5,000 euros.

This lightning talk will cover the Open Science Grants, their motivation, the project requirements with respect to Open Science, our evaluation criteria, the outcomes of the projects themselves and finally our experience as an institution which has implemented this funding pathway.

Typically, the evaluation criteria of research funding applications only focus on scientific rigour and expected outcomes. In contrast, the Open Science Grants also require applicants to explain how they will implement Open Science practices and present their overall vision for Open Science in their project. In doing so, these grants ensure that other open aspects of the scholarly process (e.g., pre-registration, sharing data and code openly) are rewarded which would otherwise go unrecognised. After two years providing a moderate amount of money, we see Open Science projects from diverse disciplines (e.g., psychology, social sciences, business studies, linguistics, etc.) at our university. From our experience a key aspect is to open these grants also for all PhD students and early-career researchers from our university, who often lack or cannot apply for any other monetary resources. In this way, we can contribute to a fairer, more inclusive and more equitable distribution of resources within an institution. Moreover, researchers can list the Open Science Grant as an achievement in their CV, an increasingly desired skill demanded in the academic employment market. For institutions, the financial burden is relatively low and thus provides more easily a sustainable monetary solution to ensure researchers are motivated to engage in Open Science.

Critically, the Open Science grants chart a new course for reimagining funding opportunities for researchers which encourage, value and reward Open Science practices. This can also stimulate the discussions about evaluation criteria in different research funding programmes or other contexts of research assessments addressed at the Open Science FAIR 2023. We hope that other institutions will follow suit, which could then collectively act as an incubator for an Open Science culture change.


David Philip Morgan