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Major funding boost for UK’s open research agenda

Oxford Brookes University is part of a consortium of 18 universities – the UK Reproducibility Network – that has received funding of £8.5 million, over five years, to encourage open research practices in the sector.

The funding includes £4.5 million from the Research England Development fund.

The UK Reproducibility Network aims to ensure the UK remains a centre for high-quality, world-leading research by promoting open research practices, training researchers and disseminating best practice.

Open research can help improve culture of research

Open research practices make as much of the research process available for re-use and scrutiny as possible – with the potential to accelerate the advancement of knowledge and improvements to the quality of research undertaken. The benefits of this have been recognised by the UK Government R&D Roadmap as contributing to improving the culture of research.

The Bristol University-led project is a major strategic investment by Research England and builds on a recent announcement by the Science Minister, Amanda Solloway MP, who launched UKRI’s new open access policy. She said: “Our research sector has a particular and unequivocal drive towards openness. We have a duty to make the findings of publicly funded research openly available, to make them as useful and impactful as possible to all potential users, for the benefit of everyone.”

Open research a key pillar

The new funding will drive more open research practices across the UK, with training and evaluation of its impact.

Professor David Foxcroft, Oxford Brookes University Lead for Research Improvement and Integrity, said: “Open research methods, open data and open access publication are three core aspects of open research and this project will help Oxford Brookes further improve its transparent research practices and the quality of our research work. We are excited to be working alongside a number of major UK research institutions as part of this consortium, helping and learning from each other: that is an important benefit of this initiative.”

Professor Marcus Munafò from the University of Bristol’s School of Psychological Science who chairs the UK Reproducibility Network Steering Group, said: “This project will allow us to drive the uptake of open research practices across UK institutions and ensure this is done in a consistent and coordinated way. What is most exciting is that it represents a collaborative approach – multiple institutions working together to ensure the sector as a whole benefits.”

Professor Linda King, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Global Partnerships at Oxford Brookes University, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this important project. Open research is a key pillar of our work on research culture supporting both the quality and integrity of our research.”

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “We know that increasing the transparency of the research process supports higher standards of research integrity, and drives up the quality and reach of research. Research England has supported the UK Reproducibility Network since its inception. We are delighted to fund this project, which will enable the network to scale up its activities, and accelerate the uptake of open research practices across the sector.”

Initially the project will be delivered across institutions that are part of the UK Reproducibility Network. The network is expected to grow over the five years of the award, making training and material available more widely across the sector.

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