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Funder policy and Open Research

A key task for the Office for Open Research will be responding to the UK policy environment around open research.

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Many of our project areas are focused on developing infrastructure for open research at the University. For example we hope to provide digestible data about levels of usage for open research practices across our schools and faculties.

As we know from the example of the REF open access policy, external policy drivers can have a huge effect accelerating institutional change. An imperative for universities to facilitate green open access was created, speeding the development of institutional repositories in the UK.

Early funder policy

Funder policy for open research is mostly still in its infancy. The Horizon Europe programme demonstrates how a fully featured funder open research policy could look. Horizon specifies five mandatory open science practices for its projects, considered to be generally applicable. These include widely the adopted open access publication and open data sharing, with additional consideration given to research instruments and workflows.

A larger set of voluntary practices are given “recommended” status, including pre-registration, co-production and the use of preprints. If similar criteria were adopted by the UK research councils, building on existing requirements for open access publication and open data, this would mark a significant step towards open research adoption.

Alternative approaches

A different approach is taken by the Wellcome Trust, who have directly funding open research projects. This scheme set a benchmark for openness, with proposals being openly shared alongside reviewer comments, although it has now been discontinued.

The open list of funded proposals shows a focus on open infrastructure including that for data sharing and preprints. Wellcome provide a variety of other incentives for researchers to follow open research practices, although their focus now appears to have returned to open access publishing and the Wellcome Open Research platform.