What is an Open Research Champion?

An Open Research Champion is a research-active member of staff or research student who volunteers a small amount of their time to help promote Open Research, provide information and support to peers and colleagues, and facilitate the adoption of open and reproducible research practices. Champions work together within their Schools and as a University community to spread Open Research awareness, knowledge and skills, and to support the use of open practices in research.

Why has the University appointed Open Research Champions?

The University is working to develop its culture of open and reproducible research in accordance with our Statement on Open Research. We believe that too much research is inaccessible to those who would benefit from it; lacks transparency about its methods and evidence; and, where the research is empirical, is too often irreproducible.

There are simple and achievable things that all researchers can do, with the support of their institutions, and funders and publishers, to make their work more accessible to a wider readership, more transparent with its materials and methods, and better able to stand the test of reproducibility.

But we recognise that many researchers lack knowledge about relevant open practices, or the skills to apply them, or the motivations to invest the time and effort required to make their work more open. Even where the motivation exists, researchers may be unaware of the support available to help them.

Open Research Champions help our researchers to acquire the knowledge, skills and motivations they need to move towards more open ways of working.

What do Open Research Champions do?

Open Research Champions work within their Schools and as a University community to propagate Open Research knowledge, skills and practices. Where there are multiple Champions within a School they work together to co-ordinate their activities. Champions may be more or less active depending on available capacity, and will do some or all of the following:

  • model good Open Research practice in their own work, e.g. publishing immediate Open Access where possible, sharing data and code supporting their publishing findings where relevant, pre-registering empirical studies;
  • use their communication channels and networks to advocate for Open Research, and share information about matters of interest and opportunities, such as training courses and events;
  • provide assistance to peers and colleagues seeking help with Open Research, and signpost University support;
  • organise and help deliver Open Research training and information sessions;
  • share experience and ideas with the University Champions community, and collaborate in joint activities. Champions take part in regular Open Research Forum meetings, which are open to all members of the University;
  • lead and take part in projects and initiatives, both within and outside the University, to develop the environment or infrastructure for Open Research, for example by trialling tools or developing resources;
  • inform University strategy and service development, by advocating for the needs of their School and engaging with the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity (one Champion sits on the Committee in an ex officio capacity).

How is  the Champions programme managed?

The Open Research Champions programme is central to the University’s Open Research Action Plan (2021-23), sponsored by the Committee for Open research and Research Integrity. The programme launched in April 2021 and now includes 25 Champions in 13 University Schools and Technical Services. It is supported by the Research Engagement team in the Library.

A small amount of funding is made available to Champions in each School to support Open Research activities, such as the organisation of workshops or attendance at training courses and events.

New Champions will be recruited every Spring and we are seeking to increase our coverage across all Schools in the University. If you are interested in becoming a Champion, please contact us, and we will let you know when the next call for Champions is published.

What is Open Research?

Open Research encompasses a range of practices that seek to enhance the accessibility, transparency and reproducibility of Research. These include:

  • the Open Access publication of peer-reviewed research outputs; 
  • the preservation and sharing (under open licence wherever possible) of data, code and materials supporting research results; 
  • the use of digital tools to manage, document and publish the research process; 
  • the use of (often Open Source) programming languages to implement reproducible research and analysis workflows; 
  • the pre-registration of study designs and use of results-blind reporting mechanisms to increase transparency and counter publication bias; 
  • the use of preprints and open peer review to accelerate dissemination and increase transparency in the certification process. 

To learn about Open Research, take a look at the web page 12 things you can do to be open, the Open Research Handbook, and our Open Research case studies, celebrating inspiring examples of open practice from our own staff and students.