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Open Research Awards 2023: Welcome

Celebrating Aston Researchers who adopt Open Research practices

Library Services launched an Open Research Award this year to celebrate our colleagues who best demonstrate the use of Open Research practices and highlight its merits in their work. Research case studies were invited from PGRs and research staff and were evaluated based on their use of Open Research practices, the innovative nature of their use and their personal reflection of the resultant benefits and challenges faced.

The case studies were read and judged by a range of colleagues from the Colleges, Research Support, and Library Services, who all came to the table with an open mind, and with a range of experience and opinions. When we looked at the entries we reminded ourselves that Open Research isn’t a level playing field across all subjects and disciplines, we were all really pleased to have received entries from all Colleges which highlighted a range of different practices. 

The winning entrants presented their case study at an awards event on the 7th June 2023. Please find the slides/recording of their presentations and their initial entry text below.

                                                     Left -Right: Diana Galiakhmetova (EPS), Dr Felipe Campelo (EPS), Dr Charlotte Pennington (HLS), Dr Daniel Shaw (HLS)

Dr Daniel Cash (BSS) - Sovereign Debt Sustainability: Multilateral Debt and the Credit Rating Impasse

Open research is often less well explored and taken up in the social sciences and, in particular, open access monographs are significantly less well established than open access journal papers. Looking on Routledge’s (the book publishers) website – stats for OA books associated with the key word subject areas of: International Finance, Banking and Finance and Law, which relate to Dan’s research, showed that only ~1% of books on their platform were Open Access for these subject areas.

The judges felt that for exploring a less well-established pathway to open access, for taking up the difficult challenge of publishing open access monographs, for helping build a pathway to open access monograph publishing in BSS, and for articulating the clear benefits of publishing his monograph open access (6000 downloads and counting), Dan deserved to receive one of our awards this year.

Dr Felipe Campelo (HLS) - CALANGO - An open-source package to uncover genotype-phenotype associations from public genomic data

In his entry, Felipe told us about CALANGO, an open-source comparative genomics package for the investigation of associations between genomic components and complex phenotypes across different species. The judges were really impressed by the entry, which gave a balanced view of why the software package is needed, and described a range of open research approaches which underpinned its development, including broad collaboration, the choice of programming language used, its integration with research data sharing practice including reproducibility, its open licence for re-use, and that it sought to satisfy a specific need and encourage a broad culture of openness in scientific research.

Dr Daniel Shaw (HLS) - Social cognitive disruptions in Multiple Sclerosis: The role of executive (dys)function

The judges felt that in his entry, Daniel clearly articulated some of the barriers to progressing his area of clinical research including but not limited to, poor reporting of research methods, restricted access to research data, and publications behind paywalls. These have motivated his lab to adopt a range of open research practices in response. In a well-structured entry, Daniel outlined these practices, and reflected on their benefits and drawbacks. The judges were particularly impressed with Daniel’s use of Pavlovia, an open-source online repository of experimental tasks that can be run, shared and developed freely, as this showed a real openness of approach, and demonstrated how Aston researchers are working with clear
benefits to the wider research community and beyond.

Diana Galiakhmetova (EPS) - Open Research in Optogenetics

The project Diana submitted in her entry, Neuropa, is an open research project which embraces a range of open research practices. The project team make use of open access publishing, as well as using pre-prints to make findings available as early as possible. The team share research data using FAIR principles – using persistent identifiers, controlled vocabularies to label all data, providing detailed descriptions of the research data, making it easier for other researchers to use, replicate and integrate the datasets in their studies. One thing that really stood out to the judges was the commitment to encouraging an open research culture at Aston by incorporating open research practice into teaching, encouraging present and future researchers to embrace open research. Diana’s was the only entry we received from a PhD candidate, and the judges felt that of itself deserved note

Dr Charlotte Pennington (HLS) - Changing the landscape of academic publishing: A case study of Peer Community In Registered Reports

Charlotte’s entry made a strong case for an extensive range of open research practices that went well beyond Registered Reports, the title of the entry. The entry both described these practices clearly and showed examples of how Charlotte has used them in her work. The judges were impressed by, among other things, the consortium approach, and the efforts to embed a range of open research practices simultaneously. Charlotte articulated the current barriers researchers face with the heterogeneity of current publisher policies regarding registered reports, and made a strong and passionate case for removing peer review from a journals influence.

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