ReproducibiliTea Blog

Building an Open Research Culture 29/10/2021 with Dr Will Cawthorn

In this session, Dr Will Cawthorn at The University of Edinburgh Centre for Cardiovascular Science talked about Building an Open Research Culture. Dr Cawthorn began by talking about the conflicts of interest in research which can be extrinsic and intrinsic and how important it is in open research to have no potential conflicts of interest. Here are the key points which were discussed during the session:

  • Value of a research study these days is based a lot more on if it’s published in a high impact journal and whether it is highly cited
  • Experts opinions are usually flawed especially in flawed and noisy environments
  • There are many consequences of mismeasurement of science including devaluation and ignoring of valuable research, publication delays, incentivization of poor research practice and external pressures killing inner motivation to do good research 
  • Researchers pay to publish their research they produced in the first place in a journal only to ask others to pay in order to access it. This is the opposite of open research

Dr Cawthorn further talked about how he is taking the steps to bring about an open research culture in his own lab. 

  • Encouraging members of his lab to follow their own ideas
  • Publishing negative results because there is no such thing as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ results. Just the ‘conclusive’ and ‘inconclusive’ results.
  • Encouraging more preprints and open access papers

However, open research culture is easier said than done and there are additional practices that Dr Cawthorn wants to introduce/further improve in his lab. And these include:

  • Electronic lab notebook
  • Writing a lab manual
  • Robust data management

The session was concluded with a question regarding if there is any brighter future of open research culture. There is probably a brighter future with many initiatives coming up like DORA (The Declaration on Research Assessment) and LERU (The League of European Research Universities).

Dr Cawthorn is the LERU Open Science Ambassador for The University of Edinburgh and he is collaborating with many others on writing an Open Science Roadmap for the University which is due to be published soon.

This blog is written by Sumbul Syed


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