WHELF Open Research Café – South Wales Event

Post by Nick Roberts (USW) and Mark Lester (CMU)

What was this?

We held an event on the afternoon of Tuesday 26th June at Cardiff Met – attended by 19 colleagues from across South and West Wales (as well as a representative from University of Wales Press). The aim was to bring together people to talk about open research using a roundtable discussion format/statement card format based on an initiative from LIBER and Foster Open Science (https://www.fosteropenscience.eu/content/organise-your-own-open-science-cafe). Fortunately, this was held on one of June’s nicest days weather-wise so what better way to spend it then talking about how libraries can support open research… The venue for the afternoon was the Hospitality Suite in Cardiff School of Management building on the Landaff Campus of Cardiff Met.

The event was deliberately tagged as ‘open research’ as opposed to ‘science’ to attract the widest set of participants from across institutions. A key aim was to road test the format for WHELF colleagues to then take back to their own institutions.

The afternoon started with a welcome and outline of the event from Mark Lester (Cardiff Met) and Nick Roberts (USW). Participants were assigned tables to ensure a good mix of colleagues from different institutions and a pack of prepared statements (see below) were given to each grouping – these packs were subsequently swapped after 30 minutes (or so) of discussions. Each table had a note-taker/facilitator present to ensure the discussion moved on and to make sure we collected the brilliant ideas/frustrations/discussions that were being shared. Thanks to Louise Harrington, Mariann Hilliar and Cath Borwick for acting as note-takers and table facilitators on the day.

Photo of screen with "Open" slide and Mark Lester speaking

Mark Lester and Nick Roberts introducing the Open Research Cafe

Many thanks to all of the colleagues who attended and engaged with the café format.

The statements

The statements used on the day were focused on areas such as open access, research data management, perception of research and publishing – thanks to Beth Hall (Bangor) and Nick Roberts for putting the statements together. They were deliberately provocative to ignite the discussions and get everyone thinking – some examples:

  • Researchers don’t need assistance to make their research open access
  • Resistance to Open Data and Open Access is natural
  • Very little research data is ever re-used
  • The REF overwhelms everything
  • The success we’ve had with connecting with researchers was based on buy-in from senior staff

The discussions

Below is a brief flavour of the discussions (a future post will give a more detailed ‘deep dive’ on discussions):

REF and Open Access

  • Compliance is important as it means open access has a ‘foot in the door’ and is at least being discussed within Universities (embrace the stick/use the REF hammer)
  • Can be difficult to use REF compliance hammer only with some researchers i.e. they already spend a lot of time complying with departmental targets etc. so can ignore this.

 Collaboration in research support

  • Need to increase sharing of expertise/experts between WHELF institutions including reuse of materials.
  • Institutions with similar missions could collaborate more closely (i.e. similar research bases or disciplines) rather than everyone sharing everything that may not be relevant.

 Good Research Data Management (RDM) principles

  • Focus on engaging with early career researchers in the first instance – can’t force anyone to see it as relevant…has to have a point/be disciplined focused to an extent.
  • Do researchers notice funder policies on research data management/sharing? What about anyone that does not receive much external funding – is it important for them to have good RDM skills?

 Jargon

  • Too much use of colours when it comes to open access i.e. is this a little bit open access or a lot. Potential to lose the audience before you’ve started.
  • What replaces jargon? – is it a necessary evil for the moment?

 Institutional Repositories (IRs)

  • Shared repository like e.g. White Rose may be better in the long run for all WHELF institutions i.e. instances for each place on a shared platform.
  • Concern that IRs may not be able to be preserved due to lack of funding/buy in from institutions.

The brilliant idea(s)

  • Launch a WHELF wide (jargon free) research support statement.
  • Connect similar mission oriented institutions to focus research support activity that is beneficial and low cost i.e. community of practice model.
  • Promote resources generated by WHELF as ‘open’ by utilising creative commons licenses.
  • Shared repository platform for all research outputs and collections within WHELF i.e. White Rose (Max).

Next Steps

All the discussions and ideas collected on the day will be written up in more detail to ensure we have a clearer evidence base to keep the momentum going in all our efforts to enhance research support across all WHELF institutions.

Participants expressed an interest in more research support related events – the proposals will go back to the WHELF research group. Some views were expressed that elements could/should be delivered via some webinars to cut down costs and to ensure knowledge sharing and actions from this happens more regularly.

Posted in Research group blog