The SSA’s Early Career Research Network hosted a webinar in January 2023 on the topic of ‘open science’ – specifically, what open science is, and how it can be used to improve research. Watch a playback of the webinar to learn more about open science publishing protocols, pre-registering your analysis plans, storing your data in repositories, pre-printing papers, and the all-important concept of ‘reproducibility’.

The Early Career Research Network (ECRN) was established in May 2021 to support PhD students and postdoctoral students through the beginning stages of their careers. Over the past two years, the ECRN has hosted free online events on topics including career options for PhD students, top tips for science communication, and how to write a successful grant application. The latest event about open science was chaired by Sophie Orton, and featured an expert panel who each gave a presentation on an aspect of open science, and then answered audience questions.

Olivia Kowalczyk is a Postdoctoral Research Associate, based at the Department of Neuroimaging (King’s College London) and the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging (UCL). In the webinar, she talks about how to convince your supervisor to endorse open research. She explains the benefits of open science practices, including helping you build your reputation, find mistakes early, save time, access additional funding, produce more citable outcomes, and form collaborations. She also recommends two key papers that can persuade supervisors to support open research.

“We know that citations and papers are the academic currency however horrible that is. But things such as code, teaching materials, datasets, OSF repositories, and pre-registrations can all be assigned a digital object identifier (or a DOI), and that means that they can be cited. So basically, you can get credit for the full project workflow, rather than just that one paper you created at the end of it.”

Marcus Munafò is Professor of Biological Psychology and Medical Research Council Investigator at the University of Bristol. He talks about how open science can enhance scientific rigor by promoting transparency in research, and generating internal incentives to ‘check your own work’ and identify errors before they make their way into publications. He also introduces the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) – a national peer-led consortium, which investigates the factors that contribute to robust research, promotes training activities and disseminates best practice.

“If we want to advance knowledge and translate that into societal impact and benefit, we need to be doing good quality research. And the reason open research practices can help with that is that, first of all, the transparency they bring allows for greater scrutiny, and allows for errors to be detected. In any human endeavor there will be honest errors.”

Charlotte Pennington is a Lecturer in Psychology at Aston University. She refers to herself in the webinar as a ‘child of the replication crisis’ – referring to the discovery by researchers “that lots of findings in fields like psychology, sociology, medicine, and economics don’t hold up when other researchers try to replicate them”.  In her own PhD, she set out to study a well-known problem but experienced many challenges due to the absence of critical information within the published literature. Charlotte structures her talk based on four tips for starting your open science journey:

Tip one: “Don’t see open science as an ‘all or nothing’ approach – even one open research practice makes you an open scientist.”

Tip two: “Embrace ‘slow science’ – some of these practices might take time at first, but the quality of your outputs will be higher.”

Tip three: “Seek help and support. Do you have a UKRN lead at your institution? Does your library have an open research team?”

Tip four: “Remember, we are all students of open science so don’t be afraid to try it out!”

by Natalie Davies

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