Major funding boost for UK’s open research agenda

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The University of Liverpool is to benefit from a significant funding boost to help drive uptake of open research practices across the sector.

As a member of the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN), Liverpool is part of a new £8.5M consortium project involving 18 universities to help further the UK’s position at the forefront of rigorous and reproducible research.

The five-year project includes a major strategic investment of £4.5M from the Research England Development (RED) Fund.

Open research ensures transparency across the research lifecycle, promoting rigour, reproducibility, and public trust in research. The benefits of open research practices for improving the quality and integrity of research have been widely documented, and are recognised by the UK Government R&D Roadmap as contributing to improving the culture of research.

Initially the project will be delivered across institutions that are part of the UK Reproducibility Network. The network is expected to grow over the five years of the award, making training and material available more widely across the sector.

Professor William Greenhalf, UKRN Institutional Lead for the University of Liverpool, said: “Liverpool has already been successful in obtaining funding from the RED fund, the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and Cancer Research UK to improve research training and the funding to UKRN will complement this and, critically, will allow the impact of this training to be evaluated and compared to standards in other institutions.

“Open research practice not only makes research outputs available more widely and permits scrutiny to prevent bad practice, it also improves the quality of research in general, accelerating development and improving quality of life. This seems self-evident, but in practice is very hard to measure.

“At its most extreme how do we compare the impact in different fields? For example, within the Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology we have already been using funding to our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) to improve research training directed specifically at evaluating and improving cancer treatment. An increasing number of effective novel treatments would be a measure of success, but what proportion of that success can be credited to improved research practice and how would the outcomes be compared to improvements in (for example) social science research?

“The UKRN project will allow us to drive the uptake of open research practice in different areas within the University and across UK institutions in a co-ordinated fashion and that will allow us to define what success looks like.”

Further information

The UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) is a national peer-led consortium that aims to ensure the UK retains its place as a centre for world-leading research by investigating the factors that contribute to robust research, promoting training activities, and disseminating best practice.

The project consortium includes Cardiff University, Keele University, King’s College London, Newcastle University, Oxford Brookes University, Royal Veterinary College, University College London, University of Aberdeen, University of Bristol, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, University of Reading, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, University of Surrey, and University of Wolverhampton.

The Research England Development (RED) Fund commits up to £27 million in annual funding. It supports projects that aid the development and interaction of the UK's higher education research and knowledge exchange (KE) activity in line with Government and UKRI priorities.