by Danny Kingsley
Globally, the interrelated issues of reproducibility, open science, and quality have become increasingly prominent over the past few years (Vitae, UKRN, UK Research Integrity Office 2020; House of Commons 2018; Rathemacher 2017; Baker 2015) with an accompanying set of new requirements and skills for the research sector. This article is making the argument for a more structured approach to researcher training. There is a need to identify and articulate a clear framework or curriculum for training and professional development in areas of research practice beyond disciplinary-specific skills and knowledge. This will allow institutions to more systematically approach this growing area and also provide structure for libraries as the provider of much of the training in these areas, not only in development of content, but also in terms of the types of skills they need to recruit for or develop amongst their staff.
Open science, open scholarship, open research, and open knowledge have aligned but slightly different meanings. There are so many different definitions of “open” that there has been an attempt to define the definitions (Bosman 2017). This article will use the following definition (noting in this instance “science” is being used in the European sense of the Latin “scienta” meaning “knowledge” and incorporates all research areas):
Open Science is the practice of science in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute, where research data, lab notes and other research processes are freely available, under terms that enable reuse, redistribution and reproduction of the research and its underlying data and methods. (FOSTER n.d.)
This paper will consider the interrelated question of changing researcher needs and the subsequent learning requirements for those supporting researchers.
The author’s interest in this area has stemmed from working in senior positions in scholarly communication in the UK and Australia and directly observing issues with the ability to recruit staff with scholarly communication skills. A series of exploratory workshops (Kingsley 2017) led to the formation of a multi-organizational group of training providers in the UK to address the lack of role profiles and recruitment and development of open research support staff (ORCC 2021). This combined with research into the area (Sewell 2017; Kingsley, Richardson, and Kennan 2020), and subsequent work in multiple institutions in Australia informs much of the discussion in this article, which by its development tends to focus on activity in Europe, the US, and Australasia.
This article is focused on the skills and knowledge required of research support staff, which have changed in response to recent significant changes in government and funder expectations of researchers in relation to ensuring their work is more transparent. Increasingly research outputs are expected to be openly accessible (Wellcome Trust 2020; UKRI 2019; Australian Research Council 2018; National Health and Medical Research Council 2018; National Institutes of Health 2008; Vidal 2018). Open science and open research are increasingly on the agenda of institutions across the globe (Wellcome Trust 2020; UKRI 2019; Vidal 2018; National Health and Medical Research Council 2018; Research Councils UK 2013; National Institutes of Health 2005). The “open” agenda is international. In Nov 2021 UNESCO will adopt their open science recommendations (UNESCO 2021) .
This article will first address the need for different skills and knowledge now required of researchers before moving to the issue of ensuring those that support researchers are able to meet these emerging training needs.