OSF Preprints | A survey of funders’ and institutions’ needs for understanding researchers’ open research practices

Abstract:  A growing number of research-performing organisations (institutions) and funding agencies have policies that support open research practices — sharing of research data, code and software. However, funders and institutions lack sufficient tools, time or resources to monitor compliance with these policies.

  To better understand funder and institution needs related to understanding open research practices of researchers, we targeted funders and institutions with a survey in 2020 and received 122 completed responses. Our survey assessed and scored, (from 0-100), the importance of and satisfaction with 17 factors associated with understanding open research practices. This includes things such as knowing if a research paper includes links to research data in a repository; knowing if a research grant made code available in a public repository; knowing if research data were made available in a reusable form; and knowing reasons why research data are not publicly available. Half of respondents had tried to evaluate researchers’ open research practices in the past and 78% plan to do this in the future. The most common method used to find out if researchers are practicing open research was personal contact with researchers and the most common reason for doing it was to increase their knowledge of researchers’ sharing practices (e.g. determine current state of sharing; track changes in practices over time; compare different departments/disciplines). The results indicate that nearly all of the 17 factors we asked about in the survey were underserved. The mean importance of all factors to respondents was 71.7, approaching the 75 threshold of “very important”. The average satisfaction of all factors was 41.3, indicating a negative level of satisfaction with ability to complete these tasks. The results imply an opportunity for better solutions to meet these needs. The growth of policies and requirements for making research data and code available does not appear to be matched with solutions for determining if these policies have been complied with. We conclude that publishers can better support some of the needs of funders and institutions by introducing simple solutions such as: – Mandatory data availability statements (DAS) in research articles – Not permitting generic “data available on request” statements – Enabling and encouraging the use of data repositories and other methods that make data available in a more reusable way – Providing visible links to research data on publications – Making information available on data and code sharing practices in publications available to institutions and funding agencies – Extending policies that require transparency in sharing of research data, to sharing of code

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