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Eight ways early career researchers think open access will benefit the research community

29th January 2020

The Early Career Researchers Advisory Board for Wellcome Open Research represent the needs and aspirations of early career researchers, making sure the voices of the next generation are heard and to help catalyse reform in publishing research. The members come from many different research areas and represent a vast array of fields of expertise. For Open Access Week 2019, the ECR Advisory Board members share their thoughts on open access and how they think it benefits science and the community as a whole.

Benjamin Steventon, Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow, Developmental Biology/genetics, University of Cambridge

“The main thing for me is that open research provides new and more flexible ways of communicating your research, maximising one’s research output. I think science always benefits from increased collaboration, and this is more and more the case as researchers are reaching across disciplines to solve complex problems in the biosciences. By openly sharing research data, we create many more opportunities for a diverse range of people to access and work with primary research data. This can only further stimulate interesting new interactions of importance to the community as a whole.”

Mohlopheni Jackson Marakalala, Wellcome Trust International Intermediate Fellow, Africa Health Research Institute (South Africa); and Associate Professor in the Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London (UK)

“Most of the communities in low- and middle- income countries, including those carrying severe burden of diseases, struggle to afford costly journal subscriptions and are therefore unable to gain access to the research locked behind the paywalls. Open research will enable such communities to access important research findings that can help better inform policies on issues relevant to local challenges.”

Cherry Lim, Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship, Public Health and Tropical Medicine, MORU, Thailand

“Open accessibility to science knowledge means research can reach a wider audience, which opens more opportunities for collaborations. Open research ensures research results can be shared with the community and with those who do not have access to subscription materials. This increased transparency would help to bridge the communication gap between scientists and the community. Moreover, engaging with the community and sharing our results with as many people as possible allows others to benefit either directly or indirectly, which is one of the key purposes of doing research.”

Rebecca Payne, Wellcome Trust Career Re-entry Fellow, Immunology, Newcastle University

“Scientific innovation, research and discovery are moving forward at a rapid pace and a re-haul of how we disseminate data is critical to keeping the momentum at this exciting time to ensure that we promote a research environment that facilitates openness and collaboration. Two heads are better than one, so what about one hundred heads or one thousand? We now have the technological capability to build a rich and diverse research environment, that is based on open research and data sharing, where scientists can build upon each other’s work to create a cathedral of information that is reproducible, robust and accessible by all.”

Jennifer Crane, Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, History, University of Oxford

“I think that open access research is more downloaded and cited, which potentially means that it can be more widely read and used, by a broad range of communities inside and outside of academia. Potentially, this could allow our research to have a more meaningful impact. This means that our research is more widely read, engaged with, and cited by research communities, generating new opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary working. Open access research is also more likely to be read by relevant professional groups, voluntary groups, and members of communities, again raising opportunities for engagement, as these stakeholders may engage with, critique, and challenge our ongoing work.”

Fiona Cresswell, Wellcome Trust Clinical PhD Fellow in Global Health, LSHTM

“Currently we are in a defining period of time in the course of scientific publishing history, and I am keen to be a part of a positive change. I hope that fully open access publishing platforms, will make science a more transparent endeavour and all will stimulate sharing of both protocols, laboratory processed and data as well as results. The absence of pay walls means that anyone can access information, anytime, anywhere, at the click of a button and totally free of charge. The inclusion of supporting data enables other researchers to reanalyse, replicate and reuse data, all of which support the drive towards making research more reproducible. It is also good when platforms/journals publish a range of subjects, such as biomedical science, population health, applied research, humanities and social science, public engagement and arts projects so the community can read a wealth of information in one place.”

Tony Ly, Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow, Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh

“The fact that open access content is easily accessible online moves beyond the restraints of print publishing, and this more open manner of publishing can lead to innovative ideas for how scientific publishing and communication of scientific results should be in the future”.

Jana Hutter, Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow, Developmental Imaging, KCL

“I strongly believe in open science and the benefits of transparency, and reproducibility, enabling others to build upon previous results from other researchers instead of reinventing the wheel. Open research needs to be understood as a truly beneficial part of science, not one which is perceived as time consuming, insignificant or even detrimental to academic progression, as can be the case. Publishing openly and making data available carries significant advantages, encouraging open scientific discussion and collaboration. We need to encourage the community to positively embrace open research, understand what holds early career researchers back from doing so and then break these barriers down to help it develop.”