By Maria Tsapali and Annie Zonneveld, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Openness is becoming an integral part of the research process as more and more researchers are adopting its principles and practices. Our research group, INSTRUCT, led by Dr Michelle Ellefson, has been increasingly interested in the idea of Open Science this year. Nearly all of our group members are attending lectures and training sessions across the university with the aim to understand Open Science and create strategies to practice its principles in current and future research projects. In this blog, we will share an overview of what we have learned so far, and encourage those who are interested in learning more about openness in research. 

What Is Open Science? 

The OECD defines Open Science as a practice that makes “the primary outputs of publicly funded research results – publications and the research data – publicly accessible in digital format with no or minimal restriction.” Open Science promotes sharing and collaboration in every stage of the research cycle with the aim to increase the integrity of research. There are sociological and economic arguments supporting it: from a sociological perspective, scientific outputs are products of social collaboration and thus the society should have ownership. From an economic point of view, scientific knowledge that is generated by public funds should be considered as a public good, accessible by anyone, without fees. 

It should be stressed that Open Science is about more than openly sharing the research outputs of a given project; it is about sharing scientific knowledge as early as possible in the discovery process (e.g. register the initial idea, pre-register the design and the analysis plan, share the raw data sets and files with the analysis that was undertaken, share pre-prints and manuscripts). 

In other words, the idea of openness does not apply only to the final research products but also to the whole research process, so that research can be reproduced and evaluated, which also helps us view research as a process rather than purely as being about results. A list of standards that has been proposed by a group of scientists to promote openness and collaboration across the research process can be found here and a TED talk with an open call for researchers to embrace Open Science can be watched here

Why Should Researchers Engage with Open Science?

There are a number of reasons why Open Science is becoming increasingly relevant to research in all disciplines (including education) ranging from public benefits to individual gains.

Open Science can…

  • promote transparency of the research process (i.e. make data and tools openly available) and increases research integrity. 
  • enable collaboration by making the research process public and open for anyone to join.
  • boost efforts to make science more available to the public.
  • increase reproducibility of research.
  • enhance researchers’ online identity, including citation rates.
  • provide more exposure to the public, practitioners and policy makers.

How Can We Start Practicing Open Science within the University of Cambridge and Beyond? 

There are a multitude of ways to become involved with the Open Science initiative including using the Cambridge University’s repository ‘Apollo’ as well as the Open Science Framework (OSF). 


Cambridge has its own service for storing and providing access to the outputs of research activity within the university. Originally established in 2003, Apollo (previously DSpace@Cambridge) is Cambridge’s institutional repository that is run by the University Library system. Apollo forms an important part of the university’s provision for meeting research funder requirements for open access, specifically it enables ‘Green’ access to publications. Since DSpace@Cambridge was re-launched as Apollo in 2016, it has minted 17,000 DOIs, has seen more than 2.5 million downloads of repository content, roughly 6,000 active users, 14,000 grants, and over 28,000 full-text open access files. The Faculty of Education library Moodle site offers a step-by-step guide to making the most out of the Apollo repository. 

Other University of Cambridge resources: 

The Open Science Framework

The OSF is an online tool that aims to promote a centralised workspace that enables transparency of different aspects of research. This can include the development of research ideas, designing a study, storing and analysing data, and writing/publishing reports or papers. The OSF supports a variety of tools to assist with all aspects of the process. Projects on the OSF can be designed based on the users and the type of research that is being managed and preserved. This could take the shape of an experiment, a paper, or work from a lab. Each user, project, component, and file is given a unique URL to enable sharing and to promote attribution. Projects can also be assigned DOIs and archival resource keys (ARKs) if made publicly available. As the OSF is intended to be collaborative, users can easily add contributors to projects.

One important feature of the OSF is the ability to register and pre-register projects. Registration capabilities promote transparency in research. When a project is registered, a time-stamped version of the project is created and is intended to preserve that version of the project. If a project is withdrawn, the content is removed but the record of the project remains. DOIs, URLs, and ARKs can be made for public registrations as well.

In order to begin a project or a registration, users must set up a free account on the OSF webpage. The OSF home page has a link to support, including FAQs, contact information, and a set of OSF Guides that give step-by-step guidance and instructions on using the service. The Center for Open Science (COS) also delivers regular workshops, webinars, and OSF tutorials OSF on their channel.

Although there are still very few initiatives within the field of Education compared to fields such as Natural Sciences or Psychology for instance, we firmly believe that in a few years Open Science will become an integral part of educational research. Thus, we would like to encourage graduate students and early career researchers to engage with open research practices and join the movement. 

Maria Tsapali is a final year PhD student at the Faculty of Education, Acting Director of Studies in Education at Gonville and Caius College and an Onassis Foundation scholar. Her PhD work looks at the effects of different learning environments on primary school students’ decision making skills. Her research interests include learning sciences, cognitive psychology and science education and she is part of the INSTRUCT lab. You can contact her on twitter or by email

Annie Zonneveld is a first-year PhD student at the Faculty of Education and Darwin College. She is also part of the INSTRUCT lab. Her PhD work focuses on the use of teacher rating scales of student behaviour to evaluate student cognitive capabilities. Her research interests primarily lie in helping teachers understand and utilise educational neuroscience in the classroom in order to level the playing field for students of all ages and backgrounds.You can contact her on twitter or by email.

Posted by:fersacambridge

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