1.5 Why conduct research in the open?

Common Good

Now that we’ve explored how openness might impact on different research processes and practices, let’s explore why you might consider incorporating open practices into your research. For example, if you publically report on the progress of your research and your findings as the work progresses, your research might be exposed to a wider audience than if you waited to publish a final paper after you had finished your research project. Your work could also receive useful feedback and comments from others that help you develop your ideas and research plan.

You might decide that you want to release your findings more formally, e.g. write a journal article. PhD Comics has produced a video (8-9 minutes) called “Open Access Explained!” which gives useful background information and explanation of why open matters even more than before (Clue: the Internet and the massive increase in the cost of research publications). The video is available here.

As EIFL, who work with librarians in the developing world to promote digital literacy and who have a sub-project that promotes open access, succinctly describes it:

For researchers, open access brings increased visibility, usage and impact for their work. A number of studies have now been carried out on the effect of open access on citations to articles, showing the increased citation impact that open access can bring. Open access repositories also provide an excellent means for researchers to boost their online presence and raise their profile.” (Source)

EIFL have a full list of FAQ relating to open access available here.

Sharing and moving toward a more open model of research potentially has benefits for everyone. Open Economics have produced an article “The Benefits of Open Data…” which has wonderful examples of the way in which openness helps those in developing countries. In another article, which focuses on research in economics, Guo Xu presents “hard evidence” of the ways in which open research practices have helped those in developing countries, particularly in relation “…to reducing corruption and lowering the cost of information.”


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