What senior academics can do to support reproducible and open research: a short, three-step guide

Olivia S. Kowalczyk, Alexandra Lautarescu, Elisabet Blok, Lorenza Dall’Aglio, Samuel J. Westwood*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Increasingly, policies are being introduced to reward and recognise open research practices, while the adoption of such practices into research routines is being facilitated by many grassroots initiatives. However, despite this widespread endorsement and support, as well as various efforts led by early career researchers, open research is yet to be widely adopted. For open research to become the norm, initiatives should engage academics from all career stages, particularly senior academics (namely senior lecturers, readers, professors) given their routine involvement in determining the quality of research. Senior academics, however, face unique challenges in implementing policy changes and supporting grassroots initiatives. Given that—like all researchers—senior academics are motivated by self-interest, this paper lays out three feasible steps that senior academics can take to improve the quality and productivity of their research, that also serve to engender open research. These steps include changing (a) hiring criteria, (b) how scholarly outputs are credited, and (c) how we fund and publish in line with open research principles. The guidance we provide is accompanied by material for further reading.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Perhaps the most significant and less well-known policy changes concern preprints, which encourage the publication of scholarly outputs in a faster, more impactful, and more accessible manner. A preprint is a time-stamped, non-peer reviewed manuscript made freely and publicly accessible via an online server typically within 72-h of submission (e.g., PsyArXiv, LawArXiv). Thus, the significant time lag between manuscript submission and its publication (median days, 165) [] and the infeasible journal open access fees [] do not apply to preprints. Because of faster and wider dissemination, grantees are increasingly required to deposit preprints, particularly if funded research is of significant public health benefit (e.g., Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) []. Further, a majority of journals permit preprints to be shared before or during manuscript submission [] (Additional file : Table S4), presumably due to evidence that journal articles linked to preprints have higher citation rates [, ]. Influential journals (e.g., BMJ, The Lancet) and funders (e.g., The National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Trust) are now explicitly stating that preprints can be cited [, ]. Preprints can additionally be referenced in researcher track records when applying for funding [] and included in submissions to the UK Government funding organisation, the Research Excellence Framework [].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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