Open Research Conversations - Spring 2024

Our lunchtime Open Research Conversations are free, online and open to all. Each focuses on a specific aspect of open research and features talks from 2-3 speakers followed by questions and discussion. Book your place below:

Image of students collaborating

Wednesday 21st February 2024, 12-1pm

Sustainability and open data: Balancing environmental concerns

Open data can create environmental benefits - for example, in accelerating the progress of research into phenomena such as climate change - but it can also create its own challenges for sustainability and environmental responsibility.

In this Open Research Conversation, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of open data for sustainability, and some of the practices researchers can adopt in order to mitigate potential challenges. Our first talk is from Tom Webb (University of Sheffield), a researcher in the field of marine biodiversity who uses open datasets to examine global patterns and trends in marine ecosystems. We’ll also hear from Lisa Otty and Christopher Ohge, co-ordinators of the Digital Humanities Climate Coalition, a cross-institutional initiative focused on understanding and minimising the digital humanities’ environmental impact. Lisa and Chris will discuss the DHCC’s efforts to support researchers and institutions to develop their practice and policies along more sustainable lines, including with regard to data management.

Recording available here.

Wednesday 13th March 2024, 12.00-1.10pm 

Too sensitive to share? Opening up sensitive research

This session will explore issues around the openness of research materials and data on sensitive topics, examining the extent to which such research can meaningfully be made open to other researchers and the wider community while safeguarding participants’ privacy. 

Matthew Franklin (School of Medicine and Population Health), a researcher specialising in public health policy and practice, will explore the importance of sharing healthcare data within appropriate limits in order to optimise interventions and consequently benefits for patients and communities. Claire Cunnington (Department of Sociological Studies) will discuss her experiences of co-creating an open access film output with participants in her study of survivors of childhood sexual abuse, providing an innovative perspective on what outputs from a sensitive research project can ethically be shared openly, while ensuring participants are empowered in this process. The session will include a screening of the short co-created film ‘Flow’.

Book your place (Google form)

Wednesday 10 April 2024, 12-1pm

Open source hardware for reproducibility, equity and progress

Open source hardware - the designs for which are publicly available and can be reproduced by anyone - can offer powerful benefits, democratising research and making methodologies accessible regardless of a researcher’s institutional context.

In this session, two researchers from the University of Sheffield explore their own relationship to open source hardware, including the factors behind their adoption of open source, key considerations regarding how and where to make hardware specifications available, documentation, licensing decisions, and more. Our speakers will explore the far-reaching benefits of an open source approach to hardware development and open a discussion about potential support needs for researchers considering this route.

David Polson is a Senior University Teacher in Mechanical Design with an interest in designs which can be built and controlled using emerging technologies including 3D printing, microcontrollers, low-cost sensors and low-energy communications. Harry Wright, a Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry, was awarded the University’s Open Research Prize 2023 for his development of FoamPi, a free and open source low-cost alternative for measuring polyurethane foam reactions.

Book your place (Google form)

Wednesday 15th May 2024, 12-1pm

Evaluating (Open) Research: Capturing open practices in research evaluation

In anticipation of REF 2029’s increased emphasis on research culture, many UK institutions are reflecting on how open research activities might best be captured in articulations of research quality. 2023 also saw the tenth anniversary of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which sought a change in approach regarding criteria for research evaluation.

This Open Research Conversation will explore the ways institutions and the sector as a whole can, and should be, capturing open research activities in research evaluation and ensuring credit is appropriately distributed. Speakers will include Lizzie Gadd, Head of Research and Innovation Culture and Assessment at Loughborough University, Chair of the International Network of Research Management Societies (INORMS) Research Evaluation Group and Vice-Chair of the Coalition on Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA); Simon Hettrick, Professor at the University of Southampton, Deputy Director of the Software Sustainability Institute and Chair of the Hidden REF Committee; and Robert Darby, Research Data Manager at the University of Reading and founder of the UKRN’s Open and Responsible Research Reward and Recognition project (OR4), part of the Research England-funded Open Research Programme.

Book your place (Google form)

Wednesday 12th June 2024, 12-1pm

Diamond open access: The future of academic publishing?

Diamond open access is a model of open access publishing in which academic outputs such as articles or books are free both to read and to publish. This contrasts with the more prevalent Gold open access model, where publications are free to read but authors wishing to make their publications open incur an article or book processing charge, which can be a costly barrier to those whose institutions or funders are unable to pay.

This Open Research Conversation will explore the rationale behind and benefits of Diamond open access, the infrastructure and community support required to achieve it, key challenges in the growth and upscaling of Diamond OA initiatives, and more. We’ll hear from the following speakers:

Samuel Moore is Scholarly Communications Specialist at Cambridge University Library and a researcher in information studies. He has written and spoken extensively on all aspects of open access, including Diamond OA, and is an organiser of the Radical Open Access Collective. 

Antonios Ktenidis and Kirsty Liddiard (School of Education, University of Sheffield) are managing editors for the interdisciplinary Diamond open access Journal of Disability Studies in Education, within the field of Critical Disability Studies.

Caroline Mackay is the Licensing Manager at Jisc, with involvement in Jisc’s support for Diamond OA publishing initiatives.

Book your place (Google form)

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.