Creating an open research culture

If you’re a researcher, you may be interested in our new open research statement and supporting web pages where you can read about the University’s commitment to open research and our expectations for researchers. You can also hear from Research Practice Lead, Dr Tom Stafford, about how he’s keen to work with researchers across the University on all areas of research practice.

What is open research?

Open research is a vital part of our commitment to enabling and promoting research excellence across our community. It is the practice of making the processes and outputs of research transparent and freely accessible, whenever possible, and it supports dissemination, interpretation and re-use of research, promotes research rigour, reliability and reproducibility, and allows others to validate and contribute to our research.

Open research also allows us to serve the public interest by enhancing trust in research outputs and institutions, promoting the widest possible access and public benefit of research, and supporting collaboration and impact.

Creating an open research culture will support our University vision priority for research excellence.

What does it mean for me as a researcher?

As part of his role as Research Practice Lead, Dr Tom Stafford is working with the UK Reproducibility Network on standards and policy frameworks, including policies to encourage research transparency and responsible use of metrics for research and researcher evaluation. Tom has worked with colleagues to produce the University’s Open Research Statement, which sets out our commitments, and expectations of all researchers in support of open research.

The statement, approved by the Research and Innovation Committee, is not intended as a policy but more as a first step to being much more encouraging about open research, as Dr Tom Stafford explains:

“Scholarship is changing rapidly, with more and more research incorporating complex analysis or technology pipelines, with digital tools affecting how we do research and increasing pressures to be collaborative, to be fast, and to support wider impact. The coronavirus crisis has made clear how important rapid, reliable research outputs are, and clear and thoughtful public engagement of researchers. We all want our research to be widely known, but also widely trusted. We want to get stuff out quickly, but also be confident it is bombproof.

"In the Research Practice Lead role I want to help us stay proud of our research, proud of our colleagues’ research done in Sheffield, and proud to be part of a UK higher education sector which can lead the world in terms of important, exciting and reliable research. If you’re a researcher, I encourage you to read our open research statement and talk openly about it with colleagues in your areas. I am keen to work with researchers across the University on all areas of research practice – please get in touch with me if you’d like to help.”

If you’d like to work with Tom or have perspectives to share about open research, challenges to research reliability, and opportunities for research improvement, email

You can read the full Open Research Statement, including expectations for researchers, and find support in conducting open research, on our new Open Research web pages.