The University of York Open Research Operations Group ran a survey in May and June 2020 to assess current levels of awareness and engagement and to identify the main barriers to open research practice. The survey was aimed at research staff, support staff and postgraduate research students but was open to responses from anyone at the University.
244 responses were received in total. At faculty level the majority of responses were from Arts and Humanities, although Biology and Health Sciences were the most well-represented departments. Most respondents identified as postgraduate research students, but academic staff made up the majority once different roles were grouped together. Several departments were underrepresented or did not respond at all to the survey. There was also an overrepresentation of academic staff in senior roles and an underrepresentation of Professional Services respondents (those not associated with an academic faculty) and support staff.
A rough correlation was found between levels of experience and the perceived importance of each open research practice. Open Access publishing and open licensing were the most widely used practices and were also seen as the most important. However, most respondents had no experience of the majority of practices and did not know how important they were. Registered Reports, open / electronic lab books and preregistration were the least used practices and were also seen as the least important. An interesting outlier was open data, which was seen as relatively important although most respondents had little or no experience of this in practice.
Levels of experience varied between practices and across disciplines and roles. Respondents from Sciences were the most likely to be regular users of a practice and to see them as important. Academic staff were most likely to be regular users of a practice, but students were most likely to see them as important. Academic staff were, conversely, most likely to see a practice as not important. Respondents from Professional Services and support staff in general were the least likely to have experience of a practice, and Professional Services were more likely to see practices as not important than respondents associated with academic faculties (although they were not well represented in the sample).
The main barriers to open research were identified as lack of training, clarity and understanding. This was particularly evident in responses from support staff and students, as well as from Arts and Humanities respondents who commented that they did not see open research as relevant to their work. Lack of dedicated funding for open research was also identified as a main barrier.
Many additional barriers were suggested and a range of insightful thoughts and opinions were provided by respondents, which suggests that there may be interest in further open research conversations focusing on practices in specific disciplines.
The report ends with a conclusion and next steps to consider for the Open Research Strategy and Operations Groups. A copy of the survey questions is provided as an appendix along with a data availability statement and a copy of the full text responses to questions 5 and 6 (additional barriers and further thoughts).