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Open research

Open research encompasses the entire research process, to make all aspects of the research cycle accessible. The principles of open research are applicable to all disciplines.

Open practices will vary depending on the nature of research and could include results, software and code, methodology, protocols and documentation, as well as open access publications and data. Other open research initiatives are study preregistration, use of preprints and open peer review.

In the arts and humanities, open research takes many forms, which may include sharing digital humanities methods and tools, reflections on your research practice, notes, audio-visual materials and annotated bibliographies.

Funders including UKRI and Wellcome recognise the value of open research. Both have policies emphasising open research practices.

An introduction to open research

This online resource introduces the principles, aims and benefits of open research.

Completing this resource will enable you to: 

  • Explain the benefits of open research 
  • Identify what action is required to foster open research 
  • Perform appropriate actions to ensure that research is as open as possible, and as closed as necessary. 

As open as possible, as closed as necessary

Research should be “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”. Some research outputs cannot be openly available due to ethical, legal or commercial restrictions. There is more information available to share and reuse data safely.

Five key aspects of open research

  1. Open access publishing makes your research outputs freely available online. Your published research can then be downloaded, read and reused under open licensing conditions.
  2. Open data can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose. It is made available under an open licence like Creative Commons. Not all data can be made open due to commercial or personal data considerations. However, data can be FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable – without being open: restricted-access data could be FAIR if the descriptive metadata is openly accessible.
  3. Open platforms, tools and services help to enhance research efficiency. It is important to share detailed instructions on how to use and build equipment, and to use open, non-proprietary platforms where possible. Use open licences to share code and software.
  4. An open approach to conducting research enables a collaborative and inclusive approach with researchers across disciplines and sectors, including the public who can contribute to the research process through citizen science for example. All research contributors are openly acknowledged through a CRediT author statement or equivalent.
  5. Transparency and public engagement builds trust and accountability with the public and makes the university a trusted, respected and valued partner in society. Ensuring that research methodology can be examined in detail enables others to gain a deeper understanding of research results and integrity.


For some researchers, practicing open research is already second nature. Others may feel it adds another stage to the research process, but there are significant benefits for you and the research community.

Practicing open research:

  • demonstrates your research is robust
  • helps other researchers to reproduce your results
  • helps other researchers to avoid repeating research
  • ensures you retain access to your own work in the long term
  • enables faster dissemination and impact, helping to raise your research profile
  • extends the reach and impact of research outside academia
  • increases opportunities for collaboration
  • increases chances of citations.

There is a lot of support available from the Library. Please get in touch to discuss open research in your subject area, or attend one of our workshops about open research.

Open research at the University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is a values-driven university committed to fostering open research to achieve our mission to advance knowledge, transform lives and shape a better future for our communities, our region, and the world.

The University of Leeds Open Research Statement is available on the Research and Innovation website. The statement highlights our commitment to embed open research practices throughout our institution.

Open research is one of five broad themes to promote a more supportive, inclusive, and collaborative research culture:

  • Personal development, reward and recognition
  • Open research and impact
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion in research
  • Responsible research and innovation
  • A collegiate and supportive environment.

The University of Leeds Open Research Statement informs the strategic priorities of the Open Research Advisory Group, a subgroup of Research Culture.