Building towards a community version of an open research course

Image courtesy of the OER Research Hub, made available under a CC-BY 4.0 International license

Last year on this blog we featured a forthcoming Open Research Course by the OER Research Hub which ran in 2014 with a number of ROER4D network members participating. We were interested to see that the course will run again this month, starting on 14 September (sign-up is currently open). ROER4D Communications Advisor Sukaina Walji spoke to the course lead, Beck Pitt, about the experience and rationale of running a course on Open Research and what the course convenors are hoping to achieve with the next run of the course.

The OER Research Hub’s 4-week Open Research course ran for the first time in September-October 2014. This presentation saw some 139 participants from more than 29 countries enroll, with many participants working through some of the key issues around the meaning and practice of open research. Topics covered included how to be open and ethical when researching, and the relationship between dissemination, reflection and openness. The course encouraged participants to share their experiences and reflect on the benefits and challenges of adopting open practices in their own research. Beck defines open research as opening up the different stages of the research process by researchers being willing and able to share their research processes and outputs as openly as possible. This encompasses a range of practices such as sharing data openly, providing open access to journal articles and publishing in the open.

One benefit of running an open online course is that many people from a number of different backgrounds and contexts can come together to engage around a topic or issue of concern and share content, experiences and perspectives. The OER Research Hub team found that many diverse opinions, experiences and practices were shared and discussed, with participants bringing different disciplinary and regional perspectives, with many contributing new content and questions derived from their own context. Through this sharing, further iterations of the course can improve and adapt, demonstrating the value of openness in practice.

To this end, Beck and the team intend to run the course again in 2016 and after that they plan to produce a stand alone version of the course – effectively an open educational resource – that will combine the original course materials with content and experiences contributed to by participants over three iterations of the course.

The ROER4D project shares a commitment to open research practices and is similarly involved in understanding and sharing how open research is operationalised. For example, we have shared our research bibliography as an open resource, which has led to invitations for collaboration, and we are currently investigating open data practices to share research data. We look forward to participating and sharing our experiences and hope many researchers and projects will join the course and take part in discussions. Sign up for the course is currently open and closes Friday 11 September with the course running from Monday 14 September – Sunday 11 October 2015. The OER Research Hub team also plan to run live Google Hangout sessions each week.

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