The Open Research Pilot project

The Open Research Pilot project is a two year experiment where researchers at Cambridge University are trying to work as openly as possible. The project is a collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Open Research team and the exchange of experiences and ideas is helping both sides of the collaboration.
The call for participants was initially opened in December 2016 and sent to Wellcome Trust funded researchers at Cambridge. We were pleasantly surprised to have several applications and in the end we chose a range of projects and subject areas:
  • Dr Laurent Gatto –is  doing computational biology research, with a special focus on proteomics data. His interest is: How to effectively share research data and the code needed to reproduce them?
  • Dr David Savage – is researching molecular pathogenesis of the consequences of obesity. His question is: What are the problems with sharing data coming from human participants?
  • Dr Benjamin Steventon – is a developmental biologist generating and analysing large-scale imaging datasets. He would like to know: Are there image repositories allowing one to share large image datasets in a re-usable way?
  • Dr Marta Costa and Dr Greg Jefferis (and others) – researchers leading the work on two collaborative projects: Connectomics and Virtual Fly Brain, which will create interactive tools to interrogate Drosophila neural network connections. They would like to understand: What are the issues with sharing complex interactive datasets? How to ensure long-term preservation of complex digital objects?
The researchers, Wellcome Trust and Cambridge open research teams met for a kick off meeting on 27 January 2017 to officially start the two-year project. Each research group was appointed a facilitator – a dedicated member of the Cambridge open research team to support researchers throughout the project. Research groups will meet with their facilitators on a monthly basis in order to discuss shareable research outputs and to decide on best ways to disseminate them. Every six months all project members will meet to discuss barriers to sharing outputs that have been identified through the pilot and to assess the progress of the Project.
One of the main goals of the project is to learn what the barriers and incentives are for open research and to share these findings with others interested in the subject to inform policy development. Therefore, we will be regularly publishing blog posts with case studies describing what we have discovered while working together. There will also be an update from each research group every six months.