Hidden Talents: How Open Research supports the Hidden Ref’s 5% manifesto
Guillaume Wright joins Code for Thought’s special Hidden REF festival podcast with host Peter Schmidt.
F1000 is pleased to support Code for Thought’s special Hidden REF festival podcast. We were also delighted to attend the festival, which (forgive the pun) gave us food for thought as to how open research publishers can support Hidden REF’s ‘5% manifesto’ (which F1000 is signatory to) that aims to ensure at least 5% of submissions to the next Research Excellence Framework (REF) are non-traditional outputs.
‘Open Research’ as a term has come to encompass much, both from the readers’ and researchers’ perspectives, including all the ways it is now possible to open and share more of the research process with the public and with readers in general. Such openness and accessibility aim to improve visibility, quality, transparency, impact and trust in all elements of the research process. Behind this end point of open access to research publications is the process and principle of open research that also incorporates open data and materials, open software and code, open models of peer review, and a drive for a more diverse and equitable research culture. In relation to the REF and a more equitable recognition of contributions to research, open research and open access ideally come together to enable transparency and openness in relation to how research is done – who contributes what aspect and why.
As ever – and as is clear in the 5% manifesto’s call to Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) to include outputs beyond books and journal articles in the next REF – to make the change to research culture and move to a recognition of all research contributions will take a collaborative effort, with publishers working across the academic and research ecosystem supporting this critical change. So, what more can F1000, as an open research publisher, do?
In listening mode at the Hidden REF festival, we heard what matters to those on the ground working in research environments. Here are the takeaways that we want to discuss with all our teams and build into the services we offer to researchers and HEIs (Higher Education Institutions), working in synergy with those who endeavour to improve research culture and research infrastructure.
Improve citation practices for non-traditional outputs e.g., software and data publications
Citation and indexing still matter in recognizing and recording research contributions. Publishers need to work hard to ensure that non-traditional outputs do not fall outside of the citation and indexing net. For example, all F1000 publishing venues publish software tool articles and these can be indexed with major providers like Scopus and PubMed.
We also collectively need to ensure that metadata is used correctly so that all outputs, including the software and data themselves, are findable and receive the appropriate indexation, wherever they are published (more of this later). There is more work to be done here and F1000 is happy to be part of this conversation.
Encourage technical, support and other research community members to publish work
With the support of HEIs and research departments (which of course is crucial), there are several ways to tackle how the hidden roles and work not typically included in REF submissions (often critical contributions from technical and support staff) are recognized.
This could be done through the CRedit taxonomy or through non-traditional article types. It is in the provision of platforms and opportunities to publish non-traditional outputs authored by technical and support staff that publishers such as F1000 can be helpful. We already offer a range of options to publish non-traditional but critical research outputs such as software tool articles and data notes. The next step is to work with the research communities to promote these more widely to HEIs and to staff across departments contributing to research, as well as to work with the community to understand what other options are needed and would be feasible for publishers to provide.
Provide easy-to-use systems/interfaces/platforms where you can actually publish these outputs
Aligned with the argument to encourage technical and support staff to publish is, as we outline above, the availability of the platforms and systems available to do so. This is something that needs to be worked through with publishing and research communities. While (as explained above) F1000 already offers some non-traditional output types, such as software tools articles and data notes, a publisher may not be the best-placed or most effective host for outputs such as raw data or the software itself or audio-visual output. For example, while F1000 has a foundational requirement for open data, we do not host the data itself but request authors to follow FAIR guidelines and provide links to discipline-specific, open repositories. In this sense, it may be better to develop community spaces for a range of non-traditional outputs. Where publishers can help – as we currently do with open data – is in supporting the discovery and dissemination of these items, through giving them DOIs/PIDs, applying proper metadata to them, and further indexing them as part of research articles’ findings.
Support the reduction in the use (or misuse) of quantitative metrics
This involves switching the lens through which we value individual pieces of research, so there is more value placed on the submission of non-traditional outputs as opposed to the venue of publication. F1000 has a long-standing record of supporting sound science through the publication, for example, of null and negative results as opposed to prioritizing and promoting solely novel findings and analysis. Interestingly, as pointed out at the festival, the non-traditional submissions to the REF in previous years have had a higher average score assigned to them, than the traditional outputs.
Support of early career researchers (ECRs)
A clear message from the festival was that ECRs find themselves in the unenviable position of both wanting the change but also being part of the current system that determines their professional career progression, so they end up having to play the traditional output game for REF recognition too. F1000’s door is open to ECRs who want to learn more about how they can build their professional profile and recognition of their work through non-traditional outputs. As Hannah Wilson, Publisher for Life and Health Sciences at F1000, explains in an article on this issue:
“It may be that authors choose to submit multiple outputs as different article types across the full research journey, which is certainly what we recommend. In fact, building up your publishing profile by publishing outputs as different article types can help support future publication submissions and career progression.”
The key is recognizing the 360-degree team contribution to research outputs, including the day-to-day facilitation of research by support and technical colleagues. It also means recognizing contributions to research and collective outputs and knowledge throughout the research journey, including recognition for peer review.
F1000 is a proud signatory of the Hidden REF’s 5% manifesto.
Listen to the full podcast episode here.