Published on 28.02.2024

What are Open Research Data practices in your field, and how should they be assessed (if at all) ?

Researchers of all disciplines are increasingly encouraged to practice Open Science and make their efforts visible, particularly when applying for third-party funding. Yet, there is considerable variation between disciplines in terms of what it means to share (early) research data (ORD), and whether that practice is easily applicable to varied projects and research communities. For a new project aiming to examine the question of how best to evaluate ORD practices we urgently need the input of UniFr researchers. So, if you are interested in Open Science practices and how they apply (or fail to apply) to your field and are interested in shaping the future of research assessment (including third-party funding assessment), please read on and get in touch with the SPR.

The Open Science movement has been gaining significant momentum in the past years. It seeks to increase transparency and reproducibility of scientific research processes, as well as to render research results and data more easily accessible to the public. The key practices associated with Open Science are Open Access publishing, transparent peer review processes, as well as the sharing and reusing of research data. Here in Switzerland, efforts to drive forward this shift in research culture have been coordinated mainly by the Swiss National Strategies for Open Access and Open Research Data (2017 and 2021, respectively) developed by Swissuniversities.

These strategies recognise the diversity of disciplines and the importance of various research communities retaining the freedom to develop Open Science practices that are adapted to their specific needs and objectives. This process, however, presents various challenges. Open Access publishing, for instance, has long been the norm in some disciplines while others disseminate their output in ways that align less readily with OA principles. When it comes to the sharing of research data, things may even be more complex with those disciplines that work with digital objects enjoying an easier, or at least more evident, transition than those that do not. These discussions within and between research communities are highly topical. The commitment to open-access publishing has already become a baseline requirement in order to access third-party funding from the SNSF and other major funders, and questions are now beginning to arise about how to incentivize and reward researchers for data sharing.

The University of Fribourg follows these developments in detail. It supports its researchers on Open Science topics but also seeks to facilitate their participation in discussions about future research policies. Therefore, the University of Fribourg has become part of a consortium of twelve Swiss higher education institutes dedicated to the study of how to recognise and value ORD practices responsibly. This consortium is joined by the SNSF and FORS, who will support the entire process and facilitate the dissemination and application of the results of this study. The project is entitled Recognise ORD (recORD) and is funded by Swissuniversities.

The recORD will comprise three large consortium workshops on how to assess ORD practices in proposal assessment, in recruiting and career development processes, and in the assessment of research-performing institutions. These consortium workshops will be preceded by internal preparatory workshops designed to clarify the specific needs and positions of UniFr researchers. The UniFr internal workshops are provisionally scheduled to take place in May (How to incentivize ORD contributions in research proposal assessment?), late August (How to incentivize ORD contributions in recruiting and career development processes?), and September (How should ORD contributions be incentivized in institutional accreditation?).

Your input is crucial for all stages of this project! So if you are interested in the topics discussed in this article, please do not hesitate to contact Regine Maritz ( of the SPR office. Since scholars from the Humanities are often underrepresented in the discussions concerning ORD, we would encourage them, in particular, to be in touch. Your time investment can be as large or modest as you choose. Since the SNSF itself will attend the workshops and will receive the final recORD report with a view to implementing its recommendations, this is a valuable opportunity to be a part of the discussions shaping the research assessment practices of tomorrow.