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Research plans and policies

Our aim is to ensure OU research is externally recognised for excellence and impact, delivering substantial benefits to the University’s mission and priorities.

The OU is committed to maintaining a broad research base and our vision is for OU research to:

  • transform lives by meeting the challenges of the 21st Century
  • rank among the UK's top 40 universities for research excellence
  • achieve global influence through open and innovative forms of knowledge sharing
  • continue to inform our curriculum
  • foster creativity and collaboration

Research Integrity

The Open University expects that all research carried out in its name will be conducted to the highest standards of excellence, rigour and integrity and is fully committed to the principles set out in the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity.

The standards that govern research at The Open University are set out in our Code of Practice for Research.

We publish an Annual Statement on Research Integrity.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, Enterprise and Scholarship, Professor Kevin Hetherington, is the senior member of staff identified to oversee the conduct of research at the Open University. He acts as the first point of contact for information on matters of research integrity, and he is responsible for the investigation of any allegations of research malpractice or misconduct.

The University takes seriously and considers fairly all concerns about its conduct of research that are raised in good faith. It believes that staff and students should be able to raise legitimate concerns without fear of their position within the University being jeopardised. The Procedure for dealing with allegations of research malpractice or misconduct sets out who to inform if there are concerns about the conduct of research and the actions that the University will take in order to investigate such concerns.


  • Professsor Kevin Hetherington, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, Enterprise and Scholarship
  • Helen Castley, Senior Manager Research Governance

Queries and concerns can be raised via the research integrity mailbox.

Reasonable suspicions about irregularities in the running of the University or of the activities of its employees can also be raised via the whistleblowing mailbox

Watch the video below to find out more about research integrity at the OU:

Research ethics

Central to the principles that guide OU research is that it must be conducted in accordance with the highest contemporary ethics standards and there are clear policies on the requirements for ethical approval of research. These are set out in our Research Ethics pages.

Research that involves terrorism or extremism-related materials

In order to enable the University to meet its obligations under counter-terrorism legislation, researchers and academics who work with terrorism and extremism-related materials are required to register their work with the Research and Academic Strategy Unit. See the terrorism and extremism-related research pages on this website for further information and documentation.

Concordat to support the career development of researchers

The OU is a signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and actively works to implement its seven principles. It is an agreement that sets out the expectations and responsibilities of researchers, their managers, employers and funders.

It aims to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK and to improve the quantity, quality and impact of research for the benefit of UK society and the economy.

View the Open University Six Year Interim Review Report, the current Condordat Plan and Action Tracker 2017-2020 updated 2019 with revised Open University Success Measures revised for 2019-2019.

View the now complete 2012-2016 Implentation Plan, the original Open University 2012-2016 Concordat Implementation Plan and Gap Analysis, The Open University Concordat Implementation Plan Two Year Report and the updated 2012-2016 Concordat Implementation Plan.

The OU is a recipient of the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award recognising its on-going commitment to researcher career development. 

News & articles

International Space Station - NASA

OU receives £6.7 million to expand Astrobiology Research

The Open University OU) has received £6.7 million to expand its Astrobiology Research Group to address fundamental questions about life beyond the Earth. The grant is awarded under Research England’s “Expanding Excellence in England (E3) 2019-2022”.

13th June 2019
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Upcoming Events

Jun 25

If school is the problem, what is the solution?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 18:00 to 20:00

Berrill Lecture Theatre, Walton Hall, The Open University, MK7 6AA

Jul 16

The polar oceans and global climate

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 18:00 to 19:00

Berrill Lecture Theatre, Walton Hall, The Open University, MK7 6AA

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