Category Archives: Library research support

New institutional Open Access Book Fund

As part of the Open University’s commitment to fostering an open and engaging research culture, a new pilot fund is being launched to support the costs of publishing open access books.

The Open Access Book Fund pilot will run for 2 years from 1st August 2024, and will be open for applications from 5th June 2024. The purpose of the fund is to enable books (that are not arising from externally funded research where the funder meets OA book publishing costs, e.g., UKRI) that are likely to be submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2029 to be published open access. The fund is limited, and authors can apply for a maximum of £10,000 per book. Edited collections and book chapters are not eligible for the fund.

Full details on eligibility and selection criteria as well as a link to the application form can be found on the Open Access Book Fund pilot webpage on the Library Research Support Team’s website.

Please do get in contact with if you have any questions or concerns. As this is a new area, we will be reviewing and adapting the processes as we work through them and in light of any feedback we receive.

New UKRI fund for long-form outputs now open

You may already be aware that UKRI’s open access requirements are being extended to long-form outputs.  If you will be publishing a UKRI-funded monograph, book chapter or edited collection on or after 1 January 2024 it will need to be made open access. See UKRI’s guidance on making your research publications open access.

On 28 November 2023, UKRI launched a new ring-fenced £3.5 million fund, dedicated to supporting open access costs for monographs, book chapters and edited collections within the scope of the new policy.

Funding can be used to support costs to make the Version of Record immediately open access with a Creative Commons licence. UKRI will contribute up to the following maximums (these amounts are inclusive of VAT, where applicable):

  • £10,000 for book processing charges
  • £1,000 for chapter processing charges
  • £6,000 for participation in an alternative open access model (not exceeding the total cost of participation). UKRI will fund up to another £3,000 where there are two or more eligible outputs

To apply to the fund, you must first check the conditions of accessing the UKRI Long-from Publications Fund on the Library Research Support Team’s website, and complete the Funding Request Form available from that page. A publishing contract does not need to have been signed at this stage, but you should have an intended publisher and be able to provide an estimate of costs. The fund is centrally held by UKRI, and the Library Research Support Team will apply to the UKRI to access it on your behalf. UKRI will then review the application and confirm if the output(s) will be eligible for funding.

See the Library Research Support Team’s website for full details of the new UKRI open access policy and the UKRI Long-Form Outputs Fund

If you have any questions about this, please get in touch with us at:

World Digital Preservation Day 2023 – Open University Legacy Research Papers

To coincide with World Digital Preservation Day on 2nd November 2023, the Open University Library announce a new collection of over 450 Legacy Research Papers on ORO. In partnership with the University Archive and academic colleagues at the University, ORO now holds papers published by: 

Libraries and Archives are the Memory of their Institution

Maintaining the publication record of research groups remind us of what the University has done and how we got to where we are now. These papers have been collected from various sources: 

  • The Open University Archive 
  • The Open University Library 
  • Offices at Walton Hall 
  • Websites 
  • Shared network drives 

These collections were disparate and scattered lacking consistent metadata and a digital platform to help find their reader. We organised the collections, created metadata and issued persistent identifiers (Digital Object Identifiers) for each paper. They can know be browsed alongside each other on ORO and searched for on the web as they have been indexed by internet search engines. 

The ORO service is ready to add further legacy research collections.  Moreover, the architecture has been built to enable active research groups to disseminate their self-published research outputs – let’s make the most of our research and our repositories! 


The Collections 

Development Policy and Practice (DPP) 

The DPP working paper series comprise nearly fifty working papers and joint working papers from the DPP research group. Emeritus Professor David Wield supported this work with donations and advice, he writes about the group: 

Development Policy and Practice at the Open University was a very early initiative to integrate high level academic research in International Development with strong emphasis on policy and Practice impact. It attracted a large proportion of world class academics with similar interests in building a local and global critical response to the prevailing neo-liberal wave of destructive financial policies. It was the first group to analyse north and south relations together, including research on local development in the ‘north’ and major research on east and central Europe before the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

On investigation this collection had already been part digitised by the AgEcon – a subject repository for Agricultural and Applied Economics. We worked in partnership with AgEcon to complete their collection of DPP papers and create a complete collection in ORO. We harvested reports from AgEcon, missing papers were digitised by our digitisation partner, the British Library, which we shared with AgEcon. Both ORO and AgEcon now have complete collections of these working papers. 

DPP Front Cover

Browse the Collection: Development Policy and Practice 

Design Education Research Programme 

The University Archive and Library held a small collection of 13 Design Education Research Notes published by the Design Education Research Programme. This was within our small digitisation budget, and they were sent for digitisation to the British Library. Emeritus Professor Nigel Harris supported this work and contextualised the work of this group: 

This programme of research was based in the Design Discipline, Faculty of Technology, 1978 – 1988, funded by the Faculty and the University. It aimed to articulate and establish fundamental aspects of education in design so as to underpin the growth of design as a subject in general education and to support the concept of design as a discipline of study for the Open University’s students. This led into further research into design epistemology, the nature of design ability, design thinking and designerly ways of knowing. 

DERN Front Cover

Browse the Collection: Design Education Research Programme 

Design Innovation Group Reports 

The Design Innovation Group (DIG), which was founded in 1979, conducts research on the role of product design and technical innovation in the competitiveness of industry, both in the UK and overseas.

Frontmatter of DIG Report 5: The Commercial Impacts of Green Product Development 

Some reports from the Design Innovation Group (DIG) were already in ORO. They had been added some years ago by members of the group. We found other DIG reports in the University archive, online copies were retrieved via the Internet Archive and some found on researcher’s hard drives. Emeritus Professor Robin Roy supported our efforts, and work continues to complete the collection of DIG Reports in ORO. 

Browse the Collection: Design Innovation Group 

Alternative Technology Group 

Late in 1976, the Faculty of Technology at the Open University took the imaginative step of funding two full-time research workers, to work in the area of Alternative Technology and to begin a research group (the Alternative Technology Group), which would act as a focus for the research interests of a number of the teaching staff. This was the first attempt in Britain to mount a formal research effort in this field. 

Frontmatter of ATG Report 5: Self-sufficiency and the future of work 

ATG Front Cover

The eleven papers in this series were digitised from paper copies held in the University archive and include prescient work on recycling, renewable energy sources and green cars.  (Moreover, they have exquisite covers!) 

Browse the Collection: Alternative Technology Group 

Co-operatives Research Unit 

The Co-operatives Research Unit (CRU) has three main aims: 

  • to encourage and develop thinking and research on issues of importance to the social economy sector; 
  • to support the development of co-operatives and other organisations trading for social or ethical purposes; 
  • to work with practitioners, policy makers and researchers at European, national and local levels to develop comparative analyses of issues for improving policy, development and management. 

from the Co-operatives Research Unit webpages 

Initially, I intended only to digitise a small number of CRU case studies held in the University Archive. However, when I contacted Emeritus Professor Roger Spear of the CRU, he advised that a number of these publications had already been digitised and were available on network drives. Roger provided access for me, I harvested them, performed Optical Character Recognition on the PDFs to make them searchable and added them to ORO.  

This fascinating range of papers range includes a case study of the Milton Keynes radical bookshop Oakleaf as well as numerous studies of co-operatives from across the UK. 

Browse the Collection: Co-operatives Research Unit 

Open Discussion Papers in Economics 

The Open Discussion Papers in Economics were a different scenario. They already sit on a website and (to my knowledge) will remain there.  The purpose in harvesting these files was to be proactive in the preservation of content on a live website – of not waiting for the worst to happen 

Having gained consent from Head of Economics, Professor Susan Newman, to do this work, we found a few gaps in the collection. We tracked print copies down in the University Archive and digitised them. So, we were able to complete the collection as well as providing it with a second home. 

Browse the Collection: Open Discussion Papers in Economics 

Department of Computing Technical Reports 

Most challenging of all the collections in terms of scale and complexity were the Technical Reports published by the Department of Computing. In 2022 the University archived received a call to archive these papers as the website was being deprecated by local IT services. The University Archive harvested the PDF files, and we began the process of adding them to ORO. Dr. Amel Bennaceur, Director of Research for the School of Computing and Communications, writes: 

The website hosted technical reports to share research findings before publications, appendices or longer versions of published work, or students reports. While ORO offers a much superior way to host and archive technical reports, the website contained legacy reports that were referenced in published papers. By helping us add those reports to ORO, the OU librarians allowed us to retain those reports in line with today’s best practice.

An established series (with an ISSN) the reports ran from 1997 to 2017 and number more than 250 papers. Some of these papers were early working versions of published papers that were also in ORO – so I have done my best to not duplicate these records! These papers also included student dissertations from M801 Master of Science Degree in Software Development, which have been catalogued accordingly. Moreover, some numbers in the series appear to have been replaced at some point during the lifetime of series – so what we currently have in ORO is a snapshot of the series at point of its closure. 

Browse the Collection: Department of Computing Technical Reports 

Join the new ‘Open Research Community’ today


The Library’s Research Support Team have just launched a new Open Research Community on Microsoft Viva Engage (formerly Yammer).

We want to create an inclusive, supportive and active community for researchers and research support staff across the Open University to interact, discuss, share knowledge, and encourage good working practices to embed a culture of Open Research.

This will be a forum for all members to post relevant news, developments and policy updates and for prompting questions, debates and discussions on the direction of Open Research; as well as for sharing services and tools to support researchers in navigating this fast-paced world.

Why not join the conversation today by joining the Open Research Community?

ORO Annual Infographics 2022/23

ORO OU Infographic

We have created infographics from ORO usage data. We have infographics for each faculty and IET, with some commentary on Downloads, Deposits and % Open Access for both the year 2022/23 and trend data going back to 2011/12.  PDFs and data are available at the end of this post.

PDFs for each faculty / Institute:

Library Services ORO Update 202223_OU

Library Services ORO Update 202223_STEM

Library Services ORO Update 202223_FASS

Library Services ORO Update 202223_WELS

Library Services ORO Update 202223_FBL

Library Services ORO Update 202223_IET

Full data is also available from a spreadsheet: Infographics Data 2023-09

Please get in touch if this data is useful to, or if you have any questions about them:

From open research towards open (and engaging) research communication

by Richard Holliman

I recently published an article for the Times Higher Education, where I explored practical approaches to fostering open and engaging research communication. The article explores a series of questions, with some suggested solutions, to support researchers in developing communication strategies that connect with various ‘constituencies’ (researchers, interested and affected parties, and members of the public) throughout the research cycle.

In this article I propose an underlying rationale for moving from open research towards open (and engaging) research communication. Put simply, my argument is that open and engaging research communication can help to promote ‘fairness in knowing’. This is particularly important for minoritized constituencies, groups of people that have been, and continue to be, excluded and oppressed by dominant sections of society.

Opening up research

Notwithstanding obvious and ongoing challenges, including the cost vs. price of publication, the proliferation of ‘predatory’ journals, and ownership of intellectual property, I’d argue that open research (encompassing forms of open access publication and open data) has the potential to drive positive change in academia and wider society. (Martin Weller’s book, The Battle for Open, offers an insightful review of key arguments in this space.)

Following concerted moves to open up research beyond simply making research outputs publicly available we have seen changes to the requirements to publish research findings in some peer reviewed journals, such as ‘plain language’ summaries of, and/or key points (e.g. see America Geophysical Union). In a similar vein, some peer reviewed journals now require the publication of open data in combination the publication of a research output (e.g. PLOS ONE).

Research outputs: I’m using the term research outputs deliberately. Research can be represented in many forms. Depending on disciplinary norms this can involve publication in a peer reviewed journal, conference papers, monographs, edited collections and/or chapters therein, some other form of artefact, etc. Whilst the possibilities are not endless, there are a wide range of forms for effective research communicated, in ways that will be readily understood by academics with analogous training to those seeking to publish.

From open research to open and engaging research communication

Increasing access to knowledge offers the potential for a wider range of constituencies to scrutinise the outputs from research processes. But who does open access really benefit, by which I mean, who really gains access to research data and findings through greater openness?

Research was defined in the 2021 version of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework as: “a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared”. This was a necessarily broad definition that applied to all forms of academic research. In my experience what was meant by effectively shared, with whom, and at what points in the research cycle was defined in practice, in large part, through internal assessments of what would be likely to score highly in this assessment. The question follows: did academic concerns about what would score highly through this UK-wide research audit serve the interests of wider constituencies and social and economic forms of impact?

My contention is that open data and open access publication is most likely to extend access to a wider range of disciplinary-based and multidisciplinary-based researchers who may not have access through their institutional libraries, and a small number of additional users, e.g., freelance authors, independent researchers without institutional affiliations.

Open access publication, even with the inclusion of ‘plain language’ summaries and/or open data sets is therefore less likely to be useful and relevant to wider constituencies that may be affected by new research and/or members of the public without direct interest in a given research field.

Does this matter? I’d argue that it does, in part because knowledge (particularly publicly funded knowledge) should be open and easily accessible. To do this effectively should involve consideration of wider constituencies, exploring forms of communication and engagement that work for them.

Communicating the findings from research, however, should not be the only goal. Opening up research processes offers wider constituencies opportunities to engage throughout the research cycle, gaining authentic experiences, and contributing relevant forms of expertise and lived experience. Developing sophisticated communication and engagement strategies, researchers and wider constituencies can improve the quality of that research by drawing on relevant expertise and experience. If researchers adopt engaged research practices, there is wisdom in the distributed crowd.

‘Blue skies’ and ‘Applied’ Research

One of the issues that’s often raised when I discuss the possibilities of embedding open and engaged communication within a research project is the distinction between ‘blue skies’ and ‘applied’ research. The challenge for ‘blue skies’ researchers, so the argument usually goes, is that it is harder to be ‘engaging’ when compared to ‘applied’ research.

I’ll start by noting that I don’t agree that applied researchers are getting an easier ride when it comes to planning for open and engaging research communication. But I am happy to agree that ‘blue skies’ researchers have a different set of challenges when they’re planning for open and engaging research communication. For a start, the constituencies for ‘blue skies’ researchers are different in certain key regards. While all researchers could seek to communicate research via media professionals with a view to disseminating findings to the wider public, for example, they are likely to have fewer bespoke ‘publics’, i.e., those directly affected by a research agenda or its immediate impacts and/or implications.

‘Publics’: By ‘public’s I mean interested and affected parties, institutional actors, NGOs, representatives from economic or societal entities, user communities, members of the public, and/or groups who come into existence or develop an identity in relationship to the research process.)

How then should researchers seek to engage with different constituencies when planning communication and engagement strategies for ‘blue skies’ or ‘applied’ research. Figure 1, produced by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), offers a tool to start mapping potential publics for research.

The questions that follow Figure 1 act as prompts for ‘creating publics’ for ‘blue skies’ research, also when and how to communicate and engage with them in the research cycle. (The latter is an issue that is addressed in more detail in my article in the THE: fostering open and engaging research communication.)

There are an equivalent set of prompts for applied research in the following open access research output: A case study from Guyana of adapting engaged research design to promote ‘fairness in knowing’.

A diagram showing possible publics for engagement. The publics include: public sector; business community and third sector organisations.

Figure 1: Mapping ‘publics’ for research. Source: NCCPE.

Mapping publics for ‘blue skies’ research:

  • Who should have a voice in planning for open and engaging research?
  • What forms of expertise and/or lived experiences could inform your planning for open and engaging research?
  • What opportunities could be offered to allow existing and emergent ‘publics’ to connect with research through: a) forms of dissemination that can inform and educate; b) bespoke interactive events and activities that can inspire and entertain; c) knowledge sharing activities that facilitate consultation; and d) advice and advocacy that promotes partnership and/or collaborative working?
  • How will you communicate and engage in ways that are inclusive to different publics, including those who have previously been excluded (e.g., minoritized groups)?


Communication and engagement need to be recognised as core components of research, with associated rewards for exceptional and sustained contributions. Conceptualising research as both open and engaging involves a broader conceptualisation of effective sharing of new insights. To be genuinely open and engaging researchers should develop sophisticated research communication plans to communicate with interested and affected parties throughout the research cycle.

If we are to genuinely promote ‘fairness in knowing’ researchers need to meet groups that have experienced historical and contemporary forms of discrimination and disadvantage on ‘shared territory’. Researchers need to build their capacity in equitable approaches to communication and engagement based on the principles of doing no (more) harm combined with support for positive change.

How do researchers view the research environment and culture? A survey

The University of Bristol are conducting a survey in collaboration with Jisc and UKRI to better understand how researchers view aspects of the research environment and culture. This is a short, anonymous survey asking questions about researcher experiences and views of research culture and practises.

By filling out this survey, you will provide valuable insight into current perceptions around research culture, which will in turn serve to guide future decision making.

The survey is open to anyone who has worked on at least one research project that was published. The results will be published and circulated once they have been collated.

Icons made by Freepik from