What is an open researcher?

By ‘open researcher’ we mean an individual with the knowledge and skills to work effectively in an open research environment. They are able to maximise the benefits of open research for their work and the benefits for their careers.

Open support for or rejection of published theories, sharing of data and methods and international exchange have been central to scientific practice for more than three centuries; it is nothing new. However, recent and on-going advances in technology are leading to significant changes in how this can happen and in the extent and frequency of open sharing. This means that researchers must change the way they think and act and foster skills not required by their predecessors.

Rapid and pervasive technological change has created new ways of acquiring, storing, manipulating and transmitting vast data volumes, as well as stimulating new habits of communication and collaboration amongst scientists. These changes challenge many existing norms of scientific behaviour. From Science as an open enterprise: the Royal Society

The open researcher should have a good understanding of the opportunities and challenges raised by open research. While approaches will differ according to discipline, research methods etc, an open researcher would do all or some of the following:

  • Know the requirements of their institution or funder for making research open
  • Make their research data open and accessible, in line with accepted good practice
  • Be familiar with where and how to publish their results openly, as appropriate to their research
  • Be skilled in finding and using data generated by others – from a huge pool!
  • Be skilled in trawling the huge and rapidly expanding pool of publications to find the research outputs most relevant to them
  • Explore opportunities for engaging end users in conducting research, e.g. through mass participation or citizen science
  • Meet expectations (of institution and funder, of society) for communicating research through public engagement
  • Generate an effective online profile as a researcher
  • Understand the legal and ethical requirements related to dissemination of their research outputs
  • Build networks of potential collaborators and take advantage of opportunities to work across disciplinary or sector boundaries
  • Be able to use the appropriate technology and engage with appropriate service providers to make their research open
  • Understand how reputation and reward can happen for individuals in an open research environment.

See also our list of career benefits to you of developing as an open researcher.


There are likely to be people who can help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to be an open researcher. These could include:

  • Your institution’s librarians or others who manage your institution’s relationships with journals
  • Your institution’s staff developers or trainers – or graduate school/ student programme
  • Your research funder
  • Data services – broad or topic-specific. Local, national or international
  • Academics in your school or department.

In addition, national or institutional careers advisory services might be able to help identify career options requiring similar skills and knowledge to those developed in academic research.

Go to our page on skills and knowledge needed for open research for advice and resources and to see which skills we think you should focus on.