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Open Research


Open Research Working Group - Position statement on Open Research: Approved by Research Policy Committee at its meeting on 22 November 2018 and by the General Board of the Faculties on 16 January 2019.

Purpose of the Statement

This Statement summarises the University’s approach to Open Research. Informed by external frameworks including the Concordat on Open Research Data, it sets out key principles for the conduct and support of Open Research at the University of Cambridge.

Owned by the Open Access Project Board[1], it is supported by more detailed Policy Frameworks for Open Access and Research Data Management.

This Statement will be reviewed and refreshed at least every two years or after major policy changes.

1. Open Research at the University of Cambridge

1.1 Open Research aims to open access to research outputs (e.g. to protocols, results, publications, data, software and tools) to increase inclusivity and collaboration, unlock access to knowledge, improve transparency and reproducibility of research and underpin research integrity.

1.2 The University promotes and supports Open Research, to improve discoverability and maximise access to knowledge in accordance with our mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence.

1.3 An Open Research culture, based on mutual benefit across research communities, links researchers and the wider community through shared knowledge. By helping to further the global reach of Cambridge’s research and enabling Cambridge based researchers to use open materials from other researchers it accelerates the pursuit of knowledge and fosters truly international collaboration.

2. Expectations of researchers

2.1 The University recognises contributions from researchers at all career stages, working collaboratively across a wide range of disciplines. Across the disciplinary spectrum there are a wide range of cultural settings that influence both capacity for and appropriateness of fully Open Research. Open publications and open data take different forms, and require different approaches, in each of these settings. The University supports the academic freedom of researchers to pursue new knowledge, and to choose the means of dissemination; but within that free choice, the University encourages outputs of research, and where appropriate the accompanying data, to be ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’.

2.2 The University relies on its researchers to uphold principles of scholarly rigour so that open materials are of the highest research quality and, where appropriate, will aid reproducibility. This may include:

  • where possible, ensuring all publications are Open Access;
  • where appropriate and possible, making openly available the underlying data relating to these publications;
  • sharing protocols openly;
  • collaborative approaches including blogging, online editions, releasing teaching materials, pre-print deposit.

2.3 The nature of research outputs, and their ownership, varies considerably both by discipline and by the research context. Within this context, the University is committed to supporting authors’ (academics, researchers, staff and students) freedom to choose where to publish. However it is recognised that restrictions may apply, for example when dealing with commercial interests and publisher requirements, third party rights holders, GDPR, patient confidentiality, confidential social data. The University of Cambridge Research Data Management Policy Framework addresses how the University manages these issues while ensuring compliance with funder requirements. Researchers are encouraged to work with the University’s professional services to determine the most appropriate approach in such circumstances, which may mean that outputs or data should remain closed or on limited access.

2.4 At all times, researchers are expected to act in accordance with the expectations of those funding the research, and with the minimum thresholds set by regulatory bodies.

3. The University’s support for Open Research

3.1 The University recognises growing enthusiasm for Open Research from amongst its staff and students and acknowledges significant individual efforts to engage with Open Research through a range of collaborative practices. Many researchers expend considerable efforts to practise Open Research, beyond basic compliance thresholds; University support is important to make Open Research simple, effective and appropriate.

3.2 The University will support researchers through:

  • Provision of a range of services (including but not limited to the Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge University Libraries, Research Office, Cambridge Enterprise and University Information Services), and systems (institutional repository, current research information system, research data management facility and others) to enable researchers to practise Open Research.
  • Provision of support, advice and guidance for individual researchers, appropriate to their disciplinary setting.
  • Ensuring long-term sustainability of curated open materials and their continued open accessibility.
  • Engaging with government and sector organisations, international consortia to ensure policy development and compliance is in keeping with the needs of the University and broader society.
4. Links

Specific guidance on open activities and policies are available on the University website via the Office for Scholarly Communication.

Guidance and support for Cambridge researchers is available from the Office of Scholarly Communication and the Research Information Office.

[1] To become Open Research Steering Committee.

5. Support


Please direct any questions regarding the University's Open Research Position Statement to the Office of Scholarly Communication:


Version control

Policy Version:

Date of Policy Review:
March 2019

Name of Reviewer:
Dr Arthur Smith, Deputy Manager of Scholarly Communication (Open Access)

Policy Notes:

Version 1. Approved by Research Policy Committee at its meeting on 22 November 2018 and by the General Board of the Faculties on 16 January 2019.

Version 2. Corrected some minor typographical errors and updated language around provision of services. 

Original Policy Creation Date:
November 2018

Name of Creator:
Open Research Working Group

Date for Next Review:
November 2020

Frequency of Reviews:
At least every two years

Review is the responsibility of:
Open Research Steering Committee

Location of Policy:

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