“The Future Depends on What You Do Today”: The Library as a Leader in Open Science

“The Future Depends on What You Do Today”: The Library as a Leader in Open Science

Paul Ayris (University College London, UK)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4546-1.ch002
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UCL (University College London) strongly supports the implementation of Open Science policies and practices. The library has taken the lead in the university across all eight areas of Open Science: the Future of Scholarly Communication, the EOSC, FAIR data, Skills, Research Integrity, Rewards, Altmetrics, and Citizen Science. UCL has modified these themes slightly to better fit its academic requirements, developing ambitious programmes and services to support the change of culture which is required. From the future of scholarly publishing, with the formation of UCL Press as the UK's first fully open access university press, to research data management, rewards, research integrity and next-generation metrics, UCL has become a leader in Open Science. This chapter analyses the success of UCL to date, describes the challenges, shows the benefits, and indicates what future steps are being planned to deliver a culture where Open Science is the default, thus delivering on the prophecy of Mahatma Ghandi, one of UCL's most illustrious alumni, ‘The future depends on what you do today'.
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What is the role of a library service in a research-intensive university in supporting the university’s activity in Open Science? Is Open Science a topic which should be led by the academy, or can a University Library play a role here? In some countries, academic leaders have been appointed as Open Science champions. In others, such as the UK, it is the University Library which has taken on such a role, either through the University Librarian themselves or else via the appointment of a senior manager to reach out to academic members of staff. The purpose of this paper is to look at possible roles that the University Library can play in this debate through a particular case study, that of University College London (UCL).

University College London (UCL)

UCL is the third oldest university in England, after Oxford and Cambridge, founded in 1826. It is renowned for ‘disruptive thinking’, a characteristic inherited from one of its earliest supporters Jeremy Bentham, the utilitarian philosopher (UCL, 2020b). It was Bentham who first invented the word ‘international’. Amongst English universities, UCL is the

  • 1st in England to welcome students of any religion or social background;

  • 1st in England to welcome women to university education;

  • 1st in England to teach English, German, Chemistry, and Engineering;

  • 1st in England to have a fully Open Access University Press, UCL Press.

As much as League Tables are a significant indicator of quality, UCL scores as follows:

  • 8th in the world (QS World University Rankings 2020)

  • 4th in Europe

  • 1st in London

Academic excellence is where the university excels. UCL has/is:

  • 29 Nobel laureates

  • 11 academic faculties

  • 42,100 students

  • 13,360 employees

  • 1st in the UK for research strength (REF 2014)

  • 440 undergraduate programmes

  • 150+ nationalities represented by the student body

  • 675 postgraduate programmes

UCL has a total group income of £1.45 billion, of which £476.3 million is from research grants and contracts (UCL, 2020a). The university has an unparalleled reputation for academic excellence underpinned by creative and innovative thinking with a global perspective. UCL has 250,000 alumni in 190 countries. 48% of its students are international students and 29% of UCL’s students studied abroad in 2017/18; 35% of the staff are also international. The picture created by this data is one of a vibrant community engaged in research, teaching, learning and knowledge exchange.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Citizen Science: a movement in Open Science which looks to the lay citizen as a participant in research practices or as the lead in research activity

UCL RPS: UCL Research Publications Service, where bibliographic details of UCL research outputs are stored

DORA: The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, which is aligned with Open Science goals

UCL Discovery: the Open Access repository at UCL

Reproducibility: An Open Science movement which emphasizes transparency in methods, analysis and outputs and the importance of being able to replicate findings

EOSC: European Open Science Cloud, a project to create a European Open commons of research data, publications and other outputs

Sorbonne Declaration: a statement signed in Paris in 2020 outlining the importance of research data and Open Science in the new research landscape

Fair: A term used in relation to research data which is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable

Open Science: a global movement in research, education, innovation and engagement which emphasizes collaboration and sharing

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