Because good research needs good data

Celebrating datasets and other research outputs – introducing the HiddenREF

| 11 August 2020

On July 8th, the Riot Science Club, the Crick Institute and ReproducibiliTea hosted a panel discussion on “The cost of correcting bad science”. I was invited to speak about the HiddenREF, an initiative to shine a light on and celebrate all kinds of research outputs.

The panel brought together a wide range of speakers working on various aspects of improving research, research environments and culture. Diego Baptista introduced the Wellcome Trust’s recent work on research culture. They surveyed the landscape of research culture in the UK through evidence review, interviews and a survey. While most people are proud to work in research, their investigation showed that there are issues around working conditions having become more aggressive. Based on these results, Wellcome Trust started a campaign to re-imagine research culture, including a Café Culture toolkit to continue the discussion within research groups.

The theme of improving research culture was continued by Tanita Casci who introduced the University of Glasgow’s action plan for research culture and their planned activities around five themes: collegiality, career development, research recognition, open research, and research integrity.

Stephen Eglen followed this up with a talk from a researcher’s perspective and highlighted actions researchers can take to not be bullied into bad science. He promoted the use of preprints, registered reports and advocated for finding a mutual network to support open research. I personally loved that he started his talk with declaring his roles in campaigns and on editorial roles and acknowledging colleagues at the start. This practice of being transparent and crediting your collaborators early on is something I would like to copy going forward.

The final panelist was Elisabeth Bik who gave some more insight into “ugly aspects” of science, such as predatory journals, peer review rings and paper mills and her extraordinary ability to just screen papers and identify image duplication and manipulation.

What is the HiddenREF and how does it contribute to better science?

I joined the panel as a committee member of the HiddenREF. We launched the HiddenREF in February 2020 as a complementary exercise to the REF, celebrating those outputs that are eligible for REF, but usually do not get submitted. The initiative aims to highlight those research outputs that make papers possible in the first place and celebrate professional staff supporting researchers in all aspects of their research from funding grants to support with research software. The DCC is a supporter of the HiddenREF to raise the profile of research data and data stewards.

Like so many things including REF2021, the initial timeline for our activities got derailed by COVID19 but we are now forging ahead with the initiative. The HiddenREF is currently gathering suggestions for new categories that will extend the categories of outputs used by the REF. Suggestions so far include people categories such as Technicians or Professional Services staff and the final categories will be announced on 30 September 2020. 

Submissions will then open on 5 October 2020 and UK-based researchers can submit their outputs, for each of the categories, before the deadline of 26 February 2021. Those submissions will then be reviewed by panels of expert volunteers and the winners will be announced in April 2021.

To make the HiddenREF successful, we need your help, so please spread the word, review our submission categories and volunteer for an expert panel.

All details about timelines and information on how to get involved with the HiddenREF can be found on our webpage.

Slides from all speakers are available on the Open Science Framework. The recording of the full panel is available on the RIOT Journal Club’s youtube channel.

Feature image by Simon Hettrick.