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Resources to help make your research accessible

Selina Aragon

Selina Aragon

Associate Director of Operations

Jacalyn Laird

Estimated read time: 7 min
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Resources to help make your research accessible

Posted by j.laird on 23 February 2021 - 9:30am

Key in doorPhoto by Amol Tyagi on Unsplash

By Selina Aragon, SSI Communications Manager, and Jacalyn Laird, SSI Communications Officer. 


This blog post is part of the Research Software Camp: research accessibility web content series. 

As part of the inaugural SSI Research Software Camp on research accessibility, we’ve gathered some useful resources below. Research accessibility is a broad topic and this list gives a taster of the different areas. We have broadly divided these into open research, including open software and open access, the FAIR principles and reproducibility of research. We’ve also included the less talked-about aspects of research accessibility, such as equity in science, citizen science and events, which are important to include if we want to change how current research practices approach research accessibility.

If you know of a useful guide or article you’d like added to this list then please let us know. Our future Camps will cover a variety of topics relating to research software – join our mailing list for updates on upcoming Camps.

Open research 

In this section, we provide a taster of various guides and definitions gathered under open research - an umbrella term for different aspects, principles and practices of accessibility in research. These include open access, open software, research reproducibility and the FAIR principles. Open research aims to make the outputs of research freely accessible and usable, so that research can be collaborative, transparent, and reproducible. 

The UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) primers provide guidance on various open research topics (Preregistration and registered reports, Preprints, Open Access, Data Sharing, and Open Code and Software) and how to carry them out pragmatically. [guides]

OpenAIRE is committed to shifting scholarly communication towards openness and transparency and facilitating innovative ways to communicate and monitor research. They have a series of guides and handbooks from Research Data Management to legal issues for research data: [guides]

From definitions of various open science and open research aspects to learning resources and further reading, the Open Science Training Handbook is aimed at people delivering training on open science. [guide]

The Turing Way started as a guide for research reproducibility, covering version control, testing, and continuous integration, and it's expanded to also provide guidance on project design, communication, collaboration, and ethical research. [guides]

Three steps towards changing open research policy are highlighted in this preprint: What senior academics can do to support reproducible and open research: a short, three-step guide - change hiring criteria, change how scholarly outputs are credited, and change to funding and publishing with open research. [guide]

JISC hosts a comprehensive introduction on open access, explaining its benefits and listing different types of open access, as well as linking to their guides and other resources. [article & guides]

Among all the forced changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon us, libraries have had to come up with other ways of making their resources available to students and staff. The articleImproving open access and discovery during the pandemicprovides a few tips on how to easily find open access research and course materials in libraries. [article]

FAIR principles

Maastricht University has made this handy video which introduces the FAIR principles and how they can help to increase your research’s impact. [video]

In 2016, the FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship” were published in Scientific Data. The authors intended to provide guidelines to improve the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse of digital assets. [article]

Go FAIR has a fantastic guide on “How to Go FAIR” which includes “a framework guiding FAIRification” and information on three-point FAIRification working groups. [guide]

Other aspects of research accessibility

When we were discussing the various aspects that research accessibility encompasses as a topic for the inaugural SSI Research Software Camp, we decided that we wanted to include less-explored and often overlooked themes. We list here a few resources on topics such as equity in (open) science, citizen science, and inclusivity across research activities. These resources are intended as food for thought and to encourage a different approach to research accessibility by looking at it through a different lens.  

Equity and inclusivity

In his keynote talk on “The Social Model of Inaccessibility”, Chris Hartgerink draws a comparison between the social model of disability and the way we approach open research, and how the social model of disability can be used to reframe questions and discussions around research accessibility. [video]

The article “Developing Open Science in Africa: Barriers, Solutions and Opportunities” explores the benefits of open science as a means to remove geographic, gender-related, ethnic or socio-economic barriers that make science and research inaccessible, while highlighting the lack of infrastructure that makes data management capacities inadequate. [article]

In 2018, the Global Young Academy (GYA) carried out a pilot survey to assess the quantity and quality of access to proprietary and open source software among researchers from all disciplines. The findings of this work show that initiatives and policy changes are needed to improve access to software for scientists everywhere. The “Global Access to Research Software: The Forgotten Pillar of Open Science Implementation” report provides recommendations to address inaccessibility of research software around the world. [report]

Running inclusive and accessible events and calls that promote various aspects of research and research software is paramount in bringing in new collaborators. The DISC Committee has curated a community-authored cookbook on how to organise diverse and inclusive events, called the DISCOVER Cookbook (Diverse & Inclusive Spaces and Conferences: Overall Vision and Essential Resources). [guide]

The preprint “Enhancing the inclusivity and accessibility of your online callsby Yo Yehudi et al., describes formats and tools for designing online training calls for accessibility. These measures will aid participation for a broad audience but may be especially helpful for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, people for whom the call isn’t in their preferred language, and people who are not comfortable speaking in front of a group. [guide]

Citizen science

A different approach to research accessibility is that of citizen science, which advocates for the public to be included in accessing and gathering research data. Citizen science is in many ways a product of successful science communication and public engagement. 

No PhDs needed: how citizen science is transforming researchgives a good round-up of what citizen science entails and how research can benefit from it. How should citizen science make anyone a scientist, and how does accessibility play a part? [article]

This co-designed online observatory for the River Chess is a practical example of the benefits and challenges of citizen science. [article]

We hope you find these resources on research accessibility useful – let us know of any you’d like to see added to this list. There will also be guides and helpful blog posts added to our website which have been written specifically for our Research Software Camp on research accessibility.

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