Open research

Open research embodies good research practices by opening up participation in, and access to, the research lifecycle. It covers a wide range of practices and principles related to how research is carried out and enables research to take advantage of technical advances.

Publications, data, protocols and equipment all support dissemination, verification and reproducibility of research findings as well as reuse by, for example, other researchers and industry. Open research has strong links with policies in other areas such as:

  • research integrity
  • research culture
  • digital infrastructure
  • talent and skills
  • research ethics

On this page, you will find resources predominantly referring to open access and open research data. However, we recognise that open research covers a much broader range of activities than this and new resources will be added as they become available.

Key principles

Open research describes a range of practices relating to the conduct of research and communication of its outputs. By improving access to research outputs according to best practices that enable research to be findable, accessible, reuseable and interoperable (FAIR) researchers have more opportunity to:

  • engage, replicate and accelerate knowledge discoveries
  • benefit society and the economy

Key principles include:

  • outputs from publicly-funded research should be freely accessible as soon as possible under conditions that maximise reuse to amplify social, economic and research benefits
  • open access to publications and research data stimulates high-quality research by being transparent, opening research to scrutiny and by evidencing research findings
  • sharing of research outputs must conform to all relevant ethical and legal obligations and conform with the principle of being as open as possible and as closed as necessary
  • open research means acting in a manner which considers public value for money and transparency.

Guidance on legislation

Data regulatory guidance

As per UKRI terms and conditions, you must ensure that the research supported by UKRI is carried out in accordance with all applicable ethical, legal and regulatory requirements for data.

Using data about people in research

The MRC Regulatory Support Centre provides guidance for researchers about data and confidentiality law.

Copyright and licensing

Copyright and intellectual property (

Find links to UK government resources which provide an introduction to copyright and intellectual property, information on how to manage copyright and associated exceptions.

Intellectual Property Office online training tools

Find the Intellectual Property Office’s online training tools for universities.

UKRI policies and guidance

Open access policy

UKRI introduced its new open access policy in 2021.

For guidance on the open access policy, existing research councils policy and supporting documentation, see making your research publications open access.

For information on how we are implementing the open access policy, see shaping our open access policy.

We have produced an information pack about the UKRI open access policy to support research organisations in engaging researchers about the new policy.

You can also read Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, UKRI Executive Champion for Open Research, outlining the benefits of UKRI’s new open access policy.

Research data policies

For the UKRI and research council research data policies and supporting guidance, see making your research data open.

UKRI terms and conditions

If you receive funding from UKRI you need to follow general terms and conditions for research grants or training funding, and any specific funding opportunity conditions.

Concordats UKRI has signed

UKRI supports the following concordats and declarations, which guide good practice in open research and research assessment.

Concordat on open research data (PDF, 180KB).

This concordat helps to ensure research data gathered and generated is, wherever possible, made openly available for use by others in a manner consistent with relevant:

  • legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks
  • disciplinary norms

San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

UKRI is a signatory to DORA and our guidance for grant applicants and assessors aligns with responsible research assessment practice.

UKRI is updating research assessment processes according to the principles of the seeking to ensure reward of openness and diversity in research.

External guidance

Data access statements

Your research organisations or publisher may have guidance on writing data access statements. Some examples include:

For UKRI guidance see the UKRI open access policy.

Open research

UKRN: Open research primers

A series of primers about different open research practices and topics, such as open access, data sharing and preprints, published by the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN).

UKRN: Open research across disciplines

Case studies and resources to support practising open research in different disciplines, published by UKRN.

Using and managing research data

Administrative Data UK (ADR UK) Learning Hub

The ADR UK Learning Hub provides information and resources to support individuals across institutions, sectors, and disciplines to use administrative data for research.

ELIXIR Research Data Management Kit (RDMkit)

RDMkit is an online guide that includes good data management practices for life science research projects from beginning to end.

Jisc: Research data management toolkit

This toolkit links to resources from a wide range of websites and organisations, sorted by topic and audience. You can follow a user pathway or browse the website using a research data lifecycle chart.

Research software

Software Sustainability Institute (SSI)

The SSI provides resources, training and programmes to support better and more sustainable software in research.

Last updated: 5 April 2024

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