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    Commitment to open research celebrated in new UK Reproducibility Network case study

    8 May 2024

    The work of a Harper Adams University technician has been profiled by the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) as an example of good practice in open research.

    Associate Laboratory Manager Nikoletta Foskolou’s work in the Jean Jackson Entomology Laboratory and Nematology Laboratory was one of the key open research case studies at facilities across the country which UKRN chose to highlight.

    Reader in Entomology Dr Tom Pope said: “Open research, also widely referred to as open science, relates to how research is performed and how knowledge is shared based on the principle that research should be as open as possible.

    “Nikoletta’s case study focuses on her role as Associate Laboratory Manager in maintaining more than 20 crop pest species and how these species are used in research and teaching at the university.

    “Importantly, Nikoletta’s work goes beyond this by making the biological resources held at Harper Adams publicly available for use by researchers and for teaching at other institutes.”

    Talking about taking part in the case study, Nikoletta said: “It was exciting!

    “Working in an environment where academics, technicians, researches and students regularly share their knowledge, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to express this collaborative spirit to the wider research community. I hope that this case study will inspire others to embrace open research practices.”

     The work Nikoletta carries out in the Harper Adams labs is necessary because the insect populations of the species studied will usually go into diapause – a state of suspended development – when environmental conditions are unfavourable.

    Through her role overseeing standard operating procedures for academics using the state-of-the art controlled-environment facilities and glasshouses at Harper Adams, she has ensured continuous populations of species, which are used in studies such as the development of artificial intelligence recognition of nematodes, ‘smart’ traps for vine weevil monitoring, and many others.

    Keeping the populations available to researchers at other institutes through Open Research has meant these researchers can work alongside Harper Adams, helping provide support if a species needs to be replaced or through discussing best practice – and, of course, through the discussion of new research opportunities.

    Tom added: “A recent UKRN/Jisc convened workshop on the role of research professionals in supporting open practice found many challenges and barriers to successful collaboration between researchers and the research professionals.

    “It is hoped that this and other case studies will help to overcome these barriers and build a collective narrative and mutual understanding of the strength in inter-professional working in the adoption of open research practices.”

    And Nikoletta said: “To me, higher education is a fundamental human right and therefore, research should be accessible for everyone.

    “Open research also leads to more effective collaborations both within and between research institutes.

    “I believe that open research helps to ensure that research is transparent and reproducible, and through this helps to shape our world for a better future.”

    Read the whole case study here.

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