Open Science

The University of Münster is committed to the principles of open science. Research transparency and reliability are essential criteria for good scientific practice and a basic prerequisite for the creation of publicly accessible and sound knowledge in all scientific disciplines. This applies to the entire research process – from carefully crafting research questions and developing a research plan, to documenting materials, analyses and data, to publishing and communicating the research findings.

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The University of Münster sees itself as a pioneer in the pursuit of greater research reliability and accessibility. The Münster Centre for Open Science (MüCOS) will expand, network and integrate the existing interdisciplinary or subject-specific open science services into a comprehensive open-science approach at the University of Münster.

MüCOS Website

  • Research questions and research planning

    An open-science process begins with a transparent presentation of the research questions it aims to address (including hypotheses in the case of confirmatory research) and the research plan (i.e. a transparent description of the proposed methods for answering these questions). Professional open-science approaches support researchers in systematically defining central questions and procedures in advance and distinguishing between confirmatory and exploratory research. Concretely speaking, open-science solutions include, for example:

    • pre-registration of a behavioural experiment in the communication sciences or a secondary data analysis in the educational sciences
    • transparent documentation of the planned data generation process using an interview guide for a focus group in linguistics
    • creation of a preliminary PRISMA flow chart for a meta-analysis in medicine
    • creation of a registered report stage 1 for a planned experience sampling study, including a power analysis using data simulation in psychology
    • transparent documentation of the planned procedure for literature research and selection, and the principles of source analysis in the historical disciplines

    MüCOS provides both advanced and low-threshold solutions for the transparent documentation of research questions and research planning. This includes both interdisciplinary solutions and those customised for the specific requirements and challenges of individual disciplines. MüCOS also integrates support services provided by the University Library (ULB) in the area of literature searches and literature management as well as subject-specific support services (e.g. SCDH in the area of digital humanities).

  • Materials and data

    Describing and providing materials and data in a transparent manner makes it easier to understand and repeat research processes. It also makes it easier for researchers to reproduce and replicate research results and enable them to reuse and further develop innovative methods. Professional open-science solutions help researchers access research materials and data in a transparent manner and take into account data protection, ethical and subject-specific requirements. Examples of specific partial solutions include, for example:

    • providing the questionnaires used in a codebook and the anonymised questionnaire data collected in a sociology survey
    • maintaining and providing electronic lab notebooks in organic chemistry
    • providing coded observation data and reproducible analysis scripts in biology
    • using open-source software for the presentation of results in the geosciences
    • ensuring computational reproducibility in computer science
    • pseudonymising and publishing medical data
    • preparing and publishing research data in accordance with the FAIR principles

    MüCOS works closely with the Data Protection Officer of the University of Münster, the ULB (research data management, publication of data via the Datastore) and providers of subject-specific solutions (e.g. in the field of digital humanities) to collect and continue developing ways to provide open-access research materials and data.

  • Publishing research results

    As publication formats become more diverse, scientific results can be published in a variety of ways. Within the framework of a professional open-science approach, researchers can obtain support with developing an optimal publication strategy for each individual case, taking into account the oftentimes conflicting priorities of reputation, costs, quality assurance and accessibility. This includes, for example:

    • selection of open-access options for a given target journal (e.g. moving wall vs. green open access)
    • publication of a study with open peer review via Peer Community in (PCI) in microbiology
    • selection of a pre-print server for an epidemiological study
    • transparent presentation of authorial contributions using standardised taxonomies (e.g. CRediT)
    • creation of a Diamond Open Access journal managed by researchers

    MüCOS pools expertise on the transparent publication of research results in close coordination with existing services. These include, e.g. the University Library (ULB) which provides advice on open access and digital publishing, manages numerous open-access journals, the Miami publication server, offers advice and support for launching new open-access journals and migrating journals to the open journal system.

  • Communicating research results

    Communicating research findings in a transparent and broadly accessible manner makes it possible to optimise the use of research findings for teaching purposes, transfer them to the public sphere and facilitate their application in practice. As part of a professional open-science strategy, it is important to communicate the reliability of the results and ensure that what is communicated is target-group appropriate. This involves, e.g.:

    • writing press releases and other press activities that are justifiable and comprehensible in terms of content and in line with open-science principles
    • publishing teaching materials through a repository (e.g. Zenodo)
    • using existing teaching materials (e.g. Open Scholarship Knowledge Base)
    • augmenting publications with blog entries, interactive analyses or dashboards

    MüCOS works closely with the Communication and Public Relations department at the University of Münster and the Citizen Science Working Group to develop guidelines. Together with subject-specific support structures, it collects best practices for communicating research results in an open scientific manner.