Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
25 Oct 2018
Freely available science papers enable research findings to be shared widely, helping to speed up the pace of science and advance research worldwide. That’s why we support open knowledge solutions like Europe PMC (Pub Med Central): a vast digital library of biomedical research articles, available for anyone to access. But that’s not the only perk, as Community Manager Maria Levchenko explains for Open Access Week 2018.
Image credit: Maria Levchenko
Every scientist hopes that their research will change the world. However, that change can only happen when science is shared with the wider community. Open access to research ensures that anyone, from fellow scientists to journalists and patients, can read the full story behind an important finding. [...]
Continue reading: The serendipity of openness
24 Aug 2017
Reproducibility isn’t something that can be solved without considering the bigger research picture. So as part of efforts to improve the quality of research, we’ve collected tips and resources – relevant to each stage of the research process – from across the MRC community to help. Isabel Baker reports.
Methods are us
Good science needs good methods. Good methods ensure that health research and policy are built on the best possible evidence. Using robust, bullet-proof methods that are reliable and repeatable can also improve efficiency. Efficiency is important, as it’s not just taxpayers’ money at stake; valuable samples from humans and animals can often be used only once, and time donated by volunteers is precious. [...]
Continue reading: Raising the research quality bar
13 Feb 2017
A preprint is a scientific manuscript uploaded by authors to an open access, public server before formal peer review. With the rising popularity of preprint servers enabling fast and direct distribution of knowledge across the world, and plans underway to establish a ‘Central Service for Preprints’, Isabel Baker asked some converts across the MRC community why they’ve jumped on board.
“Preprint posting is the right thing to do for science and society. It enables us to share our results earlier, speeding up the pace of science. It also enables us to catch errors earlier, minimising the risk of alerting the world to our findings (through a high-impact publication) before the science is solid.
“Importantly, preprints ensure long-term, open access to our results for scientists and for the public. Preprints can be rapidly posted for free on arXiv and bioRxiv, enabling instant open access. We post every paper as a preprint in my lab, at the time of the first submission to a journal.” [...]
Continue reading: Preprints – what’s in it for me?
27 Oct 2016
Today the MRC and a group of partner organisations issued an update on what we have been doing to address of reproducibility and reliability of research since the publication of the report of our symposium on the issue last year. Dr Frances Rawle, our Head of Corporate Governance and Policy, talks about what we’ve done so far.
Reproducibility is everyone’s problem. If we can’t ensure that our results are reliable, then our research can’t improve human health.
Everyone involved in biomedical research, including funders, individual researchers, research institutes, universities, publishers and academies – must play a part in improving research practices.
We’ve worked across the sector to discover the main causes of irreproducible results and what we can do to improve the situation. [...]
Continue reading: How do you solve a problem like reproducibility?
29 Jul 2016
Sense about Science have recently set up a new website to help people make sense of children’s heart surgery data; Joanne Thomas and Emily Jesper from the charity explain why and how they made that data make sense.
A higher survival rate does not mean a better hospital. © PRAIS2 website project team 2016
At Sense about Science, we strongly believe that patients and families should be involved in how medical research is conducted and communicated. So when Dr Christina Pagel asked us to help codevelop the Understanding Children’s Heart Surgery Outcomes website, and include people who need this information in the project, we didn’t hesitate. [...]
Continue reading: Beyond open: making your data accessible
5 Jun 2015
The Open Science movement encourages scientists to make their materials, data and publications freely available for the good of everyone. Professor Marcus Munafò of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol tells us why his group has begun to ‘go public’ with their research – and about some of the unexpected benefits that it can bring.
Marcus Munafò (Image copyright MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol)
Adopting an Open Science approach has been a gradual thing for us. We thought it was the right thing to do because our work is publicly funded and therefore should be made widely available as soon as possible. Sharing data also means that science can, in principle, progress more efficiently, because you may not need to collect new data if you can answer a question by using information that’s already out there. [...]
Continue reading: Going public with your research
21 May 2014
James Rowe (Image copyright: James Rowe)
MRC-funded research into how the brain processes music was the topic of the winning entry to the Europe PubMed Central ‘Access to Understanding’ science writing competition, announced in March. Here Dr James Rowe from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit tells us about the research, what it means to him, and why he made sure it was published on an open access basis.
I was delighted when I learned that Elizabeth Kirkham had chosen to write about our article in the EuropePMC writing competition, and even more so when it won. This paper was special to me for lots of reasons, over and above its scientific merit.
First, it represented an unexpected but highly productive and enjoyable collaboration with Dr Jessica Grahn, linking my work at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and the University of Cambridge Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Such innovative studies are greatly helped by core funding to the unit from the MRC, which encourages creative dialogue between scientists. [...]
Continue reading: Opening up research
19 Mar 2013
Graham’s paper in PeerJ
Professor Graham Collingridge, an MRC-funded researcher at the University of Bristol, recently published a research paper in the first batch of publications from the innovative new open access journal PeerJ. Here he explains what attracted him to this mode of publishing, and why he’d rather see precious resources spent on research.
Like many researchers, I like the concept of open access publishing. I’ve been publishing my work on an open access basis, in line with the MRC’s guidance on open access, for years. But I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the costs associated with abiding by the guidance in today’s publishing world.
I recently published a paper in an Elsevier journal, which I believe would have been made fully open access after one year. However, the MRC policy requires that all MRC-funded work is openly accessible after six months, so to make up the shortfall, I needed to pay a fee of €5,000 to the journal. What is frustrating is that I’m sure that most of the people who want to access my paper can do so via their institutional subscriptions to Elsevier journals, so I paid €5,000 for just a small number of people to be able to access my paper for this six-month time window. [...]
Continue reading: All you can publish