From belief to evidence – Investigating the long-term impact of open sharing commitments

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Leading Research Funders - Wellcome

Research Consulting and Science-Metrix are pleased to announce that we have been commissioned to undertake a new study for leading research funders Wellcome, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This work seeks to understand the impact of requirements for the rapid and open sharing of research findings and data in public health emergencies: we will focus on Covid-19 and the Wellcome-led data sharing Statement, including in comparison with the previous Statement released during the Zika and Ebola outbreaks.

Scoping out the challenge

Determining the impact of the open sharing Statement on its signatories and beyond will be a complex and multifaceted exercise. We will focus on understanding how the signature of the Statement has affected research funders, publishers, researchers, and their institutions, with three broad research questions in mind:

Wellcome Table Info

In the context of this work, we will explore current and emerging open science practices, including data sharing, preprint posting and research reproducibility, looking to investigate and unpick the relationship between the signature of the Statement, the broader open science movement, and the downstream use of research results and data to inform the Covid-19 response.

Our approach

To address such an ambitious brief, we have assembled a unique project team: Research Consulting’s expertise in the open research policy landscape is complemented by Science-Metrix’ (an Elsevier company) bibliometric and informetrics expertise. Our combined efforts will support the project funders in shifting from a belief that the Statement is impactful towards an evidence base that seeks to demonstrate said impact.

Our Science-Metrix colleagues have already started their analysis, and the Research Consulting team is preparing a comprehensive survey that will be shared with signatories of the Statement over the next few months.

We’ll supplement this with stakeholder interviews: we will be talking to public health response stakeholders and those developing therapeutics and vaccines, to gauge their perceptions around the impact of the Statement and see how open and rapid information sharing affected their work.

What’s next?

To guide us all through the complexities of this study, we are developing a shared and overarching theory of change. Over the course of this project, our teams will use the theory of change as a framework to identify and test the connections between the actions of the Statement’s signatories and the resulting short- and long-term impacts. Our theory of change will be shared alongside a full project report and open research data over the first half of 2022.

Want to know more? Follow us via @rschconsulting, @ScienceMetrix and @ElsevierConnect and stay tuned for more updates!

The Covid-19 data sharing statement was developed by Wellcome, and signed by a wide range of organisations, including UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


More information about the project’s sponsors:

Wellcome is a politically and financially independent global charitable foundation that improves health for everyone by funding research, leading policy and advocacy campaigns, and building global partnerships. Wellcome works with people and organisations using science to solve health challenges – through funding discovery research into life, health and wellbeing, and supporting research to find solutions to three worldwide health challenges: mental health, infectious disease and climate. https://wellcome.org/

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is the largest public funder of research and innovation in the UK, with a budget of around £8bn. It is composed of seven disciplinary research councils, Innovate UK and Research England. UKRI operates across the whole country and works with its many partners in higher education, research organisations businesses, government, and charities. UKRI’s vision is for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally. Their mission is to convene, catalyse and invest in close collaboration with others to build a thriving, inclusive research and innovation system that connects discovery to prosperity and public good. www.ukri.org

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people – especially those with the fewest resources – have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/

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