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Reimagining Educational Practices for Open (REPO)

Are you interested in how people learn to be “Open” in their research? Have you taught others how to adopt sustainable open research and data practices? Have you wondered about how we can get the research world to “Open by Default”? The Reimagining Educational Practices for Open (REPO) project ( is interested in hearing from you!

REPO is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation-funded initiative ( to study and improve the impact and efficiency of Open Science training by observing, supporting, and extracting lessons from the development and design of virtual training and community development in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The participants in the program include leaders from many of the most prominent Open Science Training Organisations, community-run groups, and organisations with strong commitment to Open Research Culture and Infrastructure including FSCI (Force11 Scholarly Communications Institute,, The Carpentries (, European Open Science Cloud Synergy project (, Australian Research Data Commons (, ORCID (, DARIAH (, and others. 

Working in close collaboration, our focus is  

  • Capturing our experiences as leading training organisations in transitioning to an online virtual environment in response to the COVID crisis;
  • Exploring the structural and theoretical bases of our work — both as Open Science Training Organisations and communities generally and more specifically as online training organisations and communities in response to the COVID crisis;
  • Creating resources that we and others can use to improve Open Science training, both virtually and in a post-COVID online and in-person world; and
  • Expanding our network and knowledge of Open Science Training by actively seeking out and developing contacts with organisations interested in “training for Open.”

We are interested in hearing from anybody involved in training for Open research and publication practices — societies, publishers, funders, universities and research institutions, and individuals! Please comment on this blogpost or contact one of the Group’s Co-Chairs directly.

An important part of our work in this project is observing the interaction and movement of “hard” (formal skills-and-techniques-focused training) and “soft” (person-to-person, communal, ethical, and conceptual) approaches to the online environment. 

This topic is important for several reasons:

The sudden and sector-wide movement towards online and virtual training is the result of an unanticipated and hopefully temporary global health crisis. However, the result of this move does promise to have a long-lasting and far-reaching impact on the way training and community development in Open Science is delivered after the emergency has passed. Several of our partner organizations had started on projects looking at the use of virtual environments to promote Open Science training before the crisis. Given the climate crisis and other continuing pressures, including global resource inequities, it seems likely that face-to-face gatherings and training events will face continued scrutiny after the immediate health crisis has passed.

It represents a significant, rapid, and largely unexpected investment on the part of the entire Open Science training community in the development of on-line and virtual training and development material, events and practices. This is significant in terms of both money and volunteer effort, as organisations are required to research new pedagogical approaches, technological platforms, and organisational models — while losing in the process revenue streams (such as registration fees and conference funding) that traditionally support both basic and development operations.

With its emphasis on open, inclusive, and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable, values, the Open Science movement is both potentially a useful test-case for the development of virtual education on a Global and Interdisciplinary scale and a community that has a lot to offer in the discovery and development of equitable, sustainable, accessible, and open virtual training platforms and pedagogies.

Open Science training and community development remains a key component in paths towards an “Open and FAIR by default” global research culture. Maintaining the progress to date and supporting continued training and especially community development during this crisis is an intrinsic good.

At this point, the project has developed three main lines of enquiry:

Working Group 1: Identifying and creating a community with a broad range of representative Open Science Training Organisations and other organisations and Community-run groups interested in Open Science Training; Creating a Community of Practice of Open Science Training that will both leverage the individual strengths of the different partner organisations and provide access to Open Science training for research institutions, universities and organisations such as Societies, publishers and funders;

Working Group 2: Exploring the processes by which the partner organisations adapted to the COVID crisis and drawing lessons from this experience. This group is cataloguing both its successes and its “failures,” and developing tools to help others understand the implications of different practices and tools within an Open Science ecosphere;

Working Group 3: Developing a theoretical and structural understanding of the Open Science Training Community as a means to understanding and improving the delivery of Open Science training now and in the post-crisis world.


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