Research Practice

Good research practice is essential to preserve the integrity of research, and ensures that research excellence is underpinned by the principles of honesty, rigour, impartiality, collegiality, trust, transparency, and accountability.

As a world-leading research institution, the University Oxford is committed to fostering an environment that enables research of the highest quality. These web pages have been designed to assist researchers with guidance on good practice at the various stages of the research cycle.

Research Practice Topics

The University’s policies, guidance and training have been designed to support researchers to achieve the highest standards of practice in the planning, designing, conducting and disseminating of research. These have also been developed to align with the expectations and commitments set out in various national and international Concordats and sector agreements.

The University acknowledges that good practice in research is constantly evolving in all disciplines, and recognises emerging developments in and new approaches to research design, research data management, peer review and publication. The University will keep its policies, guidance and training under regular review to ensure that these reflect such developments. 

Research Practice is a priority of the broader Research Culture Programme, and that this programme is supported by the PVC of Research. The work for this priority is coordinated by the Research Practice Group.

 

Before you start

What you need to do

Why

Further information and guidance

Access your Symplectic Elements account 

Symplectic Elements is the system that holds details of your publications, other research outputs, research grants and professional activities. It is used to manage your research portfolio.

Find out how to access your Symplectic Elements account and go through the quick start guide

Symplectic registration page
Get an ORCID 

An ORCID is a unique researcher identifier, used worldwide, that helps you link and display your publications even if you move institution. 

Register for an Oxford ORCID ID and link this to your Symplectic Elements account

ORCID at Oxford

Take research integrity training Training in research integrity or good practice in research is mandatory for all Oxford researchers. Online introductory training is available to meet this requirement and information about further ethics and integrity training is available here. Research integrity training
Begin your research data planning

Planning how you will manage and describe your research data will help you later on in your project when you come to publish and/or share your work. Consider at an early stage how your research data will be stored and shared and plan for the costs of this.  

Bear in mind that University policy requires data to be securely held for as long as it has continuing value and for a minimum period of three years after the completion or publication of the research (or for longer if specified by the research funder or sponsor).

Research data planning

Sustainable Digital Scholarship Service

Find out more about Open Access 

Making your publications, data, and code Open Access can increase the impact and visibility of your work. The University’s Open Access policy is to ensure the widest possible access to University research.  

Find out more about how you can make your research outputs open access and how to meet your funder’s requirements.

Open Access policy and guidance

Open Access Primer from UKRN

Consider reporting guidelines Reporting guidelines are simple structured tools and checklists for researchers to use while preparing a manuscript

Equator Network

FAIRsharing Resources 

Consider signing up for mentoring Mentoring is a way for experienced researchers to share their knowledge and skills with new or less experienced researchers and students. By participating in a mentor/mentee relationship, mentors and mentees develop valuable skills that can further their own personal and professional development. Mentoring resources

 

Planning your research

What you need to do

Why

Further information and guidance

Get an ORCID 

An ORCID is a unique researcher identifier, used worldwide, that helps you link and display your publications even if you move institution. Register for an Oxford ORCID ID and link this to your Symplectic Elements account

ORCID at Oxford

Consider pre-registering your study  When you pre-register your research, you specify your research plan and register this in a public registry before starting a study. This improves research transparency, accountability and credibility and helps to eliminate poor practice such as HARKing (Hypothesizing after the results are known) and p-hacking (manipulating data analysis to enable a favoured result to be significant).

Pre-registration guidance

OSF Registries

Discuss authorship and publication with research supervisors and group leaders

Researchers should begin discussions about authorship at an early stage (within their group or department) given that roles and contributions to outputs may change throughout the research. These discussions should cover, in general, what the criteria are for a person to be listed as an author of a publication. 

Researchers should be aware of the authorship practices within their own discipline and any guidelines set by the journals in which they hope to publish.

Publication and authorship guidance

Plagiarism guidance

Consider using CRediT in publications and other research outputs The CRedIT taxonomy sets out 14 roles that can be used to represent those typically played by contributors to a scholarly output. This has been widely adopted by a range of publishers to improve accessibility and visibility of the range of contributions made to published research outputs.

Publication and Authorship guidance

CRediT guidance

Documenting contributions to scholarly articles using CRediT and tenzing

Prepare fieldwork risk assessment and consider the ethical implications of fieldwork

If your research involves fieldwork or overseas travel, you will need to complete a risk assessment to ensure that this can be covered by University travel insurance. 

There may be ethical and equity-related challenges that you should consider and prepare for, particularly if you are working across disciplines, cultures, and country contexts.

Fieldwork and travel guidance

Code of Conduct for Ethical Fieldwork

How to obtain University travel insurance

Prepare a data management plan  

A data management plan documents how data will be managed throughout the whole research lifecycle. It should cover how data will be handled during the active phase of research, and longer term questions of preservation and sharing. The plan should be updated and revised as a project develops.

Data management plans guidance

DMP Online - plan to make data work for you

Sustainable Digital Scholarship Service

Think about which standards and repositories you need to use to represent and store your research outputs

Standards and repositories are useful parts of storing, sharing and archiving your data for future reuse and replicability of your research. The FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, 
Reusable) data principles aim to provide a framework to ensure that researchers can prepare and store data in ways that others can reuse. 

FAIRsharing resources

FAIR Cookbook

How to keep your data safe

Sharing data- guidance

Registry of Research Data Repositories (re3data.org)

Apply for ethics review and approval:

  • Research involving human participants and personal data

 

  • Research involving animals
You will need to apply for ethics review and have all necessary approvals in place before the start of your research

 

 

How to apply for ethics review and approval of research involving human participants and personal data

 

How to apply for ethics review and approval of research involving animals

Get governance approvals for your clinical trials If you are conducting clinical research you will need to ensure that additional governance approvals are in place before the start of your research. Clinical trials and research governance guidance
Plan how you will carry out collaborative research (including trusted research)

When working collaboratively with colleagues within Oxford or with other organisations, it is important that all researchers have a shared understanding of their respective responsibilities and what constitutes good practice in research. Norms will vary between disciplines, institutions and countries and there should be a shared agreement, from the outset as to how the research will be conducted and reported, to avoid potential misunderstandings and disagreements.

If your research involves collaboration with international partners, there may be specific legal and compliance issues for you to consider.

Collaborative research guidance

 

Trusted research- guidance for international research collaborations

Plan your research design  Good experimental design and proper use of statistics is essential to good practice in research, in order to ensure that research is reliable and reproducible.

 

How to address experimental design in your funding proposal

 

Oxford reproducibiliTea Journal Club

Manage conflicts of interest Ethical and responsible science requires the declaration of conflicts of interest, as these conflicts may introduce (unintentional) biases to the reported results, and lead to article retractions. Consider whether you have any actual or perceived conflict of interest that could apply to your research. If so, this should be declared and managed in line with University policy.

Conflicts of interest- actions to take

Research Integrity: Conflicts of Interest

Conflict of Interest: Identifying interests and making declarations

Plan for responsible research and innovation Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is a science policy framework, which seeks to align technological innovation with broader social values.  RRI aims to engage researchers and innovators to produce ethically acceptable, sustainable and socially desirable research and innovation outcomes. Responsible research and innovation guidance
Plan your research impact Research impact is the effect that your research has beyond academia, the demonstrable contribution that research makes to society and the economy.

 

Using research to engage

How to plan for and evaluate research impact

 

 

Conducting your research

What you need to do 

Why

 Further information and guidance

Data: consider how to store and share live data Data sharing is the process of making research data available for wider dissemination, increasing the research impact and making it more reproducible. It is important to have good processes in place for collecting or creating your data, and for working with it during the active phase of your research. This will enable you to get the most out of your data and will also help maximise its value longer term.

Research data - tools, services and training

Data handling and acquisition

Sustainable Digital Scholarship Service

Data: consider how to store, share and annotate data of longer-term value (in line with FAIR principles) Data sharing is the process of making research data available for wider dissemination. The FAIR principles state that data and metadata should be: findable (easy to find for both humans and computers); accessible (accompanied by clear instructions for access and authorisation); interoperable (compatible with other data and/or tools); and reusable (suitably described to allow further use.

Research data - tools, services and training

Data Sharing Primer from UKRN

FAIR Cookbook

Carry out collaborative research (including trusted research)

When working collaboratively with colleagues within Oxford or with other organisations, it is important that all researchers have a shared understanding of their respective responsibilities and what constitutes good practice in research. Norms will vary between disciplines, institutions and countries and there should be a shared agreement, from the outset as to how the research will be conducted and reported, to avoid potential misunderstandings and disagreements.

If your research involves collaboration with international partners, there may be specific legal and compliance issues for you to consider.

Collaborative research guidance

Trusted research-guidance for international research collaborations

Discuss intellectual property and conflicts of interest Researchers should discuss within their group or department what intellectual property could be generated in the course of the research,  how this can be protected and commercialised and whether this could present any conflicts of interest. This is particularly important prior to the start of any collaborative research. 

Intellectual property guidance

University Intellectual property policy

Intellectual property guidance for University researchers - guidance from Oxford University Innovation

Consider safeguarding issues in research

The University is committed to promoting a safe research environment, which is free from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, bullying, psychological abuse and physical violence, for all its researchers, research participants or others who may come into contact with University research. 

Find out more about the University’s safeguarding requirements and issues to consider when planning research.

Safeguarding guidance

How to apply for ethics review of research involving human participants

Consider how to address concerns about research (questionable research practices, research misconduct) All researchers are expected to be committed to ethical principles and professional standards. Not upholding such standards, either intentionally or through lack of knowledge, damages the scientific process and may harm research participants, colleagues, the University and society as a whole.  Misconduct or poor practice in research should be challenged. Research misconduct guidance
Consider publishing registered reports A registered report is a form of publishing that helps you increase the transparency of your research, whereby you pre-register your research methods and proposed analyses and these are peer reviewed prior to the research being conducted.  The decision to publish is made before the study is run and based on the importance of the research question and the rigour of the methods. Authors receive in-principle acceptance, a commitment from the journal to publish the study irrespective of the results.

Registered reports - Centre for Open Science guidance

Registered reports - Royal Society guidance

Pre-registration and Registered reports - primer from UKRN

Transparency in reporting

What you need to do

Why

Further information and guidance

Get an ORCID ID

An ORCID ID is a unique researcher identifier, used worldwide, that helps you link and display your publications even if you move institution. Register for an Oxford ORCID ID and link this to your Symplectic Elements account

Register for an Oxford ORCID

Consider using CRediT in publications and other research outputs The CRedIT taxonomy sets out 14 roles that can be used to represent those typically played by contributors to a scholarly output. This has been widely adopted by a range of publishers to improve accessibility and visibility of the range of contributions made to published research outputs.

Publication and authorship guidance

CRediT guidance

Documenting contributions to scholarly articles using CRediT and tenzing

Pre-register your study When you pre-register your research, you specify your research plan and register this in a public registry before starting a study. This improves research transparency, accountability and credibility and helps to eliminate poor practice such as HARKing (Hypothesizing after the results are known) and p-hacking (manipulating data analysis to enable a favoured result to be significant).

Pre-registration guidance

Center for Open Science

Pre-registration and Registered reports- primer from UKRN

Managing conflicts of interest Consider whether you have any actual or perceived conflict of interest that could apply to any of your research outputs. If so, this should be declared and managed in line with University policy and any journal or publication requirements.

Conflicts of interest - actions to take

Research Integrity: Conflicts of Interest

Conflict of Interest: Identifying interests and making declarations

Consider reporting guidelines Reporting guidelines are simple structured tools and checklists for researchers to use while preparing a manuscript or report.

EQUATOR Network

FAIRsharing guidance

 

Sharing and publishing your research

What you need to do

Why

Further information and guidance

Prepare for open access publishing Making your publications, data, and code Open Access can increase the impact and visibility of your work. The University’s Open Access policy is to ensure the widest possible access to University research.  Find out more about ORA (the Oxford University Research Archive), how you can make your research outputs open access and how to meet your funder’s requirements.

Prepare for Open Access publishing

Oxford University Research Archive

Consider publishing on pre-print servers

A pre-print is an early version of a scholarly article generally published online ahead of submission to a peer-reviewed journal. There are many benefits to publishing a pre-print.  It speeds up the publication of (preliminary) research results, it generates early feedback before journal submission and provides free access to research outcomes.  

Some funders advocate or require the use of pre-print servers. 

What are pre-prints and why they are important

Pre-prints - primer from UKRN

Get an ORCID 

An ORCID is a unique researcher identifier, used worldwide, that helps you link and display your publications even if you move institution. Register for an Oxford ORCID ID and link this to your Symplectic Elements account

ORCID at Oxford

Consider using CRediT in publications and other research outputs The CRedIT taxonomy sets out 14 roles that can be used to represent those typically played by contributors to a scholarly output. This has been widely adopted by a range of publishers to improve accessibility and visibility of the range of contributions made to published research outputs.

Publication and authorship guidance

CRediT guidance

Documenting contributions to scholarly articles using CRediT and tenzing

Get Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for your research outputs A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique, persistent identifier (PID) for digital objects, often research outputs such as journal articles or research data, which allows such items to be easily retrieved and cited. Find out more about how to obtain a DOI and the advantages of having one. Digital Object Identifiers guidance
Deposit your data in a data archive or repository

Research data repositories or archives provide the best option for storing and publishing research data in the long term. They offer significant advantages over hosting a dataset on personal or departmental drives: in particular, they relieve the individual researcher of the responsibility of making sure the data remains available, and instead allow this to be handled by a body specialising in the curation of data.  For data which is suitable for reuse, they are also one of the best ways of ensuring that data is made available to as wide an audience as possible.

Increasingly, when datasets are deposited in a repository, they will be given a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) so they can be cited and found.

Oxford Research Archive for Data

Post-project data preservation guidance

Data Repositories

Dataviz and Reproducibility

Registry of Research Data Repositories (re3data.org)

Decide an appropriate license for your work 

Licensing is an important aspect of open research practice. By applying licenses to your outputs, you are able to clarify what others can - and can't - do with your work. 

Intellectual property (IP) can be a complex area, when applied to copyright and licensing of research outputs.  

Data sharing guidance

Guide to copyright - Bodleian Libraries' guidance

Guide to copyright  and licensing for e-journals - Bodleian Libraries' guidance

Licensing guidance - FAIR Cookbook

 

Getting credit for your research

What you need to do

Why

Further information and guidance

Use responsible metrics

There are many metrics which can be used to assess research impact, some of which have been used in ways that are irresponsible. The University has signed up to DORA (the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment) and is committed to not assess the quality of an output by the journal in which it is published. DORA is part of a wider commitment to the responsible use of research metrics or indicators.

 

Principles to promote responsible use of research metrics
Use a variety of indicators and metrics (citations, altmetrics, h-index) to evaluate your work

Indicators such as citation counts and altmetrics can provide useful additional information about the quality and impact of journal articles. In addition to these article level metrics, the h-index is an author level metric that measures both the output volume and citation impact of an individual author, and tends to increase with length of career

Altmetrics

Bibliometrics and citations tracking - Bodleian Libraries' guidance

Develop your Narrative CV

A narrative CV is a CV format that asks for written descriptions of contributions and achievements that reflect a broader range of skills and experience. This is different from a traditional metrics-based CV that is primarily a list of publications and research grants awarded, with employment and education history, but has little additional information or context provided.

A narrative CV enables researchers to describe a wider range of outputs, outcomes and contributions to research.  Increasingly, funders are moving towards requiring narrative CVs within funding applications.

Narrative CV - guidance from UKRI and joint funders group

Resume for researchers - Royal Society gudiance

Use CRediT in research outputs The CRedIT taxonomy sets out 14 roles that can be used to represent those typically played by contributors to a scholarly output. This has been widely adopted by a range of publishers to improve accessibility and visibility of the range of contributions made to published research outputs.

Publication and authorship guidance

CRediT guidance

Documenting contributions to scholarly articles using CRediT and tenzing 

Consider open peer review and  post publication peer review

Researchers should ensure that they understand the ethical obligations associated with peer review, including declaring conflicts of interest, seeking training if required.

Open peer review is an increasingly important aspect of open research. Opening up what was traditionally a closed process aims to make the peer review process more transparent and accountable.  It provides more opportunities to discover mistakes, validate findings and to increase overall trust in published research outputs.

Post publication peer review takes place after a manuscript has been published and, unlike traditional peer review, the assessment process is generally open to the wider community.

Peer review - University guidance

Ethical guidelines for peer reviewers - COPE guidance

Focus on Peer Review online training course - Nature

Open Peer Review - introductory online training course