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Innovative open science methods for more research quality

The Berlin University Alliance funds five alliance projects

News from Jun 11, 2021

What is good research? How can the quality of research and its results be assessed and ensured over the long term? How can responsible research be made open and transparent? Five projects that are funded by the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) as part of the “Research Quality and Open Science” call for proposals deal with these questions. The researchers develop specific measures from various disciplines and based on a research approach dedicated to ensuring research quality and opening up research – for example, from the fields of medicine, law, meteorology, mathematics, and computer science. The projects are funded with around 1.2 million euros over a period of two years. Funding for the first projects will start as soon as possible. The call for proposals is part of the Advancing Research Quality and Value objective of the Berlin University Alliance, with which the alliance is expanding its expertise on research quality in Berlin as a research hub.

“The applications submitted are very diverse and, overall, of high technical quality. This includes, in particular, the fact that they contribute to a better understanding of the concept of research quality and help to anchor it sustainably and practically at the facilities of the partner institutions of the Berlin University Alliance and beyond,” says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, spokesperson for the Steering Committee. “Advancing Research Quality and Value”. “Since open research is of central importance to us, the appraisal of the applications took place in an open peer review. We want to make the decision-making process transparent and comprehensible for everyone involved.”

The projects in detail

BUA Open Science Dashboards – Development of indicators and screening tools for prototypical implementation, Dr. Evgeny Bobrov, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin/QUEST Center, Maxi Kindling, Open-Access-Büro Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin

The more open science practices become established, the more important systematic monitoring becomes. However, there are no established indicators that serve as criteria for such monitoring. The project builds on the expertise of Charité in the biomedical open science area and develops indicators for selected further disciplines as well as tools for the (semi-) automated collection of key figures. These indicators are developed in pilot projects together with scientific communities and later made available as dashboard prototypes. At the same time, the aim is to expand the existing, currently internal Charité dashboard to include indicators of the reusability of research data ('FAIR data').

Open Access in Law – Structural Change to a Participatory quality-assured Publication Culture, Prof. Dr. Johanna Wolff, Freie Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Christoph Möllers, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Open access publications only play a subordinate role in law. However, they are already benefiting from a public discourse initiated in particular by legal science blogs. The research project takes a legal sociological approach and examines the existing attitudes and the cultural barriers for open and interdisciplinary law with regard to open access. Building on this, the aim is to develop intra- and interdisciplinary approaches such as guidelines and procedural rules as framework conditions for a participative, quality-assured publication culture.

PANNE – (German acronym for “publication bias analysis of non-publication and non-reception of results in a disciplinary comparison”), Dr. Helen Niemeyer, Freie Universität Berlin, Dr. Felicitas Heßelmann, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

The publication of complete, high-quality research results is of central importance in the process of scientific knowledge production. However, the academic system sometimes creates incentives for publications that are not based on research quality but produce significant results or correspond to the zeitgeist. The research project examines the relationship between research quality, publication suitability, reception opportunities, and scientific reputation in a mixed-methods approach to the subjects of psychology and history. As a result, participatory methods are being developed to reduce such publication bias among junior researchers.

Open Make. Towards open and FAIR hardware, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Roland Jochem, Technische Universität Berlin, Prof. Matthew Larkum, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Prof. Dr. Tim Landgraf, Freie Universität Berlin

The importance of open hardware became obvious during the Covid-19 pandemic when 3D printed face shields for healthcare professionals were able to fill a key manufacturing gap. The concept of open hardware applies the principles of freely usable, open-source software to products and thus enables their replication and quality control. With an interdisciplinary approach, the project develops new methods, guidelines, and standards to investigate and publish open hardware in an academic environment.

Open Urban Climate Observatory Berlin for environmental research and applications, Dr. Fred Meier, Technische Universität Berlin, Dr. Marco Otto, Technische Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Henning Rust, Freie Universität Berlin

Berlin is now one of the most heavily populated cities in the EU. As urban growth increases, the negative climatic effects that affect the health of the urban population and are exacerbated by the climate crisis also increase. In order to get a better measurement of the spatially highly differentiated urban climate variables (e.g., air temperature and heavy rain), the project implements weather observations according to the Citizen Science concept in an existing scientific measuring network, the Urban Climate Observatory Berlin (UCO Berlin). The monitoring stations used for this (MESSI) have been specially developed and tested at Freie Universität Berlin in cooperation with Technische Universität Berlin for use in Citizen Science projects. The 100 MESSI are set up and maintained by city residents, especially garden plot holders. The data obtained are jointly evaluated and published using a co-creation approach to specific scientific questions. The collected atmospheric data is then freely available via the open UCO Berlin.


The Berlin University Alliance

The Berlin University Alliance is a consortium consisting of three major Berlin universities – Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin – and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, established to shape research and education in Berlin. The four partners joined forces to further develop Berlin as a research hub with international drawing power. Together the partners explore major societal challenges, increase public outreach, promote the training of junior researchers, address issues of quality and standards in research, and share resources in the areas of research infrastructure, teaching, diversity, equal opportunities, and internationalization. The Berlin University Alliance is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the state of Berlin under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder.

Joint press release from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin along with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Press contact
Hans-Christoph Keller, acting press spokesperson for the Berlin University Alliance and press spokesperson for Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Email: medien@berlin-university-alliance.de 

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