Unite!’s Open Science and Innovation Handbook - a practical guide for researchers

Unite! has published a practical guide for facilitating researchers, R&I support services, and university managers to transition from modern science to open science.
Unite! logo, bubbles and text "Unite! handbook of best practices for effective mainstreaming of open science and innovation at Universities"

The handbook reveals the best open science and innovation practices from research teams in the Unite! university alliance, exposes guidelines for the adoption of these practices, and shapes a new governance model for the management of open science and innovation in universities.  

The handbook is based on a comparative case study of 70 Unite! research teams from seven European universities - Aalto University in Finland (Aalto), Darmstadt Technical University in Germany (TU-Da), INP-University Grenoble Alpes in France (UGA), KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden (KTH), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Spain (UPC), the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy (Polito), and the University of Lisbon in Portugal (ULisboa) -  representing all the disciplines of science, business, design, engineering, technology, architecture, and humanities at Unite! universities. 

The work resulted in a “bottom-up handbook” giving a voice to researchers for sharing, explaining, and revealing how they conduct open science and innovation in universities in the digital era, how R&I support services staff can help them to adopt these practices, and how university managers can develop university- and school-level actions, redesigns, and incentives for advancing the setting-up of open science and innovation practices. 

DOWNLOAD the Handbook here

What are some of the best practices? Why, when and where are they adopted? Let’s have the researchers tell us.

 Open collaborative practices  

Unite! research teams carry out transdisciplinary research practices with citizens in several stages of the research process, like in data gathering. 

 “We have different actions with citizens. We started years ago a citizen science project that is open on our website. We’re using a real-time underwater camera, and we open these images to let people help us to identify species. You can access the website, see for instance a fish in the real-time camera image, capture the image, and give us feedback”, says Joaquín del Río Fernández, team leader of the Remote Acquisition and Data Processing Systems in Marine Environment research group at UPC

Unite! research teams implement transdisciplinary research practices with emerging academicsin open physical infrastructures such as open labs, co-creation platforms, public heritage, open libraries, or open university campuses. 

“Openness and sharing, it can’t be designed beforehand - like okay, now we sit here and share something, it doesn’t always happen that way. There needs to be open places where unpredicted things can happen. In uncontrolled meetings or confrontations, where you meet people, unaccepted things can happen. It’s about offering or creating some kind of a physical or digital space, that enables things to happen”, tells Pirjo Kääriäinen, team leader of the CHEMARTS group at Aalto University.

Unite! research teams foster interdisciplinary research practices with the aim of fostering creative problem-solving by bringing together different disciplines’ expertise and perspectives.

“In the first place, you must understand what kind of research interests and typical methods would the participants have. In my team, we have a computer scientist, a philosopher, a cultural studies person, a linguistics person, we had a quantitative linguist. It’s quite interdisciplinary”, says  Evelyn Gius, team leader of the fortext lab at TU Darmstadt.

Open sharing practices 

Unite! research teams adopt open multimedia sharing with the aim of  promoting a new research evaluation system.

“We submitted a documentary film to a journal that accepted that kind of formats. We have a seminar discussing exactly this issue, papers that are in a different format, and making the documentary as valid as a paper, even for the assessment of researchers”, says  Monica Truninger, team leader of the Environment, Territory and Society Research Group at ULisboa

Novel open innovation practices  

Unite! research teams carry out inbound open exploration, a novel inbound open innovation practice of purposely – sourcing –using open data and databases, open-source research software, and research results published openly as inflows of knowledge to accelerate internal responsible product and service innovation in research teams.

 “We use a lot the data from Copernicus, a lot of data available outside of the European initiatives and also from other European projects that have shared their own data. (…) Also, there is different software that has been developed, and we’re using the software that is in the open-access or open-source approach. In the generation of innovation for the specific work that we are doing, it’s very relevant I’d say, because we are really a hard engineering research group that has an impact: our results or our technologies are going to be installed and going to produce energy for the citizen at large”, explains Giuseppe Giorgi, team leader of the Marine Offshore Renewable Energy research group at Polito.

Unite! research teams carry out inbound open exploration simultaneously across the research process. Research and innovation intertwine and happen simultaneously.

“The groups in our department work on open-source models and open-source development online, models that are used for example in the United Nations. It’s a tool called Osmosis, that is worked on by several research groups when it comes to energy sourcing and energy implementation on the national level, on the regional level, and so on. So there are different levels of openness, so to say. It’s to develop a platform for analysing or for bringing the right energy infrastructure depending on the existing resources in different nations and different regions. It has been used to a large extent to look at, for example, electrification of different African nations. It has also been used to analyse wind farm placement in Sweden, so it’s about sourcing technology for different resources, energy technology but also water and other commodities”, tells Björn Laumert, team leader of the Heat and Power Technology research group at KTH. 

Unite! research teams carry out outbound exploration, a novel outbound open innovation practice of purposely making available – revealing – their open science outputs such as open data, open-source research software, and research results, available to protect their research results. It’s also a way of boosting visibility and gaining recognition in their research disciplines and innovation communities.

“We are doing some open software and open science because it’s a way also to be protected. If you put the public licence on it, if you distribute it, you are visible and, in some way, you are protected. We’re working for all the companies that are at least in France or in Europe, perhaps in the world. We’re not working for one, and we do not have to favour one company with respect to the other”, says  Vicent Acary, team leader of the Modeling, Simulation and Control of Nordsmooth Dynamical Systems research group at UGA.

This handbook advances the implementation of the Unite! open science and innovation strategic roadmap, contributes to fostering the new European Research Area, and sets in motion and expands the international framework for policy and practice set up by the UNESCO Recommendation on how to boost open science.  

DOWNLOAD the Handbook here
The research work has been carried out in the Unite!H2020 project by work package 6, led by Research Manager Rubén Vicente Sáez from Aalto University, together with: 
Jürgen Windeck, TU Darmstadt 
Maria H. Ribeiro, ULisboa 
Antti Rousi, Aalto University  
Anna Rovira Fernandez, UPC 
Arnaud Legrand, Grenoble INP-UGA 
Cecilia Rodrigues, ULisboa 
Kristin Halverson, KTH 
Federica Cappelutti, PoliTo 

Unite! University Alliance

Aalto University is a member of Unite! alliance together with eight other European universities.

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