Open Science Best Practices for Research Funders

Open Science Best Practices for Research Funders - Open Science Feature Image


Everything funders should consider when developing grant programs that empower—and amplify—open science.

Open science is more than a buzzy phrase or a box to tick when developing research grant programs. It is a powerful—and pivotal—springboard for the future of science.

What exactly is open science? How might we define it?

In the simplest sense, open science is the movement to make scientific research and its dissemination accessible to all.

So how might we optimize our approach to grant programs and research funding to better support this goal? Before digging deeper into key strategies and considerations for research funders, it’s helpful to think about how things operated in the past. 

For decades (in fact, centuries), scientific research has been marked by a tendency to keep data or breakthroughs close. To strive for singular ownership, recognition, and accolades. In many cases, the parameters of research policies and even national borders have reinforced a closed approach, too. And of course, there have historically been fewer tools and resources available to empower a more open approach, even if trends might have driven researchers and funders to be interested in its pursuit.

But all of that is changing. And by understanding the themes and practices of the past, we can curtail potential pitfalls and optimize for the future of open research.

So why does this matter? For many reasons.

First, open research means unlocking the potential of a continually moving, changing, growing knowledge commons. There’s collective, exponential potential here—and the possibilities are endless.

Second, we all have something to learn from one another. By integrating disparate scientific traditions and ways of capturing scientific information, we can synthesize and coordinate efforts across the board. This isn’t an effort in homogenization; rather, it’s an opportunity to move more seamlessly and efficiently.

Third, we have the opportunity to throw open the doors of scientific research and grant making to more individuals and groups than ever before. By opening up the scientific process, we can foster equitable collaboration between participating audiences and incentivize the creation of more inclusive and valuable infrastructures for new findings in the future.

And fourth, when we adopt an open science mindset, we unlock limitless possibilities for improving the social and environmental well-being of our society and planet in profound new ways. It’s a lofty aspiration, but it’s one with truly powerful potential.

For a deeper dive into why this matters and the possibilities it empowers, explore the Open Science page on our website.

Learn More About Open Science.

For a deeper dive into why this matters and the possibilities it empowers, explore the Open Science page on our website.

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What can funders do to adopt open science principles?

There are valuable opportunities throughout the stages of the research grant making process.


Adopt ORCID, ROR, Crossref, and Datacite and make sure your grants management system works seamlessly with these scholarly infrastructure systems. 

Each of these industry metadata standards help grant makers, grant seekers, and publishers streamline funding, increase transparency, improve citation accuracy, and enable impact reporting. 

ORCID is a persistent identifier (PID) for people that distinguishes each researcher from every other researcher. Crossref provides a unique identifier for grants. DataCite provides PIDs for various research data sets. And ROR provides a universal identifier for institutions. 

ProposalCentral provides native integration to Crossref, ORCID, and ROR. 


Publish calls for applications in public forums. Also, take care to keep a clear archive of current and past calls to demonstrate your historic program aspirations and the other types of applications that make up the fund’s track record over time.

Use inviting and transparent language when laying out the goals, needs, and prospective researcher candidates who might be most well-suited to the program. Be mindful of any criteria or processes that might close people or teams out of consideration, such as funding parameters or researcher requirements.

Grant Peer Review

Whenever possible, publish the review criteria, assignments, scores, and critiques for applicants. Additionally, look for opportunities to adhere to (and share) consistent practices and models for the review stage. This can empower other teams and funders with key learnings and takeaways to optimize research beyond the bounds of your individual fund or team.

Award and Post-Award

Publish and celebrate award recipients, providing clear documentation as to how the recipient or recipients were selected and what others could learn from their award. And into the post-award stage, encourage transparency as the various stages of data collection, analysis, and publications come to fruition.

Throughout each stage, continue to celebrate key wins and tools used over the course of the research process. This is critical to reinforcing and optimizing an open outlook.

For further detail on maximizing the research grant experience, check out our eBook, “How to Run a Research Grant Program.”

How to Run A Research Grant Program

Download the eBook.

Your essential overview to planning, launching, and maintaining a successful research grant program.

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In conclusion, an open approach isn’t necessarily the easiest approach—but at Altum, we firmly believe it is the most impactful one. We are committed to open science, data transparency, and a more inclusive research ecosystem. And with our ProposalCentral platform, you can make smarter funding decisions and manage the entire grants management process easily through streamlined workflows and AI-based decision support tools. Hundreds of research funders of all sizes choose ProposalCentral for simplifying grants management from application to award. They choose the platform because they believe in the potential of open science. And together, we can all be a part of realizing the possibilities it holds.


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