The benefits of an open-science approach in student research projects

MacKenzie E, Winterbourne SM, Anderson F, Wallace EWJ, The Biochemist (2021).


Open science is a movement to allow scientific information, data and outputs to be more widely accessible and reusable, with the active engagement of all the stakeholders. Open science can also describe openness within a research group where all participants share their data, analysis code, ideas and feedback. These ideas can be applied to all aspects of science, from large research consortia to student projects. With great accessibility comes greater reproducibility, leading to better code quality and better research. Here we describe what we have learned and gained from taking an open-science approach in undergraduate and masters student research projects, from the perspective of the student, the day-to-day supervisor, and the principal investigator (PI) or research group leader. We argue for the importance of clear expectations, communication, documentation, and of modelling collaborative behaviour. To design a good student project, we recommend planning the project outcomes so that everybody wins, and planning a pathway from novice to expert within the project.


This article was jointly written by Emma MacKenzie, Sophie Winterbourne, Flic Anderson, and Edward Wallace, to describe our varied perspectives on what makes open science work for student research projects.

It was funded by a Wellcome ISSF3 award through their open science strand.