Open Science Training Initiative (OSTI)

Established in 2012, the Open Science Training Initiative (OSTI) is an educational scheme for young researchers. OSTI aims to foster reproducibility in modern scientific research by delivering hands-on experience of open science practice, before students enter the research environment.

Applicable to all scientific disciplines, OSTI provides lecture and workshop materials and a novel teaching structure. These enable existing subject-specific courses to train participants in digital techniques, data curation and management and open practice, directly applied in the context of the students’ own research area. All materials are released under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence, CC-BY-4.0, via our GitHub repository (

The successful pilot scheme in 2013 demonstrated: improvements in the quality and utility of research output; increased student motivation; and increased confidence in delivering reproducible research using open working practices.

Details of OSTI’s applications, novel approach and engagement beyond the sciences are detailed below.

– Working with Mozilla to adapt our workshops for their Lo-Fi, No-Fi kit, an educational resource designed for use in settings with low or no Internet connectivity;
– OSTI materials were adapted for use in the Finland Open Science Roadshow in 2013;
– Successful delivery of OSTI’s Rotation Based Learning at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2014-15, as part of their training for mathematics undergraduates. The course has been highly commended by the education faculty for its innovative approach to teaching;
– In discussion with representatives from the NIH to explore openings for US-based graduate training;

– Other current collaborations are extending our Version Control materials into modular workshops for use in a variety of graduate training settings, and identifying potential new OSTI instances in Europe and Asia.

OSTI was set up back before open science training was a funding priority, and to our knowledge was the first case of a hands-on, fully integrated course in open science training delivered as part of a university curriculum. One of OSTI’s unique features is its introduction of Rotation Based Learning. This is a novel approach to teaching which incentivises reproducibility and open practice, by requiring students to act as a research user as well as a research producer, through building on the work of their peers. OSTI novel approach has been recognised with an OxTalent Award for Open Educational Resources (Jun 2013) and a University of Oxford Teaching Award (Nov 2013). The initiative was also a finalist in the UK S-Lab Awards for the experimental sciences (Sept 2014).

ARTS/HUMANITIES: Success of the OSTI scheme at Royal Holloway, University of London has already drawn interest from their Educational Development team, who will be discussing it with arts and humanities divisions, which may lead to non-scientific versions of the course in the future. And although OSTI’s main focus is to educate young scientists, its workshops have included participants from other disciplines, including the humanities and journalism.

LINGUISTS: We are currently recruiting volunteer translators to produce versions of the OSTI materials in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, with a view to the translator community including scientists and non-scientists alike.

DISABILITY ACCESS: Openness embraces the idea of universal access to information: by this token, a truly open endeavour should cater for the needs of the whole community. We are currently adapting all our materials and our website to better serve blind or partially sighted users and those with dyslexia. We are currently in discussion with the British Dyslexia Association and the Royal National Institute for the Blind to help achieve this.

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