Open Voices: Open Science training in Health Psychology

In this Open Voices blog post we are talking to Rory Coyne about Open Science training! Rory is a PhD student in Health Psychology at the University of Galway. He completed the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at University of Galway in 2020, and the Master of Science in Health Psychology at University of Galway in 2021. His research interests are in the areas of digital health, psychophysiology, and human-machine interaction.  For his current PhD research, he is investigating drivers’ physiological responses to automated driving. He is also actively involved in the promotion of Open Science practices in research, and is a committee member on the European HealthPsychology Society’s Open Science Special Interest Group.


Hardy: Hi Rory, thank you for talking to me. Can you please introduce yourself briefly?

Rory: Sure. My name is Rory Coyne. I'm in the second year of my PhD in the School of Psychology at the University of Galway. My PhD research is centred around measuring driver fatigue during automated driving. I'm also a member of the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) and a training officer in the EHPS Open Science Special Interest Group (SIG).


Hardy: Where does your interest in Open Science come from?

Rory: That is a good question. I didn't receive formal training on Open Science during either my bachelor's degree or my master's degree. It wasn't really until I started doing a research project as part of my thesis in the final year of my bachelor’s that I was encouraged to pre-register my study on the Open Science Framework. That wasn't something that I had heard of before, but I found it a really worthwhile process.

What struck me was how little extra work it required on my part, because it covered what I was already thinking about having just completed a research ethics application for the study. And it definitely saved me huge amount of time down the line! It required me to be really specific about my research protocol and about what I intended to do with the data I obtained during the study. Having all set out in writing through pre-registration was a huge time saver for me and it made my research a lot more transparent and rigorous. That was my introduction to Open Science.


Hardy: You just mentioned a couple of personal benefits of Open Science. But more broadly, what is the link between the field of psychology and Open Science?

Rory: There is a lot that we as psychologists have to gain from embedding Open Science principles into our research! My specific area is health psychology, and in health psychology we often work with public and patient groups in the development and evaluation of our research. Making our research and materials available in an open way allows patients and the interested public to access our research without having to go through paywalls. It can also be a great way to promote trust between researchers and the stakeholders who are affected by the outcomes or the implications of the research that we do. Open Science promotes more accessible and transparent research.

It can also make our health psychology research more accessible in a timely manner. For example, we can make our research papers available as a preprint. A preprint is a first draft of a research manuscript before it has gone through peer review. It can take up to six months or more for a traditional research paper in our field to undergo peer review. Making our research papers available as preprints can be great way to disseminate our findings in a more timely fashion, and to make sure that they are being read by the target audience as soon as possible.

Finally, I'll just say that as health psychologists we are often involved in developing quite complex interventions to change people's behaviour. The availability of resources such as the Open Science Framework can be a great way to make the materials that we develop as part of our research available to others, so that our interventions can be replicated by others. They can then be scaled up and applied in different contexts.


Hardy: Moving on to your role in the European Health Psychology Society, can you first give an overview of what the Society does?

Rory: Of course. The European Health Psychology Society is a professional organisation that is involved in the promotion and the application of health psychology research in Europe and beyond. It provides a great forum for the exchange of ideas and recommendations for best practice amongst the health psychology community in Europe. In order to do this, they organise an annual conference that brings together researchers working in health psychology and health related domains and disciplines related to behaviour science. People showcase current and developing research trends and findings relevant to health psychology and related fields.

It can be great way to establish a professional network, particularly for me as an early career researcher. It's a great way to meet to meet like-minded peers and other researchers who are working on similar topics as you. I've been attending the annual conference since 2022, and I look forward to attending it again this year.


Twitter post EHPS Open Science SIG 26 July

Hardy: You are a member of the Open Science Special Interest Group (SIG). Can you tell us what the SIG does?

Rory: The EHPS Open Science Special Interest Group is a group that is involved with the promotion of Open Science principles within health psychology research, and with providing resources about best practices and training opportunities. The SIG brings together people who are interested in embedding Open Science into health psychology research.

For example, some of the work that my colleagues have done in the past was to establish the top five research questions that health psychology researchers have about Open Science. We also disseminate updates particularly about upcoming training opportunities in our periodical newsletter. My role on the Open Science Special Interest Group is as the Training Officer. I'm involved in organising training events such as webinars and workshops that are related to aspects or tools relevant to Open Science practices.



Hardy: Can you give me an example of a training session you organised?

Rory: Of course. We periodically run training sessions on a variety of Open Science topics. Recently, we organised a session on licenses and copyright in a Q&A format. Soon, we will also be running another training session on the use of Open Educational Resources. Our sessions can range from more fundamental Open Science issues to more specific use cases of applied Open Science. The choice of sessions is driven by our community. We always ask for feedback at the end of each session on what our community members would like to see future webinars be taken.

It is also relevant to researchers at all career stages. If you are an early career researcher or a later career researcher you can still have something to gain from attending our workshops. Even if you're not working in health psychology research, if you're from a different discipline but still interested in Open Science in your area, there is still a lot to learn from engaging with these training sessions!


Hardy: Are your training sessions open to EHPS members only or who can participate in your training sessions?

Rory: They are open to anyone and everyone, you don’t have to be member of the Society. We advertise training sessions widely on social media and I'd also really encourage anyone who wants to find out about upcoming training sessions to subscribe to our newsletter. If you're interested in finding out more about Open Science, you are more than welcome to attend!


Hardy: You mentioned at the beginning that you did get an introduction to Open Science in in your undergraduate study. I was surprised to hear that.

Rory: That wasn't formal training. It was more guided mentorship from my research supervisor as part of my recent project.


Hardy: I wondered if you had any thoughts on your experience of Open Science training and general awareness institutionally here at the University of Galway?

Rory: That’s a great question. I think, as far as Open Access publishing is concerned, a lot of researchers may want to publish their research papers Open Access so that they can be made available to as many people as possible. But they might not be able to do so because they might not be able to afford the often quite high Article Processing Charges that come with publishing in certain journals. So they have no choice but to publish their paper as a subscription article, meaning that people will be facing against a paywall a lot of the time to access their work.

I think one major role that institutions can play is in engaging with Open Science and Open Access is to negotiate a transformative agreement between the university and publishers. A transformative agreement is a negotiation between an institution and a publisher where expenditure that is traditionally used for the cost of subscription is redirected towards supporting researchers in publishing Open Access.

But there can also be more psychological barriers that stand in the way of people engaging with Open Science. For example, researchers might want to make their data open, or might want to make their code more open but they might be unsure of how to go about doing it. And they might also be unsure who the best person to ask would be and that can be huge barrier and can affect their perceived capability to engage with Open Science. That's showing my psychology background [laughs].

I think institutions have a major role to play here in facilitating training or drawing people's attention to opportunities to upskill in this area so that they can better embed Open Science principles in their own research. Institutions could highlight examples of where Open Science principles have been embedded successfully into research at the institution. That could be a really great way to give people a template and show that it really is quite easy to engage in many of these Open Science activities.


Rory Coyne

Hardy: Would you say we need more institutional training on Open Science? Or more specialised training in researchers’ specific domains that might be done across institutions? What do you think are the pros and cons?

Rory: I think both methods are very fruitful. I think at a broader institution level we talk for example about research impact which is relevant to almost anyone doing research. Talking about Open Science and talking about dissemination, innovation and research can go very easily hand in hand with a lot of institutional training opportunities. I think Open Science training at a broad level can fit quite nicely with other institutional objectives.

But I think that this should be supplemented by more discipline specific training, because every discipline might have more nuanced questions about how Open Science can fit into their research. Authors might publish in different places depending on the discipline that they belong to. Having Open Science knowledge relevant to a specific discipline can coexist with institutional training.


Hardy: Thanks Rory. Do you have any thoughts on anything else you would like to articulate that I haven't asked you?

Rory: It's just a final thought. I think it is important that Open Science training should feature in a big way in early career researchers’ training, starting from undergraduate level! That is valuable, particularly as students are now undertaking independent research as part of dissertations or theses at quite an early stage. Students should receive training on Open Science practices throughout their steps through the research process. That can be done successfully, particularly as different Open Science practices might be relevant at different stages of the research process. Pre-registration being particularly relevant at the design stage, for example. This could be done in tandem with students undertaking research for the first time.

I also liked a recently published paper, called Easing into Open Science. The authors distinguish between Easy, Medium and Difficult open practices for early career researchers to start engaging with. I think a lot of the key terms and concepts are quite easy and intuitive to understand. It makes sense for students to start there and then once they are comfortable with that then moving into the more nuanced and more complex discussions that have to be had for more difficult practices. A lot of people might be put off because they think that takes quite a lot of extra work to engage with Open Science practices but it really isn't and the benefits far outweigh the costs.


Hardy: A final thought on what you just said. You said Open Science is beneficial and actually a time saver in many respects. What would be other benefits for research students to learn about Open Science who might not stay in academia after their degrees?

Rory: It's really interesting that you mentioned early career researchers who don't stay in academia. A lot of students and staff who do not stay in academia aren't going to be able to avail of many articles because there is a subscription paywall there. But they can access publications that are available Open Access.

In the same way, if you have published your research Open Access people outside of academia are able to engage with your academic work and that can make a huge difference. It also opens opportunities to collaborate and network with people from industry or the public sector. Publishing papers, data and other materials openly can put your name out there and promotes collaboration across academia and industry which is very beneficial when you are establishing a professional network as a young professional.


Hardy: Thank you very much for talking to me, Rory, and all the best for your research!


You can follow Rory on Twitter and LinkedIn. The EHPS Open Science SIG is also on Twitter. Information about the SIG, upcoming training and the newsletter can be found on this website. Recorded sessions can be found on YouTube

The interview was conducted by Open Scholarship Librarian Hardy Schwamm.