Open scholarship: enabling an inclusive and impactful approach to teaching and research

Open scholarship: enabling an inclusive and impactful approach to teaching and research

Acknowledging International Open Access Week, Executive Director Library Services, David Howard, explains how open scholarship can help RMIT serve the communities in which we operate.

Open scholarship is an expansive term that encompasses the free flow of scholarly knowledge. At its heart the approach enables RMIT to better deliver equity of access to education and solving real world problems for our community. It covers the concepts of both open research and open education.

Open research aims to share the research output of publicly funded research to ensure maximum advantage is achieved in solving real world problems. This includes wherever possible ensuring research is available to the community open access and is not locked behind a publisher paywall and that research data is available to other researchers to build on existing research effort.

Open education aims to co-create a learning experience with students as partners. It looks to remove barriers to education for students, by substituting expensive traditional textbooks, with open learning objects. This enables student to avoid the financial burden textbooks can incur and to actively engage in their learning through open pedagogy.

Open scholarship encompasses open access, open data, open-source software, open educational resources, and all other forms of openness in the scholarly and research environment.  (Arthur, P. L. etc 2021)

By ensuring research outputs are visible and accessible and learning is collaborative and flexible, open scholarship initiatives can enrich our diverse communities, facilitate participation, community building, and improve free and unrestricted access to knowledge.

Image with text on coloured background explaining the 9 key principles of open scholarship. The principles are Community and collaboration that supports open knowledge creation Social justice commitment to reduce access barriers to information sources Openly sharing the results of research to enhance reproducibility and credibility of results Transparency through open sharing of grant proposals, research protocols and data Speed and efficiency in sharing research findings Supporting open and free participation Engaging in technologies and networks to create collaborative communities Advancing community knowledge by working together for the common good Engaging the users of knowledge in the process of knowledge production Open scholarship is guided by 9 key principles

Embracing open scholarship at RMIT

Open scholarship at RMIT aims to bring together open research and open educational practice under one definition, recognising the reciprocal relationship between research and the practice of teaching.

And RMIT’s adoption of an Open Scholarship Policy and Open Scholarly Works Dissemination Procedure aligns with promoting social justice, equity and inclusion as tasked in the RMIT Act. undertake scholarship, pure and applied research, invention, innovation, education and consultancy of international standing and to apply those matters to the advancement of knowledge and to the benefit of the wellbeing of the Victorian, Australian and international communities. 

The RMIT Act goes on to state that RMIT should strive to “provide programs and services in a way that reflects principles of equity and social justice”.

Open, at its core, is about equitable access to education and research outcomes for the betterment of all, as detailed in RMIT’s policy, which sets out RMIT's commitment to the principles of open scholarship, through the free and responsible flow of research, teaching and learning, transforming how our community discovers, accesses, shares, uses and creates knowledge.

RMIT is committed to the responsible and widest possible dissemination of its research and educational scholarly output to foster intellectual enquiry that enriches our communities and the public through elevating an awareness of educational, scientific, social sciences, humanities and artistic knowledge.
Grid of images showing people in various forms of learning and research. Text on image reads International Open Access Week, October 23-29 2023 #OAWeek International Open Access Week runs 23-29 October 2023.
17 October 2023


Why open scholarship?

When COVID-19 closed global borders, a coordinated response to the COVID-19 epidemic was initiated globally by scientists in a focused and coordinated manner to share openly viral genome sequences and studies in open repositories that are usually restricted to pay-wall journal articles.

As stated in (WHO 2022:11) “The UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery has provided a global framework for leveraging the power of research in support of a better socioeconomic recovery and a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future.”

The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated the immense societal value of opening research, whilst ensuring the values of research verification, reproducibility, and transparency where front and centre in the rapid response to vaccine development.

RMIT's research integrity principles, in particular those of honesty, rigor, transparency, fairness, respect, and accountability, align with the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) - in particular the importance of openly available research publications and data.

  • Goal 16, Target 10 Aims to ensure access to information, including published research made available via Open Access ("Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”)
  • UNESCO open access to research UNESCO supports and promotes "the benefit of global knowledge flow, innovation, and socio-economic development", and "...believes that OA has a fundamental role to support the SDGs...".

Our open scholarship policy is committed to the impact of open and responsible dissemination of publicly funded research output, aligning with the UN SDG’s impact factors in addressing societal, economic and environmental needs.  Providing open access to RMIT research can lead to increased research visibility and impact.

Making research publications more widely available is an increasingly important aspect of the research landscape, especially as funding bodies like ARC and NHMRC require researchers to make their research open as a condition of grant funding. RMIT’s open access Research Repository is key in helping us achieve this goal.

The concept of open education is a core strand of the broader open scholarship ecosystem, driven by a movement of educators who seek to promote the implementation of open policies, practices, and resources in education.

RMIT's Education Plan to 2025, Learning through Life and Work, sets out an intention to support lifelong learning and embed a signature pedagogy that details an approach to learning and assessment that is active, authentic and applied.

Open pedagogy is an innovative signature pedagogy that enables students to become co-creators in their learning and active partners in the learning process.

It’s the practice of engaging with students as creators of information rather than simply consumers of it. Open pedagogy is a form of experiential learning in which students demonstrate understanding through the act of creating content. (University of Texas, Arlington Libraries)

RMIT's Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) framework and open pedagogy go hand in hand removing barriers to learning and creating equity of access to the resources students need for their learning. Coupled with our Education Plan, open pedagogy can lead to greater student engagement their learning where students become creators of knowledge, not just consumers.

A priority action of the IDEA framework is "education and research that demonstrate best practice in inclusion, diversity, equity and access."

The diversity of our leaners is an important factor in how we deliver our education. Our learners have rich cultural histories and narratives many of our traditional learning resources are Euro-centric or contain Western-centric views.

Open education enables the diversifying of learning resources where unbiased and respectful representation of genders, races, cultures, ethnic backgrounds, disabilities, nationalities, sexual orientations, socio-economic statuses and diverse viewpoints ensure students recognise themselves and their life experiences as part of their learning journey - a sense of inclusion and belonging.


So, affirming open scholarly practices in education as a model of innovative pedagogy enhances the quality of the student experience and reflects the principles of equity, inclusion, and social justice.

RMIT’s open scholarship policy and procedures provide a clear pathway to achieving the goals of the IDEA framework and supporting the signature pedagogy detailed within the Education Plan.

Further, the Australian Universities Accord process currently underway is triggering conversations about the future of the higher education system. Through the interim report, it’s clear that several key areas will be important in ensuring tertiary education and research is set up to meet Australia’s future needs.

Equity in participation, access and opportunity, serving our communities have been identified within the interim report and will be in part enabled by embracing the principles of open scholarship.

david howard rmit library

About David Howard

David Howard is RMIT's Executive Director, Library Services. He oversees teams across Melbourne and Vietnam responsible for the delivery of library and study support services.

David brings extensive experience in university library services, having previously held related roles at universities across Australia. 


17 October 2023


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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.