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Behaviour change to increase Open Science in researchers

‘Open Science’ refers to concepts of openness, transparency and reproducibility in research, seeking to make research more reproducible by other researchers and to open up research beyond the ‘ivory towers’ of academia. Open Science behaviours include pre-registering your research (specifying in advance the methods and analysis plan), making your data and code open and your published results available to all via Open Access. However, well-documented barriers exist to researchers adopting Open Science behaviours, such as novelty rather than replication being seen as more valued, a steep learning curve for some behaviours such as learning new open software and lack of incentives.

Evidence from behaviour change research has a key, untapped potential to assist in improving the adoption and maintenance of good Open Science practices (Norris & O’Connor, 2019). As a multidisciplinary field, behaviour change provides a plethora of theories and approaches across psychology, sociology and economics that have been applied to diverse behaviours across health, education, finance and beyond (Michie, West, Campbell, Brown, & Gainforth, 2014).

This PhD will use behaviour change theory and frameworks to develop and test interventions to increase Open Science behaviours. Methods used in this PhD could include use of qualitative or questionnaire methods to understand the barriers and facilitators to specific Open Science behaviours, as well as development and evaluation of interventions using frameworks such as the Behaviour Change Wheel. Applicants interested in pursuing this project would ideally have a passion and evidenced experience in Open Science, accompanied by a strong background in behaviour change, psychology or behavioural science more broadly, meta-research or evidence synthesis.


Munafò, M. R., Nosek, B. A., Bishop, D. V., Button, K. S., Chambers, C. D., Du Sert, N. P., ... & Ioannidis, J. P. (2017). A manifesto for reproducible science. Nature Human Behaviour, 1(1), 1-9.

Norris, E. & O’Connor, D. (2019). Science as behaviour: Using a behaviour change approach to increase uptake of Open Science. Psychology & Health.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Emma Norris - Dr Emma Norris is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health, within the Department of Health Sciences and Co-Chair of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group. Dr Norris is a researcher in behaviour change and health psychology, exploring evidence synthesis of behaviour change interventions, as well as development and assessment of physical activity, smoking cessation and digital interventions. Before joining Brunel, Dr Norris was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London working on the Human Behaviour-Change Project: synthesising published literature on behaviour change using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. Dr Norris' PhD tested Virtual Field Trips as physically active lesson interventions for primary-school children. Dr Norris is also an advocate for Open Science. She established and Chairs Brunel's Open Research Working Group and is Brunel's UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) Local Network Lead. She is also interested in designing behaviour change interventions to facilitate Open Science behaviours in researchers. Dr Norris is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). She is Co-Chair of the European Health Psychology Society’s Open Science Special Interest Group. Emma sits on the Editorial Board for BMC Public Health & Cogent Psychology. Follow Dr Norris' research and updates on Twitter: @EJ_Norris