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Academic skills

The Future Directions of Open Research Practices in Language Learning Research

May 2023 | Academic skills | Academic writing | Research

Marsden, E. & Morgan-short, K. (2023). (Why) are open research practices the future for the study of language learning?. Language Learning, 0(0), 0-0. doi:

What this research was about and why it is important

Open research refers to doing and sharing research in ways that give free, open, and easy access to all components of research processes and products, where others can reuse or adapt those shared components. These practices are changing the way researchers conceptualize, conduct, and share how they do their research (materials used, data collected, analyses done) and what they learn from research (results). As these practices have the potential to radically change the way that researchers think and behave, it is timely to take stock of such developments in the language learning sciences. We discuss the purpose, nature, and challenges of open research practices and consider implications for research quality, mechanisms, and infrastructures.

What the researchers did

  • We drew on a body of research known as metascience (research about research processes and products), both from the language learning sciences and beyond, particularly psychology.
  • We also drew on our own experiences of conducting, reviewing, editing, and disseminating research.
  • We provide examples of good open research practices and describe and evaluate innovations.

What the researchers found

  • A key rationale for open research is that scientific findings should be observable across multiple studies and selfcorrecting over time. Other rationales relate to economic, social justice, and ethical arguments.
  • Open research practices are needed to address many research weaknesses that are due to a lack of readily available materials, data, and analysis procedures, such as: (a) bias in the publication process given the paucity of rigorous replications; (b) a lack of confidence in the validity and reliability of research instruments and analyses; and (c) a narrow range of research participants, producers, and consumers, leading to an over-representation from wealthier, democratic, and educated populations.
  • Open research practices have been evolving since the establishment in 2011 of IRIS, a repository of materials, data, and analyses related to research into the learning and use of languages.
  • The challenges of practicing open research include: (a) slower speed, greater cost, poor usability of open data and materials; (b) complex decisions about what and how to replicate; and (c) economics and sustainability of open access publication in a system entrenched in a commercialized publication industry.
  • We argue that coevolutions of culture, infrastructure, and behaviours will be gradual, with researchers adopting certain practices for specific reasons but not other practices.
  • We highlight the need for top-down support from funders, professional associations, publishers, and editors.
  • We conclude that open research practices are indeed one important way forward, but not a panacea.

Things to consider

  • More metascience is required to demonstrate the need for open research, but this argument is circular: For metascience to be comprehensive and robust, the research analysed needs open materials and tools.
  • It is hard to establish adverse effects of a lack of open research when there is, as yet, little open research by which to evaluate its impact. Thus, researchers need to investigate the effects of open research interventions.
  • If open research leads to valid and replicable findings, it will have robust implications for policy and practice.


Download the summary here:

How to cite this summary: Marsden, E., & Morgan-Short, K. (2023). A conceptual review of the benefits, challenges, and future directions of open research practices in language learning research. OASIS Summary of Marsden & Morgan-Short (2023) in Language Learning.