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. 2019 May 28;17(5):e3000258.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000258. eCollection 2019 May.

AccessLab: Workshops to Broaden Access to Scientific Research

Free PMC article

AccessLab: Workshops to Broaden Access to Scientific Research

Amber G F Griffiths et al. PLoS Biol. .
Free PMC article


AccessLabs are workshops with two simultaneous motivations, achieved through direct citizen-scientist pairings: (1) to decentralise research skills so that a broader range of people are able to access/use scientific research, and (2) to expose science researchers to the difficulties of using their research as an outsider, creating new open access advocates. Five trial AccessLabs have taken place for policy makers, media/journalists, marine sector participants, community groups, and artists. The act of pairing science academics with local community members helps build understanding and trust between groups at a time when this relationship appears to be under increasing threat from different political and economic currents in society. Here, we outline the workshop motivations, format, and evaluation, with the aim that others can build on the methods developed.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. The corridor of trust.
Participants rank the sources of information that they use along a scale from Glorious Hoax to Reputable Sincerity.
Fig 2
Fig 2. The advertisements for AccessLab gave participants prompts to see what they might get out of the day.
Free-text feedback from participants indicated that the aims of the workshop were met. ‘It’s brilliant… it’s a long time since I was part of a workshop that gave me so much in just one day. I feel I have fundamentally shifted the bounds of possibility.’—Policy sector participant, Plymouth 2018. ‘Confidence that researchers can be useful to other sectors in very direct ways! Plus to stand up for my open access principles.’—Researcher participant, Plymouth 2018. ‘I want to interact much more with local organisations/government. I realise we have much we could accomplish together, even if not directly related to my research.’—Researcher participant, Plymouth 2018.
Fig 3
Fig 3. Feedback from participants indicated broad-ranging long-term benefits.
‘I found the AccessLab workshop really useful—it has helped me search for fisheries related projects/research, which I have then taken forward as examples to support investigations which I am currently working on. Delighted to be able to pull a more scientific strand into my investigations.’—Marine sector participant, Penzance 2018. ‘It has definitely made me think differently about academic publishing and how to get my research out there, which I hope will release me from what has been a major (potentially imagined) block to communication.’—Council/Community group participant, Redruth 2017. ‘Working with artists during AccessLab has given me more confidence approaching artists about collaborative work. Primarily, I think, because it gave me a better sense of an artist's perspective. What they might be looking for in a project, a better understanding of their unique approach and the importance of having such a different skill set.’—Researcher participant, Penryn 2017.

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Grant support

This work was funded by a FEAST Cornwall ( grant to AGFG. This funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The work was also funded by a British Science Association ( grant to AGFG. This funder joined the project as a partner and had input into the design and preparation of the manuscript. The work was also funded by a Natural Environment Research Council ( grant to the British Science Association and FoAM. This funder had a minor role in the workshop design but no further role in data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.