R & D project

Octopus: creating a new primary research record for science

Developing a ground-breaking global service which could positively disrupt research culture for the better.

Researchers look at data in a laboratory.


Expected outcome:

New service

We need to break down barriers to access to scientific research, and remove hierarchies and the culture problems that these cause.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown not only how important fast and open publication of research is, but also what can be achieved when the scientific community work together towards a common goal.

What is Octopus and how will it help disrupt research culture?

Octopus is designed to provide a new ‘primary research record’ for recording and appraising research ‘as it happens’.

It breaks down the publication of scientific research into eight elements, unlike a traditional journal article.

The eight elements are:

  • Problem
  • Hypothesis/rationale
  • Methods/protocol
  • Data/results
  • Analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Real-world implementation
  • Peer review

These elements are linked together to form chains of collaborative work.

These smaller units of publication encourage faster sharing, and credit can be given to individual work at all stages of the research process, including peer review.

This encourages a new culture of collaboration, constructive critique and fast sharing of work by resetting the incentive structure in research to reward best practice in every aspect of the scientific process.

The platform is free for researchers to publish their work, free for anyone to read and embeds the principles of openness and transparency throughout.

What are we doing?

Building a tool for the research community, which is owned by the community.

The platform has officially launched, but development activities continue as we strive to deliver the best possible service.

Upcoming technical developments include:

  • Refining the design of Octopus based on user feedback
  • Re-versioning functionality
  • Integrations to allow repositories to pick up Octopus output
  • Producing open API end points for all data
  • Re-versioning publications
  • Search enhancements
  • Repository integration

Alongside this we are investing in:

  • Marketing, outreach and user engagement
  • A programme of evaluation and user research
  • Work to develop a sustainable model for Octopus in the long-term

Find out more

For more information about this project, contact Tim Fellows (tim.fellows@jisc.ac.uk).

Join the Octopus user community

A community for users of the Octopus service, and those interested in open science, research practice and related topics.

Find out more and request to join.

Our project partners

  • Octopus logo
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) logo

Meet the project team

  • Liz Bal headshot

    Liz Bal

    Director of product – research management
  • John Kaye headshot

    John Kaye

    Head of product, digital resources
  • Alexandra Freeman headshot

    DrAlexandra Freeman

    Director, Octopus Publishing Community Interest Company (CIC)
  • Claire Fraser headshot

    Claire Fraser

    Senior Policy Adviser, Research England, UK Research and Innovation