Octopus – the new service for researchers

JISC and The UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) have launched an interesting new service for researchers. JISC recently hosted a very helpful webinar to introduce Octopus and Maverick’s Jayne Marks provides some background and her thoughts from the session.

Octopus aims to provide an open platform for researchers to record the essential elements of their research process and allows for credit to be given to everyone involved in that process. The different elements that can be recorded about each piece of research are:

Research Problem

A Research Problem publication defines a research problem or question. You will need to explain what is known so far about the problem – rather like the ‘Introduction’ to a traditional paper.


A Rationale/Hypothesis publication sets out the theoretical basis for a potential solution, or partial solution, to the Research Problem it is linked to. In some fields a formal hypothesis is appropriate, and in some fields it will be more a description of an approach that might be taken.


A Method publication describes in detail a way of testing a hypothesis or carrying out a theoretical rationale. You can include links to sites, such as protocols.io to give more detail of the method if that would be helpful to readers.


A Results publication comprises raw data or summarised results collected according to an existing published Method. It should only describe the data or results themselves, without any analysis, along with details of the exact conditions under which the method was carried out – anything that might be needed for an analysis or interpretation of the results. You can include links to the raw data files.


An Analysis publication describes manipulations of results to help conclusions being drawn from them. For example, thematic or statistical analysis.


An Interpretation publication describes conclusions drawn from an Analysis of results.

Real World Application

An Application publication describes how findings might have (or have had) an impact in the real world. This might be through a practical or policy application and would be the appropriate publication type for Case Studies.

Peer Review

Octopus Reviews are open and post-publication. A Review publication should be a carefully considered and constructive critique of an existing publication by someone else. Your review should help other readers assess the publication and should be written in the same style as any other kind of publication (with relevant references). Authors may reversion publications in the light of reviews.

Octopus has been designed to be a “free, fast, and fair” way to record work with appropriate attribution. The system uses DOIs for each element and authors must have an Orcid ID. The big question on the minds of publishers in attendance at the webinar was, “Is this designed to replace or undermine journal articles?” Alex Freeman, who conceived the idea and led the development, was clear that this new service can complement journals. Journals are free to link back from articles to the various elements of the research that is the basis of the paper. If the service is widely adopted, we may see the possibility of a slimmed down journal article that calls on elements of the Octopus service to give the background to the research.

Can Octopus also provide some evidence of legitimacy to a piece of research that might help editors and peer reviewers judge the quality of a submitted paper? The challenge with a new system like this is getting researchers to use it and so far, it is hard to see a compelling incentive for busy researchers to complete yet another submission process. To date, it appears that less than 50 authors have started using Octopus so there is some way to go before we can draw any major conclusions, but the possibilities are certainly interesting.


By Jayne Marks, Maverick Senior Associate

Jayne Marks brings over 40 years of scholarly publishing experience to Maverick.  She has worked at senior levels in a variety of companies helping to devise and deliver on business strategies tailored for different markets.  Throughout her career Jayne has responded to ever changing market environments by developing new product, sales, or content strategies to maximize new opportunities. Jayne’s primary focus has been on understanding the needs of the customers and markets that her products serve and ensuring they evolve to meet changing needs.