Update on open access in Finland

I’ve been recently involved in a few initiatives related to open access in Finland and our university, Aalto.

First, there is an initiative to build a common Aalto Current Research Information System (ACRIS), where all Aalto researchers will input their published research. The system will directly feed into Aaltodoc, our university’s publication archive. I was graciously given a chance for offering input to working groups for both projects, and in general the planned systems sound very sensible to me. However, the self-archiving workflow isn’t as streamlined as it should be before the ACRIS system is adopted in 2015, and in the meanwhile, it is expected that significant self-archiving will start taking place in 2014 due to funder mandates.  As we recently wrote with my colleague Jani Kotakoski recently in Signum, the University of Helsinki open access mandate has not worked as well as it should had, and the technically overly complicated self-archiving process is surely partly to blame. Hopefully some of the suggestions that I made (such as metadata autofilling by doi) can be implemented before the system comes to widespread use, and Aalto will have better levels of compliance (and awareness).

I’ve also heard that our university is finalizing a draft of it’s upcoming open access policy – I’ve been trying to get involved with the process, but so far the people making the decisions have decreed that the policy preparation should be done behind closed doors. I’m a bit peeved with this, and it certainly doesn’t help with the criticism that Aalto administration is too closed to grass-roots participation. As we also wrote in Signum, Aalto stands in a very good position to learn from the experiences of others. Furthermore, the timing is very opportune since the international political situation has really started to take shape in the past year. I’m personally strongly in favor of Aalto further adopting a strict mandate for open access self-archiving of all Aalto-funded research, and believe I have the arguments to back why this would beneficial for the University. Let’s hope they will open the process for comment in the draft stage.

Second, on March 19, there was the second meeting of the Tutkimuksen Tietoaineistot (TTA) -project looking at issues of open and linked data, metadata formats, long term data preservation etc. The second meeting was a bit technical for me, but it was good to hear what is being done on this front. Finally, the founding of an Open Science Finland working group was announced under the auspices of the Open Knowledge Finland association. There will be a joint meeting with the Finnish Open Access working group (FinnOA) on April 17, which I am going to attend.

Third, Bo-Christer Björk published an article on the rise of open access in the Finnish-language Tieteessä Tapahtuu magazine (loose translatable as “Happening in Science”). The article is a recap of the results of the peer-reviewed article Björk and his colleagues published in BMC Medicine last year, which made big impact when it came out (see e.g. the Guardian story I’ve linked to before). Nice to see more articles in Finnish on the topic that seems to be very much on the table nationally at the moment.

I’ll keep following the situation and will be sure to keep the blog updated on new developments.


There are also a couple of interesting links that I’d like to add here.

Michael Eisen, one of the more radical open access advocates, gives an overview of The Past, Present and Future of Scholarly Publishing on his blog. Randal Olson draws attention to a potentially ugly side of the open science movement, and Heather Morrison decries Elsevier’s licensing policies.

A couple of interesting podcasts recently came out. First, we have a pair of publishers justifying the costs incurred in publishing scientific research on The Chronicle of Higher Education. Then, we have an interview with Ross Mounce for the Journal of Ecology podcast. I had the pleasure of meeting Ross, who is a Panton Fellow at the Open Knowledge Foundation, at the OKFest in Helsinki. He’s very active in advocating open data and open access, and I warmly recommend subscribing to his blog at http://rossmounce.co.uk.

Finally, the Nature Publishing Group announced the upcoming launch of a data journal Scientific Data. While on the face of it the initiative is laudable and in line with open science ideals, some of its specifics (e.g. the article fees and licensing terms) have already generated a lot of critical discussion on the Open Science mailing list.

It will be interesting to see how the debate develops when we move closer to the launch.

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