Open Access Hub

The University of Helsinki Open Access Hub project, carried out between 2017 and 2019, created a model in which Helsinki University Library centrally manages the article-processing charges of members of the University community, negotiates discounts, and monitors subscription and publishing fees. In 2021 funding for open access publishing was concentrated at the library.
Article-processing charges service: Open access publishing of research articles with the library’s support

The University of Helsinki Open Access Hub supported researchers’ publishing activities in two ways. Scholars were able to use the open access publishing agreements included in Helsinki University Library’s journal subscriptions. Alternatively, they had the opportunity to apply to Helsinki University Library for funding to cover the article-processing charges (APC) of open access journals in accordance with the Plan S principles. Publishing in purely hybrid journals was not supported. The service was primarily intended for scholars who do not receive their own funding for open access publishing. The aim was to make open access publishing as easy and simple as possible for them. According to the feedback received, this aim was successfully achieved.

Helsinki University Library processed an increasing share of the open access research articles authored by University of Helsinki researchers, up from 15% in 2018 to 35% in 2021.

Under the transformative agreements concluded as part of the FinELib consortium, 1,200 open access articles were published. The University of Helsinki accounted for 22.4% of the open access articles published by the consortium as a whole. Helsinki University Library had 11 valid transformative agreements, some with an annual open access publishing quota. The quota ran out midyear in the agreements with Emerald, Taylor & Francis and Wiley. The highest number of open access articles was published under the agreements with Elsevier, Springer and Wiley. The agreements were utilised the most by researchers representing the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The Helsinki University Library’s separate APC funding was used for the publication fees of 634 articles, with publishing in the open access journals of BioMed Central, Copernicus, Elsevier, Frontiers and MDPI topping the list. Helsinki University Library awarded funding for the publications of 38 different publishers to approximately 500 University of Helsinki researchers. The median APC price for articles was €1,659. The objective of APC funding was to enable publishing in several fully open publication channels. The feedback and results suggest that this objective was achieved.

An important part of the Helsinki University Library’s APC service includes advice and guidance as well as help with various problems. The service address received and processed 4,128 messages from researchers and publishers.

A series of articles on article-processing charges was published in the Think Open Digest. The topic of article processing charges was also discussed in webinars aimed at researchers. 

A new type of library work

Openness in various forms has become an increasingly important concept in the work of libraries. Helsinki University Library has acquired new expertise related to publishing (e.g., the Editori and Helda Open Books services) and publishing processes. Libraries now follow trends and policies in the field of open access publishing.

University publishing and library journal subscriptions require expertise in the assessment of resources and in publication analytics. Measuring the use, impact and visibility of scholarly open access publications is also a new type of library work. The Helsinki University Library’s operating model was presented in a poster at the international LIBER 2021 conference.

Transformative agreements including a reading and publishing component as well as the APC service have developed into significant services at Helsinki University Library over the last few years. The library’s APC service is provided by a dedicated team.

Helsinki University Library engaged in national cooperation in the FinELib consortium’s FullOA project, which used the library’s experience of agreements in relation to fully open publishing channels. In addition, data on the University of Helsinki’s open access publications were collected for the purposes of the OpenAPC initiative. OpenAPC aims at the transparency of fees in open access publishing.

Helda Open Books and Helsinki University Press

In the area of open access publishing, books have taken an increasingly prominent role alongside research articles in both Finland and elsewhere. Helsinki University Library has made efforts to promote open access to books for several years now through the Helda publication repository. Launched in 2019, the showcase collection of Helda, Helda Open Books (HOB), was used last year to publish 25 open access books, all in electronic format for the first time. One of the aspects highlighted in the HOB activities last year was the development of visibility and the improvement of digitisation with the help of a new scanner.

One of the core tasks of HOB is to support the teaching provided at the University of Helsinki. Accordingly, five of the books published last year were works included in degree requirements. Open access publishing is particularly important in the case of sold-out textbooks. The Helsinki University Library’s objective is to make open access versions of textbooks available by negotiating with publishers and supporting teachers and researchers in open access publishing. This a timely issue now that new course material is being selected for the curriculum period 2023–2026.

The University of Helsinki’s flagship in publishing open access books is the international scholarly open access publisher Helsinki University Press (HUP), which published 11 peer-reviewed scholarly books last year. Established in February 2020, HUP also publishes three scholarly journals. HUP is part of the Helsinki University Library’s service framework, but its day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the publishing company Gaudeamus.