Finnish Museum of Natural History receives University of Helsinki Open Science Award

The first University of Helsinki Open Science Award was granted in 2017. This year, the Award jury wanted to place special emphasis on the role of faculties and research-focused independent institutes in promoting open science. The Finnish Museum of Natural History was recognised for its extensive long-term work for open science.

The goal of the 2019 Open Science Award was to highlight good open science practices. Consequently, the jury asked faculties and research-focused independent institutes to describe how open science is present in their operating culture. The jury requested examples of practices which were viewed as particular strengths of the organisation, such as open publishing, self-archiving, making research data available, practices that support the reproducibility of studies, communicating open science, open science in implementation plans, researcher appearances in public debate surrounding open science, citizen science projects, etc.The submitted proposals were evaluated by a jury consisting of Vice Rector Paula Eerola, University Librarian Kimmo Tuominen, Information Specialist Marja Moisio, IT Manager Minna Harjuniemi and Specialist in Research Administration Tiina Käkelä.

The Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus was the jury’s unanimous selection as the winner. Open science is a founding principle that runs through all of the Museum’s work. Luomus has developed and continues to maintain significant open science services and databases for both researchers and the general public. In addition, Luomus has a long tradition of organising and developing citizen science. All this is proof of its long-term, extensive work in open science, which is more closely explained in the following section.

Open science services and good practices

Luomus has established and built the Finnish Biodiversity Information Facility, a national research infrastructure of open science which provides access to open data on species in Finland, such as their distribution. The portal features open data on nearly 33 million observations. The IT development for the Biodiversity Information Facility takes place at Luomus, and the systems are open source. The material policy is based on FAIR principles. By the end of its second year of operation (2018), the Finnish Biodiversity Information Facility had had more than 330,000 users.

Luomus coordinates networks of near-professional bird hobbyists who collect research data. The networks ring birds, map their distribution and estimate the development of the populations. These networks were started more than a century ago, and today have between 1,000 and 2,000 active citizen science members. Luomus also carries out citizen science projects together with various organisations and companies (e.g., spring monitoring with The Finnish Nature League), and launches new citizen science initiatives (e.g., a bat research project with upper secondary school pupils). provides data management services for such projects.

In its 2017–2020 action plan, Luomus has committed to the development of open science in its teaching, research and other work. Luomus is committed to an open data policy, digitising its collections as open data, open publishing of its publications, as well as open access academic publishing and creating open digital learning materials. In 2018, 69% of Luomus’ publications were openly published.

The jury also wanted to commend the following faculties for their work in promoting open science:

Faculty of Social Sciences

The Faculty offers support for collecting research material and the associated handling costs. Applying for this support requires a data management plan which must be inspected by the University’s Data Support. In addition, the metadata for the research material must be entered into one of the national or international search services recommended by the University.

The Faculty has many researchers who participate in the public discussion surrounding open science. The Faculty’s submission cited Emilia Palonen, university lecturer in political science, as an example of such active participants. Palonen’s latest blog post on open science, entitled “Avoin julkaiseminen tulee, mutta missä muodossa?” was posted on the University of Helsinki’s Think Open blog in September 2019. Kimmo Vehkalahti’s course Introduction to Open Data Science is an example of the Faculty’s open science education development.

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

The Faculty’s Department of Microbiology maintains the HAMBI microbial culture collection, which provides users with the metadata from the collection of living microbes, thus promoting the findability of scientific information and the reproducibility of studies. The microbial culture collection is an important resource for the study of microbiology and microbiotechnology as well as their applications. Samples of the microbe strains can be sent to researchers for a fee, but the metadata from the database (e.g., information on the growing medium, origin or Latin name of a fungus or bacterium) is freely available.

The Faculty also grants an annual award for the most significant act for research, with open science as one of the criteria.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Largest percentage of open publications of any University of Helsinki faculty in 2018 (58.5%).