Tuuli Toivonen, associate professor of geoinformatics, realised the importance of open publishing a decade ago on the Amazon – or actually, after she had returned from there.
“Our South American colleagues started asking us for copies of our Amazon study. They couldn’t access the paid publications, even though the research was about their area,” Toivonen explains.
"Researchers must be able to access previous research published on their topic."
The most esteemed academic publishers are commercial and require a fee to access their publications. The research institutes of Toivonen’s South American colleagues did not have the resources to pay for the publications and so they could not access them.
This experience led Toivonen to promote open publishing and research data. She found that even Finnish universities are not on equal footing in this respect.
“All research is always based on the work done by others, so researchers must be able to access previous research published on their topic. It is also questionable that the results of publicly funded research are not openly available,” says Toivonen.
Academic appreciation for open publishing
For researchers, open science brings visibility and more citations. Open publications are easily and quickly available, which increases the University’s impact. The challenge of open publications is that their series are yet to attain the academic esteem of commercially published series.
“Certain open series are gradually becoming more acknowledged so that publishing in them is an equally high merit for researchers as publishing in an established commercial publication,” says Toivonen.
Another practical problem of open publishing is that the researcher must often participate in the publishing costs.
Finnish institutions of higher education, universities and research institutes use €35 million on the subscription fees of electronic academic publications.
Academic publishing has been called one of the most profitable businesses in the world – researchers do the work, review and edit the articles, typically on public funding, after which the publishers sell the products back to the researchers. According to the Open Science and Research project, Finnish institutions of higher education, universities and research institutes use €35 million on the subscription fees of electronic academic publications.
The FinELib consortium of Finnish institutions of higher education has sought to negotiate with major academic publishers to make the increasingly high subscription fees more reasonable. The consortium believes that the current publishing model shuts academic knowledge behind paywalls. Many researchers have showed their support for FinELib’s negotiation goals with the “No deal, no review” boycott campaign.
Research results to be openly accessible
Open science is one of the University of Helsinki’s strategic development areas. The University recently issued its open publication policy which states that academic publications produced at the University must be openly available. In future, all publications will be self-archived into the University’s publication archive HELDA. In addition to openness, the self-archiving would ensure that the publications remain accessible even if the academic publisher goes out of business.
“Our open science and open publication policy and guidelines are steps towards a future where all academic knowledge is freely available to everyone,” says Rector Jukka Kola.