The University of Helsinki Open Science Award was given to HiLIFE and to Helsinki Term Bank for the Arts and Sciences

The theme for the 2022 Award was open access publishing.

The University of Helsinki gives annually a recognition for remarkable open science promotion. The theme for the 2022 Open Science Award was open access publishing. The goal of this year’s Award was to highlight different channels for open access publishing, alternative publishing practices and platforms, and to give credit to researchers and University units who, in their work, have significantly promoted the culture of open access publishing.   

Nominations were requested from University units, and from the University community via the Flamma intranet. The call for nominees emphasized candidates with merits such as systematic and long-term profile in OA publishing, use and development of new kinds of open publishing platforms or venues, use of open peer review, or participating in discussion or the development of open publishing on the national or international level. The nominations were assessed by the award jury that consisted of Vice-Rector Kai Nordlund, University Librarian Minna Niemi-Grundström, Research Director Krister Lindén, Leading Information Specialist Markku Roinila and Senior Advisor Tiina Käkelä.

The jury decided to grant the award to two nominees for significant open access promotion at the University of Helsinki. The award was given to the Helsinki Institute of Life Science HiLIFE, and to the Helsinki Term Bank for the Arts and Sciences. The University of Helsinki Open Science Award was presented at Think Corner on 24 October, in the event Avoimen tieteen iltapäivä [Open Science Afternoon] 


HiLIFE –al­most all pub­lic­a­tions are open ac­cess


Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE) is one of the University’s independent research institutes that provides support and development for top life science research across the University’s campuses. Three operational units belong to the HiLIFE: Institute of Biotechnology, Neuroscience Center, and Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland. HiLIFE is one of the leading life science research institutes in the Nordics, and its 650 researchers form an international research community. HiLIFE recruits researchers with open calls, coordinates the shared use of LS research infrastructures, and provides research-based interdisciplinary training.      

HiLIFE has successfully promoted open access publication, and the researchers’ publications get plenty of citations. A full 89.1 % of its publications from the years 2019–2021 were OA; the number was the highest of the University’s units in the spring of 2022 (link to the University intranet), at the end of the parallel publishing campaign organized by the University library. And the Institute tends to increase the number even more. Director of HiLIFE Jari Koistinaho, how do you achieve this kind of result? 

–In HiLIFE, OA publishing is already part of normal researcher activities. It is led by the aspiration and need to distribute research results widely and swiftly, which at the same time promotes the researcher, the research group, HiLIFE, and most importantly, the University of Helsinki. The amount of external, competitive funding in HiLIFE is high, and the funders require and support OA publishing. It is typical in life-science disciplines to publish articles in peer-reviewed publication series, and almost all significant LS series publish the most important articles – or all of them – openly. In addition, HiLIFE has diligently promoted parallel publishing in relation to the University’s campaigns, which has further increased the number of OA publications. The high percentage of OA publications has inspired us to make it even better, which has created a circle of success. 


Term bank as a new kind of open ac­cess plat­form


The Helsinki Term Bank for the Arts and Sciences is a shared, open, and constantly updated termbase for all fields of research in Finland. The core of the terminological work is done by voluntary expert teams from various fields, and their operation is coordinated at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Arts. The Term Bank is multilingual by nature: even if most of the terms are in Finnish, the term pages contain their equivalents in different languages. And there are several fields in other languages as well. Founded in 2012, the Term Bank has thus far gathered terms from over 50 fields of research or other specialized field. The amount of term pages is 44,500, with 300,000 keywords. The pages of the Term Bank got over 2 million views in 2021, and during the academic semesters there are around 5000 daily users. In 2022, the Term Bank was given the national Open Educational Practice Award (text in Finnish).   

The Helsinki Term Bank for the Arts and Sciences represents a new kind of open publication platform and collaborative environment, where experts create and update the definitions and descriptions of scientific terms and create interdisciplinary links to similar terms in other fields. Experts can also suggest terms that are not yet established in their field and propose their equivalents in different languages.

For whom is the Helsinki Term Bank intended? Director Tiina Onikki-Rantajääskö answers: 

–It is intended for researchers, teachers and students – for the academic community. Terminology is an indispensable condition for science, and at the same time it is a constantly evolving part of research. The Term Bank is thus a part of research infrastructure. It provides a platform for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, where different fields are simultaneously visible, and you can relate them to each other. Multidisciplinary research groups can use the Term Bank for the creation of a common conceptual ground, and at the same time share the results of their work for others.

–The Term Bank is also much used in studying, teaching, and making educational materials. Prominent users include translators, journalists, editors, writers of nonfiction, policymakers or those who seek background material for policy-making – in general, experts and those who use their work. 

Onikki-Rantajääskö stresses that there is a continuum between being an expert and being a lay person.

–A researcher is an expert in his or her own field. But the farther researchers move from their own field, the more they need, like any interested lay person, a similar kind of clear, contextualizing information that explains the way the knowledge is formed. Or sometimes they simply need to know the Finnish equivalent of an English term – or vice versa. Within the Term Bank, the scientific work and the societal impact of science go hand in hand.