FUURT’s open science programme


Programme work in open science

In spring 2020, the Board of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers set up an information and open science working group tasked with preparing a policy paper concerning the key questions in open science for the Union Board to discuss. The programme work was mostly carried out during 2020, and the policies were commented on by the FUURT member associations in January 2021. The Union Board discussed the policies and approved the policy paper in its meeting on 9 April 2021.

Open science is a constantly developing field, which may, in the future, include new topics, such as patent questions as well as research technology and infrastructure. Open science also has significant impacts on the funding of publication channels and, therefore, on the entire field of science and research. At this point, it is still impossible to form an opinion on all the issues related to the topic.

FUURT takes an open and unprejudiced view of open science per se and is prepared to support its development insofar as it furthers the democratic and knowledge-intensive nature of society. However, open science also has certain personnel policy challenges and as of yet unresolved issues, such as copyrights and IPR, mass media production and the related reasonable compensations and other terms as well as all other questions related to employment relationships and academic job markets. FUURT continues to hone its views on these issues.

Support services, adequate resources and working hours, not pressure, are key to openness

Adequate support services, resources and incentives are the best way to increase the openness of both study materials and research data. We have to make sure that both the researchers and information professionals have adequate training, support and working hours to promote the opening process. Support services, adequate resources and working hours, not pressure, are key to openness.

Universities should utilise the expertise of information specialists. In order to provide researchers with adequate services for data management and open access to their research data, organisations should support the professional development and expertise of science and research specialists, such as information specialists. Multidisciplinary co-operation within the research community promotes the development of new types of research services. Self-archiving, or green open access, should be given enough resources in terms of expertise and working hours in university libraries and data centres. The opening of study materials and research data as well as self-archiving require adequately resourced support services. The support services of universities and research institutions should also be available to grant researchers, and these same support services should be included in grant researchers’ affiliation agreements.

Creators of study materials need support both in the use of open licences and for searching and using public domain data. Highlighting this expertise and its adequate resourcing and full utilisation are an important part of promoting the use of open study materials.

Enough working hours need to be dedicated to opening study materials and research data. Resource needs related to accessibility also need to be taken into consideration. The hours required to open research data shall be included in the work plan for research and teaching staff.

Universities and research organisations shall make sure that support, guidance, and training as well as information about financing options for open access publication and accessibility are readily available. Early career researchers, in particular, may also need help in finding the right publication channel. The assessment of the quality and reliability of open access journals should be discussed already in basic and doctoral training and help and support for these themes should be available at all stages of a research career. Issues related to the structures of research work should be brought forward more strongly already during doctoral training.  Researchers should be aware of both their rights and duties as concerns science publishing as well as open science questions, so that they can make informed decisions on their scientific activities right from the start.

Research organisations should encourage and support their researchers to publish preprints of their results, by offering information, guidance, technical support, and visibility to preprints and the researchers that publish them. Preprints need recognition as a form of open access publication.

Freedom of research and teaching needs to be taken into consideration

A teacher’s decision to provide open access to study material they have personally created shall be voluntary. The opening and utilisation of study materials shall be done in a manner that respects copyrights, data protection, accessibility requirements, data management responsibilities and ethical practices.  Not all study material should necessarily be opened. The opening of study materials is not an intrinsic value but requires careful consideration. Scientific thinking is not taught just through online material; it requires interaction.

Research data openness does not mean that the ownership of the research data should be transferred to the employer. A researcher’s legal protection and right to the material they have collected should be emphasised. The ownership of research data must remain with the researcher.

Researchers shall not be left alone with agreements. If a commissioned research project requires signing complex agreements concerning data, universities and research institutes shall provide adequate legal services to ensure that the researchers know what they are committing to.

Open access to study materials instigated by the employer shall be reasonably compensated. If the employer wants an employee to produce new open access study materials, reasonable compensation shall be agreed upon with the employee as relates to the production of study material.

Researchers should have a legal right to self-archiving (green OA). Copyright legislation should give researchers the right but no obligation to self-archive all their publicly funded research articles online for everyone’s immediate access. Self-archiving shall be a right and not an obligation. Researchers shall continue to have the right to deny self-archiving, when necessary.

When promoting open science, the major differences between fields of science concerning both publication activities and the openness of research material and data need to be taken into consideration. If a research project uses no empirical data or the researcher uses material they may not open by virtue of it being collected and stored under the responsibility of the archiving institution, this, too, needs to be taken into consideration and the criteria for data openness should not lead to research bias or equality issues in merit opportunities.

Research organisations should treat researchers equally with respect to opening materials, regardless of the stage of their research career. All researchers shall have equal opportunities to openly publish their research. Providing open access to materials and publishing preprints shall grant researchers merit in accordance with the practices for the particular field of science in question.

We hope for responsible science communications. The media and journalists should recognise the position of preprints as a non-peer-reviewed channel of advance communication aimed primarily at other researchers and, when reporting scientific claims based on preprints, clearly communicate to the public that the claim is preliminary and has not been peer-reviewed. Journalists should also search for expert views that challenge or support the preprint from credible sources as is normal for other scientific publications.

Services and infrastructure should support open science

Open study material shall be made referenceable. Research materials should be referenceable and include persistent identifiers. When developing national services, their usability from the perspective of researchers and teachers needs to be considered. Open study materials should contain persistent identifiers and internationally transferable metadata. It is sensible to develop common, national services where metadata can be nationally accessed in one location.

Open access publications in Finnish or Swedish need to be made possible using national-level solutions. National solutions are required for self-archiving, too.

Article processing charges or other open science costs cannot become money-making machines for publishers.