Quality together – University supports open access in science and research

Support, training and information available for researchers on open science practices
Anne Sunikka Dipolissa tietokoneen ääressä.
Anne Sunikka promotes open science practices at Aalto University

Researchers’ work is more and more affected by open science and open access, and they are important principles for the entire university. Openness refers not only to publications, but also to research data, infrastructures, methods and research culture. Research funding organisations and publishers also impose wishes and demands for the transparency of publications and research materials.

For a researcher, open access and open data often mean more citations and societal impact. Research work is enhanced when data from other researchers is reusable and publications are readily available. The entire research community benefits from transparency and new practices that increase the quality of research outputs.

More effective working for researchers

At Aalto University, 82% of all research publications were open in 2021, a high number also if compared internationally. Head of Open Science and ACRIS Anne Sunikka and her team ensure high-quality in the university’s open science practices and services.

‘The quality of research improves when it is openly available for evaluation. Through transparency and openness, cooperation and co-creation are easier in research projects. Instead of creating all phases from scratch, researchers can utilise methods and data described and published by others.’

An important tool for open science at Aalto is the ACRIS research information system, which is available through the portal. Currently, more than 22 000 open publications and over 800 open data sets are visible in the portal. Our researchers’ outputs can also be found in, a web service that shares information on research conducted in Finland.

When researchers are preparing an open access publication or opening their research data, Anne Sunikka’s team is there to support. ‘There is a wealth of information on our website, and we also provide training, such as webinars on data management, ACRIS clinics and video material. We help to manage the publication process by reviewing the authors and metadata and also the publishing agreements.’

An active network of data agents works at schools and departments. Their main job is in research, but they support fellow researchers part-time in data management questions. ‘And you can always send us an email; if it concerns publications, send it to [email protected], and if it is about open data, contact [email protected]’, Anne Sunikka points out.

More transparency

For Nidia Obscura Acosta, a doctoral student at the Department of Computer Science, the idea of open science has always felt very natural. ‘Freely accessible research helps researchers a lot – it gives easy access to publications and data all over the research world. Open science means more transparency and equity and benefits also the larger public and tax-payers.’

Nidia Obscura Acosta Tietotekniikan talon kirjastossa.
Nidia Obscura Acosta’s research field is algorithms and computational complexity theory, and she is the chair of Aalto’s doctoral students’ association Aallonhuiput

After a master’s degree at the University of Helsinki, Nidia Obscura Acosta moved to Aalto University for doctoral studies around four years ago. ‘Open access was not very familiar to me when I started my doctoral studies. Over the years, I have learned a lot about its practices, and only this week I sent an article to one journal with whom the university has an open access agreement, it was a very nice and smooth process.’

How could the university improve its open access processes? ‘I think it would be important to bring these practices to doctoral students’ attention already at the very start, in the introduction days maybe, and to explain clearly why open access is important and useful. A checklist about important things before publishing could be useful as well’, says Nidia Obscura Acosta.

* * *

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) will audit the quality system of Aalto University in January 2023. The university is currently working on a self-evaluation report for the audit, which will be submitted to FINEEC in November. One of the areas to be audited is research, and the report assesses the methods we use to maintain and develop the quality of operations. Open science is one example of these practices.

Close-up of two students making notes on a research article while reading it.

Open science and research

The principle of openness is the key principle of science and research. At Aalto University, the most visible forms of open science are open access publications, open research data and metadata, and combining openness and commercialisation.

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