New policy component to advance open access to theses

Black and white photo of party in fancy dress.

The policy component on open access to theses was published during the Open Science Summer Conference 3.6.2024.

The Declaration for Open Science and Research states that "In the research community, responsible openness is a part of everyday research throughout the research process, and research organisations have assessment practices, incentives, and services in place to support this." This applies to the the thesis process, as openness increases the impact of research as well as the level of scholarship and innovation in society. Making your thesis open access is also a good way to learn about open science practices.

In the context of universities of applied sciences, a thesis is a task that both requires and demonstrates expertise. It also takes into account aspects of the challenges of working life, thus making openness particularly useful from a professional point of view.

Public doesn't always mean open

The new policy has one stated goal: "All theses approved from 2025 onwards will be openly accessible." This applies to theses at all levels, from bachelor's theses at universities and universities of applied sciences to doctoral theses.

But aren't theses already available to everyone simply because of the Openness Act? After all, a thesis written in a public educational institution is a public document (Constitution of Finland, § 12.2; Openness Act, § 1). However, there are differences between public and open, and what's public isn't necessarily open. A theses being public means that its metadata are available and the thesis is accessible directly or on request. This means that the thesis may be available for reading only in a library, for example. 

Open access to a thesis means that it is accessible online, free of charge. In practice, this can be done with the archivable parts of a thesis, i.e. parts where the form of publication or format allows for long-term preservation. In some cases, there may be parts of a thesis, such as events or artistic works, that cannot be made open access.

Broad-based cooperation brought new perspectives

The policy component on open access to theses has been developed in collaboration between the expert panels on open education and open access. In addition to the expert members, representatives of the National Union of University Students in Finland, the National Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, Arene, Unifi, the Finnish University Libraries' Network FUN, the Finnish Union of University Professors, the AMKIT Consortium and the Theseus Coordination were invited to join the working group. The working group was chaired by Marjo Vallittu (University of Jyväskylä) and Tomi Rosti (University of Eastern Finland), and Eija Kalliala (Open Knowledge Finland) acted as secretary. The policy component was on open consultation in September–November 2023. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

Read more about open access to theses

Photo: Harald Rosenberg, Helsinki City Museum, A fancy dress party in the 1920s in "Poli", Lönnrotinkatu 29, Helsinki.

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