Finnish research organisations’ openness of operational cultures has been evaluated, and the results are impressive.
The purpose of this evaluation was to highlight best practices and areas of development in order to encourage national collaboration and to initiate discussions on open science and research at an international level. This evaluation covers 38 higher education institutions and 12 Finnish re-search institutes, three major Finnish research-funding organisations, four Finnish academic and cultural institutes abroad and seven organisations of learned societies and academies.
Evaluating the organisations focused to:
- assess the openness of operational cultures and establish a clear picture of the current level of maturity in promoting openness
- identify strengths and weaknesses in promoting openness
- identify areas in which support and cooperation are needed
- evaluate progress, when previous evaluation data is available
- identify barriers and development need in promoting openness
Nine of the Finnish universities and seven of the universities of applied sciences have reached the highest maturity level, as has Academy of Finland. These organisations are managing openness strategically, and have invested for many years on the openness-related competences.
However, there still are important improvements to be made, with the most pressing being to have researchers truly heard and involved in open science and research activities. National coordination is based on voluntarily participation and faces the consequences of a lack of time from researchers. The best way forward is to strengthen the support network nearest to researchers and activate academic peer networks. The home organisation’s support functions are already interacting with researchers on a daily basis and are the natural interfaces. The essence of open science and research should be manifested in research activities. It is no mean task. Other actors should design their role in order to support and sustain open research in practice.
In other countries the maturity levels of research organisations in open science operational culture are probably different. Activities and support actions should be tuned to the level: the needs and barriers vary. For open science to be a strategic benefit, openness of the operational culture has to be managed coherently at the organisations. Open science is not just about providing an infrastructure for data, it is more about supporting researchers in the way they do research.
Understanding the maturity levels helps in implementing open science to practice – as it would also on European level. For example, organisations on the lowest maturity levels are not able to utilize an open science infrastructure, and organisations on the highest maturity levels do not need it. They already are managing FAIR data and sharing it via open interfaces, thus their needs focus on connecting the datasets and on global interoperability. Organisations benefitting most from a common infrastructure solution are the ones in the middle levels of maturity.
We still need to involve the weaker and also the best organisations. Europe needs to involve member states extensively, not to exclude weaker ones. The weaker need the example and the impetus to evolve provided by others. But most of all, Europe needs to involve the best to boost the open science evolution for the benefit of the European research area.
Juha Haataja, Ministry of education and culture
Sami Niinimäki, Ministry of education and culture