Finland leads the way with pilot to raise the profile of open access social science and humanities journals

Mitchell D & Pölönen J (2020). Finland leads the way with pilot to raise the profile of open access social science and humanities journals. Tietolinja, 2020(1). Persistent address: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe2020050324721

In February 2019, the Publication Forum of Tieteellisten seurain valtuuskunta (TSV) answered a public call by DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) inviting collaboration from interested parties to increase the number of social science and humanities journals—particularly those in languages other than English—in the Directory.

Picture from the DOAJ workshop

Photo 1. The first DOAJ/TSV workshop took place at the House of Science and Letters in Helsinki, 3rd December 2019. © Janne Pölönen, 2020.

DOAJ and TSV hit it off immediately, entering into a year-long partnership to get more Finnish-language social science and humanities journals into DOAJ. The project started with a list of 160 journals, provided by TSV, which was reviewed for “DOAJ-readiness”. A pilot project was drawn up to help and encourage those journals to submit an application to DOAJ.

The project evolved around a series of dedicated and targeted workshops, both in person and online, where journal representatives are introduced to DOAJ and its criteria. Members of DOAJ and a group of DOAJ-trained Finnish volunteers are present and great care is taken to demonstrate that it is relatively simple to meet the basic DOAJ criteria. With immediate help on hand, workshop participants are encouraged to submit an application then and there.

”The application process went smoothly, but I don’t think the process would have been as smooth without training,” said Kati Kataja (University of Lapland) who started as Editorial Secretary for the journal Janus at the beginning of 2020. With the help of material provided to the participants in advance, it was possible to prepare the website for an application. This left the workshop free for participants to find out about and fill in the more difficult parts of the application form, under guidance.

“For some of the DOAJ criteria, it was unclear whether the journal met them or not, and if not, what should be done differently. We received the necessary answers to these questions at the training event”, said Helena Hirvonen (University of Eastern Finland), the outgoing Editorial Secretary of Janus, and who attended the first workshop, December 2019.

In the case of Janus, no major corrections to the policies or website were needed and any required changes were small and easy to manage, according to Hirvonen and Kataja. “We had decided that the application form would be filled out and sent in the same sitting – otherwise it would hang. This was done and it bore fruit,” Kataja rejoices.

Judith Barnsby, Senior Managing Editor at DOAJ and one of the project team members, said: “This hands-on approach really makes a difference. Having the chance to work with and talk to journal editors when they are submitting applications has allowed us to answer their questions, leading to better applications with a higher chance of acceptance.”

Despite the project being paused temporarily due to COVID-19, virtual one-on-one help is still offered by the volunteers to interested journals as well as more workshops planned for later this year.

Early indications show that the pilot project is having an effect but there is some way to go before the full effect is known. From Finland, 9 new applications have been submitted since December, and 6 have been accepted so far. Also, the collaborative approach between TSV and DOAJ is proving to be a winning formula: DOAJ has received enquiries for similar projects from Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, Norway, and Sweden!

Contact information for the authors

Dom Mitchell, Operations Manager
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
dom [at] doaj.org
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2432-7035

Janne Pölönen, Head of Planning
Federation of Finnish Learned Societies
janne.polonen [at] tsv.fi
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1649-0879

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