Academy of Finland to adopt reforms to open access publishing and responsible researcher evaluation from beginning of 2021

15 Oct 2020

Starting with calls to be opened after 1 January 2021, the Academy of Finland will introduce a number of reforms concerning open access to scientific publications and responsible researcher evaluation. Through the reforms, the Academy wants to further strengthen its long-established policies on openness of scientific outputs and responsibility in researcher evaluation.

The policies are supported by the Academy’s commitments to international and national declarations over the past two years: the Plan S initiative for open access publishing (2018), the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) for improved research assessment (2019), the national recommendation on responsible researcher evaluation (2020), and the Finnish Declaration for Open Science and Research (2020).

On 23 September 2020, the Board of the Academy decided on the principles for the Academy’s funding activity. The key principles of the above declarations and recommendations will be adopted in the Academy’s own principles in 2021.

From January 2021, funded projects must make research results open access in line with Plan S and Finnish national policies for open access publishing

“Open access to publications and responsible researcher evaluation have been included in the Academy’s funding principles for nearly ten years, and the conditions involved are familiar to our applicants, albeit with slightly different terms. The 2021 reform will move towards more precise guidelines that comprehensively cover the activities of the scientific community,” says Riitta Maijala, Vice President for Research at the Academy of Finland.

The Academy aims to support research in which the openness of peer-reviewed scientific publications works on an immediate and daily basis. The Board’s decisions specifies acceptable methods of open access to scientific publications and simplifies and expands the funding of open access publishing.

“The objective of the reform is to make research articles by Academy-funded projects immediately available to everyone without paywalls. The benefits of such activities have been highlighted, for example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they enable a faster accumulation of research data to support, among other things, the development of vaccines and medicines,” Maijala says.

In Academy calls to be opened after 1 January 2021, funded research projects are required to make their research results open access in line with the principles of Plan S. Open access speeds up the dissemination of research results and helps the scientific community work more efficiently.

“Studies have also shown that openly available publications are read and used more frequently than other publications. Requiring open access therefore also increases the significance and visibility of Finnish science internationally. We’re also calling for open access to scientific books and monographs. However, the actual methods of implementing their openness will only be formulated over the next few years in close cooperation with cOAlition S and the Open Science National Coordination of the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies,” Maijala says.

New approach to financing costs of implementing open access

At this stage, the Academy of Finland undertakes to finance all costs for the implementation of open access under Plan S in Academy-funded projects. In the past, the costs of open access publishing have been taken into account as costs of library and information services as part of the overheads percentages. In addition, researchers have been able to include article processing charges (APCs) for individual articles in their budgets as research costs. Since the costs of open access – such as publication archives, APCs and subscription fees – naturally fall under library and information services, it is therefore appropriate to process them as part of the overheads in projects funded through calls to be opened after 1 January 2021.

Covering the costs of open access publishing from overheads makes it possible to use the money flexibly. The Academy will continue to implement the reform of open access funding in cooperation with research organisations.

“We see the implementation of open access to publications as an everyday service, rather than a separate, project-specific decision. The new funding method transfers the responsibility for organising the financing of open access to an individual article from researchers to funders and sites of research,” Maijala explains.

Projects currently operating with funding from the Academy and projects funded through calls opened in 2020 will continue to work under the current funding terms and conditions.

An essential part of open access publishing is also to agree on the ownership and access rights that support it. Peer-reviewed scientific articles shall be published under a global licence that guarantees immediate access free of charge. The licence must also guarantee the free redistribution and reproduction of article contents.

Principles of responsible researcher evaluation more firmly integrated into Academy funding process

The review of applications submitted to the Academy is primarily based on a qualitative assessment of the research plan, but the evaluation of researchers is also essential, especially in funding opportunities targeted at individual researchers. The Academy continuously develops its review practices, and the changes to be implemented will further specify the principles of responsible researcher evaluation as part of the entire Academy funding process.

The Academy has already adopted the updated CV template of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity, which makes the researcher’s research outputs more visible in the review and decision-making process. The key aspect of the reform is that instead of journal-based metrics (e.g. the impact factor of the journal), reviewers are primarily instructed to assess the quality of different research outputs, take into account the diversity of the research career and consider career breaks more clearly than before. As usual, the guidelines and the review criteria will be openly available in connection with the call for applications.

“In decision-making, the Academy will also take into account the many different career paths of researchers, the impact of research and the promotion of open access. The criteria and policies guiding the funding decisions are made available on the Academy’s website before calls are opened,” Maijala explains.


  • Riitta Maijala, Vice President for Research, tel. +358 295 335 002
  • Jyrki Hakapää, Senior Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 020
  • Aki Salo, Senior Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 104
  • Kata-Riina Valosaari, Counsellor of Science, tel. +358 295 335 128

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Academy of Finland Communications
Pekka Rautio, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 040

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Blog post by Jyrki Hakapää: Latest developments towards open access to scientific publications

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