Library Director Wilhelm Widmark
Library Director Wilhelm Widmark has been appointed Senior Advisor to the President with operational responsibility for Open Science. Photo: Annika Hallman

“Working for open access to science in different ways is something I have worked with a lot over the years, so the appointment feels very good. I am happy to receive the assignment”, says Library Director Wilhelm Widmark.
For Stockholm University, the appointment means another investment in support of open science.
“Open science is an umbrella term that covers everything from open teaching resources to open methodology and citizen science. The most important thing for Stockholm University is two parts: Open access to scientific articles and open access to research data. This is what we prioritize in the work”.

Stockholm University has been a pioneer

According to Wilhelm, open science has also been pursued at other Swedish universities, but Stockholm University has been a pioneer.
“Our strength is that we have long been working on issues of digitization; Stockholm University has already come a long way in this work, and the appointment is further evidence that the university really wants to invest in this. The larger higher education institutions in the country also have senior advisors for different areas, but Stockholm University is the only one to have an advisor for open science”.
“We have come a long way when it comes to open access to scientific articles; close to 80 percent of all articles published by our researchers are openly available. Now it is important to ensure that we reach the last 20 percent”.
As regards the second point – open access to research data – the library, together with IT Services, has recently created a central platform for storing and sharing research data.

Wants to reach out to the departments

“Now we must ensure that the storage space can be connected to the researchers’ data, that the library leads the work and that several other departments are involved. We see that it is important to reach out more to the departments in order to reconcile the needs that exist among researchers when it comes to support in the management of research data. We have added two posts to the library to help with that. The most important thing right now is to meet the needs of the researchers”.

Although most people stand behind the work for open access, the process has raised some concern and debate among researchers. A few years ago, the so-called Plan S action plan was presented, an initiative by research funders within the EU that pushed researchers who received public funding for certain research to only publish in open access journals starting in January 2020, partly as a way to put pressure on publishers who charge high fees. A number of researchers raised concerns that the process was going too fast and that the new system risked eroding the quality of research publications, for example, because young researchers often fail to qualify for publication in highly ranked journals that do not have open access.
“I have always thought that we must listen to the researchers, that this is an issue that affects them first. That is why we arranged, among other things, a seminar on Plan S at the library, which was well attended, and it was good that the discussions came to the surface. The path to open access must not only be a political or administrative issue, but the work must be based on the needs of the research”, says Wilhelm.
The timing for the implementation of Plan S was subsequently pushed back, and the plan will be re-evaluated in January 2024.
“The discussion and the criticism of the plan disappeared when we reached transformative agreements with about 25 publishers. With these agreements, researchers are allowed to publish in hybrid journals”.
A hybrid journal means that a researcher can publish articles that are openly available, while the rest of the journal content is behind a paywall.
“The funders have said that after 2024, they will not fund publications that are not completely open. They no longer accept publications in hybrid magazines”, says Wilhelm.

Negotiations with publishers in the coming years

Since many publishers are commercially run, working out how the publications will be resolved in the future presents a major challenge, according to Wilhelm.
“The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions has appointed a group that is looking into this, and we need to coordinate internationally. There will be many negotiations with the publishers in the future. The process may not be complete in 2024, but we envisage that the publishers will eventually agree to 100 percent open access”.
Wilhelm also wants to investigate the alternatives for publishing with new, innovative publishing platforms, but for this to be attractive to researchers, the merit system must be changed.
“Can researchers qualify in any other way than through highly ranked journals that are not open access? Is it possible to change the process so that researchers are not evaluated through the current merit system? This is something that must be discussed between the senior management at various universities, funders and researchers and, of course, internationally”.
The next step also includes the effort to develop a common policy on open science at Stockholm University.
“I want to contribute the knowledge I have acquired in the field; I hope and believe that it can be used in the continued work”.

Stockholm University Library has long pushed the issue of open science. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson


More information about Open Science at Stockholm University Library.