Open access in the Nordic countries – how far have we come?

22.08.2016
A new report from NordForsk presents the status of open access to research data in the Nordic countries, the EU and internationally. Finland has implemented an ambitious, large-scale Open Science initiative, and the other Nordic countries are having discussions and organising activities in this area. Although the Nordic countries began discussing open access a while ago, there is a long way to go before policies and operational initiatives are established throughout the Nordic region.

On Friday, NordForsk presented the report Open Access to Research Data – Status, Issues and Outlook to the Nordic Council of Ministers. The report was prepared on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers, which sought an overview of open access development in the Nordic countries.


“The Nordic countries were among the first to start discussing the reuse of research results in general, including open access to research data,” explains Sverker Holmgren, a professor of scientific computing who prepared the report for NordForsk. “But the countries have followed this up in very different ways. While Finland has implemented a major initiative, some of the other Nordic countries are now lagging behind international leaders such as the US and the UK.”

Finland at the forefront

Finland has a stated objective to become one of the leading countries in the area of Open Science by 2017. As early as 2013, the National Research Data Initiative of Finland had developed a centralised research infrastructure, and in 2014 the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture launched the Open Science and Research Roadmap 2014–2017 with clearly defined objectives for the area. In addition, the Finnish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers plans to organise a conference focused on Open Science next year, and the report from NordForsk will be one of the key documents.

“We see from the Finnish example that it is possible to come far in a short period of time. If you have clear leadership, can set aside enough resources and engage the main stakeholders, you can work together towards a common goal,” says Dr Holmgren.

Nordic potential

The Nordic countries are small actors in an international perspective, and the resources they can dedicate to Open Access individually are limited. Dr Holmgren urges the Nordic countries to take greater advantage of the potential inherent in sharing more of their experiences and information in the area. These activities may be carried out at many levels and include politicians, research councils, research institutions and data infrastructure providers. Nordic Open Access policies and guidelines that are harmonised in relation to each other could make Nordic research efforts more visible and give them a wider international impact.

It may soon be possible to test out pilot projects on Open Access and Open Science under Nordic direction. In the wake of the report, the NordForsk board has given the green light for the organisation to take steps to establish a Nordic pilot programme that incorporates Open Science into all phases from start to finish.

Get the report: Open Access to Research Data – Status, Issues and Outlook.

Text: Anne Munk Christiansen

Photo: Eivind Sætre

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