Researchers specialising in game studies make their research output openly available
Open access is vital for high-quality research: even ground-breaking results are practically worthless if no one hears of them. Publicly funded research generates knowledge that benefits not only the scientific community but also society as a whole – and therefore belongs in the public domain. With fake news sending shock waves across the world, there is an enormous demand for easily findable and reliable information.
As the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (CoE GameCult) is looking to support scientific collaboration instead of competition, it has made its new open science strategy freely available online.
“Our researchers are excited about their work, and they want to share their knowledge and use it to make a difference in the world. Open access also benefits researchers, because it makes research knowledge available to a wide audience as well as increases their own visibility,” says Professor Frans Mäyrä, who leads the CoE.
But with openness comes responsibility; providing open access to research data requires careful consideration and ethically sound data management practices. What drives open access is the EU-wide principle stipulating that science must be as open as possible and as closed as necessary.
As set out in its open science strategy, the CoE is committed to making its publications openly available and managing its research data in accordance with the principles of responsible conduct of research. Open access will also be applied, for example, to training in the field of game studies, seminars and blog posts. Research processes may involve stakeholders and collaboration partners, which increases the impact that research delivers for society.
Open science strategy developed by researchers for researchers
Published in early 2021, the open science strategy is an evolving document, and both the CoE researchers and other stakeholders will be able to contribute to its further development. Drawing up the strategy was a collaborative effort between the CoE and open science specialists at Tampere University Library.
“Rather than focus on scoring points, we all took a long-term view on the strategy process. Open access will bring greater benefits once it goes mainstream. Open access has an immediate positive effect when the related practices evolve and the impact and visibility of research increase. From researchers’ perspective, open access will also bring qualitative benefits and recognition as a pioneer of open science. The CoE has paved the way for others to follow,” says Susanna Nykyri, head of Open Science Services at Tampere University Library.
“The open science strategy serves as a practical tool and an educational resource for our researchers. It includes, for example, guides, templates and lists of open access publications,” Mäyrä says.
The CoE monitors, among other things, the ORCID identifiers registered by its researchers, the volume of openly available research output and the share of open access publications. Points for open access are also accrued by public lectures and events where the CoE has the role of host, specialist or other important contributor.
Access to research output can be blocked by a paywall
Open access has brought undeniable benefits: it improves the quality of research and its capacity for renewal, increases the impact that research delivers for society and promotes the responsible conduct of research. However, there are obstacles to open access, too, the largest being money.
“Publications are often hidden behind paywalls that limit access to research findings. Admittedly, it can also be expensive for researchers to publish their findings in open access channels, but support for open access publishing is becoming increasingly available,” Mäyrä points out.
The sensitive nature of research data can also be an impediment to the growth of open access. Some research data can only be shared with a select few.
“What can also be a barrier to open access publication is being under a tight schedule or under the impression that open access publishing is difficult. Our strategy addresses this challenge by describing the processes and practices. Researchers need not and should not stay tucked away in their dens,” says Olli Sotamaa, associate professor in the CoE.
Maximising research impact through open access
The CoE researchers want to encourage others to create their own open science strategy and make their findings and data as openly available as possible. They are proponents of bibliodiversity, or the diversity of publishing channels.
“When research findings are published not only in English but also in one’s native language, they reach a wider audience. Science is also increasingly reflected in culture; we maintain close collaboration, among other things, with the Finnish Museum of Games. We support game education by sharing evidence-based information about game cultures with youth workers. We also host open discussion events and write blogs,” says Usva Friman, main research coordinator of the CoE.
“Open access publications are only one dimension of open science. In the long run, well-constructed and high-quality research materials that are openly available will be treasured by the entire scientific community. They can be tested, analysed from different perspectives, repeated and compared,” Sotamaa adds.
Besides publications and research data, open access can be applied to learning and operational cultures. The CoE is committed to sharing research knowledge not only with the scientific community but also with other professionals and policy makers through different channels.
The Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies is a community made up of researchers from Tampere University, the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Turku. It is funded by the Academy of Finland.
The Open Science Strategy for the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies is made available under the Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 and may be openly utilised.
Text: Anna Aatinen