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A strategic look at research support and open science services at our library

By Helena Silvennoinen-Kuikka, University of Eastern Finland Library | Nov 26, 2018

University of Eastern Finland Library

University of Eastern Finland Library


In 2015 the University of Eastern Finland Library lacked a systematic structure of research support services.  Our researchers used our databases and resources, and occasionally the library provided training in their use, but we were not sure what types of other services we should be providing.


One information specialist in our library devoted 50% of his time to keeping up with what was happening in open science both nationally and internationally, but we still felt strongly that we were facing the unknown. We realized that we needed to determine what research support and open sciences services would mean for us in our library.

2015: A review of our research support open science services

The first thing we did was benchmark our library against other university libraries, both in Finland and internationally. We studied their websites and online resources, and we visited a neighboring university library that seemed to be ahead of us in this area. We learned that libraries often had only one or two people responsible for these services, and we thought that it was quite a lot to ask of these people.  


We realized that we wanted to build a sustainable service structure with adequate resources, so we decided to set up a research support and open science services project in the library, with almost 30 people (about half of our total staff) participating.


University of Eastern Finland Open Sciences Services


2015 – 2018: Building the services


The project members were divided in five teams:


  • Open access publishing
  • Open research data
  • Research assessment
  • Library resources and information literacy
  • Research visibility


The main goal of the project was to clarify the library’s role in this field. All the team members still had their regular daily duties during the project. During the following year, the teams studied their topics by using online resources and literature, attending national conferences, and having many informal and formal discussions. Occasionally the team coordinator gathered all teams together for regular meetings, and the teams shared what they had learned with others in the library.


Simultaneously, we were involved in a national project called SURIMA (an acronym for a Finnish sentence meaning “Finland – a Country for Green Open Access”). The SURIMA project was funded by Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture. Our library and Jyväskylä University Library were chosen to plan and implement the project.


The purpose of the project was to build a model process for green open access publishing in Finland. As an outcome of the project, a repository for green open access publication was launched at the University of Eastern Finland in 2016. The repository is called eRepo and provides infrastructure and services for self-archiving full-text articles by university researchers. In the two years since eRepo was launched, the same repository has also been used as a metadata repository.


OPEN UEF Services


While we were learning more and more about numerous aspects of open science, we saw that the library needed some changes if we wanted to face the challenges of open science, so we hired three new employees. Previously, a library degree had been necessary for all new hires. This time we were looking for people who had experience in research or were otherwise familiar with scholarly communication or teaching at a university. A library degree was an advantage, but no longer necessary. Two of the three new employees have a PhD and teaching experience, and the third was an educational planner.


We also decided to use existing library resources when possible. We set up a research support team and have seven people on the team. Most of them have other duties as well, but research support services are now included in their job descriptions. Because of the challenges of open science, we also have more contact with the university’s administration, IT unit, faculty, and other units.


2018: The library as a promoter of open science


Today the library has taken the role of an active promoter of open science at our university. We provide various tools, infrastructure, and counseling for researchers. These tools include UEF eRepo, the repository for full-text publications, which also serves as a repository for metadata. We also have a research data management tool called DMP Tuuli, which was built in a national cooperation project coordinated by Helsinki University Library. Our information specialists give counseling and guidance in the use of the SciVal research assessment tool and the RefWorks citation manager.


Our library now promotes many topics and provides instructions, guidelines and training videos. We have started training researchers and colleagues and have organized workshops. I want to emphasize the word “started” — we are prepared to give training, but we are still newcomers to this area, and we need to work hard to get our message to researchers.


UEF Library Services


The library has taken an active role in communicating about open science. The library’s research support team compiled the open science webpages for the university, and we use internal communication networks such as Yammer (which is similar to Facebook but for internal communication) to inform university members about current issues in open science. The library’s research support team publishes an open science newsletter in Finnish and English several times a year. Many library workers are also members of committees that have open science topics on their agendas.


Keeping up with open science and speaking up for it sometimes feels like an enormous task, but the strategic support of our university’s administration has been helpful. The university’s strategy document for 2015-2020 includes a chapter that emphasizes the role of open science in increasing the impact of education and research.


UEF Success Poster


Lessons learned and future directions


Because of my experiences during the past three years, I strongly believe that universities who are planning to bring in the cultural change of open science should consider changes in leadership and management to support the transition. Formal monthly or bimonthly meetings are also needed, but they are too slow and inefficient to be the major way of handling this issue. Leading and managing should happen in close, everyday interactions, and learning together is essential.


Systematic work and determination is also essential. I recommend hiring not only librarians, but also researchers, teachers, and other professionals to make university libraries multi-professional working communities. Involve as many people as possible in various aspects of open science to make the cultural change happen.


In June of this year, the academic rector of the university nominated an open science working team, and the library has two members on the team. The secretary of the team comes from the library, and the coordinator of the library’s research support team is a team member. We try to keep up with what's happening in open science both in Finland and internationally, and we try to find time to collaborate with other universities. We will continue having discussions about the strategic role of open science in our library and welcome the new challenges ahead.




Helena Silvennoinen-Kuikka was one of the presenters at the October 2018 Library Connect Webinar "Open science: from empowering people to employing platforms" where she detailed the library's services and programs. If you would like to access the recorded webinar, click here