To celebrate Open Access Week 2022, we interviewed three campus leaders in open access and open science.
To kick off the week, see our interview with Isabel Bacellar, Open Science Project Coordinator at the Douglas Research Centre.
What’s your title and position?
I joined the Douglas Research Centre (Douglas) as the Open Science Project Coordinator in December 2020. Prior to that, I obtained a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and held a postdoctoral fellowship in Biochemistry and Cell Biology.
What’s your role at the Douglas Research Centre?
The Douglas is the first Canadian research organization entirely dedicated to mental health research to adopt Open Science institute-wide. My colleague Geneviève Morin and I form a full-time Open Science team dedicated to planning and developing our Open Science program. During the first year of our initiative, we conducted a needs assessment and defined a set of principles guiding our Open Science program. We are now transitioning into the implementation phase, building capacity and offering services to incorporate Open Science practices throughout the Douglas.
Why is open access important to the Douglas Research Centre?
Early in our Open Science journey, we recognized that Open Access publishing was the ideal practice to focus our initial efforts on. First, Open Access publishing requires less technical knowledge than practices such as open data sharing, offering a great entry point to Open Science. Second, there are several policies mandating Open Access publishing, creating a sense of urgency to fully adopt it. Third and most importantly, the Douglas community includes not only university-affiliated researchers but also healthcare practitioners and research participants who often encounter difficulties accessing paywalled publications and can immensely benefit from open access articles.
The Douglas released its open access policy this past January. What are the goals of this policy? What has been researchers’ reactions to it?
As a Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) research centre, we developed an Open Access policy focused on equipping our community with the information and tools necessary to follow the FRQS Open Access policy within our research centre. We present the main concepts researchers need to know about Open Access publishing and complement them with context-specific information, such as what are the available article processing charge discounts at McGill, which is our repository for self-archiving of accepted manuscripts, and who are the key people to contact in case of questions. Our interactions with researchers have been positive, as learning about ways to accomplish Open Access goals in a more financially sustainable way or identifying support services both at our team and at the McGill Library are always welcomed. Many researchers now frequently deposit accepted manuscripts into eScholarship@McGill and have additionally taken steps to make past publications open.
What are your hopes for the future of open science/open access?
I hope that Open Science becomes the norm in research. In the realm of Open Access publishing, I would like to see the development of new publication models that allow for sustainable and wide dissemination of high-quality scientific findings. I hope to see mental health research adopt the same level of open, global-scale collaboration observed during the COVID-19 pandemic – which is essential, given the high prevalence and impact of mental illnesses in our society.
What’s been the greatest challenges?
On one hand, we had the challenge of addressing misapprehensions that making articles publicly available necessarily incurs high costs. On the other hand, at times these costs are unavoidable and the challenge is in fact to develop financially sustainable strategies. To address this challenge, we joined forces with the McGill Library to analyze the most popular journals among Douglas researchers and compare them in terms of Open Access policies, article processing charges, and available discounts, allowing for informed decisions on where and how to publish. Upcoming changes in policies requiring immediate Open Access will surely re-spark these challenges and demand collective change.
Any last thoughts?
For individuals new to Open Science, Open Access publishing is a relatively low-complexity practice to introduce yourself to Open Science. For research institutions, fostering Open Access publishing is a great way to gain engagement, build capacity and support services that can later be translated and adapted to other Open Science practices.