“OPERAS-PL – communication in humanities and social sciences”: Report on the Polish Node meeting
“What is happening at the Digital Humanities Centre is of great importance for the entire humanities and social sciences”, these words expressed by Prof. Stanisław Filipowicz, Vice-President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, marked the beginning of the Polish National Node Meeting.
On June 17th, the Digital Humanities Centre at IBL PAN presented a new initiative: OPERAS-PL, one of the National Nodes aiming at promoting and disseminating OPERAS services in national SSH contexts. As emphasized by Maciej Maryl, the Director of the Digital Humanities Centre, the first goal of OPERAS-PL is to build a community of people involved in the development of open communication for social sciences and humanities (SSH) in Poland.
The subjects of the meeting included the current state of open communication in SSH in Poland, needs of the Polish SSH community and activities that OPERAS-PL should implement as a response to them. The meeting gathered over 65 participants: researchers, academic teachers and library staff.
Openness and accessibility are two sides of the same coin
In the first part of the meeting, Stanisław Filipowicz (PAN) and Anna Wałek (Gdańsk University of Technology) raised the issue of openness and accessibility. As Filipowicz noted, accessibility is not a particularly controversial issue and is primarily a technological challenge. On the other hand, if openness is to constitute the foundation of scholarly communication, it must be analyzed in relation to the concept of truth, which is currently experiencing a crisis in the humanities.
“The idea of openness came from scientists themselves several decades ago. However, today we must promote and disseminate it among researchers”, said Anna Wałek.
Wałek’s observation was discussed further in the next presentation about the OPERAS survey on SSH scholarly communication led by the University of Zadar and conducted last winter among European researchers. Increasing accessibility of scholarly publications was one of the most important needs identified by Polish respondents. Yet, as the preliminary analysis of the answers presented by Magdalena Wnuk from IBL PAN showed, a general interest in accessibility is not always followed by a readiness to open one’s publications and research. Although researchers would like more resources to be readily available in open access, they often see publishing their own text in OA as less important than having a publication in a prestigious journal.
“Open access communication models are less widespread in the humanities than in hard sciences. One of the reasons is the perceived “unclear prestige” of these publications”, said Marta Błaszczyńska from IBL PAN, referring to the qualitative research conducted among SSH researchers within the WP6 of the OPERAS-P project. A significant problem in publishing in OA was also the lack of funds for the publishing fee, the so-called APC (article processing charge), which is the second factor for selecting a given publisher or title for publication after prestige.
In response to those doubts regarding prestige of publications in OA Maciej Maryl from IBL referred to the OPERAS Certification and Metrics services, aimed at increasing credibility of OA publications by providing tools for verifying journals and publishers.
More information and tutorials about Open Access needed
The vivid discussion between diverse stakeholders during the workshop session of the meeting showed that the SSH community needs more information about their rights as authors, as well as advice on how to talk with a publisher when signing a license agreement. These problems are a subject of open mandates, introduced by over a dozen Polish research institutions in recent years. However, as Anna Wałek noted, the adoption of such policies is not necessary to implement open access procedures at a university or research institute. Based on the experience gained at the Gdańsk University of Technology, Wałek pointed out that openness can be implemented from the bottom up through the promotion of practices related to depositing publications in repositories and informing about the benefits of opening research results.
The familiarity of SSH researchers with open access and its benefits is still insufficient to effectively open up scholarly communication. When asked about the necessary training and materials over 40% of Polish respondents of the OPERAS survey indicated that they would be willing to take part in training on opening their outputs. Two-thirds needed training in increasing the impact of research. These issues are interconnected as more openness means more accessibility. An easily accessible publication or research material has the potential to reach a larger audience.
Training in open scientific communication is one of the areas in which OPERAS-PL intends to be active.
Multilingualism and locality in SSH are not a weakness
Multilingualism, disciplinary diversity, as well as the locality of research topics in the SSH require different tools and technological solutions than those used in STEM disciplines, where open communication is primarily focused on international cooperation of research teams.
“The dispersion and locality of the humanities are not a weakness”, said Pierre Mounier, Co-founder of OPERAS and one of its Coordinators. Mounier emphasized that openness activities based on modern digital technologies may contribute to this diversity. The GoTRIPLE discovery platform is a service honouring the richness of the SSH research. It will be available in 9 languages, including Polish.
One of the aims of OPERAS-PL is to create a link between creators of GoTRIPLE and other OPERAS services, and Polish repositories, publishers and scholars. The OPERAS-PL team will also support Polish institutions in implementing OA publishing procedures, train SSH researchers, and provide the latest information about the European open science community, digital tools and projects. All these activities were perceived as important by the audience of the meeting.
At the end of his speech, Maciej Maryl invited participants to subscribe to a regular newsletter. One of the aims of the newsletter will be to collect voices from the community, thanks to which the OPERAS-PL team will gain a better understanding about the current needs and difficulties of the SSH community in Poland.
For more information and to subscribe to the newsletter, please contact Magdalena Wnuk (magdalena.wnuk[a]ibl.waw.pl).