Helene Brinken on Bridging the Training Gap to Foster the Adoption of Open Access

Helene Brinken
Project Officer at FOSTER and FIT4RRI Projects

The Open Access Week is a yearly event which raises awareness and promotes the free, immediate, and online access to scientific research through Open Access (OA) publishing. For Open Access Week 2018, running from 22-28 October 2018, Eurodoc will publish an article each day on various aspects of OA from international experts.

In this fifth article of the series, Helene Brinken, Project Officer at FOSTER and FIT4RRI Projects, talks about the need and resources to train researchers for Open Science.

Recent developments show that funders and policy makers agree on Open Access as the way to publish scholarly research. In September 2018, ‘Plan S’ was launched outlining 10 principles to implement full and immediate Open Access to research publications by 2020. These ambitious and radical top-down initiatives are an important aspect of accelerating the shift towards Open Access.

The Working Group on Education and Skills under Open Science at the European Commission already noticed in their 2017 report that “[f]or Open Science to become a reality, researchers need appropriate discipline-dependent skills training and professional development at all stages of their research careers”. Also, Eurodoc, the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA), and the Young Academy of Europe (YAE) recognise in their joint statement on ‘Plan S’ that research-performing and research-funding organisations need to “fully train and support researchers in Open Science”.

Nevertheless, for Plan S to become a reality, researchers need to be aware of the impact these policies will have for their daily workflows. Training resources need to be provided so that researchers learn how to put Open Access into practice and can quickly find answers to any burning questions that they might have: What do funding bodies expect me to do?; How to find the right journals to publish in?; How to cover article processing charges (APCs)?; How to publish monographs in Open Access?

Recognising that there is a strong need for training, but also a gap in the current offer, the FOSTER project has created learning opportunities for the community to promote a cultural transformation in science that goes beyond awareness of the Open Science movement.

FOSTER provides a highly diverse programme of training courses, with a focus on online training, but also conducts face-to-face training workshops for academics. Since 2017, the project has put strong emphasis on tailoring its outputs to different research disciplines. Following this approach, the project launched a set of ten new online courses to give practical, focused advice on what Open Science means in a practical sense and to provide information on discipline-specific tools and resources. The Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS) is involved as a partner for the social sciences, the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) for the life sciences, and the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH) for the arts and humanities.

The Open Access Publishing course, for example, defines Open Access approaches and shows how to get started by finding a suitable journal or a suitable repository for publications. The course covers Open Access to books and monographs and how to meet the expectations of funders. Each of the ten courses takes about 1-2 hours to work through and users can receive a badge upon completion. FOSTER suggests various learning pathways through the courses that help users to choose relevant topics. For instance, if a user would like to become an ‘Open Access author’, FOSTER recommends several related courses: What is Open Science?; Open Access Publishing; Managing and Sharing Research Data; Open Licensing; Sharing Preprints; Open Peer Review.

The FOSTER portal is not only a training hub for everyone interested to learn more about Open Science, but also for researchers, students, librarians, and project managers who would like themselves to provide training on Open Science at their own institution.

The project aims to increase the Open Science training capacity by implementing a support structure for an emerging community of trainers. FOSTER is able to multiply available training forces via their train-the-trainer approach. The Open Science Trainer Boot Camp provides tailored trainings which are supported by a digital infrastructure for maintaining trainer profiles, sharing materials, exchanging ideas, and promoting events. FOSTER also provides supporting resources for trainers, such as the Open Science Training Handbook, which is a guide on how to spread the word about and train Open Science.

During Open Access Week 2018, FOSTER has joined forces with OpenAIRE to offer a special series of webinars and tutorials on Open Access. The diverse programme showcases the various training expertises involved in the project, such as the Digital Curation Center for Research Data Management and Data Management Plans, the Open University for Text and Data Mining, GESIS for legal and ethical aspects, and many more.

Different learning tracks are provided in the programme for Open Access Week. For example, Open Access, Open Data, OpenScience: What You Need to Know and What Are the Policies in Horizon 2020? includes various resources, materials, a video, and a webinar to showcase how to comply with the Open Access mandate by the European Commission.

Check out FOSTER’s courses and resources to learn more about Open Access and become part of our community!


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License.