The Open Climate Campaign
The theme of Open Access week 2022 is Open for Climate Justice. In this interview, I talked to two members of the Open Climate Campaign about their efforts to make research relating to climate change open so that progress to solving the climate crisis and preserving global biodiversity can be accelerated.
I talked to Monica Granados and Iryna Kuchma about the campaign. Monica is the open climate campaign manager at Creative Commons, working with SPARC and eifl on the open climate campaign. Her background is as a researcher and she has a PhD in ecology. Monica has worked on climate change problems and when she was doing her PhD and postdoctoral work, she began to realise that the way we were doing science was not the most transparent, most accessible or most equitable. She began to get interested in the concept of open science and thinking about ways to make science more transparent more accessible and more equitable. She has previously worked as a senior policy advisor at the Government of Canada and is now pat of the open climate campaign; a role that fuses her interests and expertise. Iryna manages the Open Access program at eifl and works with National Library Consortia in Africa, Asia and Europe. eifl was among those organisations that originally coined the term Open Access when the Budapest Open Access initiative was introduced. As I work with libraries in the global South, I was invited to join this campaign by Sparc and Creative Commons. It is really important for us to make sure that researchers from the global South are an instrumental part of this campaign and have a voice.
What are the key aims of the campaign?
The first is to make information and data about climate change open. This involves talking to researchers and their institutions about the importance of making data and publications open. The campaign is trying to connect people with the tools that they need to make their outputs open. There are lots of tools out there possibly funded by their institution, national governments or grassroots organisations but researchers may not be aware of them.
The second pillar is targeting decision makers that can help to change the culture of open access, open data and open research. The campaign will work with research funders, national governments and environmental organisations to help them build robust and workable open access policies. This will mean that researchers in receipt of funding will have to abide by clear policies on open research.
The third pillar is looking back into the past and trying to build a corpus of foundational research in climate change and biodiversity and ensuring that this corpus of 100 or maybe 500 papers are open access. A committee of experts are identifying key papers to be included in this corpus. For previously published work, finding versions that can be made open access can be problematic and the campaign will be partnering with some institutional repositories and publishers in order to help with this goal.
Who are the backers of the campaign?
Iryna talked about the backers of the campaign. The Open Society Foundation
works to build vibrant and inclusive democracies with governments that are accountable to their citizens and open society. OSF was one of the first funders that allocated money to support Open Access. Climate change is one of the key interests of OSF and so obviously they were interested in this campaign from the open angle and also from the climate issues-solving angle. The campaign also has the the backing of the Arcadia Foundation, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The Arcadia Foundation works to preserve endangered cultural heritage and also protect endangered ecosystems. They also promote access to knowledge and they have a history of collaborating with major environmental organizations. The Arcadia Foundation felt felt that there was a lot of will and interest among environmental organizations to go Open Access but that they needed some help and guidance on how to do so. That’s why they were also interested in supporting this campaign to bring environmental organizations and openness together.
Why is it important that information on climate change and biodiversity is open?
Monica explained why it is so important that information is open by looking at the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She believes that if we’re going to solve the world’s greatest problems, the information about them needs to be open. Climate change has the same ability as COVID-19 to affect absolutely everyone on the planet. Climate change and COVID had differing effects on people that were driven by socioeconomic factors, geographical location and many of the other systems of oppression that exist in the world. Everybody is affected by these sorts of global problems.
For COVID-19 there was a a very strong recognition that this was a global problem that required all the information about this issue to be open and accessible as quickly as possible so that we could develop mitigations, treatments and vaccines. The world responded very quickly and we had multiple repositories and data repositories that came online. Publishers responded to a letter from the Chief Science Advisors from across the USA to open up COVID-19 research. The number of preprints that were submitted to preprint servers such as bioRxiv and medRxiv ballooned. The degree or sharing and openness reached levels that we had never seen before. There was a recognition that we needed to have access to the information on this global problem to get to solutions and mitigations.
Monica and her colleagues are adapting the same idea to climate change as this also will affect everyone on the planet. In order to get to mitigations and solutions to curb the effects of climate change Monica believes that we need to know everything about climate change. The campaign is starting from a place that acknowledges that climate change is happening, that it is human-induced and we need to now understand what is happening and what are the potential decisions that policymakers can make to help mitigate some of those effects. The solutions and ideas to tackle climate change are in research publications that may be behind paywalls. Monica believes that this type of science needs to be accessible to policymakers, to other researcher and also to people in the public who want to know more about how climate change is affecting their communities.
Monica and Iryna believe that all science should be open and transparent but are concentrating their efforts on the important issue of climate change as part of their work with the Open Climate Campaign.
I asked Iryna what more can University of Reading do to help. Reading already requires the deposit of outputs in our publications and data repositories which is in line with the aims of the campaign. Iryna would encourage researchers to use the gold Open Access route for their publications. She points out that there are lots of journals in the field of climate and diversity research that do not charge article processing charges as they are run by community projects. This means that researchers who don’t have access to funding for APCs can still publish in some excellent Open Access journals.
The Open Research champions scheme was picked out by Iryna as a good initiative. She wondered if one of our champions would be interested in collaborating with the campaign as she thought that they would have knowledge and experience to share with others. Iryna is helping to organise and event with the American University in Armenian at their Center for climate research. The researchers keep asking about where to find open sources of information on climate and environmental research. Iryna would welcome help from one of our Open Research champions in this as they will be experts.
Iryna was also pleased to see that there is information on research data management and tips on how to be more open on the University website. These are examples of good practice that are recommend in the campaign because it’s all about making research publications Open Access, FAIR, releasing your code, data archiving, using preprint server, engaging with open peer review, registering research plans and teaching the principles of open research. Iryna complemented the University on our excellent track record and thought that other universities could learn from Reading’s open research policies and practices.
What can individual researchers do to help the campaign?
I asked Monica what individual researchers can do to help with the Open Climate Campaign. According to Monica, the first thing is to go to the campaign website . There is a specific section for researchers. There’s also a newsletter to sign up for and you could look at attending an climate campaign event. Monica believes that researchers are at the heart of the question of Open Access because the decisions that you make on how disseminate your research will impact the openness and transparency of the research. You may be constricted by mandates and by policies, but there are always small things that you can do to make your research more open.
Monica recommends thinking about openness in the whole research life cycle, from the collection of data to publication and dissemination of the findings. The tips on the open climate campaign website give ideas of some of the resources available to researchers so that they can make their methods more open. The campaign also recommends using the preprint route so that your findings are not delayed by lengthy peer-review processes. The use of institutional repositories and diamond Open Access journals is also suggested.
What is important, according to Monica, is that researchers don’t feel they have to do everything at once. They recognise that what climate and biodiversity researchers are doing is very important and the most vital aspect is the research. However it is important that this research is more transparent and more accessible to everyone, and particularly those who are already being affected by climate change.
Thank you and a post-script
Many thanks to Iryna and Monica for taking part in the interview. As part of preparing the videos, Monica asked if they could have a CCBY licence. This was something that I hadn’t considered. I checked with the University’s copyright officer and I’m pleased that in the spirit of the Open Climate Campaign and the University of Reading’s stance on Open Research, we’ve been able to add CCBY licences to the video interviews. With thanks to Monica for her great suggestion.