Open Access Week 2022: Research Funders for Climate Justice 

Written by: Amrita Chowdhury and Judy Mielke

What is Open Access Week?

International Open Access Week is a global event that promotes the benefit and need for openness in research and scholarly publications. Events dedicated to open access week highlight opportunities that promote open access and advocate actions that ensure the accessibility of educational materials and research information to everyone. Each year, there is a theme for open access week and all events are organized around this theme to bring about more awareness of how open access advances the topic. This year, as we experience unprecedented effects of climate change around the world, the theme is “Climate Justice”. 

History of Open Access Week 

Open Access Week started as Open Access Day in 2007 in the USA. SPARC, a non-profit organization supporting openness in research and education, along with students, organized local events on a few campuses across the USA. With time, it gained popularity and now is celebrated as Open Access Week. This year, it is the fifteenth year of Open Access Week [1]

Is there a difference between Open Access and Open Science? 

The term “Open Access” refers to the free availability of peer-reviewed scholarly research articles, book chapters, monographs, etc. in online repositories. This ensures fair accessibility and equal distribution of knowledge.

On the other hand, “Open Science” is a much broader term that allows practices in scientific research to make the data and knowledge accessible and usable by everyone and advocates collaboration and knowledge sharing. According to UNESCO Recommendation, “Open science is defined as an inclusive construct that combines various movements and practices aiming to make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone, to increase scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society, and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community” [2]. So, it can be said that open access is a tool for open science while open science itself is a broader perspective for transparent scientific research and collaboration.

Benefits of open access for scholarly communications and research collaboration

1. Accessibility to scholarly articles

Open access ensures accessibility to scholarly articles. A lack of a subscription paywall for research articles means that the general public and researchers from institutions with less funding can access the information. Having equal access to information means that we do not continue to perpetuate knowledge imbalance globally.

2. Quality assurance

While there are studies that try to find a correlation between quality and “open” or “closed” research articles, open access itself does not guarantee quality nor does it preclude quality publications. But it can be argued that from a long-term perspective, open-access publishing incentivizes authors to exert more stringent quality control over their publications. Authors need to exercise more stringent quality control measures because their papers will be read by more people, and the data are open to re-use, which means there is more scrutiny for the paper and the data.

On other hand, it is also debated that if the journals must depend on publication fees to cover their costs, they might start publishing more articles to increase revenue, possibly lowering the quality threshold for publications. This is possibly a short-sighted view, as journals and publishers that undermine their own quality control processes ultimately develop a reputation that will lead to researchers abandoning these journals.

What is important to note is the unintended consequences of research assessment – for example, using the journal impact factor as a surrogate for research quality may drive researchers to unwanted behaviors, such as publishing in journals that currently have a high impact factor, regardless of their peer-review processes and other quality control measures, or neglecting the main target audience of the journal.

3. Lesser chances of plagiarism

As open access makes the articles visible to everyone, including software plagiarism detection tools, the chance of plagiarism decreases as any kind of duplicity can easily be caught. So, it can be said that open access makes the detection of plagiarism easy and strongly discourages it.

4. Increased readership and citations 

Open access to research articles ensures increased readership as it is visible to everyone worldwide. This increases the chances of citations and the use of published information not only by academic researchers but also by the general public.

5. Increased chances of collaboration  

The openness of the articles might bring new contacts for the author and can lead to potential collaborations. The author can open new windows for new research opportunities as well as multidisciplinary research opportunities. 

What is meant by Climate Justice as this year´s theme? 

People worldwide are realizing the reality of climate change. More than 475,000 people lost their lives due to extreme weather events that took place between 2000 and 2019 [3]. These climate events have disproportionate effects on underserved countries or communities. For example, according to NAACP, communities of colour are more prone to the effects of air pollution [4]. In order to identify the key groups affected most by climate change and to find out long-term mitigation and adaptation strategies, the movement “Climate Justice” was started. To successfully find out the reasons for these climate catastrophes and to establish a correlation between human impact, climate change and catastrophe, rigorous scientific research is needed and must be promoted.

So, this year, Open Access Week is focusing on “Climate Justice” to promote openness to climate research. Open access to climate research articles will allow equal knowledge sharing throughout the world, including in developing countries.

To celebrate open access week and to honor this year´s theme “Climate Justice”, we would like to acknowledge the information we have today is the result of the hard work of the researchers and does not come for free. Climate research funders around the world play a pivotal role in helping researchers with their amazing discoveries. During this open access week, let’s look at some of the climate research funders worldwide.

National funders that contribute to worldwide climate research funding 

Most national research funders have the mandate to fund the research within their borders. The same principles apply to climate research. What is not as well known, is that several national research funders also fund researchers worldwide. When we consider that the world is interlinked and climate change is a global phenomenon, it makes sense to address the change from a global perspective.

National funders that support international researchers include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a US government agency supporting ocean and atmospheric research, including dedicated grants for climate research. Among NOAA’s grants is the grant for island resilience, to support the climate adaptation of islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

A common practice among research funders to foster research collaboration is by “co-funding” research teams from different countries. Effectively, this means that each funder funds researchers in their countries, but to be eligible for funding, the proposed project must include project partners who are also eligible for funding by their own country’s funders.

The European Commission, through its Horizon Europe Funding program, supports several sustainable development research programs via co-funding with national research funders. These programs include, for example, Driving Urban Transitions (DUT) for sustainable cities, Biodiversa+ for biodiversity, and Water4All for water management and water security. It is important to note that many of Horizon Europe’s funding programs are also open to researchers in developing nations.

The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) co-funds sustainability research projects together with research funders in Canada, France, Germany, UK and USA.

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research and research in developing countries. The Centre funds projects that further the sustainable development of developing countries, including funding for climate research.  

Foundations that support climate and sustainability researchers 

As climate change and sustainability become more and more entrenched in everyday vocabulary, more and more research funding foundations are supporting climate and sustainability research. 

The AXA Research Fund supports climate researchers worldwide with two career development schemes, one at the postdoctoral fellow level, and the other for senior academics (AXA Chair), both provide generous funding for the recipients.  

Merck, a pharmaceutical company based in Germany, funds an annual research grant that promotes sustainability research. The competition is open to researchers worldwide, with funds of up to 1.5 million EUR over 3 years.

Climate change has had a dramatic impact on coral reefs, the Coral Research & Development Accelerator Platform (CORDAP) is a funding program launched by 17 of the G20 nations. CORDAP’s Coral Accelerator program funds up to 1.5 million USD for up to 3 years to international research teams with innovative and impactful ideas to restore coral.

Also funding ocean research is The Schmidt Family Foundation, which provides innovation funding for ocean technology. 

The Wellcome Trust is a major funder of health research in the UK. The Wellcome Trust has recently refocused its funding program, and “climate and health” is now a major part of its funding mandate. The target group of funding varies; some schemes are open to researchers worldwide while others are limited to UK/Ireland and developing nations.

Also supporting climate and health is the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, which supports researchers in the USA and Canada who work in interdisciplinary teams to address the impact of climate change on health. 

As a research funding database, we at scientifyRESEARCH aim to make funding information easily accessible to you, the researchers around the world. Our curated list of UN SDG funding opportunities is continuously updated with the latest funding information of research funding that advance the UN SDGs. We also provide eligibility filters that help you find the right funding for you. Bookmark this page and sign-up for our grant alerts or monthly newsletter, to get the latest research funding information from funders around the world. 

References 

[1] History of Open Access Week, SPARC Official Website, accessed October 24, 2022.

[2] UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, UNESCO official website, accessed October 25, 2022. 

[3] David Eckstein, Vera Kunzel, Laura Schäfer, Global Climate Risk Index 2021 Germanwatch 2021. 

[4] Climate Justice, Yale Climate Connections Official Website, accessed October 25, 2022. 


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