Open Science Strategy for the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies

"Open Science 우산" by eotls4387. Used under CC BY 2.0 (

This open science strategy has been created by the researchers of the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies during 2020 through a series of discussions, a workshop organised in our autumn general meeting, and the opportunity to edit and comment the strategy draft in all of its stages. The original version will remain as a living document to be updated according to our progressing open science goals and practices. We wish to extend our warmest thanks to the open science experts Susanna Nykyri, Katja Fält, Kaisa Kulkki, and Turkka Näppilä at the Tampere University library, for their active participation in the strategy creation process through meetings, comments on the draft, researcher training, and organising the strategy workshop.

Original publication date: 11.1.2021
Latest update: 14.3.2022

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

1. Openness as a strategy for responsible and impactful research

Essentially, open science means that in principle, research methods, publications, data, other outputs and results are made accessible and usable to all. Moreover, the openness of science also entails the work of researchers as experts and social commentators, as well as the involvement of non-academic people in research processes (in the form of ‘citizen science’). The principles and practices of open science aim to improve the quality, capacity for renewal, and social impact of science, and to promote responsible research. For the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies, they provide a sound basis for being excellent in research. 

With an open science strategy and commitment to advanced open science policies, CoE GameCult aims not only to increase the transparency of our key research processes but also to highlight the diversity of research outputs we value. Transparency in our research practices, including the collection and use of data, increases the ethicality, reliability, and overall quality of our research. Publishing our research in open access journals and opening our publications through self-archiving greatly increases the availability of the scientific knowledge produced within the CoE, advancing equity in research and education. Openly storing our research data ensures its responsible preservation and promotes scientific collaboration over competition. We also aim to include master’s degree students of the CoE GameCult universities in our research by making our research data available for their master’s thesis and by having CoE researchers available as thesis supervisors.

For CoE GameCult, it is also important to consider the special role of open science in game culture studies. Open access publishing is not unusual in game studies, as one of the first international journals in the field, Game Studies (published since 2001), as well as the Finnish Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja (published since 2009), are both fully open access publications. A key element for doing research in this field are the perspectives opened by Cultural Studies, which is a field of ‘theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture, its historical foundations, defining traits, conflicts, and contingencies’ (to quote a Wikipedia definition). The cultural study of games is wide-reaching, including and combining the perspectives opened by studies of games, various player groups, game design and development, and their wider contextual and systemic dimensions. Carrying out reliable research in these multiple interconnected dimensions requires the expertise and collaboration of several stakeholders, and open science provides important benefits for including and informing these collaborators. Open science is valuable for game culture studies also because the research in this area aims for better inclusivity, and it helps to make the research processes and outputs as openly accessible as possible, while also promoting transparency in stakeholder collaborations and research interventions. As such, open science also plays an important role in the CoE’s societal impact.

CoE GameCult is committed to following the principles and practices of open science regarding publications, research data collection and management, and societal interactions. The open science principles will be implemented in a responsible manner, making sure the standards of Responsible conduct of research and the Ethical principles of research with human participants as well as legal requirements are met. To support the implementation of open science principles and practices into everyday research activities, the CoE will provide training, support, and guidance on open science and resources available for its researchers. Open science policies are actively applied in CoE researcher education according to the national Recommendation for the responsible evaluation of a researcher.

2. Principles and practices of openness

2.1 Open access publishing

When planning new research projects, CoE GameCult researchers are recommended, as a part of their research plan, to create a publication plan that follows the principles of open science. The opening of the produced publications should be planned beforehand, put into practice, and systematically followed. Commitment to open access publishing is important for ensuring the accessibility of research produced within the CoE. It is also an increasingly common requirement for receiving public research funding, following the Plan S initiative by the European Research Council, which the Academy of Finland is also part of. The Academy of Finland will require open access publishing in all of its newly funded projects starting in 2021.

CoE GameCult is committed to making its publications (scientific journal articles, conference papers, and book chapters) openly available. The primary mean to achieve this goal is self-archiving (the green open access model): CoE researchers are required to upload the author’s final draft (the accepted peer-reviewed manuscript ready to be published) to the institutional repository when reporting a publication (this is also a requirement of all the three CoE universities). The university libraries offer instructions and support in the process (including checking the publisher’s policy on self-archiving the manuscript).

Instructions and support for self-archiving:

Additionally, CoE GameCult researchers may also choose to self-archive their publications on various personal and public repositories, such as personal websites or open services such as OSF. Researchers may consider whether they wish to also share their publications on commercial social media, such as ResearchGate,, or Twitter, as that can increase the publications’ visibility.

CoE GameCult researchers are encouraged to publish their research in full open access journals (the gold open access model). These journals may require a fee for publishing an article; the CoE GameCult covers these fees when necessary according to the criteria.

Additional open access journals (with current Jufo rating 0):

In some cases, the publisher will offer to charge a fee for making a publication freely available in a journal that is otherwise closed. As the Academy of Finland considers this so-called hybrid open access model expensive and liable to malpractice, and only a temporary solution on the way towards full open access publishing, this model is not generally recommended within the CoE. However, open access fees may be supported in some cases, if an individual publication is providing a particularly significant contribution to the CoE. The APC discounts negotiated by the universities will also be taken into consideration.

When working as an editor for a publication, consider whether it could be published under a Creative Commons licence. Creative Commons licences allow sharing publications more broadly, allowing more people to read them (see the Tampere University Open Access guide on CC licenses).

CoE GameCult researchers are recommended to register an ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) and actively use it in all their research activities. ORCID is an open, international and community-based persistent digital identifier that can be used in many different services and systems. ORCID distinguishes researchers from one another and helps with name changes and different spellings of a name. It can also be used to transfer data between systems automatically.

Summary: CoE GameCult researcher duties and recommendations concerning open access publishing

  • For every publication, upload a copy (of the final, accepted and peer-reviewed draft, if the publisher does not allow uploading the published version) into the institutional repository. The university libraries are happy to offer advice and support with this.
  • Consider whether to publish your research in gold open access journals and books. For book manuscripts, investigate the possibility for open access publishing (if there is a fee, please discuss the option with the CoE leadership team).
  • Plan ahead how you will publish your results openly: when writing a research plan, include a publication plan with practical steps for open publishing.
  • Register your ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) and use it in all your research activities.

2.2 Responsible research data management

CoE GameCult is committed to the principles and practices of responsible data management. In data management, the CoE follows the FAIR principles, aiming that the research data produced within the CoE will be findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable. For CoE GameCult, the greatest challenge regarding data management is the large variety of different data types and data set sizes as well as the sheer number of data sets produced by individual researchers and research groups within the CoE. Some of the collected data also includes sensitive or personal information. Another element to consider is the ephemeral nature of certain data types, e.g. games or related media forms. Due to this great variety, there cannot be one model of data management that would cover all the circumstances. Instead, CoE researchers should always plan their data management process on an individual basis.

CoE researchers are expected to create a data management plan (DMP) for all research data they gather, and keep the plan updated. The DMP should be included in the research plan and it should take into consideration the entire life cycle of the research data, including the data collection, storing the data during the research process, and archiving the data after the research has been completed. It is recommended that the data is made publicly available for future research projects whenever possible (so that it can be used, for example, in master’s thesis projects). To ensure this option, it will need to be planned beforehand, making sure the necessary steps will be taken to obtain consent from the study participants for the preservation and future use of the material, following the data protection regulations (GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation), and ensuring that there are no other ethical or legal limitations to opening the data.

Guides and tools for data management planning:

Instructions and templates for following the data protection regulations:

Tampere University
University of Jyväskylä
University of Turku

All the research data produced within CoE GameCult should be, whenever possible, made publicly available in relevant archives. However, CoE researchers are also required to rigorously consider and follow the principles of responsible conduct of research, including research ethical (e.g. the Ethical principles of research with human participants) and legal (e.g. the GDPR) principles. For example, researchers will have to ensure they have received the unequivocal consent from the research participants for every form of use and preservation of the data (including the potential opening and future use of the data), and follow the data protection requirements (including creating a privacy notice when needed). If the data includes personal or sensitive information, the researcher needs to plan ahead how to ensure privacy protection and data anonymisation or pseudonymisation.

Depending on the situation, the degrees of data openness may justifiably vary, ranging from fully open to strictly confidential. However, even if research data cannot be made publicly available, the essential metadata describing the research data is always open. The metadata include information on the structure of the data and details concerning its production, producers, owners, and terms of use, as well as the unique persistent identifier (such as DOI) of the data. The metadata can be listed in the university repository.

For archiving and opening the data according to the FAIR principles, CoE GameCult recommends the university data repositories, the Finnish Social Science Data Archive, IDA research data storage service (organised by the Ministry of Education and Culture), or Zenodo (EU-funded repository for open science in all fields of research, with long-term storage and infrastructure provided by CERN Data Center). During the research process, the data should be securely stored on devices and services provided by the universities.

University data repositories:

Instructions and options for archiving and opening data:

Summary: CoE GameCult researcher duties and recommendations concerning responsible data management

  • Always plan the entire life cycle of your research data beforehand: when writing a research plan, include a detailed data management plan (DMP). During the research process, follow the plan and update it if needed.
  • Aim to make your data FAIR: findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable.
  • Make sure your data gathering and management process follows high ethical standards and meets all legal requirements.
  • After the research process is complete, open the meta data description of your research data.
  • Whenever possible, open your data in a public archive for future use (and make sure you have the ethical and legal rights to do so by planning this beforehand).

2.3 Openness of other research outputs

In addition to publications and research data, CoE GameCult also produces other open research-based materials, such as online lectures and talks (GameCult Talks, OASIS Talks, Pelitutkimus Suomessa 2018 online course) and the CoE GameCult research blog series. These will be openly available on the CoE website whenever possible.

Additionally, CoE GameCult is committed to promoting open science by participating in the public discussion on game cultures through expert appearances in various media and public events. The CoE also organises open and free events by itself and in collaboration with various partners, such as museums and libraries.

3. Follow-up and evaluation

CoE GameCult has set the following goals for our open access practices:

  • All CoE GameCult researchers will register an ORCID.
  • All new CoE GameCult publications (scientific journal articles, conference papers, and book chapters) will be self-archived, and as many previous publications as possible will be retroactively self-archived, in university repositories.
  • All new CoE GameCult research data will be stored following the principles of open science, from a minimum level of opening the metadata to storing the complete data in open archives. As many previous datasets as possible will also be retroactively opened.

CoE GameCult will proceed towards these goals gradually and evaluate our progress regularly. To track our progress the CoE will:

  • Add ORCID numbers in the researcher introductions on the CoE website.
  • Tack the numbers related to our open access publication goals in collaboration with the university libraries and publish the results on the CoE website.
  • Collect and publish a list of research data collected within the CoE, including links to the openly stored (meta) data.
  • Track the numbers of the public events organised by the CoE, public talks given by our researchers, public media interactions by our researchers, and other public societal interactions (annually during our Academy of Finland reporting).

While tracking our progress in achieving our initial open access goals, CoE GameCult will also keep this open science strategy document as a living document, open for all our researchers to comment and update.

Open science activities organised and actions taken so far:

  • 27.1.2020 First publication analysis of our 2018–2019 publications conducted by the University of Turku library’s metrics and evaluation team. A total of 135 publications, 36 (26.7 %) self-archived and 38 open access +1 hybrid open access publication (28.9 %).
  • 27.5.2020 First open science strategy meeting with CoE GameCult leadership team, coordinator team, and Tampere University library open science experts.
  • October 2020 Preliminary publication analysis conducted of our 2018–2020 peer-reviewed publications (types A & C) by Tampere University library open science experts. 67 % of these publications were open access: 44 % published in open access channels, 18 % self-archived, and 5 % published as hybrid open access.
  • 20.10.2020 Open science training by Tampere University library open science experts for CoE GameCult researchers in our autumn general meeting.
  • 20.10.2020 Open science strategy workshop by Tampere University library open science experts for CoE GameCult researchers in our autumn general meeting.
  • 11.1.2021 Approving the current strategy paper in our monthly meeting.
  • 8.2.2021 Adding ORCID numbers in the researcher profiles on our website.
  • 13.1.2022 Open publication resources from CoE GameCult universities added in the original strategy document.
  • February 2022 Publication analysis conducted by the University of Jyväskylä Open Science Centre. A total of 348 publications produced between 2018–2021, 60.6 % fully open access or hybrid open access, and 58.3 % have open access parallel copies in university repositories.
  • March 2022 Open science update published on the CoE GameCult website.

Background documents and additional sources