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Johan Rooryck receives honorary doctorate from Tromsø University

Professor Johan Rooryck, currently executive director of cOAlition S, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Tromsø for his commitment to open access in science. He will be awarded the honorary doctorate on 1 September.

On its website, the University of Tromsø praises, among other things, Rooryck's efforts for the open access journal Glossa. In 2015, he surprised the academic world by parting ways with the rest of his editors from the subscription journal Lingua, where he was editor-in-chief. In its place, the old Lingua editors founded the magazine Glossa. ‘Glossa has since become the undisputed top journal in its field, still with Rooryck as editor-in-chief,’ writes the university, which has open access as one of its spearheads.

Nevertheless, the honorary doctorate came as a surprise to Rooryck. ‘I feel very small and modest when I see the list of people I am allowed to appear among from now on,' he says. ‘Editors and reviewers are the plumbers of science: you don't see them, but they are necessary. I see this honorary doctorate as a tribute to the people who keep the scientific infrastructure going.’

Improving the position of open access

Rooryck wants to use his special position to improve the situation of open access science. I will be working in a European framework on two large EC projects totalling eight million euros, involving people from the library in Tromsø, among others. Our goal is to make the diamond open access journals more visible and to ensure that they start working with similar quality standards as traditional journals.

In a diamond journal, neither the reader nor the author has to pay to read or publish an article. The costs are covered from university or government funds. This is important according to Rooryck; otherwise, you are only available to people who can put 2,000 or 3,000 euros on the table. However, you never know where a good idea will come from. Perhaps a doctor in China or a social scientist from India has a brilliant new insight to solve major social challenges. We need to move towards a system where everyone can participate in the scientific debate on an equal basis.

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