Qatar National Library (QNL) on Sunday announced its inaugural Open Initiative Awards, with the Best Institutional Award going to 'Bait Al-Mashura Journal' while the Best Individual Award was won by Dr Julie Decock, a scientist at Cancer Research Centre, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) .
Open access is the practice of sharing knowledge openly and making research outcomes visible and accessible to all. The movement includes open access to research papers, open data, open education resources, open licences and other applications of openness in scholarly and research environments.
Rewarding the best contributions to the advancement of open scholarship in Qatar at a virtual ceremony, HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, Minister of State and President of QNL, said: “We believe that open scholarship and open access to information allows QNL to achieve its mission to preserve the nation's and region's heritage and enable the people of Qatar to positively influence society by creating an exceptional environment for learning and discovery. Qatar’s research output is part of our heritage, and open research and scholarship will allow us to preserve it for future generations.”
An esteemed panel of judges from QNL deliberated over dozens of applications received after the call went out to Qatar’s research community in August for nominations.
Dr Decock, also an assistant professor at the College of Health and Life Sciences, HBKU, was awarded for promoting open scholarship in Qatar through student mentorship and open access research at QBRI.
Dr Decock exhibited strong support of open scholarship and personally promoted open access through research tools, research data, software code and research manuscripts. She has been involved in QBRI's summer research programme for undergraduate students programme, offering laboratory-based hands-on experience, and has given several workshops on open scholarship.
“Having free and unrestricted access to research will also allow for communities in Qatar to better benefit from that nation’s research efforts. Qatar’s leadership has wisely invested a great deal in research, and openness in scholarship can provide immediate returns on that investment. This is even more important in times like these, where pandemics can change the course of our lives. Open access to medical data and research is critical to mitigating the effects of these events,” explained Dr al-Kawari.
'Bait Al-Mashura Journal' is an open access, semi-annual refereed international scientific journal publishing research in the fields of Islamic economics. The journal is published by Bait Al-Mashura Finance Consultations, established in 2007 as the first Qatari firm to provide Shari’ah finance consultations.
Both award recipients gave presentations at the virtual ceremony, outlining the importance of working with organisations such as QNL to spread research findings as widely as possible.
“These awards will become a key annual fixture for QNL as the movement grows in importance to researchers in Qatar and beyond. We are proud to support Qatar’s research through this key initiative at QNL. Indeed, QNL is committed to universal access to information and removing barriers to knowledge. One of our core values is the free, open, unrestricted access to our collections and services, and our dedication to open access supports that," added Dr al-Kawari.
The awards ceremony coincided with the Open Access Week, a global event now entering its 10th year. The Week offers the academic and research community the chance to continue to learn about the potential benefits of open access, share what they’ve learned with colleagues and help inspire wider participation in helping to make open access the new normal in scholarship and research.