Open Insights: Opening up the language of research & how the University of Tsukuba increased the visibility of research written in Japanese - F1000
Open Insights: Opening up the language of research & how the University of Tsukuba increased the visibility of research written in Japanese

Open Insights: Opening up the language of research & how the University of Tsukuba increased the visibility of research written in Japanese

September 22, 2023

The Japan Institutional Gateway is the world’s first dual language (English/Japanese) open research publishing venue founded and supported by the University of Tsukuba, powered by F1000’s open research publishing model. Professor Morimoto of the University of Tsukuba spoke to us about how the University of Tsukuba increased the visibility of research written in Japanese when they encountered a problem with how humanities and social sciences (HSS) research, especially in non-English languages, is recognized and acknowledged. Professor Yukihito Morimoto and Jun Ikeda decided to face this challenge and create a solution that would aid the visibility of non-English, particularly Japanese, research in the HSS field; this solution was improving the visibility of their research through launching the Japan Institutional Gateway.

The language of humanities research

For humanities and social sciences (HSS) in Japan, open research publishing is closely linked to questions and challenges about how HSS research is both accessed and recognized, not only in Japan but globally. This has been a long-standing discussion amongst HSS researchers and institutions in Japan. The problem is as follows. The information used by QS and others to assess these citations is drawn from databases such as Scopus. This is where the problem for Japan’s humanities faculties lay: most of the journals included in these indexes are English-language articles, and articles written in other languages are rarely included.  This extends to – and in many ways unfairly impacts upon – the publication and evaluation of HSS research. Although the language that studies are published in should not be an indication of the value or quality of the research, as we explain below, this is not always reflected in the way that research is assessed and recognized internationally. The emphasis on English as the first language of publishing also poses an intrinsic problem for HSS studies and scholarship.

HSS are disciplines where publishing in a regional language can enable more profound and accurate understanding and knowledge sharing, given these academic disciplines are often dedicated to the study of the philosophy, history, literature, society, law, economy, and so on of a specific culture. Publishing in a regional language also means that the public of a particular country or region can have easier and greater access to research, particularly if it is published as open research.

In 2015, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) raised this issue with humanities faculties, giving a strong directive to HSS-focused institutions to disseminate research results that could benefit society, whether or not the research was published in Japanese or English.

Translating research evaluation for the humanities and social sciences

However, this commitment to the dissemination of research in either language was – and in many ways still is – at odds with the way in which HSS research institutions and research are evaluated internationally. The World University Rankings, as analyzed and compiled by THE and QS, use evaluation criteria based on the number of article citations. In turn, the information used by QS and others to assess these citations is drawn from databases such as Scopus. This is where the problem for Japan’s humanities faculties lay: most of the journals included in these indexes are English-language articles, and articles written in other languages are rarely included. This flaw in evaluation criteria – especially in the humanities and social sciences – is widely recognized, as many non-English language journals are not included in the database even if they are deemed high quality.

The iMD innovation: opening-up research

In light of this conundrum, the University of Tsukuba innovated. Bringing together HSS researchers and University Research Administrators (URAs) with backgrounds in HSS, we developed a new quantitative evaluation measure that could be calculated regardless of the field or language used, including journals that are not included in the dominant citation databases. This innovation was developed by Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Tsukuba and launched as the iMD, being patented in 2022. The difference the iMD innovation makes to scholarly publishing and research communications is that it allows a diversity of academic journals to be measured in terms of contributors’ affiliations, regardless of the language the journals are published in. iMD paves the way for journals in all languages, countries, and fields to be counted in research evaluations. Since iMD can be calculated using only bibliographic information, it can be used to quantitatively measure all journals regardless of discipline or language.

The benefits and fairness of the iMD system, in the 10th anniversary year of the Declaration On Research Assessment (DORA) are self-evident. The University of Tsukuba’s innovation with the iMD also led us to Japan’s first open research collaboration using dual language publication.

The Japan Institutional Gateway: A dual-language open research venue

When we were developing the iMD, we invited the renowned open research expert and publisher, F1000’s Managing Director, Dr Rebecca Lawrence, to a symposium discussing the usefulness of the iMD we had developed. There was an instant resonance with F1000’s philosophy, expounded by Rebecca, that “there should be no barriers between research, academia, and language” and our shared desire to stir things up in academic communication between Japan and the rest of the world. This triggered the development of an F1000 Gateway, the Japan Institutional Gateway – an open research publishing hub dedicated to HSS research from Japan and hosted on F1000’s own open research publishing Platform F1000Research, adopting F1000’s pioneering approach to open science publishing.

Realizing the importance for both opening up and evaluating HSS research beyond language barriers – eliminating as much as possible the disparity between the fairness in how research in the natural sciences and research in HSS research is evaluated – the University of Tsukuba and F1000 worked together to develop the world-first functionality that allowed researchers to publish in either English or Japanese on the Japan Institutional Gateway.   

Towards establishing an international standard for open research

As open research develops and we move from a pay-to-read to a pay-to-publish economy, researchers may understandably be concerned about the affordability of article processing charges (APCs), particularly in the often-under-resourced HSS research areas. This is even though the APCs are necessary to provide publishing infrastructure and the sort of editorial expertise and support highlighted by researcher comments in in the testaments below.

In the coming years, research institutions such as the University of Tsukuba, funders, governments, and publishers like F1000 need to work together to ensure research is open for all researchers to publish and all publics to read. In the words of former TUAT Vice President Hideo Kigoshi, “The results of academic research are the property of mankind, and I hope that this new way of presenting research results on the Japan Institutional Gateway will show a concrete method of open science. I hope that Japan Institutional Gateway will spread and become the international standard for disseminating research results ‘quickly, openly, and without restrictions’ in any language.”

This forward-thinking publishing approach means that researchers specializing in fields such as HSS will be able to publish in an international journal but choose which language they feel most comfortable writing in, as well as what befits their field of study the most.

Researcher testaments: The power and effectiveness of Open Research

The following testaments are from researchers who have published on the F1000 Gateway and reflects the impact of open research, highlighting the benefits for both researchers and society:

“Due to the Covid pandemic in 2020, all the overseas conferences whose proposals had been accepted were canceled or postponed. This halted the normal process of giving oral presentations of English articles, getting feedback, and preparing for submission to peer-reviewed journals. The University of Tsukuba Gateway, where articles are posted on the web before peer review and comments are received afterwards, is similar to the method used at overseas conferences where I have mainly presented articles, so I was able to easily adapt to it. I am also grateful to the editorial team at F1000 for their careful editing and formatting of my article during the period between submission to the University of Tsukuba Gateway and its publication.

“Within approximately one week of the article being published on March 2, 2021, the article had been viewed over 100 times without any special promotion. We realized that the Gateway is a very powerful tool for disseminating research results. […] we are very grateful to JINSHA for providing us with the support to cover the cost of submission this time since APC is the challenging part of Open Access publishing. We will continue to make use of this tool as one of the new ways to disseminate our research on the COVID-19 Disaster.”

(Atsuko Higashino, Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba).

“I am researching the new corona countermeasures from the perspective of the Japanese Constitution. Since it is a timely topic of great social interest, I wanted to immediately publish a Japanese article that can be read by the general public in Japan. We also felt that it would be significant if our article was posted on this Gateway, which is part of F1000Research, which is also used by researchers in the natural sciences, so that global researchers studying the new coronavirus could be exposed to the legal debate in Japan through English abstracts. The appeal of this Gateway is that research results can be immediately disseminated to both Japanese society and global researchers. Also, since the peer review process is open to the public, I think it is also an advantage, albeit an embarrassing one, to be able to show my students the process of writing their articles.”

(Hajime Akiyama, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba)

Find out more about the Japan Institutional Gateway.




この度は、F1000Researchの創立10周年を迎えられたことを心よりお祝い申し上げます。私たちがDr. Rebecca Lawrenceさんとお会いしたのは2019年2月のことでした。日本では、2004年の法人化以後国立大学法人の運営費交付金の削減も続く中、2015年に文部科学省からの人文社会系学部に対する問題提起があり、現在も人文社会系研究の成果発信および社会との関連付けが今も強く求められています。一方でTHEやQSに代表される世界大学ランキングの評価項目の中に、論文の被引用数にもとづく評価項目があります。これはScopus等の論文・引用データベースがもととなっていますが、収録誌の多くは英語論文であり、それ以外の言語で書かれた論文はほとんど収録されていません。特に人文社会系分野では質が高くても論文・引用データベースに収録されていない学術誌も多く、被引用数が評価指標として十分に機能していないことが知られています。

このような学術的背景を踏まえ、筑波大学では、人文社会系分野の研究者ならびに人文社会系分野をバックグラウンドに持つURAが協働して論文・引用データベースに収録されていない学術誌も含め、分野や使用言語を問わず算出できる新たな定量的評価指標の開発に着手し、学術誌の多様性をはかる指標であるiMD(index for Measuring Diversity) を開発しました。iMDは書誌情報のみで計算できるため、分野や言語に関係なくすべての学術誌について定量的にはかることが可能となります(2022年特許取得)。


私たちが開発したiMDの有用性を議論するシンポジウム[1]に、Dr. Lawrenceをお招きしたことがきっかけでした。このシンポジウムを通じて、F1000 Research社の「研究と学問、そして言語に壁があってはならない」という理念と、日本と世界の学術コミュニケーションに一石投じたいという私たちの考えが共鳴しあいました。その後、Dr. LawrenceからF1000Reseachのプラットフォームにゲートウェイを作る提案を受けたのが導入のきっかけでした。

導入が決まった最初の時点でF1000 Research 社からのシステムに関する提案の中に、日本語による出版は入っていませんでした。日本語で論文が出版できなければ、Scopus 等にインデックスされたとしても自然科学と人文学・社会科学の格差問題は現状のままであるため、私たち筑波大学からは日本語で投稿できる機能を開発してほしいと強く要望しました。その結果、F1000 Research 側が快くこちらの提案を受け入れてくれたため、よりよいパートナーシップを築く礎がこのころからできていたと言えます。

研究者、機関から見たOpen Scienceの力、効果とは


「2020 年はコロナ禍のため、せっかくプロポーザルがアクセプトされていた海外の学会がすべてキャンセル・延期となってしまいました。このため、英語論文を口頭発表しフィードバックを得て、査読付ジャーナルへの投稿準備を進めるという通常のプロセスがストップしてしまい、困っていたところ、同僚が筑波大学ゲートウェイの投稿を勧めて下さいました。査読前の論文をウェブ上に掲載し、その後にコメントをもらうという筑波大学ゲートウェイは、私が主に論文を発表してきた海外学会の方式とも近く、すんなりとなじむことが出来ました。また論文を筑波大学ゲートウェイに投稿して掲載されるまでの期間、F1000 社の編集チームが非常に丁寧なエディティングやフォーマティングを行ってくれたのも、大変ありがたいことだと思っております。

2021 年3 月2 日に論文が掲載されてから、およそ1 週間で、特段の宣伝をしていなくともページビュー数が100を超えており、研究成果発信のための非常に強力なツールであると実感しました。唯一のネックは投稿費だと思いますが、今回は人社系による投稿費支援に採択していただけ、大変助かりました。コロナ禍における新しい研究発信形態の一つとして、今後とも活用したいと考えております。」


「新型コロナ対策について、日本国憲法の観点から研究しています。社会的関心の高いタイムリーな話題ですので、日本の一般の方にも読んでいただける日本語論文を即時的に発表したいと考えていました。また、自然科学の研究者も使用するF1000Research の一部である本ゲートウェイに掲載されると、新型コロナを研究するグローバルな研究者にも、英文抄録を通して日本の法的な議論に触れていただけるため、意義があると感じ、本ゲートウェイに投稿しました。即時的に日本社会とグローバルな研究者双方に研究成果を発信できるのが、本ゲートウェイの魅力です。また、公開で査読が行われますので、恥ずかしくもありますが、学生に論文執筆のプロセスを見せられるのもメリットだと思います。」


JIG今後の展望(Next step)



2 筑波大学ゲートウェイの著者コメントについては、下記ホームページより引用。 (参照2023-6-6)