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In memoriam Leo Waaijers (1938-2023)

August 28th, 2023

InMemorianLeoWaaijers wideIt is with great sadness that we learned that our colleague Leo Waaijers, guest employee at our institute, passed away on August 1 after a short illness.

We got to know Leo when he worked as librarian, first at TU Delft, later at Wageningen University. After Leo left there, he worked as program manager at SURF. Throughout his career, Leo always took a critical attitude towards his environment: university libraries, scientific publishers, and the academic system more in general. He managed to deliver his striking criticisms in a light-hearted and often humorous way.

After his retirement, Leo continued tirelessly. He founded QOAM (Quality Open Access Market), an online platform where authors can share their experiences with the scientific journals in which they publish. QOAM also provides information on the article processing charges (APCs) of journals, making visible how the costs and benefits of publishing in a journal relate to each other. At the same time, Leo passionately advocated for full transparency of the agreements between the Dutch universities and scientific publishers. His successes in this area have earned him a mention in the ScienceGuide top 10 most defining personalities in Dutch higher education in 2017.

Since 2020 Leo has been a guest employee at CWTS. In collaboration with other CWTS colleagues, he developed innovative ideas to address the challenges of predatory publishing. He also worked on a new vision for the future of university libraries, arguing that libraries should transform themselves into Open Agencies for Scholarly Information Services.

Leo's most important work in recent years may have been the development of the idea of direct publishing. Leo used this term to refer to a new way of scientific publishing in which articles are first published on a preprint server or in a repository and then evaluated on a journal-independent peer review platform. Based on the peer review outcomes, articles may then be selected for inclusion in diamond open access journals. The direct publishing idea was a source of inspiration for the open process of publishing and peer review used for the Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (STI) conference that CWTS organizes in September. We also expect it to be part of the discussion at the upcoming Open Science Festival, where we contribute to the organization of a session on cooperative publishing, partly based on Leo's ideas. Leo’s contribution in this session will be greatly missed.

Leo was a passionate do-gooder, working tirelessly to realize his ideals. He acted independently of everything and everyone, developed unconventional ideas and was allergic to endless meetings and discussions that did not lead to any actual progress. With a great sense of humor, Leo was always ready to share a nice (and sometimes slightly cynical) anecdote based on his extensive experience in the world of university libraries. We will miss Leo's idealism, his original way of thinking and his humor. We hope his ideas and ideals will live on in the work of our center.

We wish Leo's family and loved ones a lot of strength with this great loss.

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