Progress in open access and open science has been strong, but there is still plenty of work to be done, say Ieva Cesevičiūtė, Head of Research Information Services, Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) Library, and Gintarė Tautkevičienė, KTU Library Director and EIFL Open Access Coordinator in Lithuania.
After 20 years we can see many open access and open science developments on the level of policy, infrastructure and competence, but we have to admit that this developing landscape remains fragmented and calls for more effort from all the stakeholders to become more seamless and embedded into daily practices.
EIFL has been one of the main driving forces in promoting open access in Lithuania. By direct cooperation with national institutions and the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium, EIFL has always managed to identify local developments and needs and to offer support.
What has changed in open access and open science in Lithuania?
As a result of EIFL support and three European Commission-funded projects, open access (OA) was placed high on the national agenda. An important breakthrough happened in 2016, when the Research Council of Lithuania adopted the ‘Guidelines for Open Access to Research Results’. The Guidelines encourage other research performing institutions in the country to adopt similar open access and open research data policies.
The Electronic Academic Library of Lithuania (eLABa) serves as the national open access repository of the Ministry of Education and Science and all academic institutions. Institutional repositories have also been established, and several institutions have adopted open access policies and mandates.
In January 2020, a Working Group for addressing the need for a national open science policy was established by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.
The processes and dynamics leading to change
Awareness-raising and advocacy initiatives for open access were started in 2003 by the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium, and continued with the support of EIFL and SPARC Europe in 2005-2006.
Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) has been involved in OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe) projects since 2009.
The Law on Higher Education and Research of the Republic of Lithuania, adopted in 2009, states that “in order to ensure the quality of research conducted with funds from the state budget, to ensure transparency in the use of funds from the state budget and to promote scientific progress, the results of all research conducted in state higher education and research institutions must be disclosed publicly […]” (Article 51). However, as no mechanisms were developed to enforce this requirement, it has brought little change at the national level.
More distinct developments were a result of different international, national and institutional initiatives to advocate for open access.
Three EIFL-supported projects advance open access
From 2011 to 2013 EIFL funded three projects to raise awareness about open access in Lithuania and to demonstrate its benefits to stakeholders, including young researchers; to improve journal publishing practices, and to take forward discussion of national and institutional open access policies.
After the project ‘Promoting Open Access in Lithuania’ (2011), the Lithuanian Society of Young Researchers (LSYR) was committed to open access and planned to continue providing open access training for young researchers.
In 2012, the LSYR, the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium and the Association of Lithuanian Serials implemented an EIFL-funded project to teach young researchers about the benefits of open access and engage them in open access advocacy. The project ‘Promoting Open Access to Young Researchers’ resulted in a partnership comprising all national stakeholders in research and development. The Research Council of Lithuania and the Ministry of Education and Science were engaged and actively supported the open access discussions.
A national Open Access Working Group was created that included representatives from the Research Council of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Science Academy, the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium, the LSYR, the Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA), Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA), and the universities. The goal of the Working Group was to implement the recommendations on open access for funding agencies and research institutions.
Websites of institutions across Lithuania were updated with comprehensive information about open access and its benefits.
Alignment with European Union policies and practices
In later years, open access in Lithuania was supported through three European Commission funded projects: OA Policy Alignment Strategies for European Union Research (PASTEUR4OA) from 2014 to 2016; Facilitating Open Science Training for European Research (FOSTER) from 2014 to 2019, and OpenAIRE from 2009 to 2020.
In 2012 the Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information from the European Commission (2012/417/EU) was part of a package that outlined measures to improve access to scientific information produced in Europe and to bring them in line with the Commission’s policy for Horizon 2020. The new Recommendation, adopted on 25 April 2018, explicitly reflects developments in areas such as research data management (including the concept of FAIR data, Text and Data Mining) and technical standards that enable re-use incentive schemes.
On 29 February 2016, the Research Council of Lithuania (RCL) approved a set of ‘Guidelines on OA to Scientific Publications and Data’ that addresses publications and data from research funded by the Council. The Guidelines say that the data must be preserved for a period no shorter than years after the completion of the project and that a data management plan must be included in the project proposal. They also include the statement: “to establish the transitional period for the implementation of the Guidelines by the 31st of December 2020”.
Another most recent initiative on the national level was the study ‘Assessment of the practice and progress in the implementation of the guidelines for OA to scientific publications and data’. It is based on data collected in a survey of Lithuanian research institutions and project managers conducted between December 2021 and January 2022. The study was published by the Research Council of Lithuania in December 2022 and goes beyond the analysis of the survey results. It takes a broader look at the situation of open access to scientific publications and data and the development of related competences in Lithuania, reviews key policy documents on open science from the European Union and UNESCO, and presents examples of good practice from other European countries. The study was prepared by a group of authors, including representatives of various institutions that conduct and administer scientific research in Lithuania. It may lead to a welcome breakthrough in the development of the national landscape of openness.
Among our future plans:
- Promote EIFL open access events, online workshops and resources to members of our Consortium and other interested parties.
- Disseminate information about OpenAIRE services, resources, events among researchers, research administrators and funders.
- Cooperate with the Research Council of Lithuania about issues related to the national open access policy.