Open science in Estonia

EIFL contributes to open access, open data and open science policies, repositories and journals in Estonia

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A group of OA week 2013 celebrants at the University of Tartu with EIFL-OA Manager, Iryna Kuchma
Open Access Week 2013 celebrations at University of Tartu. EIFL Open Access Programme Manager, Iryna Kuchma, is third from the left. Photo by Henri Kirs/Tartu Ulikool.


Open access (OA) has been on the radar in Estonia since 2009. The University of Tartu Library was one of the early adopters of open access, joining the international community in the annual OA Week celebrations from 2010 onwards, and organizing events to initiate debates on open access and open research data.

In 2010 several institutions in Estonia - including the University of Tartu - had open access institutional repositories, but open access publishing was less common. There was keen interest in creating national policy that would make publicly-funded research results and data openly available; however, many researchers and students still did not understand open access principles and strategies.

In 2011, to address gaps in open access knowledge, EIFL supported a project titled, ‘Institutional repository as the basis of the promotion and implementation of open access principles’. The project promoted the University of Tartu’s open access digital repository, and initiated discussion on a national open access policy.

Since 2013 EIFL has continued to work with the University of Tartu Library to launch open research data support services and to raise awareness about open research data and open access publishing, in partnership with the European Union initiatives, FOSTER (Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research) and OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe).


  • Organizing and taking part in open access conferences, workshops and discussions, and the annual international OA Week celebrations, and sharing experiences and knowledge with different communities (researchers, librarians, publishers and policymakers). Highlights included:
    • High-level discussions on national and institutional open access and open research data policies.
    • Training a corps of open access trainers to build awareness and skills of researchers, librarians, publishers and policymakers.
    • An Open Data Month at the University of Tartu, which engaged researchers in sharing data.
    • A national annual seminar held at the University of Tartu Library, where research data management and open science issues are discussed and policies are formulated. 
  • Supporting establishment of an Open Science Expert Group by the Estonian Research Council in 2015 to draft a national strategy on open science. The group comprised 14 experts from universities, libraries and other institutions.
  • Collaborating with the University of Tartu Press to promote and implement open access publishing at the University of Tartu.
  • Supporting universities and other research performing organizations to develop institutional principles and open science action plans. 
  • Training librarians to advise and train Estonian research communities on open access and data management issues and, in cooperation with research funders, to develop templates or data management plans.




  • The Open Science Expert Group of the Estonian Research Council compiled a document ‘Open Science in Estonia’ (2016) that includes general principles and policy recommendations, and encourages the development of a national open science strategy and institutional policies. The full English version of the document is available here and you can see some highlights here
  • There has been a significant shift towards open access in Estonia:
    • The Estonian Research Council now requires making articles published as a result of publicly-funded research publicly available, and requires personal grant applicants to submit research data management plans for evaluation. 
    • Open access principles underpin the national Research Development and Innovation strategy, ‘Knowledge Based Estonia 2014 - 2020’.
    • In 2014, the University of Tartu joined DataCite, which provides persistent identifiers (DOIs) to make research data more visible internationally. In 2015, the Estonian DataCite Consortium was established. It includes four major research universities, has strong support from the Estonian Academy of Sciences, and funding from the Estonian Research Council.
  • Research provides the basis for practical recommendations on open science policy: In 2017, under the supervision of the Estonian Research Council, two research groups from the University of Tartu and Tallinn University, in cooperation with the Estonian Academy of Sciences, conducted research (surveys) on open science approaches in Estonia.The surveys resulted in practical recommendations for the adoption of open science policy
  • Development of a Roadmap for an Open Science Policy Framework: At the end of 2019, the Ministry of Education and Research in Estonia began developing a Roadmap for an Open Science Policy Framework which is expected to result in official policy in a couple of years. It is also expected that in a few years, this policy will lead to the establishment of an Estonian Open Science Competence Center, which will be a central support system for open science implementation in Estonia.
  • The Estonian Research Council signs the agreement for Estonia to join the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration NeIC (February, 2020): The agreement gives Estonian research infrastructures the possibility to maintain and enhance their competitiveness and international cooperation.
  • The University of Tartu Library has become a centre of learning and knowledge sharing for other institutions seeking advice in the field of open access: The library has released a report on open access principles, copyright issues and business models for Estonia, and is participating in the national Estonian Research and Innovation Monitoring Programme as well as national open access policy discussions.
  • The University of Tartu Library has introduced and is teaching courses on research data management, which are included in the University of Tartu’s curricula for PhD students:
    • Introduction to Information Research gives an overview of information research and teaches students how to use databases and research data repositories. It also gives an introduction to data management and shows students how a DOI is assigned to a dataset.
    • Research Data Management and Publishing is a course created in collaboration with the University of Tartu Museum of Natural History and the data management platform, PlutoF. It covers open science and open access publishing; how to create a data management plan; how to search data from different open data repositories, and how to make research data machine-readable FAIR data.
    • Research Integrity: Framework Requirements, Values and Principles of Action course that covers how to make research data easily findable and reusable and how to practise open science. 
    • Further information about the current courses and future plans is here.
  • University of Tartu has become the National Node for the Research Data Alliance: The National Node builds capacities of researchers to share data and sets up support structures in the country.
  • Strengthened commitment to open access publishing by University of Tartu Press: the University of Tartu Publishing Committee has made open access a priority. The Press became a member of the OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks), which is a collaborative initiative to develop and implement a sustainable open access  publication model for academic books in the Humanities and Social Sciences. 
    • Thirty-eight books published by the Press are available on the OAPEN platform and in the Directory of Open Access books, DOAB.
    • All 20 journals published by the Press are available in open access.
  • Positive branding of the University of Tartu’s open access institutional repository: The repository has grown rapidly, and by mid-2020 included over 62,700 research outputs.
  • The Estonian Research Information System (ETIS) is established: ETIS operates as a central repository of research publications and implements the Estonian Research Council open access mandate.