Authors: Malte Dreyer, Maike Neufend and Martina Benz
Open Access is developing in an area of tension between institutional and funder policies, the economics of publishing and last but not least the communication practices of research disciplines. In a comparison across European countries, very dynamic and diverse approaches and developments can be observed. Furthermore, this international and comparative perspective helps us to assess the state of Open Access (OA) in Germany. In this series of Open4DE project blog posts, we will summarize what we have learned in our in-depth conversations with experts on developing and implementing nationwide Open Access strategies.
We start our series with a report on Lithuania’s Open Access landscape.
Probably the most important document for the development of Open Access in Lithuania is the Resolution Regarding the Approval of the Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Data, published in 2016. Because of its remarkable concreteness, the resolution is, together with the French National Plan on Open Science, described as „the most high level [policy document] of all“ in the 2019 SPARC Europe Report (Sveinsdottir, T. et al. 2020, S. 30). For example, the openness of data is made a standard (§23), concrete responsibilities for the implementation and monitoring of measures are named (§20, §29) and reporting obligations are regulated (§26).
Additionally, the Law on Higher Education and Research of the Republic of Lithuania 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).
In an interview with Ieva Ceseviciute, we asked her about the state of an Open Access policy in Lithuania and whether she could confirm our optimistic view of things from a domestic perspective. Ieva Ceseviciute is Head of Research Information Services at the Library at Kaunas University of Technology and has been instrumental in OpenAIRE since 2015. In addition, she is involved in the Research Data Alliance and is thus an expert on Open Science in Lithuania.
Ieva Ceseviciute sees a general problem in the fact that so far no mechanisms have yet been developed to enforce the Resolution Regarding the Approval of the Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Data which has been released by the Research Council of Lithuania in 2016. It should also be noted that this resolution is the guideline of the most important research funding body and not an overarching national policy. However, there is agreement in Lithuania that this policy needs to be revised and adapted to the more recent developments in the publication system. Moreover, it is broadly recognised in Lithuania that a national policy is important and desirable. This situation was a good opportunity for putting a national policy process on the agenda.
Hence the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports has established a task force whose purpose is to develop a national Open Access policy. The group was formed in 2019, and started its work in 2020 with a series of meetings, but was then interrupted by the pandemic and the recent change of government in Lithuania. Currently, The Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Data are being revised by the Research Council of Lithuania. In support of this discussion, a survey of the present state is seen as a mandatory precondition for future strategy proposals. In particular, surveys have been carried out among various stakeholders and the research offices of relevant institutions in order to determine the development statuses and needs.
What can we learn from Lithuania?
In Ieva Ceseviciute’s view, the biggest obstacle on the way to a culture of openness is the fact that OA has not been integrated into incentive systems, which makes it unattractive to comply with Open Acess policies. Researchers are not yet expected to publish OA in the national context; changing this requires profound cultural change and new publishing practices. So far, few researchers have understood that the standards of Open Science and OA offer advantages to them. Although numerous information events are organised, raising awareness on Open Access has proven to be a challenge. A national policy can be an important instrument here. “Change takes time – cultural change takes time, it is not possible without the instrument of policies” says Ieva Ceseviciute.
At the same time, it is important that OA is based on a strong mandate in the ongoing national policy process. This requires a good balance between incentives and sanctions. Among the drivers of OA in Lithuania, Ieva Ceseviciute lists the support measures and legal frameworks of the European Union. In Lithuania, researchers are often involved in European research contexts that are particularly committed to the idea of openness. This is one of the ways how an intrinsic interest in Open Science is generated.
Further strong guidelines would certainly be helpful here. Top-down guidelines can accelerate cultural change in the national community. In this context, it is very important, says Ieva Ceseviciute, to identify stakeholders and name responsibilities – for every single step and measure in the policy process: „If this is not part of your policy, your policy won’t work“.
Dovidonyte, Rasa (2019). Implementation of Open Science in Lithuania. Nordic Perspectives on Open Science, August. https://doi.org/10.7557/11.4828
Sveinsdottir, Thordis, Proudman, Vanessa, & Davidson, Joy (2020). An Analysis of Open Science Policies in Europe, v6. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4005612