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20 January 2021

Open Science at CUNI: Are we there yet?

The year 2020 was like no other. The covid-19 pandemic seized the world and we all had to face challenges in both personal and professional lives. For the Open Science Support Centre at the Central Library of Charles University, it was also the first year of operation and efforts to introduce the principles of open science into the common practice of the scientific community of Charles University. How did we do?

Open access at CU in 2020 

The open access (OA) publishing model is not a completely new concept at Charles University. For many years, authors have had the chance to contact faculty libraries with questions from the field of OA publishing and use the methodological support offered by faculty open access coordinators. Thanks to the establishment of the Centre and involvement in the project Strategic development of science and research capacities and strengthening of the international competitiveness of Charles University, a new job position was created at 7 faculties for this purpose, thus professionalizing support in the field of open access at the faculty level. The Centre began managing this university network and working closely with coordinators to promote and support two basic routes to open access, gold and green

The gold route to open access refers to publishing in open journals. A payment of a so-called article processing charge (APC) is often required and in 2020, Charles University authors had the opportunity to obtain discounts with American Chemical Society, Karger Publishers, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and others. The most frequently used discount was a 10% reduction in the total price of the fee for corresponding authors of Charles University in MDPI journals. 

The publishing model of open access is not unknown to the university publishing houses either. Karolinum Press publishes more than 20 scientific journals, the content of which is made available in electronic form as open access. In 2020, a total of 463 articles were published in these journals, 330 of which were peer-reviewed scientific articles. At the same time, the publishing house offers the option of publishing open access books. In 2020, a total of 4 open access books of the Karolinum Press were stored and made available in the Digital Repository of the Charles University. In 2020, 2 open access books of the Faculty of Law of Charles University were also stored and made available in the CU Digital Repository. Open access journals are also published by the Faculty of Arts Press, which in 2020 stored and made accessible 354 open access articles in the CU Digital Repository

In 2021, CU will steadily hit the green road to open access, i.e., making publications accessible through so-called self-archiving, thanks to the institutional repository of publishing activities, for the launch of which intensive technical and methodological preparations took place in 2020. At the same time, the Centre, together with the faculty open access coordinators, offers methodological support in using disciplinary and multidisciplinary repositories (e.g., the universal repository of the European Commission Zenodo). 

In 2020, we also started to monitor the development of open access publishing activity at Charles University using the Open Access Dashboard tool, which works with data from the InCites (Web of Science citation index) citation register for the previous period. 

2020 in the sign of research data management 

Thanks to the establishment of the Centre, the research data management agenda could be fully developed in 2020, an agenda that is receiving increasing attention, especially among providers of funding for science and research.  

At the very beginning of the year, the data policy manager and data curator stood at the foundation of a working group for research data management at the Rector's level, whose goal is to support various aspects of data management and to work on university support in creating data management plans (DMP). One of the areas that the group also focuses on is the strategic development of research data management and data management plans at the Charles University and the inclusion of DMP in internal grants in connection with the planned implementation of the European Parliament and Council Directive (EU) 2019/1024 on open data. In 2020, preparations were underway for the pilot integration of the creation and implementation of the DMP into the principles of the Primus competition. Projects that start with the implementation on 1 January 2021 will be obliged to create a new DMP and subsequently implement it in cooperation with faculties and research project teams.  

To understand the real needs of the scientific community related to the management of research data, the staff of the Centre has been conducting structured interviews with individual researchers across disciplines to get acquainted with the current state of work with research data at the University. Due to the diversity of types of research data, we try to cover a wide range of scientific disciplines in the interviews. So far, interviews have been conducted, for example, with scientists from the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Arts or the Catholic Theological Faculty. Interviews so far suggest, among other things, that researchers would welcome support in working with data, especially on legal issues such as the use of licensed works, licensing of their own output or intellectual property. If there is something you would like to share with us in relation to research data and research data management, please do not hesitate to contact us at researchdata@cuni.cz. The information obtained will be used by the Centre's employees to set the right direction of activities and methodological support.

We spread awareness of open science 

Although the idea of open science began to take shape already in the 1990s and the terms open access and open data are increasingly appearing in the context of scientific publishing, at Charles University it is a relatively young agenda. For this reason, the staff of the Centre tries to introduce this topic to the employees and students at Charles University through a number of educational events. In total, the Centre's employees prepared 12 lectures and trainings, which were attended by 127 people. 

Charles University has traditionally participated in the international educational event Open Access Week (OAW). In 2020, the activities turned into the online mode and two lectures of the Open Science Support Centre took place, one of which was held in English. The individual faculty open access coordinators then approached this awareness-raising event in their own ways and initiative and prepared a number of promotional materials. 

The Centre created methodological materials, leaflets and factsheets throughout the year. Charles University students and staff can read instructions on how to assess the credibility of the journal, how to meet the "open" conditions of the European Commission for Horizon 2002 grants, or learn about current discounts on publication fees and other services offered by the Centre. All materials are regularly added and updated at the Zenodo Community Open Science Support Centre

Are you a lecturer interested in the topic of open access and research data management? Invite us to your class! The Open Science Support Centre offers seminars of various focus and length in Czech and in English.

For more information contact us at openscience@cuni.cz.

National and international cooperation 

At the Centre, it is clear to us that Charles University is not the only institution that deals with the topic of open science. Therefore, in 2020, we established closer cooperation with other Czech universities and institutions (e.g., Masaryk University, Mendel University in Brno, Tomas Bata University in Zlin and others), which are involved in projects from the call Development of capacities for research and development II, in order to better coordinate activities in the field of open access and management of research data at national level. 

The Centre also participates in open science activities in the 4EU+ Aliance and from 2021 also in the TRAIN4EU+ project. Cooperating with the libraries of partner universities brings invaluable opportunities for direct sharing of experience in the field of open science and opens opportunities for further cooperation and knowledge exchange. Furthermore, the staff of the Centre began to monitor the trends and activities of those foreign universities that have already implemented the principles of open science to a large extent and are thus valuable sources of good practice. In particular, we are in contact with the Freie Universität Berlin, the Belgian universities in Leuven and Ghent, and Utrecht and Leiden in the Netherlands. The staff of the Centre was to go on study visits to the last four mentioned universities in 2020, unfortunately, the covid-19 pandemic has suspended these plans for the time being.

What awaits us in 2021? 

2020 was the first year of the Open Science Support Centre and a lot has happened. Despite the unexpected obstacles caused by the covid-19 pandemic, methodological support has been successfully centralized and a number of things have been set in motion. In 2021, we will continue our efforts to move closer to Western educational institutions in the area of open access and research data management. 

For regular updates keep an eye on our website for the latest news from the world of open science. 

Thank you, we keep going 

The year 2020 was a major challenge affecting the whole world, with the covid-19 pandemic pointing even more to the need for openness in science. We are entering 2021 with the hope that the world will return to the old ways and at the same time maintain a new, more open direction at the international level, as well as national, and institutional levels in our country and at CU. At the Centre, we would not be able to provide adequate assistance and methodological support in this regard to our students and researchers without the project Strategic development of science and research capacities and strengthening of the international competitiveness of Charles University, but also support from the university management, Central Library and cooperation with faculty open access coordinators. We would like to thank everyone and we are looking forward to opening Charles University in 2021.

Open science support development at CU

  • June 2013 - The Academic Senate of Charles University approved the Concept of Publishing Policy of Charles University, which includes, among other things, goals related to the gradual opening of creative activities at Charles University. 

  • October 2013 – Charles University signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, publicly endorsing the idea of open access.

  • December 2017 - The Academic Senate of Charles University approved a joint declaration on the policy of open access at Charles University.

  • January 2020 – The Open Science Support Centre at the Central Library of Charles University was established.

The Open Science Support Centre is supported by the project Strategic development of science and research capacities and strengthening of the international competitiveness of Charles University, reg. n. CZ.02.2.69/0.0/0.0/18_054/0015222.

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