EIFL Guest Blogger, Open Access Programme Coordinator in Serbia, Milica Sevkusic, updates us on the latest developments in open access (OA) in Serbia. EIFL-supported awareness raising, advocacy and policy development workshops since the year 2000 have resulted in the launch of two OA journals portals (doiSerbia and SCIndeks), and improved OA publishing policies and practices. We also supported the launch of a national open access portal for PhD theses and dissertations, which makes theses and dissertations openly available, easily citable (with DOIs) and searchable.
In July 2018, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (MESTD) of the Republic of Serbia adopted a national open science policy. As the MESTD is the main national funder of research in Serbia, this policy, titled the Open Science Platform, serves as the national open science policy.
The MESTD policy mandates deposits of all publicly-funded research in open access (OA) repositories, and recommends OA to research data. It also states that research institutions should adopt institutional open science policies within six months of the launch of the policy, using the national policy as a framework - and thus ensuring implementation of the national policy at the institutional level.
FIRST INSTITUTIONAL OPEN SCIENCE POLICY
The first institution to adopt an institutional open science policy in Serbia that was fully compliant with the MESTD policy was the Institute of Technical Sciences of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ITS SASA).
Late in September 2018, the policy, titled Rules of Procedure on the Implementation of the MESTD Open Science Platform, has been published on the institute’s website (see the policy here, in Serbian). The policy mandates deposits for all research outputs (not only those funded by the MESTD) of researchers employed at the institute. In cases where publications are not OA, researchers are required to deposit a peer-reviewed manuscript which will be made OA after an embargo period. All articles must also be deposited in the institutional repository. All deposits will be checked and verified by the librarian.
The process of adopting an institutional policy at ITS SASA was straightforward because the institute has had an institutional repository since 2013, and a strong OA culture had developed at the institute even before the repository was established (the institute’s collections of conference posters and MSc and PhD theses had been available on the institute’s website since 2008).
According to the ITS SASA policy, implementation of the MESTD Open Science Platform at the institutional level is monitored by the institute’s library and progress will be reported regularly to the institute’s management at least once a year. In accordance with the MESTD Open Science Platform, OA to research data and all other research outputs is recommended and encouraged.
The Geographical Institute of SASA (November 2018) and the University of Criminal Investigation and Police Studies (January 2019) have also adopted institutional open science policies. At the Institute for the Serbian Language of SASA and the Institute of Balkan Studies SASA the procedure of adopting institutional policies has almost been completed. At the Institute of Ethnography of SASA, the Institute of Oncology and Radiology of Serbia, the Institute of Architecture and Spatial and Urban Planning, and the Institute of International Politics and Economics policy drafts are still under discussion.
UNIVERSITY OF BELGRADE TAKES STEPS TO DRAFT POLICY
An obstacle to adoption of institutional policies at other institutions is the absence of repositories. It will take some time for institutions to allocate funding and human resources to decide what software to use and to establish institutional repositories.
Nevertheless, there have been lively activities towards drafting policies and establishing repositories. The University of Belgrade has appointed a working group tasked with drafting an umbrella university policy as a framework for individual institutional policies at faculties and research institutes that come under the university’s auspices.
The Institute for Biological Research ‘Siniša Stanković’ of the University of Belgrade has had an OA policy since 2017. And at least two other institutes (Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory and Vinča Institute of Nuclear Science), and one faculty (Faculty of Chemistry), which already have fully operational institutional repositories, will adopt institutional policies as soon as the umbrella policy of the University of Belgrade is in place . The future open science policy of the University of Belgrade will certainly provide a model for other universities in Serbia.