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Institutional RDM Support at the Masaryk University (Czech Republic)


Contributors: Michal Růžička (ORCID iD 0000-0001-5547-8720), Jiří Marek (ORCID iD 0000-0003-2132-762X), Marika Hrubá (ORCID iD 0000-0002-7791-6370), Miroslav Bartošek (ORCID iD 0000-0002-7165-1826) 


Restart of Open Science Policy at Masaryk University 

On January 1, 2020 Masaryk University started a new three-year project coordinated by The Institute of Computer Science, that is part of a more complex HR Award Initiative with the goal to restart the institutional policy, infrastructure and systematic support for Open Science at Masaryk University (MUNI). This activity is very needed to keep in touch with EU/international standards of research – i.e. going towards not only to Open Access of publications but also FAIR handling of data –, and to support national activities of other academic institutions to support and accelerate the National Action plan on Open Access.

MUNI was founded in 1919 as the second Czech university. It has nine faculties, according to the number of students in accredited study programs is the second-largest university in the Czech Republic. MUNI has roughly 400 study programmes, 30,500 students, 7,000 graduates per year.

The project is divided into three main activities and it is co-created with all the faculties and research institutes at our university.

Activity 1 (Revitalization and implementation of university strategy OA and FAIR) focuses on strategic planning of Open Science at MUNI and it consists of increasing human resources (new Open Science Manager, new Implementation Group, new Advisory board), evaluation of already existing strategic documents and infrastructure.

Activity 2 (Training and support for managers and researchers) focuses on direct support for the researchers. We can provide a general presentation about Open Science, but we also develop specialized presentations about topics like anonymization of personal data or analysis of suitable knowledge models for Data Management Plan tools.

Last but not least, Activity 3 (Training of responsible staff) is mainly about training Open Science support staff with the goal to create a network of university Open Science Methodologists that can help researchers directly in their native environment. This activity is crucial for stabilisation of Open Science practical but also "political" support at our university.

Open Access to Scientific Publications at MUNI

Currently, we are in the process of creating (re-creating) the new Open Science Strategy at MUNI. Two main topics from the Open Science field will be addressed: Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Open/FAIR Data management. Firstly a few words about Open Access. We believed at MUNI, that the Gold and Green Route are complementary and for this reason, we would like to offer our researchers support at both of these approaches.

MUNI researchers can choose which one is more suitable for the fulfilment of their project conditions. The collection and archiving of published employees' works at Masaryk University is regulated by Masaryk University Directive No. 4/2013 – Repository of Employees' Works on a voluntary basis. Undergoing discussions about the new Strategy are heading towards some of the mandatory conditions of the new approach, but for now, the discussion is at the beginning. If anyone at MUNI needs any help with a selection of appropriate journals, analyse publishers' conditions, they are instructed to save the article to the institutional repository or look for a suitable repository for their research result. If any support is needed, they can contact Open Science support contact their faculty Open Science Coordinator at openscience@<department> The team of faculty coordinators have regular meetings and workshops on Open Science trends and how to support Open Science at MUNI. The training of the trainers is lead by the Institute of Computer Science.

Research Open/FAIR Data Management 

FAIR = Findable-Accessible-Interoperable-Reusable

Sharing and publishing research data following FAIR principles is a necessary tool for accelerating and improving overall research. It brings new opportunities for active participation of Masaryk University in European and international activities (e.g. European Open Science Cloud [EOSC], etc.), because our university has at its disposal technical, managerial and legal expertise necessary to address the complex issues of research data management. So there is an ambition to become a leader of this field at least in the Czech Republic.

Open Data is becoming increasingly important for Masaryk University. Also, obligations regarding funders' conditions and grant agreements towards storing, sharing and publishing of research data are expanding. Since 2014 it has been a condition of selected research grants of the EU Horizon 2020 research program. Since 2017, the open data requirements have been extended to all supported projects from this program. Similar requirements are already implemented or prepared for by other international program schemes (e.g. Horizon Europe). These conditions are also included in the framework of the National Research and Development Policy of the Czech Republic 2021+ and related interventions of funding bodies (national funders are expected to include the "open access condition" no later than 2022).

The basic university document regarding Research Data Management for its employees and students is Directive No. 6/2013 (version 15.6.2020) – On Research Data at MUNI. This document is very general and talks basically about the general good data management practice. We are already working on the new overall directive towards Open Science at MUNI, that will also reflect the European Legislation on Open Data (EU Directive 1024/2019). What is more interesting is that our biggest research institute is planning to introduce its own data policy, that will specify e.g. numbers of years for how long the data should be stored etc.

Data Management Plan (DMP) 

The creation of a data management plan (DMP) is becoming a more frequent requirement for the fulfilment of project support. A DMP describes the research data life cycle including data collection, creation and processing within a particular project. It also contains information to ensure that the data meets FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable). Further, it describes the method chosen for saving data during and after the project, methodological approaches, standards and practices to ensure their availability. Other required information includes types of software tools necessary for opening particular data.

Domain knowledge of scientific data is a necessary precondition for the successful preparation of a DMP for a project. Therefore, the primary role in the process of creation of a DMP is one of the scientist. The university library staff, in cooperation with the University Open Science Core team, can provide methodological support, for example by recommending DMP management tools (such as the Data Stewardship Wizard), and guide MUNI researchers during the development phase of DMP. There is an idea to create a so-called DMP+ (Data Management Plus), that will also contain information regarding planned publications.

To sum up the status quo at MUNI regarding Open Science 

We are really at the point of "restart" of our policy. We have been leaders of the Open Access field from 2010 to 2014. After that, the overall atmosphere at the university was not in favour of any big revolution in this area. Nevertheless, the new project promises the change and we have already succeeded in involving more than 50 persons across the university in this topic. The project should end by 2022 and we should have a fully prepared and operational strategy and support system to implement all necessary changes for our researchers. There is also discussion within the Advisory board about expanding the area of interest also toward Open Educational Resources or Citizen/City Science.

Picture by CeBepuH. Available on Flickr under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

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