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Masaryk University

Masarykova univerzita


Open Science on MUNI

Open Access to scientific information (more broadly Open Science) is one of the basic conditions for the development of contemporary science. The availability of scientific information improves public services and enables faster deployment and cost-effective use of innovations. Open Science is represented by two basic areas:

  • Open Access (OA) scientific publications.
  • Research data shared according to FAIR (Findable-Accessible-Interoperable-Reusable) Data principles.

MUNI Strategy

Masaryk University's strategy is based mainly on the awareness of the social and economic function of open access to the results of publicly funded scientific research and the key role of the university in fulfilling this idea. Masaryk University is convinced of the long-term benefits of unrestricted access both for the company that provides resources for research and for the university itself by increasing the visibility and impact of its research.

Open Science at MUNI: Status and Needs

On 1 January 2020, Masaryk University launched a three-year project coordinated by the ICS MUNI, the aim of which is to define and set policies, infrastructure and systematic support for the development of open science at MUNI (Open Science, OS). By Open Science we mean two areas in particular: scientific publications in the Open Access mode (OA) and research data shared according to the principles of FAIR (Findable-Accessible-Interoperable-Reusable).

Open Access – Open Access to Scientific Information

Masaryk University has recently been one of the pioneers of Open Access to scientific and professional information in the Czech Republic. As the first Czech university, it started publishing all university qualification theses online in 2006, signed the Berlin Declaration in 2010, adopted the University Directive on the MUNI Open Repository (Green OA) in 2011, implemented and made its repository available on the Internet since 2012, OA enlightenment. However, the promising start stalled in 2013. Concerns about the possible negative consequences of an open approach have led some academics to enforce the precautionary principle and strictly voluntary involvement. Under this pressure, both the university OA policy was changed (it withdrew from the obligation of researchers to open their publications and insert them into the repository), and especially the overall atmosphere and the university's attitude towards Open Access. The ambiguities surrounding the development of OA (Green versus Gold disputes, predatory publishing), publisher policies and the costs associated with open publishing with reputable publishers, the lack of national strategies and support for OA also played a role in this. In addition to these external influences, there were also internal obstacles: low awareness of OA's real objectives and procedures, insufficient publicity (only bottom-up enthusiasts provided awareness, failed to upgrade), unsecured staff capacity to systematically support researchers, failure to establish a supreme body with a sufficient reputation, which would systematically address the issue of Open Access at the university and thus provide qualified incentives to the university management. It turned out that a policy based solely on the voluntariness and activity of individuals does not work: in the university repository end up less than a tenth of the full texts of the results reported to the RIV. There is a need for clear direction and support from management, a comprehensive support infrastructure, a well-thought-out system of motivational tools and targeted support for researchers.

Developments in scientific communication in recent years have provided a number of new impetus for the restart of university open access policy: increasing examples of good Open Access good practice at leading foreign universities; increasing pressure from the European Commission and research support providers to publish results either under the open regime or under the FAIR regime in the case of data (obligations for grant recipients in H2020 and other programs); new initiatives for a radical rapid transition to OA (Plan S); Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Strategy of the Czech Republic's Open Access to Scientific Information (approved by the Government of the Czech Republic on 29 April 2019); the establishment of top research teams at the faculties and institutes of the university with wide international cooperation requiring effective qualified support for open publishing and now also for the secure management, storage and access to accompanying research data. In addition to these impulses, the university also faces new challenges associated with the transition to new models of financing scientific information – from a system of subscriptions to scientific journals to royalties, publishing open publications and more.

FAIR data – Sharing Research Data

The issue of sharing or publishing research data is increasingly coming into the spotlight of politicians, top science managers and grant providers as a necessary tool for accelerating and improving the research process. It is used for independent verification of results, enabling the reproducibility of science, re-use of existing data for new areas of research or more efficient use of public funds (sharing of primary data obtained from financially demanding or unique experiments). Already in 2014, the EU Horizon 2020 program introduced the obligation to publish research data for selected areas of research, subsequently in 2017 this obligation was extended to all supported projects. Similar requirements have been introduced or are being prepared by other international programming schemes. Under pressure from grant providers, the need to store, share and publish research data is becoming increasingly visible and up-to-date also within the MUNI academic community. At MUNI, this is a completely new issue, the solution of which exceeds the possibilities of individual scientists and research teams in many ways.

The handling of research data differs fundamentally from the procedures introduced for scientific publications – research data have a number of specific features: immediate disclosure cannot be required (the ‘right’ of authors for the first use); legislative reasons may prevent opening (sensitive personal or commercial data) [1]; very diverse range (from units to thousands of files, in extreme cases in the volume of hundreds of gigabytes to petabytes); wide variability of forms (analogue or digital), data formats and industry standards; high workload associated with data access, which often requires deep domain knowledge (arrangement of data sets, detailed contextual and metadata description, specific procedures, tools). In addition, there is the often lack of motivation and appreciation by the academic community for researchers dedicated to making data available. And many more. While in many fields it is still more and more common, in others the wide sharing of research data is already a common and necessary practice – let's mention at least astronomy (virtual observatories), biomedicine (biobanks) or some spheres of humanities research (digital humanities). Peer-reviewed scientific journals focused on publishing research data are successfully developing [2] or at least data papers.

The issue of research data is complex and so far little researched, it presents many challenges in the areas of IT, methodology, curation. At the same time, however, it also brings new opportunities for profiling and active involvement of MUNI in European and international activities (European Open Science Cloud, EOSC, etc.). And, of course, it also assumes more effective support for researchers at MUNI in the preparation of data management plans, their subsequent implementations and FAIRizations in connection with the data life cycle. All the more so as further extensions of research data requirements are being prepared – either in the new Horizon Europe programming period or within the framework of the National R&D&I Policy 2021+ and subsequent interventions of support providers. In this context, the current development of European Union legislation, which for the first time defines ‘research data’ as a legislative term, cannot be overlooked. [3] In addition to research data, a European strategy for industrial and commercial data has been published. [4]

[1] The principle ‘As open as possible as closed as neccessary’ is applied.

[2] Let's mention at least the journal Scientific Data from Springer-Nature,

[3] Directive (EU) 2019/1024 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on open data and re-use of public sector information, introducing a new concept of ‘research data’. The Directive will be transposed into Czech law by 17 July 2021 in the form of a legislative amendment to Act No. 130/2002 Coll. on the promotion of research and development.

[4] European strategy for data. Communication from EC, Brussels, 2020-02-19

Contribution to Open Science

Open Access Initiatives

The basic document for implementing the idea of Open Access is currently the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, which builds on previous initiatives (both from 2003): the Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing. These three documents are collectively called the BBB Open Access Initiatives.

The Berlin Declaration was adopted in October 2003 at a conference organized by the Max Planck Society in Berlin. The declaration builds on two previous documents and defines the principles and methods of implementing Open Access. The Berlin Declaration on 20 February 2015 was signed by 497 institutions from all over the world. Masaryk University became the first university in the Czech Republic to join the initiative (October 11, 2010). After the Berlin Declaration was signed by the Brno University of Technology on 13 December 2013, it became the eighth Czech signatory.

Open Science Milestones at MUNI

2006 – Open Access archive of student qualification works (theses).

  • MUNI is the first university in the Czech Republic to publish its work freely on the Internet.
  • Legal basis: amendment to the University Act.
  • The first Open Access MUNI repository.

2010 – MUNI signed the Berlin Declaration.

  • A moral commitment to support/promote the principles of Open Access, not being just a ‘black passenger’.
  • Open Access in the long-term plan of MUNI for the years 2011–2015.
  • Technical implementation of the repository (above the records of publications in IS MUNI).
2011 – MUNI Rector's Directive on the Repository.
  • The first internal university legislation.
  • Obligation of employees to submit employee works.

2012 – Institutional repository of MUNI.

  • The official insertion of works into the repository has started.
  • Autumn 2012 – sharp disputes over mandatorness/voluntariness.

2013 – Amended Repository Directive.

  • Step back: the decision on the obligation/voluntary insertion is transferred to the faculty management.
  • Introduced everywhere as a voluntary.

2020 – Project ‘Open Science Strategy at MUNI’.

  • 3-year project (2020–2022) to revitalize Open Access and set up a comprehensive strategy for Open Science.

Goals and objectives

On 1 January 2020, Masaryk University launched a three-year project coordinated by the ICS MUNI, the aim of which is to define and set policy, infrastructure and systematic support for the development of Open Science (OS) at MUNI. The focus on MUNI is on FAIR data as natural continuation of Open Access efforts focused on scientific publications. Research data are the foundation of the current research, are essential for research validation and reuse.
  • Member since
Contact Info
Michal Růžička
Department head – Data Security and Management

On 1 January 2020, Masaryk University launched a three-year project coordinated by the ICS MUNI, the aim of which is to define and set policy, infrastructure and systematic support for the development of Open Science (OS) at MUNI.

Contacts on the Open Science Methodologies of MUNI

There is an Open Science methodist at every MUNI center which you can contact.

OA methodologies will help you in the following cases:

  • Direct support for open publishing (repository fulfillment, OA journals, predation, APC monitoring).
  • Dissemination of awareness, knowledge + support in involvement in OA/FAIR.
  • Workshops, training.
  • Promotion – printed and electronic materials, manuals.
  • Organization of OA Week and other promotional events.
    Support in the field of research data – Data Management Plan (DMP, storage/retention/access to data, fulfillment of FAIR).
  • Basic advice.