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Open Access high on Croatian research agenda

DSC 0050 133 1logo OA CroatiaOA in Croatia has been around a long time, however participation in OpenAIRE has provided significant extra impetus for the OA movement and different initiatives have started to shape a national OA scene. Jadranka Stojanovski (OpenAIRE National OA Desk in Croatia) shares her overview of OA developments in the country.

Our current state-of-the-art

To improve the visibility of the research in Croatia we started with OA intitiatives in 1996 with the Croatian Scientific Bibliography CROSBI, before the term "open access" was first coined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative. From the very beginning CROSBI serves as national repository for OA publication and at the moment there are over 25.000 full-text papers deposited in CROSBI among 431.000 bibliographic records about papers published by Croatian scientist. Our information services on Croatian scientist (Who's Who in Science in Croatia) and scientific equipment (Sestar) are also popular sites offering huge amount of open information.

Access to 371 Croatian OA scholarly, professional, and popular journals is available through HRCAK portal with 116.000 OA full-text articles. All these initiatives were supported by the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports.

There are four active OA institutional repositories in Croatia listed in the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR): School of Medicine Repository, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Digital Archive, and FAMENA PhD Collection, all at University of Zagreb, and Ruđer Bošković Institute's institutional repository FULIR, which is OpenAIRE compliant. National and university library (NUL) is maintaining two active repositories: Croatian Web Archive, a collection of selected material harvested from the Croatian Web space, and Digital Academic Repository, a collection of dissertations and thesis. NUL is also very active partner of the EUROPEANA. Digital Archive of the Croatian Academy of Science and Art called DIZBI is available in OA, and new version of the repository is planned to be released in few days. Big OA repository of all government documents is maintained by Digital Information-Documentation Office.

At the moment only Ruđer Bošković Institute and Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb are supporting preservation of research results. Both institutions are taking part in the EU projects like Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in SERSCIDA – Support for Establishment of National/Regional Social Sciences Data Archives and Ruđer Bošković Institute in OpenAIRE, FOSTER and SERSCIDA.

New initiatives and activities

As a result of the first Digital Repositories Day hosted on the 5th of March 2014 by the University Computing Centre SRCE of the University of Zagreb with over 120 participants attended, the agreement has been made to build a new platform for the network of digital repositories to support Croatian academic and research institutions. Four institutions with the expertise in digital repositories are taking the most active part: SRCE, NUL, Ruđer Bošković Institute and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences investing significant resources in the common goal. Three working groups, made by broader range of professionals from different institutions, have been formed in the end of March to discuss administrative and intellectual property rights issues; digital objects identification and appropriate metadata description; and software selection.

Open-source software framework Islandora, based on Fedora Commons and Drupal CMS, has been selected in July. The future network of institutional repositories got the name DABAR (Digital Academic Archives and Repositories), according the rodent beaver, well known for building dams on rivers and streams (of publications and datasets). The working group for digital objects and metadata is focused at the present on graduate and doctoral theses, and several productive meetings were held during September and October. Digital repositories built using the common platform will be OpenAIRE compliant. We are expecting first release very soon.

By taking part in FOSTER project we conducted a series of sucessful training events on OA, open data and open science for Croatian academic and research community in Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Rijeka and Zagreb, raising awareness on the importance of openess in scientific communication.

OA mandates

The success of the Croatian network of institutional repositories initiative will depend strongly on the existing policies and regulations related to the deposition of publications and research data, especially on the OA mandate policy at university or institutional level.

At present in Croatia there is an open access mandate for depositing undergraduate, graduate and doctoral thesis, stated in the new version of the Law on Science and Higher Education (November 2013) but not working in praxis yet. The first release of DABAR will provide necessary infrastructure and support the realization of this incentive.

The new Strategy of Education, Science and Technology (June 2014) is supporting strongly OA:
- open educational materials and tools will be developed and freely available;
- open knowledge repositories and educational tools will be created and organized...;
- mass open online courses with big free repositories of academic and other educational content...could in the future change the approach towards education;
- stronger and broader introduction of the new tools for distance learning and open and free access to the existing and new digital resources...will rationalize...educational processes;
- OA to scientific and professional information resulted by public funding will be established.

The Strategy is citing the Croatian Open Access Declaration which is a step towards the mandatory OA policy in Croatia. One of the main goals of the Strategy is to create conditions for research and innovation focused on excellent science, industrial leadership and societal challenges. It also aims to create conditions to provide high-quality education to all on equal terms and to enable science to contribute to job creation and socio-economic prosperity.

In the outdated, but strategic document Science and Technology Policy adopted by the Government of the Republic of Croatia for the period 2006-2010 (available at http://public.mzos.hr/fgs.axd?id=14189) MSES specified that ‘the S&T system, which is financed by public resources, should be open to the public … and … results of R&D financed by public resources must be accessible to the public in the form of open publications or databases’. 

Following mandate at the local level at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Rijeka, the students are signing the statement at the beginning of their studies which declares "the faculty is the legal copyright owner of all student papers created as a result of educational programmes, and this ownership will be mostly used for public accessibility at faculty web site".

Another important and a very recent document is a Development of the research and innovation infrastructure in Croatia Plan that mentions open research data: "promotion of the OA to the research data, and the mandate to provide OA to research data resulting from public funding". This plan is aimed at identifying research potential of the Croatia with the main goal to govern further development of the research infrastructures. At the same time Plan will provide the support for the implementation of provisions from the above mentioned Strategy for education, science and technology.


Obviously our huge efforts from the last few years, and the support from OpenAIRE and from our colleagues from Croatia, are showing some results!