Skip to main content

The National Research Environment

Portuguese research environment has been changing and growing significantly in the last decade; it was very small and underdeveloped until the 1990’s. The number of researchers and the scientific output referenced internationally has been growing in the last years at an annual average rate higher than 10%. Just as an illustration, the number of Portuguese articles per year referenced on ISI databases was under 1.000 until 1990 and currently the number is higher than 12.400 (Source: GPEARI).

Considering the size and significance of their research output, as well their legal status, the Higher Education Institutions (HEI), i.e. Universities, the Polytechnics, the Higher Institutes and the Research Centres (RC) constitute the Portuguese core of the public research system. Other sorts of institutions also carry out scientific research in Portugal, but to a much smaller extent, such as public and private hospitals, institutes, private companies, etc. The HEIs carry out the most significant proportion of the scientific output produced in Portugal.

Major Research Funders

In Portugal the public and private HEIs are under the purview of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MCTES), which provides the main proportion of HEIs budgets. The Portuguese HEIs and the scientific community in general are very active at obtaining EU funds to support their research, as it’s recognized that the public funding attributed to the HEIs has been scarce in the last years, for that reason the EU Framework Programmes (FPs)has been an important revenue for scientific research funding.

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia - FCT is the central Portuguese governmental institution responsible for financing and evaluating the scientific and technological system. The FCT mission is mainly accomplished through the funding, subsequent to the evaluation of the merit, of proposals presented by institutions, research teams or individuals in public open calls, and also through cooperation agreements and other forms of support in partnership with universities and other public or private institutions, in Portugal and abroad.

Funder Mandates

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia - FCT, the major national funder, launched (May 2014) the Open Access policy fully in line with EC recommendations. The mandate requires the deposit in a repository of the Portuguese repositories network – RCAAP.

Previously the Conference of Rectors of the Portuguese Universities (CRUP) has recommended to the Portuguese research funding organizations that they implement a policy of mandatory depositing of the research output, and CRUP generally supports the EUA Working Group recommendations.

At national level there are several institutional mandates, currently 15, see ROARMAP.

EC Research Funding in Portugal

The Framework Programme has been set up to support Research & Technological Development throughout the European Union. The Seventh Framework Programme or FP7 is now in its sixth year and will run until 2013. There is a total budget of €50.5bn available over the seven year period of the programme and this is split into four different categories: Co-operation, Ideas, People and Capacities.

In general, the Framework Programme has been one of the main sources of research funding in Portugal.

Open Access, Repositories and Research data

Open Access projects and initiatives

The open access repositories activities in Portugal are undergoing a strong momentum as the reflex of the growing interest and involvement of the Portuguese academic and scientific community in the questions related with Open Access to scientific literature.

In Portugal, the development of Open Access has mostly been carried out by the universities, who have taken different initiatives to expand access to research information. The first Portuguese Open Access initiatives were initiated by the University of Minho with the creation of RepositóriUM - its institutional repository (October 2003) and the subsequent definition of a pioneering self-archiving policy (January 2005).

In early 2008, CRUP resent to the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) by resending the Conference of Rectors of the Portuguese Universities Declaration on Open Access and stated its support for the recommendations from the European University Association (EUA) Working Group on Open Access.

In the middle of 2008, the RCAAP (Repositório Científico de Acesso Aberto de Portugal = Portugal Open Access Science Repository) initiative was established. The RCAAP initiative aims to increase the visibility, accessibility and dissemination of Portuguese research outputs, as well integrating Portugal worldwide in this domain. The main components of the RCAAP project are the following:

  • RCAAP Portal: collects, aggregates and indexes open access scientific contents from Portuguese institutional repositories, and forms a single entry point for searching, discovery and viewing thousands of scientific and scholarly publications;
  • SARI (ASP service for institutional repositories): allows institutions to create and completely “brand” their repositories as desired in a central infrastructure;
  • Repositories Validator: a tool that measures the degree to which a repository conforms with RCAAP requirements (based on the DRIVER guidelines).
  • Communication, promotion and training activities

Furthermore within the RCAAP project an “Open Access Policy Kit” was created. It contains a set of useful information and resources for the formulation and implementation of Open Access policies for research institutions (especially universities) and funding policies. Commissioned by the RCAAP project, it has also produced the report: “Open Access in Portugal: A State of the Art Report

Open Access Repositories

Currently, there are in Portugal 42 scientific open access repositories in a production stage and aggregated in the national portal - RCAAP Portal. Altogether, the running IR’s, gather more than 180.000 scientific documents in open access.

In the universe of Portuguese repositories, there has been significant progress in recent years, but the degree of development has been diverse, differing from institution to institution, in general the scientific output deposited in repositories is still low (estimated less than 10 % of what is actually produced within the institutions). Regarding the types of documents publicly available, there is also some diversity in the overall, about 44% of them are scientific articles, 30% doctoral thesis and dissertations, 12% papers resulting from communications to congresses and conferences and 14% other types of documents.

The repositories which seem to have higher degrees of success are those with self-archiving policies implemented.

Open Access Publishing

In Portugal the publishing of scientific journals is mainly administered by the active scientific societies within each respective research field. In most cases, journal subscription is connected to a membership and is offered as a membership benefit, mostly in printed form. The number of Open Access journals in Portugal currently is low and there aren’t many examples of institutional memberships for OA publishing in journals. The only two examples registered in recent years were University of Minho and Faculty of Medical Sciences - New University of Lisbon which had a membership with BioMed Central but it is currently discontinued.

The Fundação para Computação Científica Nacional (FCCN) joined the consortium SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) representing Portugal.

In 2005 a Portuguese section of the SciELO project (on Open Access publication) was announced and released. The Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) is an electronic virtual library covering selected scientific journals collections from Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Currently the Portuguese section of the SciELO project, SciELO Portugal, hosts 40 open access journals published by Portuguese entities and the Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ) references 66 scientific open access journals published in Portugal.

In 2011, a new RCAAP initiative, designated: Scientific Journal called Hosting Service (SARC), was devised to foster the development and facilitate the management of Portuguese journals in open access and assist them in the transition to the open access publication paradigm, making the editorial cycle more efficient and advertising content by providing tools for sustaining these journals, based on the best practices and by using the Open Journal System (OJS) plataform.

Nationally, in the field of open access journals there have been other interesting initiatives in some institutions to promote quality improvement, like project Blimunda, which promoted a better knowledge of the Portuguese spectrum regarding self-archiving policies of publishers and national scientific journals.

Research Data

In the 2010, within the RCAAP project activities it was produced a report on the subject of research data: "Open data Repositories: State of the Art". This study marked the beginning of the RCAAP intervention on the domain of data curation generated by research activities, its organization in scientific data repositories and their access. Besides collecting updated information on the subject and the most relevant initiatives related to the management and access to scientific data through repositories, the objective of this document was also to inform and guide the development of a pilot project repository of scientific data.

Currently, the RCAAP project has already an Open Data Repository in a pilot stage in order to foster the data curation and open access to scientific data via repositories. At local level, there are also known some initiatives and pilot projects regarding research data in early stages of development.

Useful links and Resources

The RCAAP project intends to provide information about Portuguese news & OA events on a regular basis, in addition to the the RCAAP project support website information will also be disseminated on RCAAP’s Blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Contributors Contact Details

Pedro Príncipe (University of Minho), e-mail:

Eloy Rodrigues (University of Minho), e-mail:

Ricardo Saraiva (University of Minho), e-mail: