Poland: Initial open access policy

PolishMinistryLogoIn October 2015, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW) in Poland issued a document that reflects the Polish response to the European Commission’s recommendation of July 17, 2012, on access to and preservation of scientific information. The published document, entitled „Directions of the development of open access to research publications and research results in Poland”, has been prepared by an expert group that had been working under the auspices of the Ministry for over half a year – from March till October 2015. In September, the document was subject to consultation, which resulted in some changes suggested by the Polish Academy of Sciences, the rectors’ conference, the governmental funding agency National Science Centre, and other institutions. Despite certain differences, all major institutions involved have expressed their support for open access.

The expert group included representatives of all relevant stakeholders: research funders, scientific institutions, university press representatives, researchers, librarians. The resulting document reflects a compromise between the views of all group members reached on the basis of an initial draft prepared by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling (ICM, University of Warsaw) – an OpenAIRE 2020 consortium partner – which represented a much more explicit move towards openness.

After the discussions and as a result of the Ministry’s decision, the final document contains only a set of non-binding recommendations for research funding agencies, universities and other research institutions, scientific publishers, and researchers themselves. It recommends that all final author versions of research publications should be openly accessible as soon as possible – no later than 6 months after publication, or 12 months in the case of social sciences and humanities. The document also mentions that open licenses should be applied where possible. For funding agencies, specifically, it recommends that these obligations should be implemented at the level of grant agreements, and that funders should analyze the possibility of including open access publication costs in grant budgets. For research institutions, the main recommendations are to introduce open access policies as well as create and run institutional repositories.

The recommendations for publishers are directed to those who receive public funding – the majority of research journals in Poland. They are recommended to apply legal and technical measures to make the published papers as re-usable as possible: through introducing open licenses and technical standards such as separate metadata or the use of the OAI-PMH protocol for its transfer.

The published document does not define any particular mechanisms leading to the implementation of these recommendations, and it does not mention the financial sources needed. ‘The „Directions of development…” are a general and soft document, which does not impose any specific solutions neither on research institutions nor on researchers, but rather initiates a debate about how Polish science should function in the current world of scientific communication’, says Bożena Bednarek-Michalska, a representative of the Coalition for Open Education (KOED) in the expert group who prepared the document.     What the document does include are timelines for the monitoring and evaluation of its implementation, so we can expect the first evaluations one year after the document’s publication, in October 2016, and more extensive evaluations after two years.

These evaluation activities are required both from institutions such as research funding agencies and research performing units, and from the ministry itself. Additionally, after the envisioned two-year introductory period, we may – hopefully – expect that also more detailed implementation plans will appear.

The full text of the document is available here (in Polish only):


Marta Hoffman-Sommer

Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling, University of Warsaw. OpenAIRE NOAD for Poland.

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