Open Science and Research Data Management Policies in Slovenia

Bled, Slovenia by David Mark from Pixabay

Slovenia established the groundwork for the implementation of open science principles in September 2015 with the National Strategy of Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Slovenia 2015−2020. In December 2021, these principles were written into law with the Scientific Research and Innovation Activities Act (ZZrID). The ZZrID serves as a foundation for the Decree on the Implementation of Scientific Research in Accordance with the Principles of Open Science and the Action Plan for Open Science, which were both adopted in May 2023 to provide detailed requirements for adhering to these principles. The Resolution on the Slovenian Scientific Research and Innovation Strategy 2030, approved in March 2022, outlines recommendations and a vision for the advancement of open science in Slovenia. Individual research institutions may also adopt additional and more specific policies within the framework of these legal provisions.

The Slovenian Research and Innovation Agency (ARIS) is a member of cOAlition S, and as a result, certain principles of Plan S have been incorporated into ZZrID and the Regulation on the Implementation of Scientific Research in alignment with the Principles of Open Science. Additionally, as a member of the European Union, Slovenia is bound by the legislation and policies of the European Research Area.

National Policies

Before 2015

Before 2015, Slovenian legislation touched upon the principles of open science in two documents:

National Strategy of Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Slovenia 2015−2020

The National Strategy of Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Slovenia 2015−2020 established the concept of open access and outlined its principles, vision, and goals. It imposed an obligation on all beneficiaries to ensure open access to peer-reviewed scientific publications derived from research projects funded at the national level between 2015 and 2020. Furthermore, academic journals in Slovenia that had received national public co-financing to publish peer-reviewed articles were mandated to offer open access to their content. Both of these provisions were subsequently integrated into the ZZrID in 2021.

The Strategy aimed to ensure the openness and accessibility of publicly funded research data to the fullest extent possible, aligning with the FAIR principles and minimizing restrictions. It defined open access to research data as the right to online access and the ability to reuse digital research data according to the conditions outlined in the grant agreement. Free access, mining, utilisation, reproduction, and distribution of the data were required to be permitted without any charges. This requirement was also incorporated into the ZZrID.

The strategy also defined important open access priciples, namely:

  1. Open access to scientific information is in the interest of society.
  2. Open access to scientific information is in the interest of the economy.
  3. Open access to scientific information is part of open science.
  4. Scientific information is national scientific heritage.
  5. Copyrighting scientific information with open licenses enables the broadest further use of research results.
  6. Research assesment should promote open access to scientific information.
  7. Adequate funding is needed to ensure the sustainability of the national infrastructure for open access to scientific information.
  8. The Slovenian open access infrastructure is part of the international open access research infrastructures.

Scientific Research and Innovation Activities Act (since 2021)

Scientific Research and Innovation Activities Act (ZZrID) defines the national principles of open science in Articles 40, 41 and 42. Article 40 first defines open science, namely:

Open science primarily includes open access to research results, evaluation of the quality and impact of research work using responsible metrics, as well as active engagement of the interested public and their involvement in the research process.

Additionally, according to Article 40, the evaluation and assessment of researchers, research organizations, research programs, and projects must advance the principles of open science. This primarily refers to the international principles summarized in the DORA Declaration, Leiden Manifesto and Hong Kong Principles.

ZZRiD specifies in Article 41 that the funding body will mandate and the performer of the scientific research activity will ensure open access to all peer-reviewed scientific publications and research data that arise from research activities receiving a minimum of 50% public co-financing. The outcomes of research projects co-financed by public funds must be openly accessible, considering the constraints related to intellectual property rights, personal data protection, and security concerns for individuals and the state. Specific regulations apply to the handling of personal data for research purposes.

Article 41 also specifies that open research data should be published or made available in a manner that ensures their discoverability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability, following the FAIR principles.

Article 42 of the ZZrID stipulates that scientific journals of publishers based in the Republic of Slovenia and neighbouring countries (Slovenian: v zamejstvu), which contain peer-reviewed articles and are fully financed by the state, must provide open access to their content.

Resolution on the Slovenian Scientific Research and Innovation Strategy 2030 (since 2022)

The Resolution on the Slovenian Scientific Research and Innovation Strategy 2030 (ReZrIS30) dedicates the entire Goal 6.2, Open Science for Improving the Quality, Efficiency and Responsiveness of Research, to open science. The specific measures envisaged within this objective are:

  • U6.2.1.: Effective management and financing of development and provision of international compliance of the national open science ecosystem, related national structures and infrastructures and integration into international networks and infrastructures.
  • U6.2.2.: Implementation of contemporary approaches to research assessment in accordance with the principles of open science (for example, DORA (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assesment), Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics, ERA guidelines (European Research Area and Innovation Committee)) to improve the quality and impact of research.
  • U6.2.3.: Ensuring the compliance of research results with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) and ensuring full and immediate open access (subject to eligible exemptions).
  • U6.2.4.: Establishing a national open science community to introduce and monitor open science in Slovenia and its integration into ERA and beyond.
  • U6.2.5.: Promotion of the development of citizen science and involvement of the public in research activities.
  • U6.2.6.: Promotion of the development of national scientific publishing to operate in accordance with the principles of open science.

Public Information Access Act and its Amendments (since 2022)

The Act Amending the Public Information Access Act (ZDIJZ-G) implemented the revised Directive (EU) 2019/1024 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on open data and the re-use of public sector information into the Slovenian legal framework (further details about this directive can be found on the European Union policies subpage). Article 6.č of the Act specifically governs the provisions related to the reuse of research data, namely:

  • The Act mandates that public service providers engaged in research and public service providers engaged in educational activities beyond secondary school level must facilitate the reuse of research data generated from publicly funded research.
  • To ensure the reuse of research data, it is required that the data be published online in open formats that adhere to established open standards, in a machine-readable format and accompanied by relevant metadata. The exceptions to this provision are specified in Article 5a and Article 6 of the Act and encompass confidential and personal data, trade secrets, tax-related information, data obtained during criminal proceedings, and similar cases.
  • Research data that is openly available in institutional or thematic repositories can be freely reused, whether for profit or non-profit purposes, subject to the following conditions:

    • reuse must comply with the regulations regarding the protection of personal data, and

    • every instance of reuse must acknowledge the source of the data, as listed in the metadata.

Decree on the Implementation of Scientific Research in Accordance with the Principles of Open Science (since 2023)

Decree on the Implementation of Scientific Research in Accordance with the Principles of Open Science outlines the requirements for conducting scientific research in alignment with open science principles regarding:

  • open access to research outcomes for research projects amounting to a minimum of 50% of public funding,
  • public engagement in research activities,
  • evaluation and assessment of researchers, research organizations, research programs, and projects based on open science principles,
  • open science infrastructure.

The Decree recognizes various types of research results, such as scientific papers (including those published in academic journals and on scientific publishing platforms), scientific monographs, and other peer-reviewed publications. It also encompasses research data, software developed as a result of research, and other digital forms of research outcomes.

In accordance with Article 41 of the ZZrID, the Decree mandates that individuals engaged in scientific research activities must ensure open access to digital versions of scientific publications and other associated research outcomes in digital format if they have received 50 % or more of co-financing from public sources within the Republic of Slovenia. These public sources include the state budget, European programs and funds, as well as local community resources.

During the transitional period, as determined by cOAlition S and its initiatives (including transformative agreements with scientific publishers), the Decree still permits all types of publications without restrictions, including those in hybrid journals. In such cases, the costs associated with open access publications are covered by the funder from alternative sources. Regarding subscription/hybrid journals, researchers have the option to publish an open access article using APC (article processing charges) vouchers, which are made available through established transformative agreements. In the event that the vouchers are depleted and researchers must cover the APC costs for co-financed research from their own funds, they can seek reimbursement by applying to the ARIS Public Call for Reimbursement of Open Access Publication Costs.

Likewise, the Decree mandates open access to research (meta)data and other research outcomes. For this purpose, researchers are required to develop a research data management plan and adhere to the FAIR principles and the principle of "as open as possible, as closed as necessary." The Decree outlines the procedures for the long-term preservation of research data and other research outcomes in repositories, as well as establishes citation guidelines. In terms of copyright for scientific publications, the Decree addresses the management of these rights and specifies the permissible open licenses.

The Decree further mandates that when assessing research endeavors (including the evaluation of research programs and infrastructure activities), funders must consider the substantial scientific achievements of the research work rather than focusing solely on the publication venue, impact factor, journal metrics, or publisher. In addition to scientific publications, other types of research outcomes and open science practices should also be taken into account. The Decree does not interfere with the existing peer review process for scientific publications; however, it introduces the option of open peer review as one of the practices aligned with open science.

The Decree specifies that funders should encourage researchers to take into account the needs of end users or the broader community if it can enhance the quality of research (with exceptions for pioneering research, for instance). Additionally, funders should promote the incorporation of citizen science in publicly funded research, where appropriate, as it can contribute to higher-quality research outcomes.

Institutional Policies

Rules on Doctoral Studies at the University of Ljubljana

In Article 50 of the chapter Research Data Management, the Rules on Doctoral Studies at the University of Ljubljana stipulate:

Research data generated and gathered during the course of a doctoral dissertation must be made publicly available or otherwise accessible in a manner that ensures transparency, accessibility, interoperability, and the potential for re-evaluation and reuse. The doctoral student is responsible for depositing the research data in a suitable data repository, data center, or research data archive, thereby upholding the principles of verifiability, transparency, and open science. Whenever possible, it is advisable to utilize regional, national, or international data centers that specialize in specific types of data or to the Repository of the UL.

*

The doctoral dissertation must provide information on the availability and accessibility of the data, along with instructions on how to access it. Exceptions to data sharing are permissible in cases involving personal and sensitive data, as well as the protection of intellectual property or the non-disclosure of endangered areas, groups, or species. When justified exceptions to data sharing are invoked, the doctoral student, in consultation with the data center, establishes suitable measures for data protection and access restrictions. In such cases, at a minimum, publicly accessible metadata must be prepared and included in the data center's catalog, indicating the location and conditions for accessing the research data.

Digital Preservation Policy of the Social Science Data Archives

The Digital Preservation Policy of the Social Science Data Archives establishes guidelines, responsibilities, roles, and a control system for data management. This ensures that the archive fulfills its core objective of ensuring the long-term availability of data and maintains its reputation as a trustworthy repository among users, data providers, and funding entities. The policy outlines the archive's organizational structure, procedures for managing digital objects, data access protocols, information technology architecture, and security and risk management measures. The document can be accessed on the website of the Social Science Data Archives.

 

Last update: 7 June 2023

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