Open science in Estonia

EIFL contributes to open access, open data and open science policies, repositories and journals in Estonia

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Open Access Week 2013 celebrations at University of Tartu in Estonia. EIFL Open Access Programme Manager, Iryna Kuchma, is third from the left. Photo by Henri Kirs/Tartu Ulikool.


Open access (OA) has been on the radar In Estonia since 2009. University of Tartu Library was one of the early adopters of OA, joining the international community in the annual OA Week celebrations from 2010 onwards, and organizing events to initiate debates on OA and Open Research Data.

In 2010 several institutions in Estonia - including University of Tartu - had OA institutional repositories, but OA publishing was less common. There was keen interest in creating national policy that would make publicly-funded research results and data openly available; however, many researchers and students still did not understand OA principles and strategies.

In 2011, to address gaps in OA knowledge, EIFL supported a project titled ‘Institutional repository as the basis of the promotion and implementation of OA principles’. The project promoted University of Tartu’s OA digital repository, and initiated discussion on national OA policy.

From 2013 - 2017, EIFL continued to work with University of Tartu Library to launch open research data support services and to raise awareness about open research data and OA publishing, in partnership with the European Union initiatives, FOSTER (Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research) and OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe).

“Due to the library’s OA activities and competence, the main change that has taken place can be seen in the role of the library as a trustworthy partner to scientists, the university administration as well as funders. The library has operated as mediator in the dialogue between the different stakeholders and has reached the position where our input is considered and we can carry out different projects to help improve science.” - Liisi Lembinen, University of Tartu Library Director


  • Organizing and taking part in OA conferences, workshops and discussions, and the annual international Open Access Week celebrations, and sharing experiences and knowledge with different communities (researchers, librarians, publishers and policymakers). Highlights included:
    • High-level discussions on national and institutional OA and open research data policies.
    • Training a corps of OA trainers to build OA awareness and skills of researchers, librarians, publishers and policymakers.
    • An Open Data Month at University of Tartu, which engaged researchers in sharing data.
    • A national seminar supported by the FOSTER project in 2015, held at University of Tartu Library, where recommendations on national open science policy were introduced.
    • A national OpenAIRE workshop/seminar, Open Research Data - the FAIRest Data is the Future of Science, in April 2017, which provided an overview of activities for opening up research data in Estonia and neighboring countries.
  • Supporting establishment of an Open Science Expert Group by the Estonian Research Council in 2015 to draft a national strategy on open science. The group comprises 14 experts from universities, libraries and other institutions.
  • Collaborating with University of Tartu Press to promote and implement OA publishing at the University of Tartu.




  • Release of principles and recommendations for developing national policy on open science by the Open Science Expert Group of the Estonian Research Council in 2016 (
  • There has been a significant shift towards OA in Estonia:
    • The Estonian Research Council now requires making articles published as a result of publicly-funded research publicly available.
    • OA principles underpin the national Research Development and Innovation strategy, ‘Knowledge Based Estonia 2014 - 2020’.
    • In 2014, University of Tartu joined DataCite, which provides persistent identifiers (DOIs) to make research data more visible internationally. In 2015, the Estonian DataCite Consortium was established. It includes four major research universities, has strong support from the Estonian Academy of Sciences and funding from the Estonian Research Council.
    • In 2017, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Science and the Estonian Research Council, in collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Sciences, commissioned research into the attitudes and practices of Estonian researchers in relation to open research data and open access publishing. Results of the research will feed into national policy development.
  • Positive branding of University of Tartu’s OA institutional repository, which has grown rapidly, and currently includes 51,961 research outputs.
  • University of Tartu has launched an e-learning course on Research Data Management (see the course in English and in Estonian), which is integrated into all doctoral curricula.
  • Strengthened commitment to OA publishing by University of Tartu Press: the University of Tartu Publishing Committee has made OA a priority. [The Press is a member of the OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks), which is a collaborative initiative to develop and implement a sustainable OA  publication model for academic books in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Twenty-one books published by the Press are available on the OAPEN platform and in the Directory of OA books, DOAB. All 14 journals published by the Press are available in OA.]
  • University of Tartu Library has become a centre of learning and knowledge sharing for other institutions seeking advice in the field of OA: the library has released a report on OA principles, copyright issues and business models for Estonia, and is participating in the national Estonian Research and Innovation Monitoring Programme as well as national OA policy discussions.


Among the key strategic objectives contained in the national strategy set out by the Open Science Expert Group of the Estonian Research Council is that by 2020 Estonia’s academic community is familiar with and accepts the principles of OA.

University of Tartu Library is continuing to take the lead in open access, open research data and open science policy development, implementation and awareness raising, with two important events on the horizon: on 2-3 October 2017 Estonia is hosting the European Open Science Cloud event, and on 8 November 2017 - the Research Data Alliance (RDA) national workshop for Estonian researchers.