DION statement on NTNU’s funding of open access publishing

On January 6th, 2021, NTNU library announced that it would no longer be possible to apply for support for open access from NTNU’s publishing fund. No warning or prior announcement were made, leaving many temporary scientific employees with limited options when it came to the work they had submitted or were about to submit to a publication which publication cost (APC) was formerly covered by this fund. Meanwhile, no extension or increase of quotas have been negotiated as part of the UNIT agreement, to compensate for the loss of support from the NTNU publishing fund.  

While some faculties or departments are exploring solutions to replace the support provided by the NTNU publishing fund, other are unable to do so, leaving the cost of open access publishing to the employee, their project budget or their supervisors. It should also be noted under Plan S, many temporary scientific employees not only want to publish in open access but have to, under the funding their position is based. Moreover, due to the nature of their contract (e.g. PhD thesis) many temporary scientific employees have to get their work published in the near future and cannot afford any delays (e.g. having to withdraws and re-submit or wait for a new funding mechanism to be created next year).  

DION is greatly concerned about the inequalities between employees, departments and faculties this situation is leading to, and the risk it presents to employees whose thesis or contract depends on having their work published within the year. Therefore, DION urges NTNU faculties, NTNU board and the prorector for research to act: 

  • In the short term, DION urges NTNU to ensure equitable funding solutions for 2021 for temporary scientific employees publishing in open access publications formerly covered by the NTNU publishing fund. 
  • In the long term, DION calls on NTNU to build and extend sustainable mechanisms and agreements to support open access publishing amongst temporary scientific employees. 

New Strategy from the Government Considers PhD and Research

The Norwegian Government is proposing a new program, which among other highlights a research pilot program that aims to increase the labour market relevance of a PhD where the 4th year (“pliktåret” of a 4 year PhD with 25% work duties) can be used for more career oriented activities other than teaching. There are two ways of implementation of this goal:

a)       Practice in a business/organization/institution

b)      Work done on behalf of a business/organization/institution, doing project work for these.

Fall 2021 will see the implementation of this program.

The Norwegian Government is also in collaboration with the universities developing a strategy for research recruit and career ways, which will be public in Spring 2021. The strategy will serve as information which decisions on researcher recruitment and career development can be made by the universities. It will also focus on: temporal employment, unclear an diffuse career ways, low amount of Norwegians in technology.

What is good supervision?

DION was invited by the The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (MH) to contribute to a supervisor seminar. The seminar targeted new supervisors at the MH faculty. DION was asked to summarize what PhD candidates could wish for from their supervisors. After meetings with over 30 participating supervisors we have written a report that summarizes our findings of the most central themes for being a good supervisor. The report looks at the relationship between supervisor and PhD candidate from a very general perspective and can hopefully give supervisors and impression what PhD candidates care and worry about.

The whole report can be found here, with the central themes being:

– Open door policy – be welcoming to your student.

– Clear expectations – and communicating them.

– Balancing freedom and guidance for the PhD-student.

To complete the report, the board and a sub-working group met several times and discussed from their own and their peers’ experiences what are best and worst practices regarding the supervisor to PhD candidate relationship. DIONs contribution at the seminar was held in an interactive manner. The 30 participating supervisors were encouraged to engage in group discussions regarding their own good and bad experiences as a PhD candidate.