Open Access News

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Update on the OA mandate at Italy's ISS

Elisabetta Poltronieri and Paola De Castro, Taking the first steps towards institutional open access, Research Information, June/July 2008.  Excerpt:

...The Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS, the Italian National Institute of Health), which is the leading research body in Italy in the field of public health and related disciplines, is among the 81 Italian signatories (as of May 2008) of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Scientific Knowledge and of the Petition to the European Commission in support of free access to the results of research supported by public funds....

A study of the opinions of a pilot group of ISS researchers revealed that they would positively consider publishing in OA journals provided that their established habits were not undermined. This implies that subscription journals with high impact factor values continue to exert a strong appeal on the authors and affect the choice of where to place research results. Nevertheless, other key factors such as the speed with which research output can be made public are also important when deciding where to publish. The instant access to information allowed by the OA publishing model through the web should also represent a priority in order to rapidly distribute scientific results. This seems to be much more of an issue in the case of research activities that are sustained by public funds.

With this background, ISS has recently set-up an internal policy to favour full, free access to the scientific literature produced by the internal research staff. Signed by the ISS president on 17 January 2008, it mandates all ISS researchers (about 700 scientists, who collectively produce about 1,600 publications per year, mainly journal articles) to make their papers available in the DSpace ISS repository.

The policy applies specifically to peer-reviewed articles, although researchers may wish to post non peer-reviewed material too. The efforts of the internal staff in charge of the repository are now concentrated on achieving the primary goal of the newborn policy: populating DSpace ISS. This repository currently holds 19,000 items, mainly represented by metadata, with full-text papers according to the conditions stated by the publishers for copyrighted material....

The experience gained in ISS in spreading awareness on OA principles has benefitted from the intense advocacy activity promoted by CRUI (Conference of the Chancellors of Italian Universities) over the last two years in favour of full, free access to the scientific knowledge produced by Italian universities and research centres. And, within the CRUI Libraries Commission, the Italian Group for Open Access is committed to providing guidelines addressed to the whole research and academic community in order to foster the creation of open digital archives.

According to the latest data (as of May 2008) provided by the Directory of Open Access Repositories (DOAR), there are 38 institutional repositories currently running in Italy. Among them, two major archives should particularly be mentioned for their important roles as registers of the academic research staff of their respective institutions: Polaris, set up at the University of Trento and AIR (Archivio istituzionale della ricerca), running at the University of Milan....

PS:  For background, see our post on the ISS OA mandate.