Open Access: an opportunity for Malta

In this PSF report, commissioned by the Maltese government, a group of independent experts provide recommendations on transitioning the science system in Malta to an “open by default” setting. The experts recommend a “phase-in” approach, with a timeline to 2025, to arrive at: providing open access to scientific publications, making open and FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable) data “as open as possible, as closed as necessary” and implementing related actions on awareness raising, skills, training and support, and career assessment.

Scientists, innovative businesses and societal actors need access to scientific results in order to generate new scientific knowledge, ensure its industrial uptake and retain societal support for research and innovation. Better circulation of knowledge, facilitated by open access to scientific publications and open/FAIR research data thus provide clear advantages for Malta as an outward looking island-based EU Member State.  

The Maltese government asked the EU’s Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility (PSF) for support in developing a tailor-made Open Access policy. The panel of four independent experts worked on the report from July 2019 to April 2020, including two visits to Cyprus, with stakeholder interviews conducted during the first and two workshops held during the second. The resulting PSF report “Open Access: an opportunity for Malta” is based on this background research and the previous work of the PSF Peer Review of the Maltese Research and Innovation System, as well as relevant initiatives and activities in similar countries and the EU, and the experts’ collective expertise in the field of open access to scientific publications and research. 

The report focuses on open access to scientific publications and open/FAIR data as two key aspects of open science. Furthermore, the report addresses researcher assessment as well as skills, training, awareness and support, supported by detailed recommendations for each section.

Niels Stern, chair of the expert group sees a window of opportunity for Malta to seize the moment and develop an open access policy that aligns Malta with key European and global initiatives. He notes that the expert group has perceived readiness for further progress among stakeholders in Malta during the country visits. 

But implementing open access and open data requires resources. More funding for research and innovation was already stressed in the previous PSF peer review of the Maltese research and innovation system and some of this funding needs to be directed towards implementing open access to scientific peer reviewed publications and research data. Mr. Stern concludes that real change will only happen when all stakeholders are willing to commit, invest and engage in the process. Now is the time to do so. Now is the time for Malta to exploit this great moment of opportunity united.


For further information: 

Read the summary article of the Horizon 2020 PSF Specific Support to Malta

Read the final report of the Horizon 2020 PSF Specific Support to Malta

Learn more about the Horizon 2020 PSF Specific Support to Malta 

Learn more about the Horizon 2020 PSF Policy Support Facility 

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