OA in Italy

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The National Research Environment

Italian research institutions are part of public (universities, public research centers) or private (industries, technology centers) sectors, depending on the scope and the goals of research activities. The public sector conducts research  as an institutional mandate and dedicates the majority of its human, logistic and economic resources to it. A main role is carried out by public institutions (Ministries, Regional offices, etc.) which promote and sustain R&D by using public funds; they are responsible for the majority of research activities in Italy (51,3 %).

Italian research organizations can be grouped into three categories:

  1. public or private universities funded by Ministero dell’Istruzione Università e Ricerca (MIUR, Ministry of Education, Universities and Research): currently in Italy there are 95 universities, 67 of which are public
  2. research organizations and institutions financed by a specific Ministry (MIUR, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture,  Ministry of Finances, etc.): this category encompasses the biggest research organizations in Italy, for example, CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), ENEA (Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile) or INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare)
  3. associations, institutes and foundations both public and private: the main ones are little more than a dozen enterprises (starting in the 1990’s) research consortia, “techno-poles” and technological districts (24 in Italy) financed by EC structural funds

The main funder in Italy is the Ministero dell’Istruzione Università e Ricerca (MIUR, Ministry of Education, Universities and Research), but the Regions also play an important role in promoting research in specific areas (high-tech; nanotechnologies; environmental sciences and health; etc.) and creating synergies among universities, research organizations and small-medium sized industries (as part of the EC Field Programs).

Unfortunately, there are no OA policies as part of an institutional mandate of the national funded research institutions or as a general policy of research organizations, with the exception of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (the main research institution on health science funded by the Public Health Ministry).

There are two main types of research investments in Italy: public and private (public funding is far greater tha private). Public research funding can then be further split into three categories:

  • national (originated by ministries)
  • regional (funded by Regions mainly to promote collaboration among universities and small-medium size industries at regional level)
  • EC originated (Field Programs or co-financed projects with Italian institutions)
In relation to EC funded research, no doubt it plays a crucial role for R&D in Italy: EC Field Programs are strategic for Italian research presently as they have been in  the past, especially in science, technology and biomedical areas. Nonetheless there’s still a gap between submitted and financed research projects (with regards to FP7 Italy is still below EU countries financed projects average: 13.4% as compared to 17.9%), an inversion trend has been taking place in the past few years. Italian research has been funded with 523 million €, the equivalent to 9.17% of the FP7 out of  the total budget (5.7 billion € for the first year), this funding is higher than the 8.8%  assigned to Italy in  the FP6. Currently Italy ranks in the fourth position with regards to  EC financed projects.

Open Access and Repositories

The awareness of Open Access within the research community is  still low but it is growing consistently.  Researchers in some disciplines  such as physics, mathemathics and biomedical sciences are more aware of it and play a pro-active role.

Open Access projects and initiatives

In 2006 the Conference of Italian Universities Rectors (CRUI) established a Working Group on OA as part of the CRUI Library Committee. The activities of the CRUI OA Working Group led to the publication of Guidelines on depositing Doctoral Dissertations in open access repositories in 2007. Evidence of the impact of this has been the wide adoption of Thesis mandates among Italian universities. 

Later, in April 2009, the CRUI OA Working Group also published the following guidelines: Recommendations on OA and Research Evaluation; Guidelines for OA Journals; and Guidelines for Institutional Repositories. Mandates to deposit the research output have not been adopted by Italian universities so far, with the exception of the  privately funded university LUISS. A reasonable approach to ensuring the sucess of OA in Italy and populating institutional repositories would be to link the current research system with institutional repositories.

In 2004 the two Italian supercomputing consortia CASPUR and CILEA implemented an Italian national platform to provide central access to digital contents deposited in the Italian Open Archives.  The platform PLEIADI (Portal for Italian Electronic Scholarly Literature in Institutional Archives), has been in place since then and provides access to over 23000 documents deposited in Italian academic and research institutional repositories. So far it indexes only the institutional repositories that contain a substantive amount of full text content.

Open Access repositories

Currently 54 repositories have been registered, 48 are listed in OpenDOAR as operational repositories, 6 more repositories have been very recently implemented and are not yet registered in OpenDOAR. 36 out of the 54 are university institutional archives. The remaining 18 repositories belong to the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Center) SISSA in Trieste, the Istituto Nazionale of Geofisica e Vulcanologia, the Istituto Italiano di Medicina Sociale, the Scuola Superiore della Pubblica Amministrazione Locale, the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, and a handful of other research centres.

Open Access publishing

There are over a 100  scholarly Open Access journals in Italy, 98 are registered as peer-reviewed journals  in DOAJ. The few ones which are not included in DOAJ do not fulfil all the necessary requirements to be strictly defined OA. The great majority of Italian OA journals are published by Universities, Academic Departments, University presses or with the contribution of  University funds.

Open Access organisations and groups

CRUI-Open Access Working Group consisted of about 60 OA representatives from the Italian universities. The group was subdivided in 5 subgroups:

  • OA international relations and context
  • OA journals; OA and Research Assessment
  • Doctoral Theses and OA
  • Teaching material and OA.
The subgroups carried out their activities in the period (2006-2009); they are expected to be reconfirmed for the next 3 years by the  CRUI Library Committee in few weeks time.

Useful links and resources

PLEIADI - Portal for Italian Electronic Scholarly Literature in Institutional Archives - It is the  service provider to Italian OA scholarly and research content; it also collects and  provides access to  current information on OA in Italy and abroad http://www.openarchives.it/pleiadi

OA Wiki - The  main access point to find information about OA in Italian - http://wiki.openarchives.it/index.php/Pagina_principale

OA Mailing list - This list covers OA issues in Italian. It is open to anybody interested in this topic. The list Archive is freely accessible. Registration is moderated.  http://openarchives.it/mailman/listinfo/oa-italia

A report on the state of the art of Open Access in Italy http://eprints.rclis.org/18365/


Contributors Contact Details

 Ugo Contino

Paola Gargiulo

Ilaria Fava

National help-desk