by Kevin J. Ellul
In 2019, the Malta Council for Science & Technology (MCST) has secured the support of the H2020 Policy Support Facility (PSF) to develop a National Open Access Policy. The PSF exercise kicked-off in July 2019 whereby a panel of experts undertook two country visits and discussed ideas and challenges with relevant Maltese stakeholders. The expert panel prepared a tailored framework with a set of recommendations for a Maltese policy on Open Access. The PSF report was launched in April 2020 and presented a robust framework for Malta to develop its first national Open Access policy.
To ensure effective policy development, a National Open Science Technical Working Group was set up, which was made up of expert representatives of key stakeholders active in the field of Open Science. During several Working Group meetings, the members exchanged knowledge, and views and provided technical opinions and advice on translating the PSF recommendations into practical, actionable items for Malta. The drafting process ensued throughout 2021 and following a public consultation exercise the Policy was endorsed as an official Governmental document by Cabinet.
The policy provides a future-proof, actionable roadmap enabling Malta to improve its current state of play in terms of Open Science practices and align itself with European level developments relating to Open Science. The roadmap within this policy focuses on Open Access to scientific publications, Open/FAIR Research Data under the principle of "as open as possible, as closed as necessary", and related actions on awareness-raising, skills, training and support, and research and researcher assessment.
The policy recommends a "phase-in" approach for the implementation of the actions presented which aims that by the end of 2025, Malta shifts to a state of immediate Open Access in terms of research publications.
This policy also addresses Open Research Data, however, adopts a less prescriptive approach than in the case of Open Access to research publications, with the policy's priority and focus being to pave the way for more awareness of, and acceptance of, the principle of 'openness' and its eventual extension to research data.
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