Human capacity is instrumental in ensuring that we achieve culture change which is an important catalyst for the implementation of Open Science practices
by Josianne C. Vello & Kevin J. Ellul
The OpenAIRE team has the pleasure of speaking to Kevin J. Ellul, Director of Library Services and Josianne C. Vello, Deputy Director of Library Services at the University of Malta. Read their reflections on Open Science.
The University of Malta (UM) is the leading academic institution on the Maltese Islands and has been steering Open Science principles and practices in Malta since 2014 when an Open Access institutional repository had been implemented. The scope of the repository is to provide a platform where researchers can deposit and share their research output. Subsequently, an Open Access Policy for the UM has been implemented, the scope of which was to encourage academics and researchers to share their research publications, which policy was later upgraded to a mandate. Moreover, the UM is responsible to advocate in favour of Open Science and provide researchers with the necessary training and support to practice Open Science principles. The UM actively supports the Malta Council for Science and Technology, being Malta's research funder, with the implementation of Open Science policies at a national level.
We joined OpenAIRE way back in 2011 when OpenAIREplus was launched. The motivating factor for participating was based on the fact that the need to gradually implement Open Science principles at UM was pertinent, coupled with the insularity of being the sole university on the island with no local expertise or peers. Subsequently, the quest to join a community of practice was crucial – and OpenAIRE was the perfect match!!! We consider OpenAIRE as being the gateway for our achievements, milestones and developments in the various areas of Open Science, spanning from policies to infrastructures, and from training to sharing of best practices. Special thanks to Eloy Rodrigues and Pedro Principe.
The main reason for becoming NOADs was to augment the services that we provide by being points of reference to addressing queries raised by academics and researchers, as well as, to cascade our expertise, knowledge and best practices to researchers who are not affiliated with the UM and other local institutions – hence, supporting the Open Science landscape on a national scale.
The UM is continuously striving to ensure that Open Science becomes an emergent mode of scholarly communication. The main difficulties that we encounter are limited resources, predominantly human capacity which is instrumental to ensuring that we achieve the culture change which is an important catalyst for the implementation of Open Science practices. Financial limitations, particularly to support of APCs, are also considered a major deterrent. Additionally, as yet, local academics and researchers are not being recognised for practicing Open Science practices. Subsequently, the need to encompass Open Science during the research assessment and evaluation processes is fundamental. Incentives should somehow be given to researchers who practice Open Science, especially when it comes to career progression and allocation of research funds and grants.
Throughout the years, OpenAIRE has created and maintained a wide spectrum of services including support, training, guidelines, and sharing of best practices, as well as, a range of services that support the delivery and discovery of scientific information, publishing platforms, as well as, OS monitoring tools. Such services are readily available for researchers and institutions to use as deemed best.
Now that Open Access to research publications has been widely accepted by local academia, we are venturing into Research Data Management, whereby we will be implementing a Research Data Management Policy for the UM and an Open Data Repository. Additionally, we will be expanding our support and training initiatives to cater to Research Data Management. To this effect, based on the extensive network of vibrant professionals willing to share their expertise, we are confident that OpenAIRE is always available to support us with our endeavours pertaining to Open Science.
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