OA in Italy

The National Research Environment

In Italy research is performed mainly by higher education institutions (mainly public and few private universities, polytechnics, research centres) also  other types of public institutions, business enterprises, private not for profit organizations carry out research in different fields. The public funding comes mainly from central government and in smaller scale from  regional governaments. A relevant role is also played by EU framework programme funding.

In Italy  research is performed by:

  1. Public and private universities, polytechnics,  funded by  the Ministero dell’Istruzione Università e Ricerca (MIUR, Ministry of Education, Universities and Research) as part of their institutional mandate : currently there are 96 universities, 68 of which are public. Research is also carried out by interuniversity consortia and scientific and technological parks.
  2. Large research organizations and institutions funded by  MIUR:  CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche/National Research Council), ENEA (Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile/Agency for the new technologies, and sustainable economic development), INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare/National Institute for Nucelar Physics), INAF (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisca/National Institute of Astrophyiscs), INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geologia e Vulconologia/National Institute of Geology and Vulcanology), ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana/Italian Space Agency).  There are also other research institutions funded by other ministries, e.g. ISS  (Istituto Nazionale della Sanità/National Health Institute )  funded by  Ministry of Health or the network of the public veterinary  institutes funded by the National Health System or other publicly funded  institutions (laboratories, hospitals, central government research units etc.).
  3. Business enterprises.
  4. Associations, institutes and foundations (public or private) not for profit.

Major Research Funders

The main public funder in Italy is the Ministero dell’Istruzione Università e Ricerca (MIUR, Ministry of Education, Universities and Research), but other ministries (e.g Ministry for the Economic Development, Health, etc) other central administration agencies and  regional governaments also play a role in funding research in specific areas (high-tech; nanotechnologies; environmental sciences and health, space research; etc.) and creating synergies among universities, research organizations and small-medium sized enterprises (as part of the EC Field Programs).

Public research funding can be further split into three categories:

  • national (originated by central government, e.g. ministries etc);
  • regional (funded by Regions mainly to promote collaboration among universities and small-medium size enterprises at regional level);
  • EC originated (Field Programs or co-financed projects with Italian institutions).

In 2013, the total investment in Research & Developement  accounted for 1.31% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Open Access, Repositories and Research data

The  research policy makers, administrators and the research communities have not reached yet a full level of awareness of Open Access and its benefits for researchers, institutions and for society; however several actions and initiatives to implement OA  policies are taking place in Italy. The awareness of research open data is still at early stage; in general the OA landscape is still quite fragmentary due to the lack of a national strategic vision on the needs and prospects of Italian research.

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.  Since its founding the CRUI OA Working Group (OAWG) has performed several activities to support the implementation of OA in Italian universities. Most of the activities concentrated on the drafting and publication of Guidelines and Recommendations successively adopted by several universities. In 2007 CRUI OAWG published the Guidelines on depositing Doctoral Dissertations in open access repositories. (As of 2016 doctoral theses mandate has been implemented in 38 universities).

Later, CRUI OAWG released the following guidelines: Recommendations on OA and Research Evaluation in 2009; Guidelines for OA Journals in 2009; and Guidelines for Institutional Repositories in  2009, Guidelines on the creation and management of OA metadata in 2012. OAWG released  Guidelines on drafting  institutional policies  and mandates  for  publications and data sets in June 2013.

Since 2004  PLEIADI (Portal for Italian Electronic Scholarly Literature in Institutional Archives) was developed and implemented by the interuniversity supercomputing consortia CASPUR and CILEA (merged in CINECA in 2013)  to provide  a national platform to access digital contents deposited in the Italian Open Archives. Currently 2.898.969 items (August 2016) deposited in Italian academic and research institutional repositories or published in Italian OA journals are indexed by PLEIADI, they include  peer reviewed articles, doctoral dissertations, technical reports, working papers.

In 2013 a high majority of Italian universities (62)  decided to adopt IRIS (Institutional Research Information System) the CRIS developed CINECA fully integrated with D-Space and OpenAIRE and Cerif compliant. The integration of the IR with the CRIS together with the adoption of OA institutional policies is boosting the implementation and the population of OA repositories in Italy.

In 2016 AISA - Associazione Italiana per la promozione della Scienza Aperta- a non-profit organization for the advancement of open access to knowledge in Italy made a proposal to change the Italian copyright law " Proposta di modifica della legge sul diritto d'autore" in line with the changes made in Germany and more recently in France. The text of the proposal is now  avalaible on AISA website and will be brought shortly to the attention of the Italian parlamentarians.

Funder  Mandates

In October 2013:  a new law was approved by the Parliament on cultural assets. The Decree -Law“ Urgent  provisions for the protection, enhancement and promotion of cultural assets, activities and tourism (13G00135) (G.U No. 186 of 09.08.2013) released on August 9 2013 and converted in  law  on October 7 2013  (L. 112 /2013) states that  results of  research, funded at least 50 % with public funds and  published in scholarly journals (whose frequency is at least biannual) should  be open access.

According to this law all public research funders and administrators of public research funds are  required to take provisions to implement and promote OA according to the principles stated in the law.

In January 2014 the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research  mandated OA for publications and data sets arising from the funding programme for young scientists  (Bando SIR Scientific Independence for young scientists programme D. D. 23/01/14  n. 17). According to the mandate, data and texts must be deposited no later than the time of publication, and must become OA no later than six months from the date of publication in the natural science and no later than 12 months from the date of publication in the social sciences and humanities.

In 2015 the research funding programme Bandi PRIN 2015 financed by MIUR mandates open access to publications resulting from the funding programme in line with the law (L. 112 /2013).

Two private research funders, Telethon and Fondazione Cariplo adopted a funded OA mandate respectively in 2010 and 2012.

Institutional Mandates

In line with the EU recommendations to State members on access to and preservation of scientific information, with the new Italian Law on OA (L. 112 /2013) above mentioned and with the OA-CRUI guidelines on OA policy,  17 universities out of 96 adopted institutional OA mandates  and many others are in the  process of approving them (as of July 2016).

Large national funded research institutions or publicly funded medium or small research centres have not yet approved any policy with the exception of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (the main research institution on health science funded by the Public Health Ministry), all of them support OA in principle and committed themselves to take action in  the near future by signing the Position Statement on the Open Access to Research Results in March 2013. In particular INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare/National Institute for Nuclear Physics) is playing a leading role in the OA field with its participation in the SCOAP3 initiative.

Open Access repositories

Currently over 100 repositories are listed in OpenDOAR, although some of them are not fully operational, about 60 IR belong to the institutions which adopted  IRIS (Institutional Research Information System) the CRIS, fully integrated with D-Space, developed by  CINECA  are in the process of completing their compliance to OpenAIRE.

Open Access publishing

There are over 294 scholarly Open Access journals in Italy 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

During 2006 – 2013 CRUI- Open Access Working Group consisted of about 60 OA representatives from 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 main objective was to provide guidelines and recommendations to universities in order to implement an OA culture in the academic community with a special focus on the OA green road strategy,on OA publishing, on OA and research assessment. Recently the CRUI-OAWG has gone through some reorganization process and now consists of 18 appointed OA experts from Italian universities for the term 2014-2016.

In March 2015 AISA- Associazione Italiana per la promozione della Scienza Aperta- was established as a non-profit organization to advance open access to knowledge.  Members are academic and research institutions  and single academic professors, researchers, OA officers, repository managers. The mission is to disseminate a culture of Open Science in Italy, to publish studies on the implementation of Open Science principles, to provide staff training programs to promote Open Science practices in research performing organizations (universities and research centres), to engage international cooperation through networking with legal entities involved in the promotion of Open Science, to promote participation in international research projects and grant applications linked to the association’s mission.  AISA wants to raise awareness among decision makers, and in particular Italian and European legislators, to further the promotion of Open Science in research assessment and intellectual property policies.


Research Italy Portal - https://www.researchitaly.it/en

L. 112/2013  (Italian law) Urgent  provisions for the protection, enhancement and promotion of cultural assets, activities and tourism.  -   Section 4 is devoted to Open Access http://www.normattiva.it/uri-res/N2Ls?urn:nir:stato:decreto.legge:2013;91

MIUR- Ministry of Education, University and Research- Bandi Prin 2015 (Article 7 Open Access) http://attiministeriali.miur.it/anno-2015/novembre/dd-04112015.aspx 

CRUI – Open Access Working Group Documents – It collects all the recommendations, guidelines and statements on OA issues  released by the group http://www.crui.it/HomePage.aspx?ref=894

AISA- Associazione Italiana per la promozione della Scienza Aperta  http://bfp.sp.unipi.it/aisa/about-aisa/

AISA- Proposta per la modifica della legge sul diritto d'autore (2016) http://bfp.sp.unipi.it/aisa/attivita/diritto-di-ripubblicazione-in-ambito-scientifico/novella/

Position Statement on Open Acces to Research Outputs in Italy (2013) http://www.cnr.it/sitocnr/Iservizi/Biblioteche/Position_statement_OA_en.pdf

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

List of institutional OA mandates - http://wiki.openarchives.it/index.php/Regolamenti_e_Policy_sull%27Open_Access

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

Facts and Figures about on Open Access in Italy (2015) http://wiki.openarchives.it/index.php/Dati_e_cifre_sull%27Open_Access_in_Italia_-_2015

Contributors Contact Details

Paola Gargiulo

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