OA in Malta
The National Research Environment
Research policy is the remit of the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST). The National Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation (2007-200) was developed on the basis of widespread consultation with all stakeholders including academia, the private sector and the public sector. The strategy identified the following four priority areas for research: (1) Energy and Environment, (2) ICT, (3) High Value-Added Manufacturing and (4) Health & Biotechnology.
The University of Malta (UoM) is the highest teaching institution in Malta and was founded in 1769. The UoM is a publicly funded institution and its supreme governing bodies are Council and Senate. It is situated at Msida and the foundation stone of the new University building at Tal-Qroqq, was laid in September 1964. The current set up of the UoM was established by the 1988 Education Act of the Laws of Malta.
The UoM caters for 11,000 students which include over 600 international students from 80 different countries and comprises over 1000 academics, and approximately 800 technical and administrative staff. The UoM is made up of 14 Faculties and a number of interdisciplinary Institutes and Centres. The UoM strives to create programmes of studies which are relevant and timely in response to the needs of the country.
Researchers at the UoM conduct research in various fields, and as the sole University on the island, the UoM has particular responsibility to cater for study areas on a national dimension. In September 2009, the UoM has set up a Corporate Research and Knowledge Transfer Directorate so as to assist the University to transform itself into a contemporary third generation University built on three significant pillars, being teaching, corporate research, and direct and active participation in sustainable socio-economic development.
The Malta Council for Science of Technology is the owner and manager of the National Research and Innovation Funding Programme, which finances research undertaken by consortia involving both industry and academia. It has been very successful in fostering links between these two important sectors. This programme includes open access obligations similar to those of the FP7 pilot.
A recent initiative is the launch of the Commercialisation Programme, which focuses on valorising and commercialising the results of research. The other key source of research funding is the Research and Development Grant Scheme, targeting research in industry. This programme is administered by Malta Enterprise.
Recent Trends and Initiatives
Over the past few years, the research landscape in Malta has improved considerably, helped in part by Malta’s accession to the EU. Substantial allocations from Malta’s Structural Funds have recently been invested in the much-needed development of the University’s research infrastructure. Such funds have also been used to develop a scholarship scheme for Ph.D. bursaries in science and technology with the objective of developing a pool of qualified researchers. Plans are in the pipeline to develop schemes for funding of post-doctoral research.
The EU’s Framework Programme has also proven to be a significant source of funding for Maltese research organisations, with an EC financial contribution in excess of €10 million under the FP6 programme, of which over 15% went to industry. On a per capita basis, Malta has one of the highest participation rates in this programme.
National funding has also been channelled into research in recent years. The Government has allocated funding for two research initiatives – the human genome databank and digital gaming production. A University Trust Fund for research and innovation has recently been launched with seed funding provided by central government.
Open Access and RepositoriesThe awareness of EU Open Access initiatives within the research community is still somewhat limited but is increasing as a result of the FP7 pilot and of the OpenAIRE project. Currently there are no national open access repositories. The University of Malta is looking into the feasibility of developing such a repository.
Open Access PublishingMost journals which are published locally are being converted to Open Access. These include the Xjenza – Journal of the Malta Chamber of Scientists, the Malta Review of Educational Research and the Malta Medical Journal.
Useful Links and Resources
Online Open Access Journals:
- Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies http://www.um.edu.mt/emcer/mjes
- Journal of the Malta Chamber of Scientists http://www.xjenza.org.mt
- Malta Review of Educational Research, a refereed electronic journal published by the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta http://www.um.edu.mt/educ/about/publications/mrer
- Journal of the University of Malta Medical School http://www.um.edu.mt/umms/mmj
Kevin J. Ellul