The current pandemic has served to emphasise the importance of free access to scientific information for researchers, professors, students, businesses, journalists and non-academic professionals.

Through  its framework programmes, the European Commission, internationally and at member state level, is supporting Open Access, which deals with the setting up of a set of principles dealing with the removal of the barriers to the dissemination of research knowledge through scientific publications. This knowledge comes in two forms – scientific journals and scientific research data.

The development of Malta’s National Open Access Policy has been entrusted to the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), a governmental body that falls under the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy within the Ministry for Finance and Financial Services.

With support from the European Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility, the MCST started developing Malta’s tailor-made Open Access policy during a meeting in Brussels in July 2019. This was followed by two visits to Malta in October and December 2019 by representatives of the European Commission and its appointed independent experts. During their first visit, the delegates held individual meetings with national stakeholders, while in the second visit, a workshop for the stakeholders was arranged.

The final report with the recommendations on the national Open Access policy was recently launched at an online video conference organised by the MCST and streamed live on the council’s social media access. A recording of the full live stream may be found at www.facebook.com/MaltaCouncilforScienceandTechonology/videos/2584489615129227/.

During the event, entitled ‘An Opportunity for Malta’, MCST executive chairman Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said: “Open Access should serve as another step in supporting the local research community in sharing and accessing scientific knowledge.”

Anna Panagopoulou, acting director of the European Commission’s DG RTD, said: “The Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility project – the first of its kind to focus exclusively on Open Access – supports Malta in making knowledge circulation a reality for researchers, innovative companies and citizens.”

The final report can be accessed via the MCST website below.

https://mcst.gov.mt/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/OPEN-ACCESS-MALTA-REPORT.pdf

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