PASTEUR4OA/The Messina Declaration 2.0

Early in November 2014, the University of Messina in Sicily, Italy, held an event on the "Messina Declaration 2.0: the Italian road to Open Access". With the adoption of the Law 112/2013 [1], Italy has recently joined a number of European countries which enjoy national-level Open Access policies besides the institutional ones. This event provided a good opportunity to discuss the implications of such policies and the steps taken in order to implement them at specific institutions, together with a number of technical improvements that are gradually harmonising the technical OA infrastructure at Italian HEIs that will allow them to comply with the referred policies.

The main "Messina Declaration 2.0" event goal was to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Messina Open Access Declaration issued in 2004, whereby a group of Italian universities endorsed the 2003 Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Italian institutions and Open Access community have come a long way since 2004 and the event aimed to provide a forum to discuss the next steps forward.

It's only very recently that Open Access policies have started to take the stage at Open Access events and this particular event provided a good example of how relevant the role of policies may be when discussing the future of OA. Presentations from Torino and Trieste universities provided case studies on how institutions are getting ready to ensure policy compliance by making all the required information on policies, their requirements and the routes for compliance available to their researchers. It may however be the case that despite this intensive institutional activity, OA policy requirements will not be met as long until the policy does not grow some teeth – with funder policies usually being better equipped to do so than those issued at institutional or governmental level, see "What happens if papers are not compliant with the policy?" in the Wellcome Trust Open Access policy FAQs.

Relevant topics addressed during the event identified particular needs:

-  To gradually provide the contextual metadata for openly available publications (i.e. both project and funder information) not just at EC level but also nationally via the MIUR databases;

- To establish some degree of connection between Open Access and research assessment (in a similar way to what the HEFCE OA policy for the post-2014 REF has achieved in the UK);

- To establish an Open Access National Portal (similar to the Irish RIAN) for the dissemination of Italian research outputs (including both publications and data);

- To win researchers' hearts and minds with regard to Open Access so that compliance will not just be externally driven, but also driven by the research community itself.

A couple of recently released journal articles (in Italian) provide a  detailed report and follow-up on the discussions held in Messina: Sara Valla and Benedetta Alosi's “Report on the Tenth Anniversary Open Access event in Messina” and Benedetta Alosi e Nunzio Femminò's “A Roadmap for Open Access from Messina towards Europe: the New Italian Road to Open Access launched at Messina”, both  published in Bibliotime, XVII, issue 3 (Nov 2014).


Pablo de Castro, PASTEUR4OA Consultant, EuroCRIS

Paola Gargiulo, CINECA