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Science, institutional archives and open access: an overview and a pilot survey on the Italian cancer research institutions

Elisabetta Poltronieri1, Ivana Truccolo2, Corrado Di Benedetto3, Mauro Castelli4, Mauro Mazzocut2 and Gaetana Cognetti5*

Author Affiliations

1 Publishing Unit, "Istituto Superiore di Sanità", Rome, Italy

2 Scientific and Patient Library, "Centro di Riferimento Oncologico", IRCCS, Aviano, Italy

3 Information Technology Unit, "Istituto Superiore di Sanità", Rome, Italy

4 JECCR, "Istituto Regina Elena" National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy

5 Scientific and Patient Library, "Istituto Regina Elena" National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy

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Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 2010, 29:168  doi:10.1186/1756-9966-29-168

Published: 20 December 2010

Abstract

Background

The Open Archive Initiative (OAI) refers to a movement started around the '90s to guarantee free access to scientific information by removing the barriers to research results, especially those related to the ever increasing journal subscription prices. This new paradigm has reshaped the scholarly communication system and is closely connected to the build up of institutional repositories (IRs) conceived to the benefit of scientists and research bodies as a means to keep possession of their own literary production. The IRs are high-value tools which permit authors to gain visibility by enabling rapid access to scientific material (not only publications) thus increasing impact (citation rate) and permitting a multidimensional assessment of research findings.

Methods

A survey was conducted in March 2010 to mainly explore the managing system in use for archiving the research finding adopted by the Italian Scientific Institutes for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care (IRCCS) of the oncology area within the Italian National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN). They were asked to respond to a questionnaire intended to collect data about institutional archives, metadata formats and posting of full-text documents. The enquiry concerned also the perceived role of the institutional repository DSpace ISS, built up by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) and based on a XML scheme for encoding metadata. Such a repository aims at acting as a unique reference point for the biomedical information produced by the Italian research institutions. An in-depth analysis has also been performed on the collection of information material addressed to patients produced by the institutions surveyed.

Results

The survey respondents were 6 out of 9. The results reveal the use of different practices and standard among the institutions concerning: the type of documentation collected, the software adopted, the use and format of metadata and the conditions of accessibility to the IRs.

Conclusions

The Italian research institutions in the field of oncology are moving the first steps towards the philosophy of OA. The main effort should be the implementation of common procedures also in order to connect scientific publications to researchers curricula. In this framework, an important effort is represented by the project of ISS aimed to set a common interface able to allow migration of data from partner institutions to the OA compliant repository DSpace ISS.