Over the last years, the debate focusing on scientific research and its dissemination both within the academia and the public at large revolved around two major aspects: the dramatic shortage of public economic resources, and the outreach strategies focusing especially on that segment of society who has limited access to scientific publications through libraries and online resources. The latter issue is particularly relevant to Humanities, which are subject to more dramatic budget cuts than other disciplines. Universities, especially the small ones located in peripheral areas, struggle to keep their library collections updated and to purchase online scientific journals. Thus, accessing updated scientific literature is becoming increasingly expensive and time consuming to students and researchers, relying mostly on personal initiative and commitment.
The development of computer technologies alongside the growing globalised knowledge has substantially contributed to the spread of scientific data, and in the last 15 years several scientific journals have decided to be openly accessible, engaging also in lively debates about the subject.
In this picture, Italy holds quite an awkward position. Being one of the pioneer countries in the field, Italy created several well-established open access journals like Archeologia e Calcolatori, Fasti online, ArcheoFOSS online and, since 2011, the Bollettino di Archeologia Online, which is the official publication edited by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. However, a considerable part of the academia keeps being rather skeptical and patronising towards the journals adopting open access policies. It is not unusual, indeed, to consider open access publications as low quality byproduct regardless their actual content or the accuracy of peer review policies, whereas “branded” journals with longstanding academic tradition are not coming up to the mark.
It is clearly evident that online open access policies not only facilitate the work of archeologists who can access quickly and free of charge online references, but also enhance the overall cultural growth of the society in a wider sense. Non specialists indeed have often difficulties in accessing scientific knowledge without recurring to academic resources and faculty libraries, which are more frequently perceived more of a hindrance than a learning tool.
For these reasons, Ex Novo opted for a full open access policy, which entails taking also a political stance in the debate about knowledge dissemination. We firmly believe, indeed, that Ex Novo should be a medium for communicating new approaches to archaeology and to the past in general, as well as provide a platform where scholars engage themselves with present-day society by sharing and transferring scientific knowledge beyond traditional academic boundaries.