The Department of Education in Australia has recently released a very important report on Research Communication Costs in Australia, in which John Houghton, Colin Steele and Peter Sheehan provide a cost and benefit analysis of existing and emerging alternatives for scholarly communications out of Australian institutions. An article in the Australian...provides an incisive summary of the findings, for those who want a rapid overview.
The results of this survey are startling, both for the high (hidden) costs that it reveals universities are paying in the current system and the high level of financial benefits that the report calculates could accrue from more open and effective dissemination of research results....
We could learn from this in South Africa. All too often, when problems with the commercial, 'subscriber pays' model of journal publication are raised and Open Access is mentioned, the response is an anxious query about where funding would come from to pay for a more open publishing system. What this reveals is a presumption that research dissemination is not the business of universities, but is outsourced to commercial providers. What it also reveals is that the academic community does not realise that it is already paying for scholarly publication, albeit in ways that universities do not conventionally track.
The authors of the Australian report have calculated the cost of the various contributions that are made by higher education institutions to the publication of journal articles. Computing the time involved in the various contributions of authoring, peer review, and editorial activities undertaken by university staff in their quest to get published, they come up with hidden costs of AUD19,000.00 ($14,000.00) per journal article. A scholarly monograph they estimate at AUD155,100.00 ($115,000.00).
The authors then go on to quantify the benefits of improved R&D access in Australia....
The conclusion of the report is that 'a move towards more open access may represent a substantial cost-benefit advantage' . As Peter Suber says in a comment on his blog: 'Taxpayers need to realize how much the return on their investment in research could be amplified by a transition to OA and how how much they are paying for every delay in that transition.' It is clear that South Africa would benefit from playing catch-up by getting moving on Open Access policies.
Peter Suber at 10/19/2006 11:41:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.