Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, August 31, 2007

Report on Australian meeting to improve research access

Australia’s National Scholarly Communications Forum (NSCF) has released a report on its meeting, Improving Access to Australian Publicly Funded Research (Canberra, Australia, July 16, 2007).  (Thanks to Colin Steele.)  From the summary:

NSCF Speakers and participants emphasised, while acknowledging significant progress to date, the need for an increased openness of access to publicly funded research findings, (notably in research data and publications). Maximising the economic and social benefits of research and enabling innovation, depends upon the effective distribution of research outputs.

Policy-frameworks and focussed research are needed, however, to progress beyond a simple advocacy of accessibility. There is a need to focus strategically on the full life cycle of scholarly communications (Houghton Report 2006). The benefits of increased access to Australia’s wide variety of research outputs can only be realised through structured and widely understood policies, practices and support systems.

A key issue to be addressed is examination of the issues arising in the Australian settings of embedding the cost of disseminating research outputs within the total cost of the research process. Further research is required, in this context, on the impact on traditional publishing models of ‘open’ initiatives.

Institutional policies and practices are largely out of step with, or ignorant of, the potential of wider accessibility frameworks. Institutions need to build curation of their scholarly publications and research data into information strategies to enable their research to be disseminated for the greatest possible impact.

Attention also needs to be paid within universities to make open access alternatives effective and easy to understand and use for authors. A crucial issue in this context is an understanding of intellectual property and copyright issues and implementation of coherent and supportive policies.

Increasing involvement with the academic community at the individual and disciplinary level is essential. Researchers need to be aware of the opportunities offered by new scholarly commun ication frameworks.

Research evaluation and funding conditions are primary points of leverage. There is need to ensure the RQF, and other evaluative measures, support and encourage, rather than hinder, more open research communication.

A  ‘joined up’ and systematic national approach to facilitate cultural and institutional change should be enacted.  National and organisational incentives, including tailored disciplinary advocacy programmes, need to be developed. Projects such as the Dutch Cream of Science initiative should be considered in Australia. Open Scholarship Australia or AusOpen Access would be counterpart titles of overseas nationally focussed initiatives.

Conclusion.  Greater national collaboration and action is required by Government departments, universities, relevant industry sectors and Research Councils to ensure the effective implementation of open innovation and accessibility frameworks.

Also see Arthur Sale’s report of the same meeting (blogged here July 23, 2007).