Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Labor victory in Australia could link IRs with research assessment

From Arthur Sale in the American Scientist Open Access Forum (thanks to Stevan Harnad):

Yesterday [November 23, 2007], Australia held a Federal Election. The Australian Labor Party (the previous opposition) have clearly won, with Kevin Rudd becoming the Prime-Minister-elect.

What has this to do with the American Scientist Open Access Forum? Well the policy of the ALP is that the plans for the Research Quality Framework (the RQF - our research assessment exercise) will be immediately scrapped, and it will be replaced by a cheaper and metrics-based assessment, presumably a year or two later.

At first sight this is a setback for open access in Australia, because institutional repositories are not essential for a metrics-based research assessment. They just help improve the metrics. However, the situation may be turned to advantage, and there are several major pluses.

(1) Previous RQF grants should have ensured that every university in Australia now has a repository. Just mostly empty, or mostly dark, or both.

(2) The advisers in the Department of Education, Science & Technology (DEST) haven’t changed. The Accessibility Framework (ie open access) is still in place as a goal....

(4) If the Rudd government is serious about efficiency in higher education, they could simply instruct DEST to require universities to put all their currently reported publications in a repository (ID/OA policy), from which the annual reports would be automatically derived. In addition all the desired publication metrics would also be derived, at any time. The Accessibility Framework would be achieved....

Any university that fails to immediately implement an ID/OA mandate (Immediate Deposit, Open Access when possible) in its institutional repository is simply deciding to opt out of research competition, or mistakenly thinks that it knows better. Although I suppose there is still the weak excuse that it is all too hard to understand or think about....