Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The state of OA policy in Australia

Colin Steele, Open access as an article of faith, The Australian, February 27, 2008.  Colin uses the new Harvard OA mandate as a prompt to review the state of OA policy in Australia.  (The captious title was an editor's idea, not his.)  Excerpt:

...Richard Fisher, executive director, academic and professional publishing, at Cambridge University Press, in a speech at the University of Sydney last year, urged universities to consider that given "primary research is original and important, what is the best means to disseminate that research to the wider world".

Universities need to look at scholarly communication costs holistically. There is no point in institutions supporting the high costs of academic research, through infrastructure costs and the work of individual researchers, if that research is effectively given away to those publishers whose main responsibility is to their shareholders.

Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister Kim Carr has said that he'd "like to encourage debate about the most efficient ways to make public research more available" in several statements....

Leanne Harvey, manager of the research systems branch in the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science and Research, in...a speech at a Brisbane seminar on February 14, noted that the Australian Scheme for Higher Education Repositories program will require universities "to develop repositories to support open access". There will also be an examination "to make future HERDC (Higher Education Research Data Collection) publications available through open access repositories within a reasonable time frame".

Harvey emphasised that "the overarching intent of the (Government's) accessibility framework is that outputs of publicly funded research, including research data and research publications, should be managed in ways that maximise public benefit through exposure and use". She noted that an updated discussion paper on the accessibility framework would be released later this year. "The framework will explore using a set of levers to drive change, including (but not limited to) the replacement to the (research quality framework)".

The examples of the Wellcome Trust in Britain and the National Institutes of Health in the US provide a powerful global backdrop to Harvey's words that "we will also explore how to encourage institutions, research organisations or individuals that receive public money to make the results of their research publicly available as soon as possible". The Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council have already taken steps, in January last year, to place future research outputs within repository and publicly accessible settings....

The open access movement, which retains, in its hybrid forms, peer review and the traditional frameworks of scholarship, is undoubtedly gaining momentum from the initiatives of Harvard and the NIH; Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust; the European Union and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and, in Australia, the ARC, NHMRC, Productivity Commission and Rudd Government.

This end process will result in scholarship that combines peer review authority with public accessibility within digital frameworks....