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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Australian govt report recommends OA, CC

The Australian government on September 9 released the final report of its Review of the National Innovation System. (Thanks to Creative Commons.) The official title is VenturousAustralia but most Australians are calling it the Cutler Report. The report includes this recommendation:
... Australian governments should adopt international standards of open publishing as far as possible. Material released for public information by Australian governments should be released under a creative commons licence. ...
See also this article about the report from Australian Life Scientist.

See also our past posts on Senator Kim Carr, Australia's Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, who commissioned the report.

Update. See also Stevan Harnad's comments.

Update (PS).  See these specific recommendations from the report (thanks to Glen Newton):

  • Recommendation 7.7: Australia should establish a National Information Strategy to optimise the flow of information in the Australian economy. The fundamental aim of a National Information Strategy should be to: ...maximise the flow of government generated information, research, and content for the benefit of users (including private sector resellers of information).
  • Recommendation 7.8: Australian governments should adopt international standards of open publishing as far as possible. Material released for public information by Australian governments should be released under a creative commons licence.
  • Recommendation 7.9: Funding models and institutional mandates should recognise the research and innovation role and contributions of cultural agencies and institutions responsible for information repositories, physical collections or creative content and fund them accordingly.
  • Recommendation 7.10: A specific strategy for ensuring the scientific knowledge produced in Australia is placed in machine searchable repositories be developed and implemented using public funding agencies and universities as drivers.
  • Recommendation 7.11: Action should be taken to establish an agreed framework for the designation, funding models, and access frameworks for key collections in recognition of the national and international significance of many State and Territory collections (similar to the frameworks and accords developed around Australia's Major Performing Arts Companies).
  • Recommendation 7.14: To the maximum extent practicable, information, research and content funded by Australian governments ­ including national collections ­ should be made freely available over the internet as part of the global public commons. This should be done whilst the Australian Government encourages other countries to reciprocate by making their own contributions to the global digital pubic commons....

And some of these reflections:

Governments and public agencies are centrally involved in the provision of research, information and content across a very broad range of activities.  For some years now, both commercial and policy focus has turned towards the economic and social benefits flowing from open access to these resources, and by contrast, the potential costs and 'value damming' that can be involved in 'business as usual' models where content is more tightly held....

Open access requirements are increasingly being introduced by research funding organisations and research institutions worldwide.  To date progress in Australia has been patchy and lacking the comprehensiveness and boldness of leading countries such as the UK....

Also see the transcript of a speech given by Kim Carr on September 9.  Excerpt:

The last big idea in the report I want to touch on is open access.

It is embodied in a series of recommendations aimed at unlocking public information and content, including the results of publicly funded research.

The review panel recommends making this material available under a creative commons licence through:

  • machine searchable repositories, especially for scientific papers and data
  • cultural agencies, collections and institutions, which would be funded to reflect their role in innovation
  • and the internet, where it would be freely available to the world....

Australia takes justifiable pride in the fact that it produces 3 per cent of the world’s research papers with just 0.3 per cent of the world’s population, but that still means 97 per cent of research papers are produced elsewhere.

We are and will remain a net importer of knowledge, so it is in our interest to promote the freest possible flow of information domestically and globally.

The arguments for stepping out first on open access are the same as the arguments for stepping out first on emissions trading – the more willing we are to show leadership on this, we more chance we have of persuading other countries to reciprocate.

And if we want the rest of the world to act, we have to do our bit at home....

Also see coverage and comment by Michael Geist, Michael Jubb, and Kate McDonald.

Update (1/21/09). John Kapeleris criticized the OA recommendations in this report as "commercially naïve and potentially damaging to Australia’s interests." He seems to be unaware of the Houghton/Steele/Sheehan research showing that OA to publicly-funded research in Australia would achieve "a benefit/cost ratio of 51...(i.e. the benefits are 51 times greater than the costs)."