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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Brisbane Declaration on OA

The participants in the Open Access and Research Conference 2008 (Brisbane, September 24-25, 2008) have issued the Brisbane Declaration.  Here it is in full:

Following the conference on Open Access and Research held in September in Australia, and hosted by Queensland University of Technology, the following statement was developed and has the endorsement of over sixty participants.

Brisbane Declaration


The participants recognise Open Access as a strategic enabling activity, on which research and inquiry will rely at international, national, university, group and individual levels.


Therefore the participants resolve the following as a summary of the basic strategies that Australia must adopt:

  1. Every citizen should have free open access to publicly funded research, data and knowledge.
  2. Every Australian university should have access to a digital repository to store its research outputs for this purpose.
  3. As a minimum, this repository should contain all materials reported in the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC).
  4. The deposit of materials should take place as soon as possible, and in the case of published research articles should be of the authorís final draft at the time of acceptance so as to maximize open access to the material.

Brisbane, September, 2008


  • This is not the first call for OA to publicly-funded research.  But I particularly like the way it links that call to (1) OA repositories at universities, (2) national research monitoring programs, like the HERDC, and (3) the value of early deposits.  Kudos to all involved.
  • See our past posts on the Brisbane conference.

Update (10/9/08).  Also see Stevan Harnad's comments:

The Brisbane Declaration on Open Access at last puts some real practical policy content and substance into the Budapest/Bethesda/Berlin series, along the lines of the UK Select Committee Recommendation and Berlin 3....If this is implemented planet-wide, we have universal Open Access within a year.

And see the comments of Arthur Sale, one of the declaration drafters, quoted by Harnad:

...May I tease out a few strands of the Brisbane Declaration for readers of the list, as a person who was at the OAR Conference in Brisbane.

1. The Declaration was adopted on the voices at the Conference, revised in line with comments, and then participants were asked to put their names to it post-conference. It represents an overwhelming consensus of the active members of the repository community in Australia.

2. The Conference wanted a succinct statement that could be used to explain to senior university administrators, ministers, and the public as to what Australia should do about making its research accessible. It is not a policy, as it does not mention any of the exceptions and legalisms that are inevitably needed in a formal policy.

3. The Conference wanted to support the two Australian Ministers with responsibility for Innovation, Science and Health in their moves to make open access mandatory for all Australian-funded research.

4. Note in passing that the Declaration is not restricted to peer-reviewed articles, but looks forward to sharing of research data and knowledge (in the humanities and arts).

5. At the same time, it was widely recognized that publishers' pdfs ("Versions of Record") were not the preferred version of an article to hold in a repository, primarily because a pdf is a print-based concept which loses a lot of convenience and information for harvesting, but also in recognition of the formatting work of journal editors (which should never change the essence of an article). The Declaration explicitly make it clear that it is the final draft ("Accepted Manuscript") which is preferred. The "Version of Record" remains the citable object.

6. The Declaration also endorses author self-archiving of the final draft at the time of acceptance, implying the ID/OA policy (Immediate Deposit, OA when possible).
While the Brisbane Declaration is aimed squarely at Australian research, I believe that it offers a model for other countries. It does not talk in pieties, but in terms of action. It is capable of implementation in one year throughout Australia. Point 1 is written so as to include citizens from anywhere in the world, in the hope of reciprocity. The only important thing missing is a timescale, and that's because we believe Australia stands at a cusp.

What are the chances of a matching declaration in other countries?