A Global Perspective on Open Access (4): Open Access in Australia

I am very pleased to introduce the fourth article in this series of snapshots of the progress towards open access around the globe. Dr Danny Kingsley, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Open Access Support Group summarizes the main OA policy developments and the OA activities that have taken place in Australia during 2013. Australia is clearly playing a leading role in the international OA agenda and have also been pioneering open access to research data. I am now working with Ross Wilkinson of the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and the newly formed Research Data Alliance (RDA). The year 2013 has clearly been a momentous year for open access to publications and 2014 looks to continue this momentum and make progress on issues to secure meaningful access to research data.

Tony Hey

December 2013

 Open Access in Australia

 This has been a big year for open access around the world, and developments in Australia have moved apace. Two things happened on the first of January 2013 – the Australian Research Council (ARC) announced their open access policy http://www.arc.gov.au/applicants/open_access.htm and the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) http://aoasg.org.au began operations (disclaimer – I work as the Executive Officer for the AOASG).

Funding policies

The ARC policy is very similar to the policy http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/grants/policy/dissemination-research-findings introduced on 1 July 2012 by the Australia’s other government funding body – the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Both policies require http://aoasg.org.au/resources/comparison-of-arc-nhmrc-policies/ that the Chief Investigators for funded projects should add metadata about their publications to their institutional repositories at the time of acceptance. There should be a link to the open access version within 12 months of publication. Neither policy advocates a particular method of achieving open access, and both policies specifically do not require payment for open access. However both organisations allow use of grant funding to pay for publication.

These policies stand out because they specifically look to use the established infrastructure in Australia. All Australian universities, (and many other institutions) have established an institutional repository http://aoasg.org.au/open-access-repositories-at-australian-institutions/. Generally to date Australia has enjoyed strong commitment and support from the government  http://aoasg.org.au/2013/03/19/centrally-supported-open-access-initiatives-in-australia/ to develop infrastructure for open access.

At an Open Access Week event in October, organised by the AOASG, the CEOs of both the ARC and the NHMRC spoke about these policies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Kcj8j3LyBQ They noted that given the speed of change in scholarly communication it is almost impossible to know what the open access agenda will look like in five years’ time. For this reason neither the NHMRC nor the ARC wish to be prescriptive about how to implement their policies. They also noted that while there are no current plans to withhold future grants from researchers that do not comply with the policies, this could become the case into the future.

Institutional policies

Open Access Week also saw the announcement of several new open access policies in Australian universities. Edith Cowan University http://www.ecu.edu.au/GPPS/policies_db/policies_view.php?rec_id=0000000354 , Deakin University http://theguide.deakin.edu.au/TheGuide/TheGuide2011.nsf/191d0d51322b3a04ca2576be00064063/7299b3cb34d37e45ca257acb002546a3?OpenDocument, University of Queensland http://ppl.app.uq.edu.au/content/4.20.08-open-access-uq-research-outputs and University of South Australia http://ppl.app.uq.edu.au/content/4.20.08-open-access-uq-research-outputs. There is a list of statements on open access from Australian institutions here http://aoasg.org.au/resources/.

These four new policies are added to the existing six policies in Australian universities. Those six universities (Australian National University, Charles Sturt University, Macquarie University, Newcastle University Queensland University of Technology and Victoria University) are the founding members of the AOASG. With a total of 10 open access policies, a quarter of all Australian universities now have an OA policy. In the same week the Australian Medical Student’s Association also released their policy on open access http://media.amsa.org.au.s3.amazonaws.com/policy/2013/2nd%20Council/201307_research_open_access_policy.pdf .

Events and activities

The ARC & NHMRC event was one of many OA Week events  http://aoasg.org.au/oawk-events-2013/ held in Australia in 2013, which was the largest yet. Every state and territory is hosting events with more than half the country’s universities participating.

The week following OA Week saw a large open access-themed conference – the Open Access and Research Conference  http://www.oar2013.qut.edu.au held at QUT from 30 October to 1 November. This event featured many high-profile international speakers.

Earlier in 2013 the National Scholarly Communication Forum http://www.humanities.org.au/About/AlliedOrganisations/NationalScholarlyCommunicationsForum.aspx was held, addressing the topic “Open Access Research Issues in the Humanities and Social Sciences”. A full run down of the presentations, themes and readings can be found at  http://aoasg.org.au/2013/05/16/notes-from-the-national-scholarly-communication-forum-may-3-2013/.

Informing the discussion

Throughout the year the AOASG has worked towards its goal of informing and encouraging the discussion around open access. The primary output of the group has been the development of the AOASG webpage. This consists of a combination of information about open access specific to Australia, links to useful resources, and discussion points about events in the open access space both in Australia and overseas.

The site has had over 26,000 visitors since going live in February. An analysis of page statistics indicates a strong interest in practitioner issues. The most popular blog has been “So you want people to read your thesis?” http://aoasg.org.au/2013/04/10/so-you-want-people-to-read-your-thesis/, followed by “Journal editors take note – you have the power” http://aoasg.org.au/2013/03/25/journal-editors-take-note-you-have-the-power/. The most popular webpage (apart from the homepage) is the list of Australian OA journals  http://aoasg.org.au/open-access-in-action/australian-oa-journals/. The website also contains several graphics including posters http://aoasg.org.au/how-to-make-research-oa/ and flowcharts http://aoasg.org.au/resources/policy-compliance-decision-tree/ that are available for download under CC-BY license.

The Australian and New Zealand repository community has been fortunate to have a strong community of practice which developed over several years through discussion lists and community days organised through the CAUL Australasian Institutional Repository Support Service (CAIRSS). While CAIRSS no longer exists, the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) http://www.caul.edu.au has continued to support these important services.

To complement this community, AOASG started the Australian Open Access Community Discussion List http://mailman.anu.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/australian_oa_community which pleasingly has had a strong uptake. Over 200 people have joined the list, representing a wide range of backgrounds. While 72% of the members are library-associated, a significant number of these are from research institutions outside the university sector. We have a positive interest from researchers, with many joining the list. There has also been some international interest – with members from India, Japan and Singapore plus several from New Zealand.

Twitter has been a very useful way to share the vast amount of developments, publications, policies and resources that are part of the open access area. The Twitter feed @openaccess_oz has sent over 1,200 notifications during the year. Followers come from all over the world.

Possibly the most positive sign for open access in Australia is the increasing number of policies in institutions. The AOASG began with representatives from six universities with open access policies. During the year more have been announced and there is a full list of Australian OA policies at http://aoasg.org.au/resources/. The AOASG is looking to expand its membership for 2014, which is shaping to be an even bigger year for open access in Australia.

Dr Danny Kingsley

Executive Officer

Australian Open Access Support Group


p: +612 6125 6839

w: wwww.aoasg.org.au

t: @openaccess_oz

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