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21 October 2010
National, sectoral, funder or institutional Open Access policies and self-archiving mandates can improve access to research and improve efficiency at relatively little cost and with no immediate disruption to scholarly publishing practices and traditions, leading expert on academic publishing, Professor John Houghton believes.
“Government funding bodies, research institutions and universities should consider introducing such Open Access mandates until more fundamental changes to scholarly communication practices evolve over time,” he said in his keynote address today (21 October 2010) at the Open Access: How Open? How Accessible? Symposium at Deakin University.
Professor Houghton, whose presentation reviewed the major issues concerning academic publishing via Open Access and the lessons learned from the US and Europe concluded that the benefits of more open access exceeded the costs. The benefits accrue in the form of cost savings and, more importantly, by increasing the efficiency of research and making it more accessible, Open Access increases the return on investment in R&D.
Professor Houghton said the benefits were likely to be positive for both open access publishing (Gold OA) and for parallel-subscription publishing and self-archiving (Green OA).
“At the institutional level, research has shown that the benefits would be likely to outweigh the costs for all but the most research-intensive of universities,” he said.
“Self-archiving alternatives appear to be the more cost-effective, given the capacity to enhance access at very little cost, although whether self-archiving in parallel with subscriptions is a sustainable model over the longer term is debatable.”
Professor Houghton said the German experience involving the German National Licensing Program (NLP) had provided enhanced access for researchers in Germany.
“The German program is an extended form of consortia purchasing and licensing, and centralises certain library subscription‐related activities,” he said.
“While this program has a downside in that potential developments in open access or other scholarly publishing business models could significantly erode the relative cost-benefit of the NLP over time, and NLP may slow the take up of open access alternatives in Germany, it too provides a highly cost-effective avenue for enhanced access.”
Professor Houghton added Open Access self-archiving mandates have been adopted widely overseas, including the National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, Stanford University and MIT, however, few mandates have been instituted to date in Australia.
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