Australian innovation report recommends Open Access to research outputs

(Thanks to Colin Steele for forwarding this and Glen Newton for the excerpting.)

The Australian minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr spoke about this report in a speech released yesterday. Full text here.

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
  • and the internet, where it would be freely available to the world.
  • …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.

    This speech reflects a number of recommendations in the report:

    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: ·utilise the principles of targeted transparency and the development of auditable standards to maximise the flow of information in private markets about product quality; and ·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 7.14: 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.

    As ROARMAP indicates, the world leader in Open Access, both in time and in absolute size, is indisputably the United Kingdom: A UK Parliamentary Select Committee was the world’s first governmental recommendation to mandate OA, in 2004. However, the UK government, under pressure from the publishing lobby, did not accept its own committee’s recommendation. Nevertheless, six of the seven RCUK research funding councils went on to mandate OA anyway. The UK now has a total of 18 university and funder OA mandates (including the world’s first OA mandate at Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science in 2003).

    Australia, however, adopted the world’s first university-wide OA mandate in 2004, and with its current total of 7 mandates along with this vigorous governmental support from Minister Carr, Australia is the world’s relative, if not absolute leader in OA, by size as well as timing. And it is about to consolidate that leadership with an international Open Access and Research Conference in Brisbane next week, convened by Tom Cochrane, the DVC who engineered the world’s first university OA mandate.

    By way of comparison, the US, the country with the world’s largest research output, has only five OA mandates (though that includes one from the NIH, the world’s biggest biomedical research funder, as well as Faculty mandates from Harvard and Stanford). Universities are the sleeping giants, and the council of the European Universities Association (EUA) has unanimously recommended the adoption of an OA mandate by its 791 member universities in 46 countries — but that mandate has not been adopted yet (although Professor Bernard Rentier, Rector of University of Liege is working on it, with EurOpenScholar).

    But Australia looks poised now to be the one that sets all the dominoes falling worldwide.

    Stevan Harnad
    American Scientist Open Access Forum