AOASG Submission to the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements for Higher Education

September 2015


The Australasian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) was established in 2013 by nine Australian universities that were committed to ensuring that the research outputs of Australia were made available openly with the ultimate aim of optimising the return on investment in research done in Australian Universities

Over the past three years the AOASG has worked to assist researchers, funders, research organisations and libraries by sharing knowledge about and assisting in building capacity for Open Access.

The AOASG now includes all eight New Zealand universities as well as nine Australian universities.

AOASG welcomes the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements for Higher Education, in particular the focus on increasing the impact of the significant investment made by the Commonwealth Government in universities.

Comments from the AOASG follow in relation to Sections 1,2, and 4 of the issues paper.


Section 1

To achieve industry impact and enable commercialisation, the research outcomes from universities need to be easily discoverable, free online with clear reuse rights, and with linked access to the data that underpins the research.

Recent years have seen the government launch some important initiatives to assist availability of research outputs. AOASG welcomes the policies of the Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)which recommend Open Access for research outputs from research funded by the Councils. We note that compliance is as yet, unmeasured.

The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy funded projects (eg ANDS) have significantly improved the infrastructure for access to data from research, although much remains to be done in order for data to consistently be made open. We note that research from Houghton and Gruen finds that:

“Conservatively, we estimate that the value of data in Australia’s public research to be at least $1.9 billion and possibly up to $6 billion a year at current levels of expenditure and activity. Research data curation and sharing might be worth at least $1.8 billion and possibly up to $5.5 billion a year, of which perhaps $1.4 billion to $4.9 billion annually is yet to be realized. Hence, any policy around publicly-funded research data should aim to realise as much of this unrealised value as practicable [1]”

There will be genuine financial benefit from making research outputs, including data, available on an open access basis.

Research [2] into the use of research by industry and business associations has found that major barriers include a lack of access to research findings and data. These barriers are compounded by inadequate discoverability of the research. Furthermore, there is as yet inconsistent linking via unique identifiers of researchers (such as ORCiD) to research publications and data

Australian Government policy is underdeveloped in this area, leading to inconsistent practices, limited availability of funded research outputs and sub-optimal industry impact.

mandated deposit

2010 – 2014

Figure 1. The percentage of Australasian Institutions with a mandated deposit for all research publications. There was a marked increase in the number of universities mandating deposit for all types of research publications, with the percentage rising from 16% in 2013 to 37% in 2014. [3]

In conclusion, factors impeding commercialisation of the research output of Australia’s universities (1.4.1), and barriers to improving research-industry collaboration (1.4.2) include:

  • a lack of policy frameworks to ensure research is published openly and is thus available
  • a lack of an overarching national discovery mechanism – for example the ability to search seamlessly across all research outputs, including published work and that deposited in repositories.
  • a lack of a service that would support industry awareness of new research (such as the SHARE initiative in the US) [4].
  • No entity which is responsible for the the collaboration required between policy makers, such as ARC and NHMRC, academic institutions, and those who can provide technology and infrastructure, such as Intersect and the National Library of Australia.

Section 2 and 4

One reliable measure of the use of research is by counting the number of citations to that work in other publications.  This is an important metric for researchers. There is substantial evidence that making research available via Open Access publications increases citations [5], ie researchers can improve their citation rate in this way.  However, it is important that such citations are measured at the article, not the journal level and are part of an overall programme of considered impact evaluation.[6]

In order to optimise accessibility, use and reuse of research outputs by industry measures (2.3.5) we recommend that award assessment and impact measurement (4.3.6) should include identification of and metrics for:

  • research outputs – number that have been made openly accessible and information on their use and reuse
  • research datasets – number that have been made openly accessible and information on their use and reuse
  • grant acquittals and reporting should include a requirement that outputs are reported in terms of those that are freely or openly accessible, and by what method and those that are behind a paywall

On the question of what can universities do to enhance collaboration (4.3.3) we believe that making universities’ research more discoverable via Open Access, either via universities’ repositories or through fully open access journals is a crucial first step. There is substantial evidence that industry – especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) [3] – are not able to routinely and affordably access the research they need.

However, an important overarching barrier to improving accessibility and hence translation of both research publications and the associated data is financial – ie the cost of Open Access publication, repository infrastructure and data curation.

Full funding for the dissemination of results in the relevant grants, with specific line items associated with such funding would we believe substantially improve the use, reuse, impact and translation of Australian research.

1. Houghton, J., Gruen, N. (2014) Open Research Data Report to the Australian National Data Service (ANDS). November 2014

2. Houghton, Swan and Brown Access to Research and Technical Information in Denmark

3. Council of Australian University Librarians (2014) 2014 Research Publications Repository Survey Report

4. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) jointly launched the SHARE initiative in 2013.

5. SPARC Europe The Open Access Citation Advantage Service

6. The Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics

A PDF version of this submission is available here: