Why Open Access?

Why make work open access?

Open Access benefits  everyone. The pursuit of research is to increase global knowledge. Disseminating work through open access channels means that researchers in less resourced institutions, practitioners in the field and the general public can share findings – as well as academics in Australasian institutions..

The world is facing significant challenges that will only be met through the collaboration and sharing of research findings internationally. Open Access accelerates the pace of discovery and the translation of research into benefits for the public by sharing results with other researchers in a timely manner who can build on it and practitioners who can apply the new knowledge.

The taxpayer supports the research, the writing up of results, and the peer review and editing process. Open Access allows these taxpayers to see these findings without having to pay to view.

There is also considerable evidence that reaching more readers by making work open access results in citable articles being cited more. Open Access also allows institutions a wider audience for their outputs.

Open access makes economic sense

One question about open access is whether it is more cost effective than the current subscription system. There have been some substantial studies looking at the economic impact of a move to open access. The goal is to have the most cost effective system, and to determine this it is necessary to look at the costs versus the benefits.

A recent such study “Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on ‘Going for Gold’” has found that disseminating research results via Open Access would be more cost-effective than subscription publishing.

A secondary question is whether achieving open access through open access journals (gold OA), or placing a copy of all work in a repository (green OA) would be more cost effective. It appears that if there were a universal move to open access then gold would be more financially beneficial. But this is a long way from reality.

During the current transition period, which requires institutions to maintain subscriptions, an institutional adoption of green OA is cheaper than a move to gold. Making work available through an institutional repository is not free. The repository must be built and maintained by staff.  However, even allowing for this, the same study found having a full green policy would cost an institution approximately one-fifth the cost of adopting full gold OA might cost.

Another study “The Economic Implications of Alternative Scholarly Publishing Models”  supports this position, stating open access self-archiving, either in parallel with subscription publishing or with overlay services, may be very cost-effective. This study also looked at scholarly book publishing and found there may be considerable benefits available from a shift to open access scholarly book publishing.

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