By Dr Danny Kingsley
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 and the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) began operations (disclaimer – I work as the Executive Officer for the AOASG).
The ARC policy is very similar to the policy introduced on 1 July 2012 by the Australia’s other government funding body – the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Both policies require 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 Generally to date Australia has enjoyed strong commitment and support from the government to develop infrastructure for open access.
At an Open Access Week event organised by the AOASG, the CEOs of both the ARC and the NHMRC spoke about these policies. 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 did note 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.
Events and activities
That was one of many OAWk events being held in Australia in 2013, which has shaped up to be the largest yet. Every state and territory is hosting events with more than half the country’s universities participating.
The week following OAWk will see a large open access-themed conference – the Open Access and Research Conference held at QUT from 30 October to 1 November. This event will feature many high-profile international speakers.
Earlier in 2013 the National Scholarly Communication Forum 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 is here.
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?”, followed by “Journal editors take note – you have the power“. The most popular webpage (apart from the homepage) is the list of Australian OA journals. The website also contains several graphics including posters and flowcharts 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) has continued to support these important services.
To complement this community, AOASG started the Australian Open Access Community Discussion List 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 it is anticipated that others are intending to during or around OAWk. There is a full list of Australian OA policies here. 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 is the Executive Officer for the Australian Open Access Support Group. Follow AOASG on Twitter: @openaccess_oz; to get in touch, visit their homepage. ‘A Big Year – OA in Australia 2013’ by Dr Danny Kingsley is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence.