Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 and Open Access: A good news story

By guest blogger Dr Joanna Richardson, Library Strategy Advisor , Information Services, Griffith University

Funding bodies and national governments worldwide are seeking an improved return on investment for funded research. In a number of countries accountability is measured among universities by means of a research assessment exercise.  In Australia the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) exercise, which is administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC), “evaluates the quality of the research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks”.

It is particularly pleasing to note that for the next round of ERA (2015): “Institutions are required to state whether a research output is available in an open access repository. Open access data will be used for reporting and analysis purposes only. Data will not form part of the evaluation process and will not be made available to peer reviewers or Research Evaluation Committees (RECs) (ERA 2015 Submission Guidelines, p. 9).”

In the context of the emerging global research data landscape–and Australia’s positioning within that environment, the importance of this step should not be underestimated. While it is easy to focus on “Why should we bother? It will not count”, it is much more useful to look at this in terms of some of the immediate benefits which Australian libraries have been reporting anecdotally. These include closer collaboration between the library, IT services and the Research Office.  In some institutions it has been a great door opener for a dialogue between researchers and librarians about the benefits of Open Access in general.

At a macro level, this initiative by the ARC can be viewed as part of a larger international conversation about developing the sustainability of the infrastructure and content services required to support OA and quality, replicable research outcomes. In a special themed issue of Information Standards Quarterly (ISQ) on the topic of “Open Access Infrastructure”, Liam Earney, Guest Content Editor, notes: “2013 seems to have been a watershed for open access (OA). Driven by a number of policy announcements from funding bodies and governments worldwide, the question is no longer whether open access will or should happen, but rather how will it be implemented in a sustainable way.”

In Australia the need to record open access –even though it will not be used for evaluation– in the ERA 2015 submissions is an exciting positive step for open access. It also sets the stage for future developments for open access to data from publicly funded research.

Open Access Week Webinars – Registration Now Open

Registrations are now open for the free AOASG webinars that will run during OAWK 2014.

Full details can be found on our webinar page: http://aoasg.org.au/aoasg-webinars-2014/

But in short:

“Open access 101”: Tues 21 Oct  12:30pm  AEDT Register
“Funder OA policies & requirements”: Wed 22 Oct 12:30pm AEDT Register
“Understanding publisher agreements”: Wed 23 OCT 2:30pm AEDT Register
“The changing publishing landscape”: Thurs 24 Oct 12:30pm AEDT  Register

Feel free to spread the registration links far and wide, or to use the events to supplement your own OAWk events.

OAWk Webinars now open for registration

Registration is now open for the AOASG webinars to be held during Open Access Week 2014.

For a full description go to our webinar page, otherwise you can click on the links below to sign up.
These stand-alone webinars will run for 45 -50 minutes with 30 minutes for presentation and 10-15 minutes for discussion. All are being held during Open Access Week 2014.

Date Time Topic Register
Tuesday 21 October 12.30pm – 1.30pm AEDT “Open access 101” Register
Wednesday 22 October 12.30pm – 1.30pm AEDT “Funder OA policies & requirements” Register
Wednesday 23 October 2:30pm – 3.15pm AEDT “Understanding publisher agreements” Register
Thursday 24 October 12.30pm – 1.30pm AEDT “The changing publishing landscape” Register

Australian Chief Scientist comes out in support of Open Access.

Ian Chubb recommends in his newly released STEM strategy that the government “enhance dissemination of Australian STEM research by expanding open access policies and improving the supporting infrastructure.” and “Support the translation and commercialisation of STEM discoveries through: … a modern and flexible IP framework that embraces a range of capabilities from open access regimes to …” Check out pages 18 and 28 of the full report [pdf]

Debate about conditions relating to APC fund allocations

An interesting discussion has come up on the SCHOLCOMM list about applying rules to the allocation of APC funds. I’ve summarised it here and put in the links to some universities’ OA fund criteria which might be of interest to anyone thinking about putting together some criteria for their own institutions.

The first query was from University of orleans saying they were thinking of setting up a fund to pay for APCs and were considering putting in a requirement that the department chair approve the journal choice.

Florida State University replied that there are more objective standards offering their OA fund criteria – https://www.lib.fsu.edu/tads/open-access-fund

Emory University mentioned ‘quality’ considerations, and sent a link to their fund requirements are here: https://open.library.emory.edu/authors/oa-fund/ “The referral to a department chair is part of an internal document signed off on by our Library Policy Committee, which serves as our faculty advisory committee for the fund.”

University of Northern Carolina also have quality criteria such as being listed in the DOAJ. Their LibGuide on information on application and review procedures; it also provides advice for applicants on evaluating the quality of OA journals: http://libguides.unco.edu/content.php?pid=557453&sid=4594837. Also they said “Department chairs are required to sign off on the application to reflect their support for the fund request, so they could informally vet the journal although this is really considered the job of the review committee. We haven’t run into any issues with this approach, but are still less than a year into the program.”

Grand Valley State University require that department chairs review the applications for our open access publishing fund. We use that in combination with other criteria (see http://gvsu.edu/library/sc/open-access-publishing-support-fund-3.htm). They noted that department chairs were less confident in their own ability to identify predatory publishers. We talk through those concerns and have tried to provide our faculty with tools that assist in evaluating open access journals (http://gvsu.edu/library/sc/open-access-journal-quality-indicators-2.htm).

Two people said there would be issues about ‘academic freedom’. One noted: It also occurs to me that journal publishers would not be very happy about this kind of requirement – I know that journal publishers in Canada are very concerned about library OA funds only funding APCs for “big” OA journals.

That last comment is rather concerning.


AOASG Open Access Forum – The Researcher’s Perspective

This event (timing and pricing) has been updated – PLEASE see Forum page for prices / timetable.

The Australian Open Access Support Group is pleased to announce its inaugural ‘must attend’ face to face Forum, to be held on the morning of Wednesday 5 November at ACU’s North Sydney Campus.

The forum will consist of two morning sessions, one a facilitated discussion featuring researchers from a range of disciplines discussing the benefits and challenges of sharing their work through making it open access and communicating it through social media. The other session will focus on national and international trends in open access.

This event will precede the ANDS afternoon of talks featuring Dr Heather Piwowar and is held the day before the CAUL Research Repository Community Days commence.

Registration fees will cover costs and morning tea will be provided. Lunch will be provided for those staying for the afternoon ANDS events.

Registrations are not yet open, but we will send out notification to the lists as soon as we can. Please note the date, and starting time of 9:30 am in your diary for when you are booking your travel to the CAUL research Repository Community Days and/or the ANDS workshop.

AOASG Open Access Forum – The Researcher’s Perspective


Wednesday November 5th


FREE for staff or students of AOASG member institutions (http://aoasg.org.au/membership/)

$50 for others


Tenison Woods House, 8-20 Napier Street, North Sydney, NSW which is part of the North Sydney Campus of the Australian Catholic University

Further details of the Forum will be made available via the aoasg.org.au website, or contact eo@aoasg.org.au

Related events

There will be two other events at ACU of likely interest to those attending the Forum.

• On Wednesday afternoon, November 5, the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) will be presenting an afternoon of talks exploring open access, data, data reuse, data citation and research impact featuring guest speaker, Dr Heather Piwowar. Those staying for this event will be provided with lunch. More details from ANDS (www.ands.org.au/events/index.html)

• On Thursday and Friday the CAUL Research Repositories Community Days (www.caul.edu.au) will be held at the same venue.