AOASG response to Productivity Commission Issues Paper on Data Availability and Use

AOASG response to Productivity Commission Issues Paper on Data Availability and Use

Prepared by Dr Virginia Barbour, Executive Director, AOASG, on behalf of the AOASG; July 2016

The Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) [1] exists to advocate, collaborate, raise awareness and lead and build capacity for open access in Australia and New Zealand. The AOASG is supported by ten Australian and eight New Zealand Institutions.

General comments

The AOASG welcomes the Productivity Commission inquiry into data availability and use. The inquiry is timely both nationally and globally. We limit our response to the general sections and paragraphs 1 and 4 under the scope of the inquiry.

We especially note and agree that this inquiry should consider domestic and international best practices and the measures adopted internationally to encourage sharing and linking of both public and private data.

Specific comments

Page 3


Paragraph entitled:  Open Data

Open data has most usefully been characterised as having the four characteristics  denoted by the acronym: FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.[2] This terminology is more useful than the term “open”, which can be interpreted in many different ways. As the developers of the FAIR principles note: “FAIR Principles put specific emphasis on enhancing the ability of machines to automatically find and use the data, in addition to supporting its reuse by individuals.” The move to more open data is part of the drive for more open scholarship generally, that has been highlighted by a number of global initiatives recently including the Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science, an initiative of the Dutch Government, during their chairing of the EU in Jan-June 2016.[3]

Page 4

Box 1 Paragraph entitled: Why does data matter?

Data are also critical in ensuring the reproducibility of the academic literature. Without data to back up published research findings, research is based on trust at best. There are many examples now of researchers being unable to reproduce previously published research findings and where the data behind published papers have been found to be unavailable or uninterpretable. Furthermore, there are many cases where lack of data availability has been linked to fraud in research and publishing.[4] There is now an increasing global consensus that in order to better ensure the integrity of research and to prevent research fraud and improve its investigation, researchers should be willing to make the data that underpins academic papers available. Such data should be in a format that allows their interrogation, provided that appropriate processes are in place to ensure the protection of sensitive data. The Australian National Data Service (ANDS)[5] has provided guidance on handling sensitive data, including those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.[6] As data become more open it is essential such guidance remains current.

As well as the principles noted above, there is also increasing infrastructure in place directed at increasing the sharing of these data.  National examples, with well-established policies, tools and processes in place include ANDS and its many tools including its portal, Research Data Australia.[7] International repositories for academic data include long established publicly supported ones such as GenBank[8] and non-profit and commercially used ones such as Dryad[9] and Figshare,[10] respectively. Many Australian institutions also have their own data repositories which are linked to Research Data Australia.

Page 8

Box 2 Paragraph entitled: Insufficient dataset linkage?

Poor, or absent, linkage between published research and the underlying data is one of the most important reasons leading to poor reproducibility in much of the academic literature, especially in some areas of science and medicine.[11]  It has also been well established that URLs cited in papers decay very dramatically after publication, having a half-life of at best 4.7 years after publication in one study[12]—which reinforces the need for the development of a secure culture of archiving, not merely linkage to temporary websites for example.

Page 9

Paragraph entitled: Benefits of increasing data availability and use

As noted above, one clear benefit of increasing data availability would be to increase the reliability of the published literature. This in turn leads to increased efficiency of research. The issue of lack of data leading to waste in research is mentioned in the campaign by the Reward Alliance, one of whose key recommendations is “Make publicly available the full protocols, analysis plans or sequence of analytical choices, and raw data for all designed and undertaken biomedical research”.[13]

Page 13

Paragraph entitled: More recently the Australian Government…

We very much welcome the Australian Government’s stated commitment to open data. Of particular importance is the requirement for a Creative Commons license,[14] which fulfils the “R” i.e. reusable part of a FAIR framework for data. Guidance will be required to ensure which license is the most appropriate one for specific contexts and recommendations on developing such guidance would be important in ensuring data is optimally re-useable.

Page 14

Question: What benefits would the community derive from increasing the availability and use of public sector data?

See comments above which relate to the reliability of the academic literature and increased efficiency that would accrue through better access to and reliability of data associated with publications. Of note, many academic journals also now recognise the importance of such data sharing including, for example, the PLOS journals.[15]

However, currently there are few accepted processes for citing data, though the Research Data Alliance[16] and Force11,[17] two international organisations, both have groups that have worked on citation practices.

One crucial element of improving data accessibility is to ensure that academics who generate the data for others to use are given appropriate credit for it. Systems to reward such behaviour need to be developed and supported by institutions and funders of research.


Page 22

Question: How should the costs associated with making more public sector data widely available be funded?

Page 22

Question: Is availability of skilled labour an issue in areas such as data science or other data‑specific occupations? Is there a role for government in improving the skills base in this area?

There is unquestionably a lack of comfort among many academics in the curation of data associated with their work. There is a need for skills in data management and analysis, especially of complex datasets, to be incorporated into the training of early career researchers. Programmes such as Data Carpentry[19] have been successful in peer to peer training of researchers, though clearly could be scaled up further.

[1] ‘Australasian Open Access Strategy Group’, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[2] ‘Article Metrics – The FAIR Guiding Principles for Scientific Data Management and Stewardship : Scientific Data’ <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[3] NL EU 2016, Amsterdam Call for Action on Open ScienceNL <;.

[4] ‘Cases | Committee on Publication Ethics: COPE’ <; [accessed 27 July 2016].

[5] ANDS, ‘Australian National Data Service’, ANDS <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[6] ANDS, ‘Ethics, Consent and Data Sharing’, ANDS <; [accessed 27 July 2016].

[7] ‘Research Data Australia’ <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[8] ‘GenBank Home’ <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[9] ‘ Dryad’ <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[10] ‘Figshare – Credit for All Your Research’ <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[11] John P. A. Ioannidis, ‘Why Most Clinical Research Is Not Useful’, PLOS Med, 13.6 (2016), e1002049 <;.

[12] P. Habibzadeh, ‘Decay of References to Web Sites in Articles Published in General Medical Journals: Mainstream vs Small Journals’, Applied Clinical Informatics, 4.4 (2013), 455–64 <;.

[13] ‘Key Recommendations | Research Waste’ <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[14] ‘Creative Commons Australia’, Creative Commons Australia <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[15] ‘PLOS Data Availability’ <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[16] ‘Research Data Alliance Data Citation Working Group’, RDA, 2013 <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[17] ‘Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles – FINAL | FORCE11’ <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

[18] Australian Government Department of Industry and Science, ‘Australian Scheme for Higher Education Repositories (ASHER) and the Implementation Assistance Program (IAP)’ <; [accessed 27 July 2016].

[19] ‘Data Carpentry’, Data Carpentry <; [accessed 18 July 2016].

Open government, open data and innovation

Linda O’Brien writes on open data as part of a wider innovation agenda

monitor-933392_1920Within the last week we have seen the release of The Open Government Partnership Third Open Government National Action Plan for the United State of America.  This Plan not only reaffirms the government’s commitment to open and transparent government but recognizes the importance of public access to data, open educational resources and to open science data, research and technologies in catalyzing innovation and business entrepreneurship. Amongst the many excellent initiatives are specific commitments to:

  • ensuring “Data must be accessible, discoverable, and usable to have the desired impact of increasing transparency and improving public service delivery” (p.10). More specifically Open Data National Guidelines will be developed and public feedback tools will be put in place to facilitate the release of open data.
  • Expanding access to educational resources through open licensing and technology by making Federal grant-supported educational materials and resources widely and freely available. (p.3)
  • Advancing open science through increased public access to data, research and technologies. All Federal agencies that spend more than $100 million per year on research and development are required to “implement policies and programs to make scientific publications and digital data from Federally funded research accessible to and useable by scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, students, and the general public” (p.9)

It is great to see recognition of the broad spectrum of “open” in a single document. I would argue that making government data open we also contribute to national innovation and entrepreneurship – and in that I am in good company!

Just this week ago the Australian government announced the establishment of a public private partnership, DataStart,  to drive data-driven innovation in Australia. The announcement notes that “Data-driven innovation added approximately $67 billion to the Australian economy in 2013[i] It is estimated that the Australian tech startup sector has the potential to contribute over $100 billion (4% of GDP) to the Australian economy by 2033[ii]”. This initiative is to “find, incubate and accelerate innovative business ideas that leverage openly available data from the Australian Government”.

DataStart is one of the first initiatives of the newly formed Data Policy unit under the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet. This brings together data policy and digital strategy, placing data at the heart of the Federal government’s agenda.  A brilliant initiative and one to watch.

About the author:

Linda O’Brien is  Pro Vice Chancellor (Information Services), Griffith University and is on the Board of ODIQueensland

[i] PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Deciding with Data – How Data Driven Innovation is fuelling Australia’s economic growth, September 2014

[ii]  Price Waterhouse Coopers, The Startup Economy Report, 2013

Open data is good, because …

Belinda Weaver writes on the many benefits of open data

Contact: Twitter @cloudaus

Why should we advocate for open data? What benefits does it bring?

Transparency, for one.

Governments do stuff. We don’t always like it. It helps if we have the data to back up our objections. The Guardian datablog publishes and visualises a lot of information which helps pierce the opacity around government. Two examples – the costs of the post-GFC UK bank bailout and where UK spending actually goes. Both do a great job of communicating a message, and the data can be downloaded and reused.

The ABC’s FactCheck service is one way Australians can check on what governments are saying.

Open data makes things more efficient.

Disasters happen. In the helping phase, open data helps relief agencies get the information they need to direct operations on the ground. It helps governments get the plans and details of the infrastructure they need to fix. The New Zealand response to the Christchurch earthquake is a case in point. is a global source of information to help make disaster response quicker and more efficient.

Open data helps join things up.

Cities are complex beasts and making things work in synch requires a lot of planning and coordination. provides a platform for all kinds of data – transport, air quality – to be stored, interrogated and overlaid. Chicago and San Francisco in the US and Glasgow and Newcastle in the UK have all implemented Plenario for cities data. Data exists on a single map and a single timeline, making it easy to access multiple datasets at once, even those originally housed at different data portals.

Open data democratises access.

Codex Sinaiaticus, the Christian Bible in Greek, was handwritten more than 1,600 years ago, and is the oldest substantial book to survive antiquity. The manuscript contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament.  Its text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible, and the manuscript is of supreme importance for the history of the book.  The MS is in four locations – London, St Petersburg, Sinai and Leipzig. Now the item has been fully digitised, scholars from anywhere can work on it. What was once accessible only to a privileged few is now open to all.

Open data enables new businesses.

The Go Brisbane app allows users to save favourite journeys and view timetables for them very quickly. This beats using official transport websites where getting the same information takes a whole lot longer. Open mapping information has created a range of new businesses – travel, holidays, restaurant guides, walking tours, direction finders … the possibilities are endless.

Open data saves lives.

‘Dr Internet’ is blamed for many false diagnoses, but it can also foster real ones. As more and more medical information becomes freely available, patients can investigate their problems and possibly find some answers, as this story shows

Have you got a good open data story? Share it here.

About the author

Belinda Weaver is eResearch Analyst Team Leader, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation.

Open access update April 2014

This blog is a short update of events and developments in open access to late April 2014. It includes: International open access news, Publisher OA newsReports & ResearchAustralian open access newsAOASG news

International OA news

Holding back funds results in compliance with OA policies – 9 April 2014

This news article from Nature shows compliance has increased for NIH and Wellcome Trust  since withholding funds for non-compliers. Wellcome Trust withheld funding on 63 occasions last year because of non-compliance with their policy. The NIH’s compliance rate — the percentage of papers placed in the PubMed Central database for public access no later than a year after publication — now stands at 82%. It had flatlined at around 75% for two years, says Neil Thakur, who oversees policy for the NIH’s Office of Extramural Research. The Wellcome Trust’s compliance rate is 69%, up from 55% in March 2012, says Robert Kiley, head of the trust’s digital services.

Policy for OA in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework – March 2014

This policy states that to be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection. The requirement applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number. It will not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data. So… If they don’t deposit it in AT TIME OF ACCEPTANCE they can’t count it. This is big news for open access in the UK.

Paying for hybrid does not mean article is OA – 27 March 2014

The UK’s Times Higher Education ran this story: “Elsevier: bumps on road to open access” – that is, they are keeping paid hybrid OA articles behind paywalls .

The State of Open Access – 21 March 2014

Richard Poynder has written his perspective on the State of Open Access – which follows on from his series of 19 interviews last year with prominent people on the open access space (including AOASG’s Dr Danny Kingsley). His views are interesting – he is a journalist not an OA advocate. Basically, he says the research community needs to get organised or the OA future will be controlled by publishers.

OERRH Ethics Manual – 5 March 2014

The OERRH Ethics Manual provides an overview of ethical issues that arise in research and offers strategies for best practice. It discusses some of the particular challenges for openness in research, including confidentiality of data, implications for dissemination strategies, and discusses some of the challenges that may be brought about specifically by ‘working in the the open’.

Blog to help library management of OA – 4 March 2014

A Wiki/blog has been launched to help direct librarians faced with managing OA workflows. The blog notes the current situation is similar to the early years of the Big Deal and librarians are struggling to implement new workflows to manage both green and APC-funded Gold OA.
The site provides basic information about article processing charges and the management of them plus information about open access generally. The wiki allows people to contribute to the site.

Publisher OA news

Nature launches ‘partner’ OA journals – 2 April 2014

new development from Nature – a ‘partner¹ series of OA journals. They have teamed up with a series of research groups and universities to create these journals. With a $4000 APC they are sitting at the pricey end of open access journals – presumably it is the Nature brand that justifies this cost. It seems the Nature brand is the benefit to the partners, who “also have the option of NPG’s internal editorial office to manage and administer the peer-review process”. The website does not indicate where the APC goes, to Nature one suspects rather than to the partner.

New application form for DOAJ – 19 March 2014

DOAJ have launched a new and much extended form for journals wishing to be included in the DOAJ. The form has been structured to collect upfront from the publishers as many quality indicators as possible about the journal. These indicators will be assessed as part of a journal’s application. The form also introduces the DOAJ Seal, a mark of approval that shows how a journal strives towards Best Practice.

Elsevier STM publishing profits rise to 39% – March 2014

An OA blog has discussed the March Reed Elsevier annual report, noting the revenue and adjusted operating profit for the Scientific, Technical & Medical portion of the business. The profit margin of 39% includes a $76 million USD increase in profit in the past year. The blog notes the number of researchers that could be employed for that alone.

Wiley goes (embargoed) green – February 2014

Since 1 January 2014 Wiley have changed their policy and now allow authors to make their Accepted Manuscript available in a repository after 12 months (24 months for Social Sciences and Humanities). They have been making the relevant changes to the language of their Copyright Transfer Agreements during February February 21, 2014. Good news. Well done Wiley, it is a very good step in the right direction.

Elsevier launches its text and data mining policy – 31 Jan 2014

Elsevier’s text and data mining policy now allows researchers in a subscribing institutions to register at the Elsevier developers’ portal to receive a key to the Application Programming Interface (API) of ScienceDirect, which provides full-text content in XML and plain-text formats optimal for TDM. Some commentators like the European Association of Research Libraries have indicated this policy restricts researchers rather than opens up the research by forcing people to use a specific tool.

Reports & Research

Nature – Can author pays compete with reader pays? – 14 April 2014*

This article compares the publishing industry with the car industry noting that publishers receive money from the consumer and the supplier (even in subscription journals – through page charges). (*NOTE – This article first appeared in 2006, it arose in another discussion on 14 April. Thanks to Pippa Smart for identifying this date discrepancy).

Monitoring Progress towards Open Access in the UK – 7 April 2014

This report stemmed from a recommendation of the Finch Report that a working group of representatives of the different stakeholder groups should collect reliable, high-quality indicators on the key features of the changing research communications landscape, including the precise configuration of the indicators, data definitions, protocols and methodologies.

The Value & Impact of Data Sharing and Curation – 2 April 2014

This synthesis report aims to summarise and reflect on the findings from a series of recent studies, conducted by Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Ltd. and Prof. John Houghton of Victoria University, into the value and impact of three well established research data centres – the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). It provides a summary of the key findings from new research and reflects on: the methods that can be used to collect data for such studies; the analytical methods that can be used to explore value, impacts, costs and benefits; and the lessons learnt and recommendations arising from the series of studies as a whole.

Developing an effective market for APCs – March 2014

Report Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges looks at the article processing charges (APC) situation coming up with three scenarios for discussion within the industry. Suggestions include: the reduction of subscription cost for a particular institution in line with the amount they have spent in APCs with that publisher, funders offering a level of funding for APCs based on the ‘value’ the publisher provides, and funders having a cap on what they will fund with the author having to find the remaining money. Read a blog about it.

Wellcome Trust publish spend on funded OA articles – March 2014

Robert Kiley from Wellcome Trust has published a spreadsheet of every single paper they have sponsored as paid (“Gold”) open access. In the fiscal year 2012-2013 the Wellcome Trust spent over US$6.5million on OA publication fees.  Peter Murray Rust however noticed that at least some of the Elsevier ‘OA’ papers are still offered as paid access on their journal website.

Australian OA news

Note the AOASG now has a webpage listing Australian OA Developments which is constantly being updated.

Victoria University partners with CLOCKSS – 4 April 2014

The CLOCKSS Archive  has partnered with Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, to preserve their ejournals and ebooks in CLOCKSS’s geographically and geo-politically distributed network of redundant archive nodes, located at 12 major research libraries around the world. This action provides for content to be freely available to everyone after a “trigger event” and ensures an author’s work will be maximally accessible and useful over time.

CAUL updates its statement on open scholarship – 26 March 2014

CAUL has an Open Scholarship page which covers developments such as open access, open science, open education and other “open” initiatives.  CAUL’s Statement on Open Scholarship explores the idea that the free flow of information and ideas underpins excellence in scholarship in detail.

NHMRC revises its OA Policy webpage – 25 February 2014

The NHMRC have expanded their advice and information about their Open Access Policy on the  Dissemination of Research Findings. There is more detailed information on how to report the open access status of published funded work, plus a new useful Guide for Authors.

ALIA open access statement – 24 February 2014

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has adopted a full open access policy. This means they will provide full access for the majority of their own reports, conference papers and other grey literature; member-only access for certain unique, high value materials, and green open access for our scholarly journals. ALIA supports Australian libraries in their efforts to work towards open access.

New open access journal – 12 February 2014

Victoria University recently launched a new open access journal,  the Victoria University Law and Justice Journal (VULJ). The journal uses the Online Journal Systems (OJS) platform which enables journal editors to manage the stages of issue creation from author submission through to publication. The University offers technical set-up,  and support with referencing, indexing, peer review models, copyright, licensing, ISSN and DOI registration. It is assumed that peer review and editorial tasks are performed by the journal’s editorial committee/board.

New OA journal for Flinders University – February 2014

Writers in Conversation is an international online open-access literary journal specialising in well-researched, in-depth interviews with writers in all literary genres (including criticism), concentrating on their work, their ideas and related matters, to be published jointly by Flinders University and the University of Central Lancashire. The journal will be published twice each year, in February and August.


AOASG gets a rap

Open Science campaigner Peter Murray Rust wrote in his blog:

  • If you are confused by “Open Access” you are in good company. So am I. It’s horrendous. Here Danny Kingsley and the  Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) have created an excellent series of blog posts on Open Access. They are readable and authoritative. After it you will be less confused and more authoritative. But it will still be horrendous.

See what he’s raving about: the AOASG Paying for Publication series is comprehensive and wide ranging.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed by AOASG under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Open access update March 2014

This blog is a short update of events and developments in open access to mid-March 2014. It includes: International open access news, Reports & Research, Australian open access news, Wraps of 2013, New open access policies – international, EventsAOASG news and feedback from AOASG followers.

International open access news

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers – 25 February 2014

Last year OA copped a bad name because of the ‘sting’ by Bohannon where some of the (only OA journals) that were sent a scientifically unviable article accepted it for publication. At least that article was in English.

On 25 February Nature reported: “The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.” These gibberish articles were supposed to be ‘peer reviewed’ and were available under subscription, published mainly in conference proceedings.

Publishers launch free journal access for UK libraries – 3 February 2014

Academic publishers have launched their scheme to allow free access to research journals at UK public libraries. This was one of the concessions the publishing industry made in the Finch Report.  Users have to walk into the library to have this access.  The project will initially run as a two-year pilot while interest is monitored.

Data availability statement for PLOS articles – 3 February 2014

Articles submitted to any PLOS journal will need to have a ‘data availability statement’ for the data. The release said: “The new Data Policy will be implemented for manuscripts submitted on, or after, March 1st. The main change is that all PLOS journals will require that all manuscripts have an accompanying data availability statement for the data used in that piece of research. We’re well aware that this may prove to be a challenge, but we think that this thorny issue needs to be tackled head-on. Ultimately, an Open Access paper for which the underlying data are not available doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

T&F supplemental material open access on Figshare – 6 February 2014

T&F supplemental material is now available in a new online format as tables, datasets, filesets, videos and graphs become instantly viewable on Taylor & Francis Online, easily discoverable from search engines and quickly hosted on Figshare.

T&F extend Library & Information Science Author Rights pilot scheme – 23 January 2014

The pilot began in 2011 and as part of the pilot, a survey was conducted by Routledge to canvas opinions on the Library & Information Science Author Rights initiative and also investigated author and researcher behaviour and views on author rights policies, embargos and posting work to repositories. The survey elicited over 500 responses, including: “Having the option to upload their work to a repository directly after publication is very important to these authors: more than 2/3 of respondents rated the ability to upload their work to repositories at 8, 9, or 10 out of 10, with the vast majority saying they feel strongly that authors should have this right”.

Elsevier sends take down notices to and universities – December 2013

Elsevier sent a series of take down notices to and individual universities requesting take down of the Published Version of their works on these websites. Understandably this caused a great deal of discussion. Click here to see an example post.

Reports and Research

Major report on article processing charges – 12 March 2014

The report “Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges” was commissioned by several major UK and European funding bodies and examines the current status of the APC market, concluding that hybrid is twice as costly as fully open access and describing three possible scenarios suggesting ways to improve the market into the future.

UNESCO publishes Guidelines to compare Institutional Repository Software – 17 February 2014

The Guidelines to compare Institutional Repository Software is being published as part of the UNESCO’s Open Access Strategy. It compares the features of the major platforms and is intended to help libraries focus on which features will help facilitate the success of their repository. NOTE: The authors were from bepress which fares very well in the comparisons.

Journal usage half-life – 18 December 2013

The study was by an independent research Dr Phil Davis who analysed the half-life of 2812 journals. Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for articles in a journal to receive half of their lifetime total downloads. Some findings are not surprising – that these vary widely, and the timeframes are quite long (certainly in particular fields). What is perhaps surprising is that “Only 3% of journals in all fields have half-lives of 12 months or less”. A news story about the study is here.

Have digital repositories come of age? The views of library directors – December 2013

The report from the research group, CIBER, by David Nicholas, et al surveyed 150 library directors and has come to the conclusion that there is still considerable development required in the growth of institutional repositories.

It found that 70% had a digital repository, and 23% were planning one. It found that institutional repositories are mostly small affairs, operating on small budgets with one or two full time staff, and usually costing only about 1.8% of the total library budget. Their main objectives, according to the article conclusions, are to provide a shop front for the institutional output, with increasing global access to research a close second objective.

Finally, the article found that librarians see Gold OA as likely to supplant Green, and that subject based repositories will continue to outshine institutional ones. The article is published in Webology, Volume 10, Number 2, December, 2013

Australian open access news

University of Wollongong OA policy

The University of Wollongong has released its open access policy which applies to all research outputs including those that are non-peer reviewed. The policy is here.

Open Access Policy requirements spelt out in ARC funding rules

The ARC 2015 Discovery Project funding rules have been standardised across the Australian Laureate Fellowships, Discovery Early Career Researcher Award and Discovery Indigenous schemes  The rules say: “The Final Report must address compliance with the ARC Open Access Policy as detailed at A11.5” and later: “In accordance with this policy, any publications arising from a Project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve month period from the date of publication.”

Copyright report tabled

The Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC Report 122) was tabled 13 February. One news story about it: “Brandis likely to knock back relaxed copyright rules”.

Wraps of 2013

2013 the year that was science & technology

This article from The Conversation is a good wrap of what has happened in Science & Medicine in 2013, including an honourable mention for Matthew Todd at the end.

AOASG in 2013: That was the year that was

2013 marked the first year of activity for the AOASG. This blog summarises the activities and achievements of the group throughout the year.

Open access 2013: A year of gaining momentum

This blog from Scientific American is an excellent roundup of what happened in the open access area worldwide during 2013. It includes the comment that “July also marked the date that publications from research funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) were due to start appearing in repositories.”

New open access policies – international

[All open access announcements are added to the AOASG ‘Statements about OA page’]

Italy requires OA for young researchers – 23 January 2014

Italian Ministry of Education University and Research (MIUR) has launched SIR (Scientific Independence of young researchers) which includes a clause mandating OA for publications and data based on the Horizon 2020 grant agreement (in Italian- only)

US Congress passed FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill – 13 January 2014

The FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill has a requirement for the Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education And Related Agencies (LHHS). Section 527 (p1020) states each Federal agency or each bureau of multiple bureaus with funding of $100 million or more are required to provide a machine-readable version of the Accepted Manuscripts to peer reviewed journals to the agency and these must be freely accessible online no later than 12 months after official publication, complying with all relevant copyright laws.

Joint Research Centre adopts open access policy – 6 January 2014

The JCU is the European Commission’s in-house science service and in accordance with the EU’s new open access policy for scientific publications, JRC articles in peer-reviewed publications where JRC staff members are first or corresponding author will be freely and publicly available, making the majority of JRC scientific results accessible online. JRC researchers are now expected to publish any new peer-reviewed research paper in journals that are compliant with the updated policy. The JRC supports both gold and green routes to open access. In line with the Horizon 2020 requirement, the JRC accepts an embargo period no longer than six to twelve months.

Upcoming events

The “Canberra Data Citation Workshop” from ANDS and ANU will be held: Wednesday, 9 April 2014 from 9:15am to 12:30pm in: RG Menzies Building 15, McDonald Room ANU

The workshop is free to attend and will run from 9.30-12.30 (registration open from 9.00). As places are limited, if you register, and then find you can’t attend, please email so we can open up your place to someone on the waitlist. To book click here.

AOASG news

The Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) exists to: Advocate, Collaborate, Raise Awareness and Lead & Build Capacity in open access

The AOASG held a Strategic Planning Day in January, finalising the Constitution, determining Strategic Priorities for 2014 and reworking the Terms of Reference. Click for the full document.

Website –

The AOASG is currently publishing a series on ‘Paying for Publication’ which aims to demystify some of the aspects of payment for publication, beginning with publication costs and a description of the hybrid model. Pages released to date include the cost of hybrid, addressing double dipping, asking if OA funds support hybrid and noting not all hybrid is equal.

The AOASG website undertook a major reconfiguration in later 2013, with a separate section for the FAQ about open access and a cleaned up Resources page (including useful links to information to help with promoting open access, understanding publisher agreements, repositories, open access journals and measurement & metrics)

Additional pages include ‘0pen access policies’ and Resources ‘about open access’.

Twitter – @openaccess_oz

The Twitter account @openaccess_oz celebrated its 500th follower on Twitter just before Christmas and by March this had grown to 565 followers.

Feedback from AOASG followers

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Four issues restricting widespread green OA in Australia

Australia is a world leader in many aspects of open access. We have institutional repositories in all universities, funding mandates with the two main funding bodies, statements on or mandates for open access at a large number of institutions and a large research output available in many open access avenues. A summary of centrally supported initiatives in this area is here.

However we can do more. This blog outlines four impediments to the widespread uptake of open access in Australia: a lack of data about what Australian research is available, Copyright transfer agreements, the academic reward system and improved national discovery services. We suggest some solutions for each of these issues.

Issue 1 – Lack of data about what Australian research is available OA.

We collect good data in Australia there is good data about the amount of research being created and published annually. Equally, a considerable amount of Australian research is being made available to the wider community through deposit of research in institutional repositories, subject based repositories (PubMed Central, arXiv , SSRN and the like), through publication in open access journals.

However, this information is not compiled in a way to ascertain:
1. What percentage of current Australian research is available open access.
2. Where Australian research is being made available (institutional or subject-based repositories and open access journals).
3. The disciplinary spread of open access materials – an important indicator of areas needing attention.

Without this information it will be difficult to ascertain the level of impact the ARC and NHMRC policies are having on the availability of open access material from current Australian research. There are three actions that could help inform this area.

Solution 1

First it would be enormously helpful to know the percentage of Australian publications that are available open access.

There have been two definitive studies published on worldwide open access availability. Björk et al’s 2010 study concluded that 21% of research published in 2008 was openly accessible in 2009. Gargouri et al’s 2012 study found 24% of research was openly accessible.

But in these studies the method used to determine which work was available was to search for the items manually across several search platforms. This is clearly very time consuming. A study like this in Australia will require funding.

Solution 2

Second we need an easily accessible summary of the number of full text open access items in institutional repositories across the country. In an attempt to address this, the National Library of Australia aggregates research outputs from all Australian university repositories into Trove, and is working with the sector to improve discoverability and metrics around this collection. One challenge is that some repositories do not specify whether records have an open access full text item attached.

This issue was raised during a poll of repository managers in 2012. The poll found that as at June that year there were about 200,000 open access articles, theses and archive material (which includes images) in Australian university institutional repositories. Currently there is no automated way of obtaining an updated figure.

Solution 3

Third, a compliance monitoring tool needs to be developed to assist the ARC and NHMRC manage their open access policies. Currently all institutional repositories in Australia are implementing a standardised field in their repositories to indicate an item results from funding. But to date there is no indication of how this might be harvested and reported on.

Issue 2 – Copyright transfer agreements

As AOASG has already noted, there is a serious challenge keeping up with copyright agreements as they change. In reality, it is extremely difficult for an individual researcher to remain across all of the nuances of the copyright agreements. There have been studies to demonstrate that doing the copyright checking on behalf of the researcher increases deposits into repositories.

But the broader problem is actually two fold. First researchers often have little understanding of the copyright status of their published work. Many do not read the copyright transfer agreements they sign before publication. In addition, most researchers do not keep a copy of these legal documents. While there is currently some advice for researchers about copyright management, such as this page from the University of Sydney, generally awareness of copyright remains poor amongst the research community.

But before we start wagging our fingers at researchers, let’s consider the second, related issue. The copyright transfer agreements presented to researchers by publishers are often many pages long, written in small font and hard to understand. In addition these agreements are not consistent – they differ between publishers and often titles from the same publisher have different agreements.

Generally publishers ask researchers to assign exclusive copyright to them. But in most cases publishers only need the right of first publication of work, and normally do not need to control how research is used and distributed beyond this. There are options for researchers to negotiate different arrangements with their publishers, but the level of uptake of these in Australia is anecdotally very low.

It is highly unlikely there is any specific action that can force publishers to simplify their copyright transfer agreements. But there are a couple of actions the research community can make to improve the current situation.

Solution 4

It would help to have an Australian version of the SPARC Author Addendum tool which can be attached to copyright transfer agreements. This would need to be supported by a concerted education campaign about what rights researchers have, including training materials.

Solution 5

In addition the many researchers in Australia who work as editors for scholarly journals are in a good position to negotiate these arrangements with their publishers on behalf of their authors. An education campaign aimed at journal editors would assist them in this action.

Issue 3 – The academic reward system

The academic reward system supports the current publishing status quo. Widespread uptake of open access will continue to be a challenge while this is the case. A reliance on a numerical analysis of the number of articles published in journals with high Journal Impact Factors as a proxy for quality assessment is a narrow and limiting system.

There are many issues with the Journal Impact Factor. It also causes challenges for open access is it retains emphasis on a small number of specific journals which are in, the vast majority, subscription based. Yet there is evidence to show that open access & subscription journals of the same age have the same impact, indicating that it is time to look at other methods of assessing quality.

Currently the markers used to assess promotion do not differ much from those used for grant allocation. However, the contribution made by researchers to their academic community reaches far beyond simply their publication output. This includes editing journals and the peer review of papers. As there is currently no quantification of this work, the extent of the problem is unknown, although concerns about work overload have been expressed by the academic community. There are serious implications for the sustainability of scholarly publication in terms of human capital.

Solution 6

We need to move to assessment based on article level metrics rather than the organ of publication. It would be helpful if assessments such as ERA and funding allocation were to embrace new, existing alternative metrics. Examples include: Impact Story, Plum Analytics, PLOS ALM, Altmetrics and Google Scholar.

Solution 7

Institutions could consider recognising the hidden work academics undertake supporting the publication process in their promotion rounds. Recognition of peer review and editing roles as well as those researchers who are also publishing journals by running an open access journal using OJS or the like would add value to these activities and make the scholarly publication system more sustainable.

Issue 4 – Improved national discovery services

This last issue is in some ways, related to the first – knowing more about where the research we are producing is ending up. But it has a broader remit, for example incorporating data as a research outcome. Currently researchers can register their data with Research Data Australia which lists over 87,000 collections from over 23,000 contributing research teams.

We need to move beyond simply collecting research, and start working on ways to link data as research outcomes to reports on research publications.

During 2004 and 2008 the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR) provided assistance and support for the repository community and developed technical solutions relating to interoperability and other repository issues.

APSR was supported by Systemic Infrastructure Initiative (SII) funding [note original post said NCRIS funding – thanks to David Groenewegen for pointing out the error. Amended 16 August]. When this ended, repository manager support was taken over by CAIRSS, financed in 2009-2010 by remainder money from another SII funded project, Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW) . The university library community through CAUL continued to support this project in 2011-2012 and the work has now been folded into the responsibility of another CAUL committee.

But the work APSR did developing country-wide technical solutions has not continued. Currently repositories around the country are being developed and maintained in isolation from one another.

Solution 8

An investment in current institutional repositories to increase functionality and interoperability will assist compliance with mandates (both Australian and international) and usability into the future. It will also enable a resolution of the metadata issue for country-wide harvesting by Trove.

Solution 9

We suggest revisiting support for country-wide technical development of solutions to common problems facing repositories throughout Australia. An example of a project that could be undertaken is the Funders and Authors Compliance Tool developed in the UK – SHERPA/FACT. This assists researchers to comply with open access mandates.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group