Australian innovation report recommends Open Access to research outputs

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 14:22:37 -0400

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The Australian minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and
Research, Kim Carr spoke about this report in a speech released
yesterday. Full text here.
      It is embodied in a series of recommendations aimed at
      unlocking public information and content, including the
      results of publicly funded research.

      The review panel recommends making this material
      available under a creative commons licence through:
            machine searchable repositories, especially
            for scientific papers and data
            and the internet, where it would be freely
            available to the world.
            ...The arguments for stepping out first on
            open access are the same as the arguments for
            stepping out first on emissions trading ? the
            more willing we are to show leadership on
            this, we more chance we have of persuading
            other countries to reciprocate.

            This speech reflects a number of
            recommendations in the report:

            Recommendation 7.7: Australia should
            establish a National Information Strategy to
            optimise the flow of information in the
            Australian economy. The fundamental aim of a
            National Information Strategy should be to:
            ·utilise the principles of targeted
            transparency and the development of auditable
            standards to maximise the flow of information
            in private markets about product quality; and
            ·maximise the flow of government generated
            information, research, and content for the
            benefit of users (including private sector
            resellers of information).

            Recommendation 7.8: Australian governments
            should adopt international standards of open
            publishing as far as possible. Material
            released for public information by Australian
            governments should be released under a
            creative commons licence.

            Recommendation 7.9: Funding models and
            institutional mandates should recognise the
            research and innovation role and
            contributions of cultural agencies and
            institutions responsible for information
            repositories, physical collections or
            creative content and fund them accordingly.

            Recommendation 7.10: A specific strategy for
            ensuring the scientific knowledge produced in
            Australia is placed in machine searchable
            repositories be developed and implemented
            using public funding agencies and
            universities as drivers.

            Recommendation 7.14: To the maximum extent
            practicable, information, research and
            content funded by Australian governments
            including national collections should be made
            freely available over the internet as part of
            the global public commons. This should be
            done whilst the Australian Government
            encourages other countries to reciprocate by
            making their own contributions to the global
            digital pubic commons.


As ROARMAP indicates, the world leader in Open Access, both in time
and in absolute size, is indisputably the United Kingdom: A UK
Parliamentary Select Committee was the world's first governmental
recommendation to mandate OA, in 2004. However, the UK government,
under pressure from the publishing lobby, did not accept its own
committee's recommendation. Nevertheless, six of the
seven RCUK research funding councils went on to mandate OA anyway.
The UK now has a total of 18 university and funder OA mandates
(including the world's first OA mandate at Southampton's School of
Electronics and Computer Science in 2003).

Australia, however, adopted the world's first university-wide OA
mandate in 2004, and with its current total of 7 mandates along with
this vigorous governmental support from Minister Carr, Australia is
the world's relative, if not absolute leader in OA, by size as well
as timing. And it is about to consolidate that leadership with an
international Open Access and Research Conference in Brisbane next
week, convened by Tom Cochrane, the DVC who engineered the world's
first university OA mandate.

By way of comparison, the US, the country with the world's largest
research output, has only five OA mandates (though that includes one
from the NIH, the world's biggest biomedical research funder, as well
as Faculty mandates from Harvard and Stanford). Universities are the
sleeping giants, and the council of the European Universities
Association (EUA) has unanimously recommended the adoption of an OA
mandate by its 791 member universities in 46 countries -- but that
mandate has not been adopted yet (although Professor Bernard Rentier,
Rector of University of Liege is working on it, withEurOpenScholar).

But Australia looks poised now to be the one that sets all the
dominoes falling worldwide.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Wed Sep 10 2008 - 19:26:10 BST

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