Maximising the Return on Resource Investment in Research

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Université du Québec à Montréal
University of Southampton

[Invited Talk: 4 December 2006, 11 am, Indiana Memorial Union, Indiana University]

Research Funding Councils and Universities worldwide are at last beginning to realise that it is high time (indeed well overdue) to maximise the returns on their research investment by mandating Open Access self-archiving (see references below: Harnad et al. 2003; Sale 2006a,b,c,d; Swan 2006). The purpose of this talk will be to discuss how a mandated Open-Access self-archiving policy could enhance return on investment in research.

As background, in a recent preprint, Houghton & Sheehan (2006), using estimates from economic modeling, have confirmed the substantial potential enhancement of the return on resource investment in research if the resulting articles are made Open Access:

"Whether applied across the board or to sector specific research findings (e.g. open access to publicly funded research) it seems that there may be substantial potential benefits to be gained from more open access. 

--    "With Germany's GERD [GERD = Gross Expenditure on Research and Development] at USD 58.7 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency would have been worth USD 3 billion;

--  "With Japan's GERD at USD 112.7 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency would have been worth USD 5.8 billion;

--   "With the United State's GERD at USD 312.5 billion and assuming social returns to R&D of 50%, a 5% increase in access and efficiency would have been worth USD 16 billion.

    "While it is impossible to calculate the quantum of benefits with certainty, these simple estimates of the potential impacts of enhanced access on returns to R&D suggest that a move towards more open access may have substantial positive impacts... Given substantial R&D expenditures and the scale of the potential impacts identified in this preliminary work, these issues represent fertile ground for further policy relevant inquiry."

These estimates agree substantially with prior estimates that have been made (e.g., for the UK, Canada and Australia, see references below: Harnad 2005a,b,c).

Research Funding Councils and Universities worldwide are at last beginning to realise that it is high time (indeed well overdue) to maximise the returns on their research investment by mandating Open Access self-archiving (see references below: Harnad et al. 2003; Sale 2006a,b,c,d; Swan 2006).

References

Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving the UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper and easier. Ariadne 35 (April 2003).

Harnad, S. (2005a) Making the case for web-based self-archiving. Research Money 19 (16).

Harnad, S. (2005b) Maximising the Return on UK's Public Investment in Research.

Harnad, Stevan (2005c) Australia Is Not Maximising the Return on its Research Investment. In Steele, Prof Colin, Eds. Proceedings National Scholarly Communications Forum 2005, Sydney, Australia.

Harnad, S. (2006) Opening Access by Overcoming Zeno's Paralysis, in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, chapter 8. Chandos.

Houghton, J. & Sheehan, P. (2006) The Economic Impact of Enhanced Access to Research Findings, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, July 2006.

Sale, Arthur (2006a) Researchers and institutional repositories, in Jacobs, Neil, Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, chapter 9, pages 87-100. Chandos Publishing (Oxford) Limited.

Sale, Arthur (2006b) Comparison of IR content policies in Australia. First Monday 11(4).

Sale, Arthur (2006c) The impact of mandatory policies on ETD acquisition. D-Lib Magazine 12(4).

Sale, Arthur (2006d) Generic Risk Analysis - Open Access for your institution. Technical Report, School of Computing, University of Tasmania.

Sale, Arthur (2006e) Maximizing the research impact of your publications. Technical Report, School of Computing, University of Tasmania.

Sale, Arthur (2006f) The acquisition of open access research articles. First Monday 11(10) October

Sale, Arthur (2006g) The Patchwork Mandate. Working Paper. School of Computing, Australia

Shadbolt, N., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2006) The Open Research Web: A Preview of the Optimal and the Inevitable, in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, chapter 20. Chandos.

Suber, Peter (2006) Open Access Overview.

Swan, A. (2006) The culture of Open Access: researchers' views and responses, in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects, chapter 7. Chandos.