Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Open Access and Research Conference 2013: Discovery, Impact and Innovation

Paula Callan, Stephanie Bradbury, Sarah Brown, Philippa Broadley, Emma Nelms and Christopher Hart report on Open Access and Research 2013 which focused on recent developments and the strategic advantages they bring to the research sector.

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia was the host location for the second Open Access and Research 2013 conference [1]. The conference was held at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Gardens Point campus over 31 October – 1 November 2013. QUT has over 45,000 students and has a wide range of specialist research areas. There are two research institutes: The Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) which is a collaborative institute devoted to improving the health of individuals; and the Institute for Future Environments (IFE) which is a multidisciplinary institute focusing on our natural, built and virtual environments, and how to find ways to make them more sustainable, secure and resilient.

QUT’s Gardens Point Precinct includes the new Science and Engineering Centre, a hub for exploration in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Centre is home to The Cube [2], one of the world’s largest digital interactive learning and display spaces for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research.

In 2013, QUT celebrated 10 years of QUT ePrints [3]. Launched in 2003, QUT ePrints was backed by the world's first university-wide deposit policy. It now contains over 24,000 open access documents. The cumulative figure for total downloads now exceeds 12 million; 97% from external IP addresses. 75% of recently published works (2012-2013) have full-text versions available. QUT ePrints continues to help researchers maximise their impact and engagement in the community. The Open Access and Research Conference celebrated 10 years of QUT ePrints by bringing together experts to discuss a broad spectrum of research policy and practice issues, including advocacy, open innovation, open data and alternative metrics.

The conference featured many excellent speakers representing institutions and organisations from across the globe, to discuss open access issues specific to their region and internationally. All presentations at the conference were filmed and the video recordings are available for Day One [4] and Day Two [5]. The Australian Open Access Support Group site provides a useful summary of the full conference [6]. This article presents selected presentations from the conference, focusing on the Australian developments.

Figure 1: Professor Tom Cochrane, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Technology, Information and Learning Support), Queensland University of Technology, OAR 2013 Welcome Reception

Figure 1: Professor Tom Cochrane, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Technology, Information and Learning Support), Queensland University of Technology, OAR 2013 Welcome Reception

Welcome and Opening Address

Professor Tom Cochrane, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Technology, Information and Learning Support), Queensland University of Technology

In his welcoming address, Professor Cochrane, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the host institution, QUT, said that the conference would be a round-up of progress, successes and challenges in relation to open access and research.

The rising cost of scholarly publishing plus a desire to ramp up its research intensity prompted QUT to innovate. Professor Cochrane said that, after monitoring the debates in the 1990s about how scholarly communication might change, he fully expected great changes to emanate from the centres of scholarship and publishing in North America and Europe. When this did not happen, he took an open access policy through the research committees at QUT until it was endorsed by the University Academic Board in 2003. What resulted was the first university-wide open access mandate in the world. Professor Cochrane said that clever implementation of the policy by the University Library, including providing detailed feedback to authors on who uses their open access works, has been instrumental in the institutional repository becoming embedded in the expectation of academic life at QUT.

QUT is a strong supporter of ‘green’ open access. Researchers are encouraged to publish in quality journals and use the institution’s repository, QUT ePrints. In addition, the University has made provision to support researchers, particularly in the biomedical sciences, publishing in gold open access journals of repute. Professor Cochrane commented that the term ‘publishing’ covers a range of activities and that, while there is some tension between institutions and some of the larger journal publishers in relation to ‘green’ open access, there is a lot more that academia could be doing in terms of working collaboratively with the long tail of small publishers. QUT has also become involved in other open access initiatives such as Knowledge Unlatched (KU), Creative Commons (CC), Enabling Open Scholarship (EOS) and the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG).

Professor Aidan Byrne, CEO, Australian Research Council

Opening Remarks

Professor Byrne of the Australian Research Council (ARC) [4], said that the guiding principles as to why the Higher Education sector should pursue open access were the benefits that would accrue for society, research and individual researchers from an open access regime which disseminates results earlier and in a more effective manner.

Professor Byrne suggested that the ‘closed’ subscription-based scholarly publishing system, where research outputs go from institutions to publishers and then back to institutions, was no longer stable or sustainable due to the vast increase in the volume of publications and costs which were going up beyond what institutions could bear. Furthermore, it does not offer the benefits of an open access system. In the new publishing model that will evolve, the outputs will go out beyond the institutions, in a range of media. One of the biggest challenges, according to Professor Byrne, will be finding a sustainable business model to do all the things that need to be done, and to achieve what is needed from a system that can be controlled.

The ARC is being careful not to endorse any particular publishing model. The new scholarly publishing ecosystem is likely to involve a mixture of different publishing models, including a ‘gold’ dimension which will probably be dominated by high profile publishers which can justify charging article-processing fees because of the value they add. However, Professor Byrne said that he was of the opinion that the dominant structure would be ‘green’ and that there will be an added dimension of a model which involves researchers putting their work online for others to look at and comment on. While acknowledging that there are indictors that can highlight material of value, he added that there is also a lot of rubbish online which adds ‘noise’ to the system. It also poses a challenge to agencies which are interested in maintaining quality in the scholarly communication system.

The ARC’s objective with its open access policy [7], which was introduced at the beginning of 2013, was to get the whole research sector in Australia into an open access regime. There is now an expectation that any publications arising from ARC funding grants are available via open access within 12 months. The lesson the ARC learned from the UK (eg "Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings – the Finch Group")was to specify the outcome required and avoid being prescriptive on how it should be achieved. He made no apologies for not having all the details worked out in advance, as the landscape is still changing and it is not possible to pick what will be the ‘winning’ solution at this stage.

Open Access Developments in Australia

Dr Danny Kingsley, Executive Officer, Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG)

Dr Danny Kingsley is the Executive Officer of the AOASG [8], an advocacy group for open access. Dr Kingsley gave an overview of open access developments in Australia.

Australia currently has over 200,000 records in institutional repositories; 30,000 are for digital theses. The Australian and UK scenes map quite closely. In Australia, one quarter of all Higher Education institutions have implemented an open access mandate and many of the other institutions are considering implementing at least a policy on open access.

Open access to government data is a new focus. The Australian Government Open Access Licensing (AusGOAL) [9] Framework provides government workers with the range of options for licensing government information. Research Data Australia [10], a metadata repository that facilitates access to research datasets, now has over 88,000 records. However, the volume of government data in the open space in Australia is only 10% that of UK and only 1% that of USA. Open access journal publishing in Australia has also increased significantly in recent years, with many journals now running on Open Journal Systems software (OJS). The Open Journal Project [11], which is based in Melbourne, is an initiative of ‘Engineers without Borders’ (EWB). This project is providing open access copies of plain-language and translated versions of journal articles (on engineering topics) so that non-English speakers and readers without scientific backgrounds will be able to understand the information.

Another interesting recent development is the news that, from 2014, Elsevier will be publishing the Journal of Physiotherapy [12], on behalf of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, as an open access journal which will be free to readers and authors. The Association has found a business model that enables it to fund the publishing costs. All research articles will be open access via ScienceDirect (Elsevier) but additional (professional) content and print copies will only be available to subscribers.

A number of university presses in Australia have moved into publishing open access monographs and have found that the usage statistics for these open access books are higher than the sales figures for comparable print monographs.

In Australia, the academic reward system includes block funding based on productivity (number of publications) plus additional funding based on metrics gathered as part of the periodic research assessment exercise, Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). In the first round of ERA 2010, the metrics included the distribution of articles published in journals ranked from A* to C in an ERA Journal List. Unfortunately, although the journal ranking list was dropped from subsequent rounds of ERA, it is still driving the publishing behaviour of many Australian academics, often with perverse results.

However, there are still some unknowns. It is not known how much open access content is available from many repositories (as many repositories do not allow search results to be limited to just those with open access full text). It is not known how much grant money is spent on gold open access article processing charges. What is known is that recent policy decisions in the UK have affected Australia, with many publishers introducing embargoes on ‘green’ open access and others lengthening existing embargo periods.

Advocacy and Advantage: Academic Panel Session

Associate Professor Marcus Foth, QUT; Associate Professor Alex Holcombe, University of Sydney; Dr Matthew Todd, University of Sydney; Professor Barry Watson, QUT

A panel of four academics from various institutions in Australia provided insight into the researchers’ view of open access and how it has affected their disciplines and the wider context of research.

Figure 2: (Left to right): Associate Professor Marcus Foth, QUT; Associate Professor Alex Holcombe, University of Sydney; Dr Matthew Todd, University of Sydney; Professor Barry Watson, QUT

Figure 2: (Left to right): Associate Professor Marcus Foth, QUT; Associate Professor Alex Holcombe, University of Sydney; Dr Matthew Todd, University of Sydney; Professor Barry Watson, QUT

Associate Professor Marcus Foth, of QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty, highlighted the positive impact that QUT ePrints has had on the visibility of his publications and academic profile, and argued that institutional support for depositing scholarly publications in open access repositories is beneficial to all researchers in the long run.

Associate Professor Alex Holcombe, of University of Sydney, outlined an innovative new journal article format, the Registered Replication Report [13]. It will take existing published psychological studies, and replicate the research by applying an open science and open data approach which involves the original authors and new researchers. This new format promises to uncover new insights.

Dr Matthew Todd, University of Sydney, demonstrated open source science at work in the Web site The Synaptic Leap [14], which provides a network of online research communities that connect and support open source biomedical research. Currently engaged in an open source project focused on drug discovery for malaria, Open Source Malaria [15], he predicted that, ‘in ten years, everyone will be doing this’. All data and ideas relating to Open Source Malaria are provided online. Anyone around the world can take part and all discussion regarding the project is highly valued and made publicly available online. Using a public electronic lab book, all data and processes are revealed every day.

Professor Barry Watson, Director, Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS-Q) at QUT, affirmed the importance of open access repositories in providing access to research to developing countries. QUT ePrints has enabled CARRS-Q research to reach a much wider range of stakeholders than would have been possible through traditional publishing dissemination. Barry asserted that QUT ePrints balances the need to be publishing in the scholarly literature with the ability to reach the practitioners and policy makers. Developing nations which have a high road crash rates have benefitted greatly by being able to access all of CARRS-Q research papers. To date, Prof Watson has approximately 230 papers with 90,000 downloads in QUT ePrints.

Altmetrics as Indicators of Public Impact

Pat Loria, Manager Information & Liaison Services, Charles Sturt University

Pat Loria gave an excellent talk on altmetrics. There is criticism, he said, that altmetrics are not real citations and are not really part of the scientific ecosystem. But with over 3 billion members of the public now using social media, no one denies its potential for impact. A social media campaign contributed to the re-election of President Obama. Altmetrics aggregate the online activity generated by Web native scholarship. Most altmetrics aggregators have adopted an open source business model. They can be embedded into profiles, repositories and other systems. They accrue much sooner than traditional metrics. They can include non-traditional outputs and can facilitate the qualitative exploration of sources of impact and research evaluation. Altmetrics provide evidence of public engagement with scholarly outputs. Push factors for using altmetrics include the quantification of public impact for grant applications and funding agency reports. Pull factors include researchers and research managers who are interested in monitoring public interest for individual and programme evaluation.

The future of altmetrics is one of growth. National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is developing standards [16]; however a systems approach is required. For example, governments may be able to generate capacity, instead of competition, by including altmetrics and other impact indicators in open national profiling systems. This would increase the visibility of the nation’s research strengths better than is currently being achieved by research evaluation exercises. Researchers should develop a research impact strategy. Altmetricians might like to develop an indicator for measuring the openness of a researcher. University marketing departments need to pick up on altmetrics too [*].

Open Data

Professor John Houghton, Professorial Fellow, Victoria University

Measuring the Value and Impact of Research Data Curation and Sharing

Professor Houghton spoke of recent studies exploring the impact and value of three UK research data centres – the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) – now part of the UK Data Service [17], the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) [18], and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) [19]. The aim of the studies was to assess the costs, benefits, value and impacts of the data centres, and to test a range of economic methods in order to ascertain which methods might work across three very different fields. The studies reveal that data sharing through these centres shows a positive return on investment, with the main dimensions of benefit being the additional use facilitated by data sharing (reuse), and the impact of the data centres on the work efficiency of their user communities. John suggested that a study is needed on what factors encourage reuse.

Dr Ross Wilkinson, Executive Director, Australian National Data Service (ANDS)

Better Value from Institutional Datasets

Dr Wilkinson reported that the research cycle is changing; increasingly, people are starting research by collecting data and then applying for grants, rather than applying for grants and then collecting data.

Per annum, Australia spends A$30 billion on research and development and A$8 billion on Higher Education [20]. If we say that 15% of this amount is spent on data collection, then it is imperative that Australia gets maximum value from this expenditure by investing in open data infrastructure. It should be noted that some disciplines may require more funding, for example, Marine Science may spend up to 40% while others spend far less (eg Mathematics, which rarely spends money on data collection). Comparatively, A$1.5 billion is spent on the Hubble Telescope each year and A$1 million per annum on the archive that stores all the data collected from the telescope. An open access policy mandates what can be stored in this archive, and that the data are shared. The A$1 million per annum spent on data with the addition of an open access mandate has resulted in double the research publications produced by Hubble discoveries.

Dr Wilkinson posed the question: “If an institution spent A$10 million on data, what would be the return? The answer is: more publications; an increased citation count; more grants; greater profile; and more collaboration. There are benefits of increased spending on data to both individuals and institutions."

Access policies and infrastructure are crucial to increasing benefits. Institutional benefits include better reputation and better partnerships. Two Australian research institutions that have developed policy and infrastructure to support large datasets were provided as exemplars: James Cook University (JCU) and the Australian Antarctic Division. Both have achieved research excellence in their fields and have highly cited datasets.

To establish an internationally significant open data collection, institutions need:

The characteristics of an internationally significant collection include:

Australia is well positioned in terms of infrastructure to support data collection and storage:

The overall messages were that isolated data are of no value; and that valuable data are managed, collected, findable and reusable. Australia has 50% of the top 10 positions in the world in research data infrastructure. But, more can be done in terms of taking advantage of international partnerships. Dr Wilkinson encouraged institutions to invest in the infrastructure, set the right policy and exploit the current large data investment with an international data collection.

Marco Fahmi, Project Manager of the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory, Griffith University

Just the Facts Ma'am

Making data massively reusable is difficult; it requires a social and attitudinal shift of how data are used and data should not be treated the same as publications, in terms of open access. Currently, there are many questions that need answers: If data are open will they come? Can anyone do it when open is the only option? What qualifications do we need? Can use be anonymous? When do data graduate into being research findings? How do you make your data reusable?

Researchers seem to accept inconsistent attitudes between data and articles. Data owners may be ‘free traders’ on weekends and protectionists on weekdays. There is a big informational gap between data publishing and article publishing; can we peer- review data?

Overall, the expense and resources needed for data curation activities are undervalued. Although, researchers may deposit data because a journal requires it, PLoS suggests that, on the whole, journal publishers do not want the data. However, Fahmi argued that the distinction between publications and data needs to go away. He concluded by adding that, where data are not sharable, researchers should always make their existence known.

Open Innovation

Professor Adam Jaffe, Director and Senior Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, New Zealand

The Economics of Open Innovation

The Open Innovation session focused on the complex issues surrounding patents. Professor Jaffe explained that while copyright protects expression, patents protect actual functionality. Increasingly, innovations are based on complex systems of granular discoveries and creativity, and this is one reason why patent systems seem to be failing innovation. Furthermore, for innovation to occur within complex systems, the need for transparency increases. Innovative products often depend on multiple complementary inventions — a whole portfolio of patent rights. A timely example is the recent legal feuds between Apple and Samsung [21]. The difficulty of assembling patent rights could actually inhibit innovation, even if all the components of the final products are functional. Professor Jaffe noted that this has been described as the ‘tragedy of anti-commons’.

The transaction costs of assembling patents are real. If the identity of patent owners and boundaries are unknown, there is opaqueness and there is an increase in transaction costs. There is little benefit in opaqueness around patent ownership and scope. It is currently possible for individual patent holders to retain some degree of anonymity and distance in order to cause disruption and wait until the later stages of a product innovation, when money has been invested, to demand their share of the royalties. In Professor Jaffe’s view, this increases the level of risk within product innovation and risk is the enemy of investment and innovation. Actual and potential litigation are inhibiting investment. Maximising transparency would be a good place to start to ensure that the patent system works to foster innovation. If companies and individuals seek the government protection of a patent, Professor Jaffe suggested that the price is transparency.

Professor Richard Jefferson, CEO, Cambia

Solving the Problem of Problem Solving

Professor Richard Jefferson, Chief Executive Officer of Cambia, used the metaphor of cartography to introduce Cambia’s new Lens service [22], identifying the early modern Portuguese empire as successful and powerful because they had the best cartographers. Trade and commerce drove the development of civilisations by building economies. Richard touted the map as the best tool invented. It continues to limit risk and present many choices. The sharing of Dutch maps led to the opening-up of trade monopolies. In turn ‘innovation cartography’, using the demographics of open access, will provide contextual decision support for people who want to make things.

Continuing the maps metaphor, an area of innovation is essentially a point of call and Richard urged us to learn globally and act locally.

Cambia’s Lens provides a patent citation index to track citations of patents. Richard gave a demonstration of The Lens which provides access to almost 90 million patent documents as open, annotatable digital public goods from all regions of the world. Records are integrated with scholarly and technical literature along with regulatory and business data.

Knowledge Unlatched

Dr Lucy Montgomery, Deputy Director, Knowledge Unlatched

Dr Lucy Montgomery introduced the Knowledge Unlatched model for open access scholarly book publishing [23]. Dr Montgomery addressed the failing health of the scholarly monograph market, noting that prices have increased beyond inflation and authors are having difficulty in getting scholarly monographs published. Presenting a practical solution to the scholarly monograph ‘problem’, Knowledge Unlatched provides libraries with an opportunity to share the cost of producing a scholarly monograph and making that publication available under a Creative Commons licence.

Each potential publication has a set title fee and libraries pledge to support a particular monograph and share in paying the set title fee; the greater the number of libraries that support the work, the less each library is required to contribute to that title fee.

The benefit of this model for libraries is apparent in the potential collection development savings. Authors and publishers will also greatly benefit from this system. When libraries pledge towards a title fee, publishers can be assured in recouping production costs for those works, eliminating the risk characteristic in traditional scholarly monograph publishing. A confident publisher will be more open to solicitations for new works, thereby creating opportunities for humanities and social science academics to communicate their research via the traditional scholarly monograph.

Knowledge Unlatched provides a ‘next step’ in open access, providing support for production and access of high-quality open scholarly monographs. Over 2013-2014 it is piloting its first collection which includes 28 new open access books from 13 different publishers.

* Editor’s note: Readers interested in altmetrics may wish to read an article in this issue from contributors at Altmetric.


  1. Open Access and Research Conference http://www.oar2013.qut.edu.au/
  2. The Cube http://www.thecube.qut.edu.au/
  3. QUT ePrints http://eprints.qut.edu.au/
  4. Reflections on the Open Access and Research Conference 2013 Day One Videos
  5. Reflections on the Open Access and Research Conference 2013 Day Two Videos
  6. Reflections on the Open Access and Research Conference
  7. ARC Open Access Policy - Australian Research Council (ARC)
  8. Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) http://aoasg.org.au/
  9. AusGOAL http://www.ausgoal.gov.au/
  10. Research Data Australia http://researchdata.ands.org.au/
  11. Open Journal Project http://www.openjournalproject.org/
  12. Journal of Physiotherapy http://www.physiotherapy.asn.au/JOP/Home/Open_Access.aspx
  13. Registered Replication Report http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/replication
  14. The Synaptic Leap http://www.thesynapticleap.org/
  15. Open Source Malaria http://opensourcemalaria.org/
  16. NISO to Develop Standards and Recommended Practices for Altmetrics
  17. UK Data Service http://ukdataservice.ac.uk/
  18. The Archaeology Data service http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/
  19. The British Atmospheric Data Centre http://badc.nerc.ac.uk/home/index.html
  20. ABS 8104.0 Research and Experimental Development , Businesses, Australia, 2010-11
  21. Apple and Samsung back in court over patent damages, BBC Technology News, 12 November 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24855829
  22. The Lens http://www.lens.org/lens/
  23. Knowledge Unlatched http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org/

Author Details

All authors work in Queensland University of Technology Library.

Web site: http://www.library.qut.edu.au/

Paula Callan
Scholarly Communications Librarian
Queensland University of Technology

Email: p.callan@qut.edu.au
Web site: https://www.library.qut.edu.au/about/contact/p_callan.jsp

Paula Callan is the Scholarly Communications Librarian at Queensland University of Technology. She has been involved in open access advocacy locally and internationally for over ten years, and established QUT ePrints, QUT's very successful open access publications repository in 2003.  She is a member of the Australian Open Access Support Group which was established in 2012.

Stephanie Bradbury
Research Support Coordinator
Queensland University of Technology

Email: s.bradbury@qut.edu.au
Web site: http://www.library.qut.edu.au/about/contact/s_bradbury.jsp

Stephanie Bradbury is the Research Support Coordinator at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Library where she coordinates the Research Support Seminar Series and a range of services and activities to support the university’s research community.

Sarah Brown
University Copyright and Repositories Officer
Queensland University of Technology

Email: qut.copyright@qut.edu.au
Web site: http://www.library.qut.edu.au/about/contact/s_brown.jsp

Sarah Brown is Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) University Copyright and Repositories Officer where she provides copyright advice to researchers and teaching staff and coordinates the development of new open access digital collections for the library. She has previously worked as QUT’s Repository Resource Librarian, managing operational workflows for the institutional repository and promoting open access to QUT research.

Philippa Broadley
Research Data Librarian
Queensland University of Technology

Email: p.broadley@qut.edu.au
Web site: http://www.library.qut.edu.au/about/contact/p_broadley.jsp

Philippa Broadley is a Research Data Librarian at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Library where she is responsible for the provision of the research data management service, as well as providing researchers with access to purchased and external research data sets.  Philippa is also service manager for QUT’s research data registry, Research Data Finder.

Emma Nelms
Liaison Librarian (QUT Business School)
Queensland University of Technology

Email: e.nelms@qut.edu.au
Web site: http://www.library.qut.edu.au/about/contact/e_nelms.jsp

Emma Nelms, MPhil MInfMgt is the Liaison Librarian to the QUT Business School. She works with the School of Economics and Finance to select and maintain an extensive collection of financial datasets as well as providing research support and information literacy services.

Christopher Hart
Liaison Librarian (Science and Engineering Faculty)
Queensland University of Technology

Email: c4.hart@qut.edu.au
Web site: http://www.library.qut.edu.au/about/contact/c_hart.jsp

Christopher Hart, MIT (LibInfSc) is the Library Adviser to the QUT Business School and works closely with students and staff to provide learning and research support. He has previously worked as Liaison Librarian to the Science and Engineering Faculty.