Progress, promise and potholes

I’ve missed the other Open Access events over the last week or so so I was pleased to get the time to listen to Alma Swan’s talk on Open Access earlier today. Alma spoke generally about the development of “the subversive proposal“and outlined an optimal Open Access policy that was very close to the current HEFCE Open Access policy (minus the license!).

Incentivising Open Access can be done 2 ways, firstly by demonstrating the benefits of it and secondly by writing policy and mandating it.  By demonstrating the increased dissemination of OA full text in ORO with download statistics I’ve always tried to do the former – and I think I’ve been partly successful here.  But ORO only contains 35% Open Access full text, so we’re not where we need to be.  The HEFCE policy mandates deposit with the big stick being submission to the future REF – it thereby links Open Access publishing to career progression.  This is important, because in the future it might not be so important where you publish, but as to how you publish.

Alma also used a lovely phrase an “overdose of misunderstanding” and that is exactly how I’ve often felt about Open Access in the time I’ve worked with ORO.  Firstly because there are so entrenched views about Open Access it can be hard to get a clear picture and secondly because we’ve seen the playing field shift fundamentally.  First with the publication of the (pro Gold) Finch Report and now with the aforementioned (pro Green) HEFCE policy – the goalposts for researchers (and those of us who support them) have changed.  One thing is for sure Open Access a long way from its endgame.

In her talk Alma highlighted the importance of Open Data rather than Open Access to scholarly publications.  Using a quote from Geofrey Boulton, Alma stated that access to the research data will have far greater implications than the access to the publications based on that research data. See Science in a data-intensive age. Thanks for the link Isabel :-).

Alma asked us to take individual responsiblilty for how Open Access might play out in the near future.  These included: ensuring we get good value from publishers, planning for sustainability (especially for the repository infrastructure) and innovating in the field of scholarly communications wherever we can.

Finally, and as is always the case when we have discussions about Open Access in The Open University, we were left to conclude, if not here, then where?

Slides available here: SwanOU2014


About Chris

Chris looks after Open Research Online (ORO) on a day to day basis. He has worked in this role since 2011 and can advise on using ORO to maximise dissemination of research outputs and Open Access publishing generally.
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