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Conference endorses Open Access mandate

Professor Stevan Harnad and Professor Nigel Shadbolt
Professor Stevan Harnad and Professor Nigel Shadbolt

The benefits available to universities which provide Open Access (OA) to their research were highlighted at a two-day workshop on institutional self-archiving held this week at the University of Southampton.

Institutions which self-archive could experience increased ease with Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) compliance, double the amount of research exposure and impact, and gain access to advanced technologies which will revolutionise the information industry, said conference speakers.

The need to perform the actions necessary to make all of the UK’s institutional research Open Access by depositing it in institutional repositories was highlighted by Professor Stevan Harnad, one of the founders of the OA worldwide movement. He told the workshop that although the UK is second in the world in terms of creating institutional repositories, many of them still lie near empty.

He said that issues such as negotiating publishers’ embargoes and a means of deciding on the definitive version of research work should be shelved until the UK’s archives are filled with self-archived research. He commented: ‘We should refrain from speculating about what will be the changes in journals in 10-15 years time; right now the definitive version is in the journal. What we need first is Open Access to the author’s version, and then we can worry about developments and improvements later.’

The case for mandatory action was presented by Alma Swan from Key Perspectives. She reported that 79 per cent of UK researchers in surveys funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) on Open Access archiving said that if self-archiving were required by employers or research funders, they would comply willingly. She also revealed that institutions which self-archive gain twice as much impact for their research work than those which do not. The main reasons why they fail to do so are time constraints, lack of awareness of open access possibilities and inability to mount the data.

The fact that systems are in place for self-archiving to go ahead was reinforced by the other speakers. Robert Terry of the Wellcome Trust reported new directions in research funders’ approaches to self-archiving of funded research in institutional and central OA repositories; Bill Hubbard of Nottingham University described the SHERPA Directory of Publisher policies on author self-archiving and presented the case for institutional repositories rather than central subject-based systems, and Derek Law from the Scottish Confederation of University & Research Libraries highlighted the role of the RAE in the creation of institutional repositories in Scotland.

The link between Open Access and the RAE was highlighted again in the closing research colloquium -- Research Repositories: The Next 10 Years – when Professor Harnad and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, a leading expert in knowledge technology, illustrated how cite rank algorithms and semantic web technologies can be applied to Open Access systems so that performance and impact indicators can be developed.


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Posted by Joyce Lewis on 28 Jan 2005.