Report helps universities present OA business case

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JISC in the UK has released a report revealing how universities can work out their potential cost savings using various open-access (OA) models.

‘Modelling scholarly communication options: costs and benefits for universities’, written by industry consultant Alma Swan of Key Perspectives, looked at four case studies spread across different kinds of universities, which all see different benefits from the various open-access models.

The report shows that OA repositories bring benefits regardless of the type of universities. OA repositories with overlay services such as peer review offer benefits for most universities too. The gold OA route (where article-processing charges are paid to publishers to make the work OA) gives a more mixed picture. The benefits to individual universities depend on the level of the article-processing charges and the size of the institution’s research output. However, there may be funding available to help with these costs. ‘We need to think about gold OA, how universities set up publication funds and what researchers can bid for as part of indirect costs in grant applications,’ said Neil Jacobs, programme manager at JISC.

'The Houghton report [which was released in 2009 and looked at potential national cost savings with open access] was very important and worked well on sector and national levels but there is a gap about how to do practical issues at the institutional level. Universities needed help to make a sound case for open access,' Jacobs continued. 'The main point of Alma Swan’s work was to give universities a way to use the Houghton report to make a business model for open access.'

'JISC supports open access. It makes the scholarly community native to the web. Research in the future is going to be based on mining across all scholarly information. If the information is freely available it makes it much easier,' he added.  'OA has the potential to be quite a fundamental change but it will be a long, slow transition process. In principle most researchers want their work to be out there, read and cited but there is inertia. The benefits are not yet being seen of putting information into repository.'

Jacobs went on to say that JISC is trying to address this challenge and will soon be launching a call for innovation in this area. 'There are many challenges but OA does make it a lot easer. There’s a first mover advantage in attracting visibility to individual’s research but there is also a great advantage to the sector and country as a whole,' he observed.