ARC announce open-access policy: The Conversation

One frustrating thing about running this blog is that, while I may have access to the full text of any research article that I present to you, that doesn’t mean that all of my readers do. I work at a university, and one of the perks is having access to a large number of academic journals online, meaning that I can carefully read the full length of any study I want to discuss, rather than just a summary (the abstract). I imagine that some of my readers may have found that when I link to an article, they can only see the abstract instead of all of the details. This makes it hard for me to ask you to join in on the discussion of the article.

Picture of locked journal

Unlock the research!
Photo: © Webking | Stock Free Images

I understand why journals need to limit the accessibility of their full text to paying customers, because I know that they need to make money to cover their publishing costs. But I wish it didn’t have to be that way.

However, today I read an article on The Conversation that reports that the Australian Research Council (ARC) is has made it mandatory that any journal articles resulting from research they have funded (which is a huge portion of research in Australia), need to be open-access. This means that everyone will be able to read the reports within 12 months of their publication. You can read the ARC’s open-access announcement here.

What do you guys think about this? I think it’s ultimately a good thing because I think that everyone should have access to research. But who will pay for it? The article in The Conversation revealed that scholarly publishing companies have some of the biggest operating profits in the world, even above Apple. Another question: how will this policy be regulated when many of the articles have been published in journals that are based overseas? Let me hear your thoughts.

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3 thoughts on “ARC announce open-access policy: The Conversation

  1. Interesting, I hadn’t heard about this! I think, of course, that this can only be a good thing. But, I agree with the point made in the article that most journals are just going to put into place regulations that stop this from happening, and the ARC aren’t gong to be able to do anything about it.

    In any case, I guess that the policy can be regulated because after you get an ARC grant, you have to provide annual reports listing all publications that have resulted from the grant – and presumably you’ll now have to provide details about how you have made these articles open access (or why you haven’t been able to due to the particular journal restricting it).

    RE Open Access Journals, I think they’re also a good idea, but it usually costs $2-3000 for you to publish in them. I don’t really get this, as there are no print costs, and all of the editing and reviewing work is done for free (by researchers). I guess there is some admin needed, but still…

  2. If research is funded by taxes collected from the public, the public really shouldn’t be charged again for what they have already paid for. So the question is to whom these papers should be open access, just Australian residents, or everyone. Another thing comes to mind is that if government funded publications were all freely accessible whilst others not, would this bias the citation of the literature. There are many many great research (e.g. PhD projects) that were not publicly funded, or not at all funded, and I believe they deserve equal access.

    • Perhaps they should all be open-access. Aaron Swartz, the cofounder of Reddit and developer of RSS recently committed suicide a few days ago. He was due to go to trial for a fraud case accused of “stealing” millions of academic journals. Really? Are these really the people we want to be prosecuting? I think it’s disgusting.
      I’ll finish with a really nice quote from him that I saw in today’s news:
      “The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitised and locked up by a handful of private corporations… sharing isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative.” – Aaron Swartz

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