The University of Southampton

THE article highlights ECS role in Open Access

Published: 12 November 2009

‘It is only through Open Access that research can be used, applied and built upon by all its intended users, rather than only those whose institutions can afford to subscribe to the journal in which it happens to be published’, says ECS Professor Stevan Harnad, commenting on a major article in today’s Times Higher Education.

The article Learning to Share provides extensive coverage of the Open Access debate and its implications for researchers and publishers. It also underlines the important role played in the development of Open Access by the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) and the University of Southampton.

ECS has been at the forefront of the Open Access movement since the early 1990s and was the first in the world to adopt an open access mandate (in 2002), requiring its researchers to self-archive all their research online. The EPrints software created for this purpose now drives many of the world’s leading institutional repositories.

‘ECS pioneered the institutional repository, designing the EPrints software as a means of encouraging open access in 1999,’ said Dr Les Carr, EPrints Technical Director. ‘Since 2002 when we adopted our own mandate, our repository has grown to over 4000 open access full-text research publications.’

In 2005, EPrints Services was launched by the School to provide training and repository-hosting services for research institutions across the world. ‘EPrints Services has proved a great success,’ said Dr Carr, ‘enabling us to pass on the expertise that we have developed over the years and to help institutions to customize their own OA repositories for their needs.’

As well as Open Access to research publications, EPrints is being developed to support emerging Open Data and Open Science agendas through projects funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). ECS researchers, including Tim Berners-Lee, Nigel Shadbolt, Stevan Harnad, Tony Hey, Wendy Hall and Les Carr, have been at the forefront of advocating these changes in scientific practice and arguing for changes in national and international scientific policies.

Today's (12 November) article, backed up by the THE’s editorial from Ann Mroz also underlined the importance of Open Access in both generating and measuring research ‘impact’. Impact metrics are increasingly being used to evaluate and reward research excellence by funding bodies and government agencies. Ann Mroz writes: ‘A recent pre-print by Stevan Harnad et al. of research into citation impact shows that authors whose papers are made open access are cited significantly more than authors whose articles are available only to subscribers. The Open Citation Project provides ample evidence of this.' The pre-print will soon be posted publicly.

In parallel, a petition to mandate open access self-archiving has just been introduced to the German Bundestag, as both open-access mandates and open-access metrics keep gathering momentum worldwide.

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