The University of Southampton

Information Today highlights Open Access successes

Published: 16 February 2010

"Until and unless universal Open Access prevails on the planet, my words are better dubbed profitless than prophetic," responds Professor Stevan Harnad, University of Southampton's impatient archivangelist, to being dubbed "A Prophet Whose Time Has Come" in Information Today's February cover story, an interview by the chronicler of the Open Access movement, Richard Poynder.

"And without the boundless talent and resourcefulness of the School of Electronics and Computer Science and its EPrints team (led by Dr Les Carr), the words would also have been empty," continued Professor Harnad.

Among the Open Access highlights for 2009 Information Today lists:

(1) The Houghton Report for JISC demonstrated the substantial benefits of Open Access for the UK economy as well as globally.

(2) With the reintroduction of the US Federal Research Public Access Act to mandate Open Access to federally funded research, President Obama has launched a public consultation on public access policies for US federal science and technology funding agencies.

(3) The German National Parliament (Bundestag) has likewise been petitioned to mandate OA.

Prior to all this, the UK Parliamentary Select Committee had already recommended mandating OA in 2004, and mandates have already been adopted by all the UK research funding councils in 2006-7. It can be fairly said that Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science - the first in the world to mandate OA (2003) and the provider of the world's first OA repository software (EPrints, 2000) - was a significant factor in the UK's lead in OA.

Southampton continues to help shape OA policy worldwide, in its role in two mose of Information Today's 2009 highlights:

(4) The Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS), a new portal for educational materials on the “concept, principles, advantages, approaches and means to achieving Open Access”


(5) Enabling Open Scholarship (EOS), an international information service and a forum committed to “opening up of scholarship and research” conformant with “the growing open access, open education, open science and open innovation movements.”

These were both created by Dr Alma Swan of the University of Southampton and Key Perspectives, in collaboration with the Rector of the University of Liege, Professor Bernard Rentier.

Southampton's ROARMAP, the global registry of OA mandates by universities and research funders, continues to grow, with over 100 university mandates and over 40 funder mandates worldwide. Although there is still a long way to go - as the ROAR registry (created by Southampon's Dr Tim Brody) of over 1500 repositories shows -- Harnad writes: "Once we have mandates at the top 750 to 1,500 institutions, we’re safely past the tipping point; the others [10,000] will all follow suit soon enough."

Southampton is also working to complement the Houghton report on the economic benefits of OA with evidence of the benefits of OA to the research community in particular, to give them further incentive to mandate OA. Southampton's Dr Steve Hitchcock maintains a widely used bibliography of the growing number of studies on the effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact, to which Southampton has made many of the fundamental contributions, the latest of which has shown that - contrary to what anti-OA lobbyists have argued - the widely reported increase in downloads and citations associated with OA is not merely an artifact of authors selectively making their better papers OA: The OA impact Advantage remains just as high for mandated OA as it is for self-selected OA.

If any more evidence was needed that OA should be mandated universally as soon as possible, Southampton has now provided that evidence too.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453

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