Interim paper—Open access publishing

January 2013

The development and dissemination of scientific knowledge is at the heart of the human condition. The internet has brought about profound changes in how we organise and disseminate academic and scientific knowledge. As the Academy’s mission is to promote scientific excellence and disseminate scientific knowledge, the Academy supports recent efforts towards disseminating research through open access publishing.

Researchers now benefit from unprecedented and instant access to research findings via the internet, enabling them to quickly build on past research to develop new scientific knowledge. Most research is published in subscription publications, so people outside of the higher education sector, such as those working in public service, within the voluntary sector, in business, researchers in developing countries and the wider community, have not yet been able to take advantage of this improved access.

The Academy believes that the advancement of scientific knowledge is best served through the free, open and online distribution of high quality peer reviewed research, and supports recent efforts that have sought to ensure publicly funded research is freely available and without restriction. Managing the transition to Open Access publishing will be complicated, as existing publication arrangements are the product of many models, developed in many countries over many years. In transitioning to different models of publishing it is vital that high quality peer review and the on-going publication of scientific knowledge should not be impeded.

However, the Academy believes that despite the many challenges that need to be overcome, the benefits of research being made freely available are considerable and worth pursuing. The transition to an open access publishing environment will require government, funding councils, research councils, learned societies, universities, researchers, librarians and publishers to work together to develop a sustainable, transparent, cost-effective and high quality open access publishing environment.

General principles

Following are general principles offered by the Australian Academy of Science to inform consideration about the transition to Open Access publishing.

  1. The government, other researchers, and the wider community should not have to pay to access the research findings of publicly funded research.
  2. Making the findings of publicly funded research freely available through Open Access publishing should be encouraged.
  3. Publicly funded research findings should be disseminated as broadly as possible, and as soon as possible after their publication.
  4. Publishing, financial, copyright and other barriers that sometimes prevent researchers from making their research freely available through Open Access publishing should not inhibit and/or delay the publication of research findings.
  5. A flexible and planned approach from funding providers will be necessary to help researchers transition to an Open Access publishing environment.
  6. The decision on where to publish work should always rest with researchers who should develop a publication strategy cooperatively with those responsible for managing publication expenditure budgets.
  7. The quality and integrity of scholarly publishing must be maintained through the continued use of the peer review process.

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