Making Australian research free for everyone to read sounds ideal. But the Chief Scientist's open-access plan isn't risk-free
peter.suber's bookmarks 2021-11-17
"Chief Scientist Cathy Foley is leading an open access strategy for Australia. Foley estimates the Australian government invests A$12 billion a year of public money in research and innovation only for most of the publications that eventuate to be locked behind a paywall, inaccessible to industry and the taxpayer. At the same time, Australian universities and others pay publishers an estimated $460 million to $1 billion a year to see this published work.
Inspired by the European open-access initiative Plan S, Foley’s goal is to make all publicly funded Australian research publications free for the public to read. This is to be done through a sector-wide agreement between universities and publishers....
There are risks in taking money from universities that are struggling to fund research. Their grants already do not cover the full cost of academic research. One outcome is pressure to increase teaching-only positions.
As global open-access advocacy organisation SPARC reported in its 2021 update:
“The past year has seen more [commercial] deals that led to more concentration, loss of diversity, and ultimately to the academic community’s lessening control over its own destiny.”
Academics provide a free service to commercial publishers by researching, writing, reviewing and editing journals without payment. Universities pay for this labour, which generates the intellectual property relied on by publishers. Recognising this value could help us cut better deals with publishers."