However, a recent report by the Publishing Research Consortium indicated
that more than 70% of the SMEs surveyed reported experiencing difficulties
in accessing such information.2 Providing better access for non-academic
stakeholders, especially SMEs, is an important consideration in creating an
effective innovation agenda.
As awareness of the potential benefits of opening access to scientific research
results has increased, a growing number of funders have directly addressed this
issue. In its 2005 report on scientific publishing, the international Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development succinctly captured the policy
imperative, specifically noting the potential for improved ROI:
Governments would boost innovation and get a better return on
their investment in publicly funded research if they made
research findings more widely available, and by doing so, they
would maximize social returns on public investments.3
Over the past several years, a number of policies requiring deposit of
publicly funded research outputs in open online repositories, and ensuring free
access to the general public within a specified time frame have been proposed,
and in some cases, implemented. The most visible US policy that addresses this
call is that of the National Institutes of Health, which in 2008 required that all
researchers funded by NIH deposit a copy of any manuscript reporting on the
results of NIH-funded research into the agency’s online repository (PubMed
Central) to be made publicly accessible no later than 12 months after appearance
in a peer-reviewed journal.
The European Union (EU) has taken an even more aggressive stance, by
adopting what they term the “Fifth Freedom,”4 the free movement of
knowledge, as a core tenet of the EU’s basic mission. The EU has proposed a
policy similar to that of the NIH for the results of its funded research, with an
even shorter embargo period of six months. These examples are just two of more
than three dozen policies that have been established by public funding bodies
around the world.5
Studies of ROI in Open Access Policies
While there is ample anecdotal evidence of the benefits of policies mandating
open access to publicly funded research, the relative costs and benefits and the
actual return on investment have not been fully studied. However, in just the
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DECEMBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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