European Knowledge Exchange.8 The series conclusions have been widely
reported on, and have resulted in a survey detailing the cost/benefit effects of
open access in the countries covered. Perhaps one of the most valuable outputs of
these studies has been the open publication of the model used by the researchers
who conducted this work. The model was based on the Scientific Communication
Life Cycle Model developed by Bo-Christer Bjork,9 and has been substantially
developed and extended to capture all of the activities and related costs
throughout the scholarly communication process to highlight the differences
between alternative publishing models. The model is freely available online,10 and
can be used by anyone who wants to challenge any of the assumptions made by
the researchers, or to examine their own set of economic data.
United States Study
Earlier this year, Houghton’s work was applied to a US scenario for the first
time. The study, Economic and Social Returns on Investment in Open Archiving
Publicly Funded Research Outputs,11 uses the same basic methodology as the
European research but has a slightly different focus. Houghton’s research this
time focused specifically on the proposed Federal Research Public Access Act
(FRPAA, H.R. 5037 and S. 1373)—a bill currently before the US Congress that
seeks to maximize the public’s return on research investment by delivering open
online access to the results of research funded by 11 federal agencies, no later
than six months after publication in a journal.
Houghton’s US study outlines one possible
approach to measuring the potential return on
public investment in research and development
(R&D). It examines the effect of a set of key variables
that influence the potential return and looks at
variables that affect both access to research (including
an examination of content embargoes) and the
efficiency with which research is applied in practice. Similar to the studies
conducted in Europe, the US study’s preliminary models suggest that FRPAA’s
enactment could lead to a positive return on the public’s investment. The report
projects that more than $1 billion in benefits could be returned to the US
economy over 30 years—an amount more than five times the costs of archiving
the same material over the same period.
To address the efficiency aspect, Houghton’s model relies on studies that
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Public Access to Federally Funded Research
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
DECEMBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
The report projects that more than $1 billion in
benefits could be returned to the US economy
over 30 years—an amount more than five
times the costs of archiving the same material
over the same period.
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