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Australia: increasing monies being spent on funding open access

Type: Evidence | Hypothesis: OER saves money | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

Under ‘gold’ standard open access publishing authors of academic articles (or their institutions) are required to ay a fee to the publisher in order for them to make their work available openly.

A recent article by the Australian Open Access Support Group found that, although data about the total amount of money spent on open access is not collected, with some extrapolation from publicly available figures it is possible to show that Australian researchers or their institutions potentially spent over US$9 million during 2013 on publication with the two main open access publishers.

These kinds of figures have implications funders of research who may well end up bearing the brunt of the costs, albeit indirectly.  For instance:

While bearing in mind that their policy states funded published work must be made available open access, and they provide funds for article processing charges, the Wellcome Trust’s expenditure in 2012/13 indicates the numbers are substantial. That year they spent over US$6.5million on OA publication fees. This paid for 2,127 articles, with an average cost of US$3,055 per article.

Central to the issue here is ‘double-dipping':  publishers continuing to charge subscribers for content while at the same time charging authors fees for publication – the article notes that subscriptions have remained constant while author fees have risen.

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Open materials relevant across sectors, disciplines and countries

Type: Evidence | Hypothesis: Improving access | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

Results from an open online survey with 59 responses from individuals in 15 countries show evidence that the majority of users of the Learning to Teach Online materials were higher education teachers in Australia, the project’s target audience. However, results also reveal that these videos proved relevant to teachers in other educational sectors around the world –school 21%, adult education 15.8% and vocational training 7%.

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Distance Education 33(2) Special issue on ‘OERs and Social Inclusion’

Type: Evidence | Hypothesis: Improving access | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

The journal Distance Education (Volume 33, Issue 2, 2012) published a special issue on OER and social inclusion.  In it, Andy Lane argues that to it is not yet possible to measure how OER are truly widening either formal or informal engagement in HE study, and that most OER are better suited to learners who are confident and experienced. In the same issue, Bossu, Bull and Brown note that, in the Australian context at least, those who most need access to higher education typically lack access to technology. Overall, the issue provided little evidence that social inclusion is being promoted by OER.

See also http://www.tonybates.ca/2012/08/09/oer-and-social-inclusion-review-of-special-edition-of-distance-education/

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