Australian mandates update

From: Arthur Sale <>
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2006 10:40:44 +1100

My opinions, as opposed to analysis and reportage, is shown in square
brackets below.

Firstly, I wish to confirm Peter Suber's analysis of the Australian Research
Council's decision in its funding rules, announced last week. See, Section 1.4.5 if you want
to read the original in context.

The ARC has basically said that it expects research funded by it to be made
open access. If not, the grantees have a prior onus placed on them to
explain why not in their Final Report. [Given that the research articles
have been published, I cannot imagine any good justifications. 'I ignored
the statement and signed away my rights to a publisher' will probably be
considered a poor excuse by the ARC and may be considered by researchers to
have deleterious effects on future grant success. It would have to wrapped
up in language like "I chose this journal which wouldn't let me make an
exception in the publishing agreement, but it is really the very very best
journal for this article". Not many people will get away with it or want to
make the argument. Quicker and easier to do as requested.]

By my assessment of the actual situation, the ARC has just enacted a mandate
on its grantees, thus joining the several RCUK Research Councils. What has
always been needed is simply a policy decision (which the ARC has made), a
reporting requirement (ditto), and a routinization of OA deposit (which will
follow). Congratulations to the ARC. [Why did it take this particular tack?
Well as I have written previously Australians have a cultural myth of
independent action, and don't like to be commanded what to do in the
language of 'mandate'. But using the right language, they will do as

This mandate will be reinforced by the forthcoming Research Quality
Framework in 2008, which requires (on pain of getting no research funding
for six years):
(a) each university to have access to a repository,
(b) during 2007 deposit in that repository all research output published in
2001-2006 inclusive that it intends to use in its evidence portfolios, and
(c) make that research output available electronically to RQF assessors (not
necessarily OA).
Once each university has a repository (or shares one), and most academics
have deposited research publications, a transition to regular OA deposit
will be almost natural and semi-automatic. What we always needed was
routinization: a mandate was just the only known way to induce that
routinization, and that is what we have now got. On top of that the RQF
panels will mostly look at citation statistics, so immediate deposit OA will
be rapidly perceived as highly desirable with the 2014 RQF in mind.

There is other news in the wings. The National Health & Medical Research
Council (the second of Australia's two research councils) is said to include
the same language as the ARC in its guidelines when they appear. And an
even more important over-arching statement is also expected in the near
future covering the conduct of all research in Australia's universities and
government research agencies. Further, work in the Department of Education,
Science & Training is tackling the accessibility of research data, which is
a much more difficult task than open access for published articles.

In summary, an open access sea-change is happening in Australia. It will
take about a year to become fully fledged and unmistakeable to all, but it
is inexorable. The key decisions have been taken at governmental level and I
expect to be able to say in 2008: "Look, Australia is 100% OA (or near

My congratulations to all those involved in these decisions.
To everyone worldwide, please celebrate with me.

Arthur Sale
Professor of Computing (Research)
University of Tasmania

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> Sent: Wednesday, 6 December 2006 11:20 PM
> Expects Fundees to Self-Archive
> [From Peter Suber's Open Access News]
> 45838544
> Australia's ARC expects OA for ARC-funded projects
> The Australian Research Council (ARC) has published the Funding
> Rules for funding commencing in 2008 (undated but apparently released
> December 3, 2006). (Thanks to Colin Steele.)
> Excerpt:
> 1.4.5. Dissemination of research outputs
> The Australian Government makes a major investment in
> research to support its essential role in improving the wellbeing
> of our society. To maximise the benefits from research, findings
> need to be disseminated as broadly as possible to allow access
> by other researchers and the wider community.
> The ARC acknowledges that researchers take into account
> a wide range of factors in deciding on the best outlets for
> publications arising from their research. Such considerations
> include the status and reputation of a journal or publisher,
> the peer review process of evaluating their research outputs,
> access by other stakeholders to their work, the likely impact of
> their work on users of research and the further dissemination and
> production of knowledge. Taking heed of these considerations,
> the ARC wants to ensure the widest possible dissemination of
> the research supported under its funding, in the most effective
> manner and at the earliest opportunity.
> The ARC therefore encourages researchers to consider
> the benefits of depositing their data and any publications
> arising from a research project in an appropriate subject and/or
> institutional repository wherever such a repository is available
> to the researcher(s). If a researcher is not intending to deposit
> the data from a project in a repository within a six-month
> period, he/she should include the reasons in the project's
> Final Report. Any research outputs that have been or will be
> deposited in appropriate repositories should be identified in
> the Final Report.
> COMMENT: by Peter Suber. Kudos to the ARC for this important step.
> The policy doesn't use the language of a mandate, but it takes an
> approach that may be functionally equivalent: beyond requesting
> compliance, it shifts the burden to non-complying grantees to justify
> their non-compliance. This creates a strategic consideration that is
> not a sanction but more consequential that anything to be found in
> some of the policies that use mandatory language.
> 45838544
Received on Fri Dec 08 2006 - 01:26:01 GMT

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