Fwd: New study examines the economic returns of public access policies

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2010 11:45:12 -0400

For immediate release
August 4, 2010

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296


Washington, DC – Delivering timely, open, online access to the results
of federally funded research in the United States will significantly
increase the return on the public’s investment in science, according
to a new study by John Houghton at the Centre for Strategic Economic
Studies at Victoria University. The study, “The Economic and Social
Returns on Investment in Open Archiving Publicly Funded Research
Outputs,” co-authored by Bruce Rasmussen and Peter Sheehan, was
released today by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic
Resources Coalition).

Public funding of scientific, technical, and medical research assumes
that economic and social returns to taxpayers will exceed the amount
of the research investment. A proposal currently before the U.S.
Congress – the Federal Research Public Access Act, H.R. 5037 and S.
1373 (FRPAA) – seeks to ensure and maximize the public’s return by
delivering open online access to the results of research funded
through 11 federal agencies no later than six months after publication
in a journal. The Victoria University study outlines one approach to
measuring the potential impact of this policy on returns on public
investment in research and development (R&D).

The new study examines the effect of key variables that influence the
potential return on investment from this research.  These variables
concern both access to research – including content embargoes – and
the efficiency with which research is applied in practice.  The study
also defines the additional data and model developments necessary for
an accurate estimate of the policy’s likely impact.

Depending on the assumed cost of data repositories, the study’s
preliminary models suggest that FRPAA’s enactment could lead to a
return on the public’s investment of between four and 24 times the
costs. Two thirds of this return would accrue within the United
States, with the remainder spilling over to other countries.  In the
U.S., the study suggests that the benefits of public access might
total between three and 16 times the cost of the public’s investment.

The study closely examines the model’s sensitivity to critical
assumptions and concludes that the benefits of public access would
exceed the costs over a wide range of values.  As the study’s authors
note, “[I]t is difficult to imagine any plausible values for the input
data and model parameters that would lead to a fundamentally different

“It's important that discussions about the risks and benefits of
public access to government-funded research focus on empirical
evidence and rational argument,” added Raym Crow, SPARC Senior
Consultant. “The model Houghton and his colleagues have developed
facilitates such a logical approach and provides a framework for
assessing objectively the economic effect of various scenarios.”

The report's findings are based on available evidence. To enable
others to explore the modeling, an online model is available from
http://www.cfses.com/FRPAA. The full study, “The Economic and Social
Returns on Investment in Open Archiving Publicly Funded Research
Outputs,” is available on the SPARC Web site at

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with
SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more
than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open
system of scholarly communication. SPARC's advocacy, educational and
publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of
research. SPARC is on the Web at http://www.arl.org/sparc.

Jennifer McLennan
Director of Programs & Operations
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 x121
Fax: (202) 872-0884
SPARC 2010 Digital Repositories Meeting
November 8 & 9 - Baltimore, MD
Open Access Week 2010
October 18 - 24. Everywhere.
Received on Wed Aug 04 2010 - 16:46:20 BST

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