Australia as a model for cooperation among leaders in Open Science and the Scientific Publishing Ecosystem

As mentioned in our October 29 blog post , the need for cooperation and leadership at the highest levels of government, research institutions, funders and publishers was a common call among participants at the October 2019 Future of Science Event, co-hosted by Outsell and CCC.

In our second post reflecting on what has changed in the past two years since that event, we consider the cooperation of organizations within Australasia well captured in a recently published infographic. This reflects a 20-year history of collaboration among the federal government, funders, advocates and publishers like CSIRO, Cambridge University Press, Microbiology Society and Portland Press (all RightsLink publishers).

The work is not done but the story unfolding is an interesting one.

It starts with important actors, such as:

CAUL is the leadership organization for university libraries in Australia. CAUL members are the University Librarians or equivalent of the 39 institutions that have representation on Universities Australia and the eight members of the Council of New Zealand University Librarians (CONZUL). CAUL makes a significant contribution to higher education strategy, policy and outcomes.

The Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) is supported by 20 universities in Australia and eight in New Zealand; Creative Commons Australia and Tohatoha, New Zealand are affiliate members. AOASG works to make Australasian research Open and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) and to promote innovation in all areas of scholarly communications.

NHMRC is Australia’s leading national investor in health and medical research. In 2019-20, NHMRC awarded over A$1.2 billion in new grants to support research into health issues of community concern, including those responsible for the greatest burden of disease, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, dementia and diabetes.

The FAIR Steering Group continues to work toward open research in Australia, removing barriers to innovation and increasing the discoverability, use and impact of Australia’s research outputs SIRO and CSIRO Publishing

CSIRO is one of the world’s largest mission-driven multidisciplinary science and research organizations and CSIRO Publishing is Australia’s leading science publisher of books, journals and magazines.

And the story demonstrates that their leaders are committed to change:
  1. CAUL updated its 2015 Open Scholarship Statement committing to action, including providing resources, to advance open scholarship in six primary areas: advocacy, competency, publishing, infrastructure, content acquisition and educational resources. See Connecting the Dots: 20+ years of open in Australia which provides an overview of and links to collective progress on open access in Australia over the last two decades. An Australian model for open access was later endorsed as one of the four pillars of work for Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Cathy Foley.
  2. CAUL and AOASG coordinate national and international open research consultations on a potential policy approach to open research in Australia. This included a series of virtual Roundtable meetings along with two webinars: International Perspectives: Developing a National Strategy for Open Research; and Developing an Overarching National Strategy for Open Research in Australia.
  3. Australia Academy of Science publishes a position statement on Open Science in support of the development of an Open Science strategy for Australia. The statement calls for a “strategy that needs to address open access, open methods, open peer review and Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data.” Some key activities include:
    • The Early- and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Forumwhich “is the national voice of Australia’s emerging STEM researchers. It champions improvement in the national research environment for EMCRs through advocacy.”
    • The Women in STEM Decadal Planin collaboration with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. “The plan provides a 10-year roadmap for achieving sustained increases in women’s STEM participation and retention from school through to careers.”
    • A partnership with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering to roll out the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot. The pilot is now complete. To find out more about this project visit the SAGE website.
  4. ARMS and CAUL are producing an Open Research Toolkit for use by universities to support open research and they are collaborating on libraries and open publishing case studies with other stakeholders that include:
    • CAUL member institutions
    • Universities Australia including its DVCsR Committee (“Deputy Vice-Chancellors for Research”)
    • FAIR Steering Group
    • FAIR Roundtable participants
    • CAUL/ARMS Open Research Working Group
  5. CAUL signed transformative Read & Publish Agreements with a number of national and international publishers and developed a Guide to Read & Publish Agreements which enables “libraries to support students, academics and researchers, with useful scholarly content, and providing authors the opportunity to publish via Open Access immediately on acceptance, and free of any transactional Article Processing Charges (APCs).”
    CAUL currently facilitates agreements with the publishers listed below:

    • CSIRO Publishing
    • Future Science Group
    • Geological Society of London
    • Karger
    • Microbiology Society
    • Portland Press
    • Royal Society
  6. CSIRO Publishing hosts workshops for researchers to develop science writing and grant application skills, an important part of developing competencies noted in the Open Scholarship Statement.

The examples above of cross-stakeholder collaboration show the makings of a shared vision and a common  strategic approach for producing open scholarship in Australia They  demonstrate how the collaborators have continually  revised statements, policies, and even organizational structures to address recent impacts of COVID-19, Plan S, equity, inclusion and rewards policies, and the need for transparency among stakeholders as they create a sustainable infrastructure for open research. As an intermediary serving many of the organizations above with common, flexible and scalable technology, we at CCC look forward to the next chapter.



Author: Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson has been a Principal Consultant with CCC since 2012. He has helped clients make informed investment decisions for significant content management system implementations. He has worked with the delivery of content and information systems for over 30 years including in senior roles in publishing and related industries in UK, Europe, USA and South East Asia across multiple domains including food research, trade magazines and directories, defence, Standards, and shipping.
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