Support for open access in Australia – an overview

Danny Abigail Kingsley

Full Text: PPT


For a decade the Australian higher education sector has enjoyed substantial support from the Government for developing infrastructure to underpin open access activities. Over the past two years there has been a significant amount of activity in Australia in the area of open access, both in terms of infrastructure and support services. Despite this there has been a modest increase in uptake of open access in the sector.

It can be argued that the funding arrangements for research in Australia have a considerable impact on engagement with open access in Australia. Research is primarily supported by the government, through grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council[1] (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council[2] (ARC), and block funding to institutions through the ARC.

Australian universities have long collected the full list of their research outputs for block funding through the Higher Education Research Data Collection[3]. In addition, the first round of a new quality assessment system called Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)[4] was completed in August 2010. The results of the first round of ERA are now available[5] and the next round is scheduled for 2012.

A funding program called the Australian Scheme for Higher Education Repositories[6], developed in preparation for ERA, means all universities in Australia now have a repository[7]. However, despite this infrastructure, the amount of Australian research available open access remains comparable with the rest of the world.[8] This is partly due to the necessity of repository managers to focus on reporting requirements rather than open access. In many cases universities built a second repository for the ERA reporting that was not open access, other universities only have a closed access repository.

In addition to physical infrastructure for open access, there has also been government funding for different aspects of support for open access. A two-year project, the CAUL[9] Australian Institutional Repository Support Service[10] ran between March 2009 and 2011, and provided support for repository managers in the higher education sector. This service has been considered integral by repository managers, and the Australian and New Zealand university libraries have agreed to continue the service through member contributions.

There have been recent changes to the way open access outputs have been collated and displayed in Australia. The Australasian Digital Theses Program (ADT)[11] began in July 2000 and is in the process of being decommissioned[12], with university libraries copying all theses held in the ADT into their own repositories. In February 2011 the National Library of Australia replaced the Australian Research Online site, with Trove[13] which collates material from several sources.

Some recent events indicate a renewed focus on open access in Australia. The NHMRC and ARC have announced an intention to mandate the deposit of research outputs in a research repository as part of the funding rules within the next 12 months. This will be considerably stronger than the current ‘encouragement’ in the rules. In addition several Australian universities have introduced mandates for research work to be deposited in their institutional repository.








[8] Educause Australasia Conference 2009 Perth Australia Session /Paper No 99.00. (2009)

[9] Council of Australian University Libraries






open access; repositories; research assessment; research funding; Australia