01 July 2009 Benefits of Open Access clearly outweigh costs in three European Countries


For Denmark, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands free access to scholarly materials could offer significant benefits not only to research and higher education but also to society as a whole. This has been calculated by Australian economist Professor John Houghton in studies which have taken place in these three countries on the costs and benefits of scholarly communication. He has now summarised these findings in a report commissioned by Knowledge Exchange, which is a partnership of the IT bodies from Denmark (DEFF), the United Kingdom (JISC), the Netherlands (SURFfoundation) and Germany (DFG).


At present universities pay millions of Euros every year for access to scientific and scholarly publications. Businesses, smaller educational institutes, and other organisations often cannot afford the expensive licences needed for access. If the “Open Access” model were to be applied globally, this would allow for increased access to research results for both researchers and the public at large.


In the three national studies the costs and benefits of scholarly communication were compared based on three different publication models. The modelling revealed that the greatest advantage would be offered by the Open Access model, which means that the research institution or the party financing the research pays for publication and the article is then freely accessible. Adopting this model could lead to annual savings of around EUR 70 million in Denmark, EUR 133 million in The Netherlands and EUR 480 in the UK. The report concludes that the advantages would not just be in the long term; in the transitional phase too, more open access to research results would have positive effects. In this case the benefits would also outweigh the costs.


The findings from this modelling suggest that open access alternatives are likely to be more cost-effective mechanisms for scholarly publishing in a wide range of countries (both large and small).
Given the potential benefits, it does seem worth while to ensure that there is a level playing field between alternative publishing models. This will reduce the barriers to innovation in scholarly publishing.


The full text of the study can be downloaded from the address:

Title: Open Access – What are the economic benefits? A comparison of the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Denmark.
Author: John Houghton, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia


Notes for editors

About Knowledge Exchange
Knowledge Exchange is a co-operative effort that supports the use and development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) infrastructure for higher education and research. The European partners of Knowledge Exchange, DFG (Germany), JISC (UK), DEFF (Denmark) and SURFfoundation (The Netherlands), share a common vision based on their four national strategies. That vision is: To make a layer of scholarly and scientific content openly available on the Internet. In order to realise this goal, the partners work on supporting existing and new programmes on national and international levels, co-ordinating efforts on building an integrated repository infrastructure, exploring new developments in the future of publishing, facilitating integrated management services within education and research institutions and supporting libraries in the digital age.


For further information: www.knowledge-exchange.info

Please contact: Keith Russell (Knowledge Exchange Office) on +31 30 2346600
or kru@knowledge-exchange.info


• DFG - The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) is the central, self-governing research funding organisation that promotes research at universities and other publicly financed research institutions in Germany. The DFG serves all branches of science and the humanities by funding research projects and facilitating cooperation among researchers.


• JISC – the Joint Information Systems Committee – is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology (ICT) to support learning, teaching, and research. It is best known for providing the JANET network, a range of support, content and advisory services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources.

• DEFF - Denmark's Electronic Research Library is an organisational and technological partnership between research libraries co-financed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education. DEFF's purpose is to advance the development of a network of electronic research libraries that make available their electronic and other information resources to the patrons in a coherent and simple way. This is obtained partly through government funding and partly by joint purchase of licenses. The Danish Agency for Libraries and Media runs the secretariat of the partnership.

• SURF is the collaborative organisation for higher education institutions and research institutes aimed at breakthrough innovations in ICT. SURF provides the foundation for the excellence of higher education and research in the Netherlands. SURF comprises three partners: SURFfoundation, SURFnet and SURFdiensten (SURFservices).

Knowledge Exchange - +44 0203 697 5804 - office@knowledge-exchange.info
Jisc - One Castlepark - Tower Hill - Bristol - BS2 0JA - United Kingdom