The Open Access movement has encouraged the availability of publicly-funded research papers, data and learning content for barrier-free use of that content without payment by the user. The impact of increasing availability of content to researchers in European universities is understood in terms of easier access to previous research and greater exposure for new research results, bringing benefits to the research community itself. A new culture of informal sharing is evident within the teaching and learning communities and to some extent also within the research community, but as yet the growth in informal sharing has not had a major effect upon the use of formal publication choices.
This briefing paper explores the impact of open access upon potential users of research outputs outside the walls of research-led European universities, where the economic value of open access may be even greater than the academic value within universities. The potential impact of open access is understood in many communities but requires a greater volume of open access content to be available for the full potential to be realised. More open access content will become available as the opportunities in open, internet-based digital scholarship are understood.
This briefing paper was written in cooperation with SPARC Europe.
All links provided in footnotes in this Briefing Paper are to studies available in open access.