Student perceptions of writing with Wikipedia in Australian higher education

Authors : Robert Cummings, Frances DiLauro

The benefits of teaching with Wikipedia in higher education have been investigated for more than a decade and practitioners have claimed a fairly uniform set of outcomes. Although Wikipedia is a global knowledge platform, many studies of the benefits of teaching with Wikipedia have been conducted in U.S. higher education institutions.

The authors taught with Wikipedia in writing classes at the University of Sydney, Australia, surveying and interviewing students to both verify the traditional benefits of teaching with Wikipedia and investigate a new set of perceived benefits.

This study finds evidence that students who worked with Wikipedia in the writing classroom remained neutral in their opinions as to the legitimacy of information on Wikipedia and skeptical as to its utility in mastering writing course outcomes.


The evolution of open access to research and data in Australian higher education

« Open access (OA) in the Australian tertiary education sector is evolving rapidly and, in this article, we review developments in two related areas: OA to scholarly research publications and open data. OA can support open educational resource (OER) efforts by providing access to research for learning and teaching, and a range of actors including universities, their peak bodies, public research funding agencies and other organisations and networks that focus explicitly on OA are increasingly active in these areas in diverse ways. OA invites change to the status quo across the higher education sector and current momentum and vibrancy in this area suggests that rapid and significant changes in the OA landscape will continue into the foreseeable future. General practices, policies, infrastructure and cultural changes driven by the evolution of OA in Australian higher education are identified and discussed. The article concludes by raising several key questions for the future of OA research and open data policies and practices in Australia in the context of growing interest in OA internationally. »

URL : The evolution of open access to research and data in Australian higher education

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Beyond open access: an examination of Australian academic publication behaviour

This study explored the publication behaviour of academics from Australian universities and how this impacted on the adoption of open access models of scholarly publishing. Using grounded theory as its methodology, the study developed theoretical models that identified publication practice. The study also indicated how this practice had been influenced by ongoing changes in government policy associated with research recognition. While the government policies aimed to improve Australian research quality, studies such as this thesis assist in determining the impact that changes made to research evaluation policies may have on the research community and research dissemination.

The study examined data collected through three methods: focus groups held with Australian academics and publishers, an online survey of academics from Australian universities and interviews with Australian academics and university based e-press managers. In total, two hundred and eighty-one participants contributed to this study, including twenty-three in-depth interviewees and thirteen focus group participants. The survey participants represented a cross section of the Australian university community, whilst the focus groups and interviews represented academics from two universities, one from the Group of Eight and the other from the Australian Technology Network.

The outcome of this study was a number of theoretical models that suggested that the changing policies associated with research recognition have narrowed the publication behaviour of the Australian academic community and that this could be to the detriment of the adoption of alternative models of scholarly publishing. The publication behaviour, which had a focus on tiered journal listings, resulted in a dissemination pattern that was primarily directed to the academy. This was of concern for disciplines that had a practitioner-based research focus. Such disciplines would benefit from open access dissemination.

The study also examined engagement with institutional repositories and highlighted the importance of mediation in populating the content of repositories. The process of permission-based mandates was supported as a means to develop repository content. Permission-based mandates allow academics to enter a non-exclusive agreement with their university or institution so that the university can manage copyright and repository submission processes on behalf of the academic. Academics can then focus on the process of publication, while mediators can manage copyright and the repository submission processes.


Build it and they will come Support for…

Build it and they will come? Support for open access in Australia :

« This paper takes a critical look at the Australian open access landscape and analyses the issues with existing mandates and infrastructure through the lens of achieving open access via placing work in institutional repositories. Beginning with an explanation of the funding arrangements for universities in Australia, this paper describes the existing policy structure, the funding for physical infrastructure, how Australian theses are shared and the approach to the management of data as a research output. The second half of this paper takes an analytical view of the policies and repository infrastructure in Australia. This will demonstrate that beyond the basic provision of the tools for open access many issues affect the success or otherwise of an open access program. It will conclude by exploring areas which could be improved to allow Australia to take full advantage of the infrastructure in place to increase open access uptake in the country. »


Principles on open public sector information The…

Principles on open public sector information :

« The Principles on open public sector information (the Principles) form part of a core vision for government information management in Australia. They formally recognise that public sector information (PSI) is a national resource that should be published for community access and use. The Principles set out the central values of open PSI: information should be accessible without charge, based on
open standards, easily discoverable, understandable, machine-readable, and freely reusable and transformable. Australian Government agencies are urged to embed the Principles in their policies and practices to become confident and proactive publishers of information.

This report outlines the development of the Principles following their release in draft form in November 2010 for consultation. The report discusses the comments that were received and explains revisions made. The final version of the Principles is available at Appendix A.
The report is divided into two main parts.
• The first part explains key aspects of the Principles such as the principles based approach, the definition of PSI and how the Principles interact with the FOI Act. It also provides an overview of the consultation process and broad themes raised by stakeholders.
• The second part addresses each of the Principles in turn, outlining comments made on specific Principles and briefly explaining the changes and revisions made in response. »