‘Is the library open?’: Correlating unaffiliated access to academic libraries with open access support

Authors: Katie Wilson, Cameron Neylon, Chloe Brookes-Kenworthy, Richard Hosking, Chun-Kai (Karl) Huang, Lucy Montgomery, Alkim Ozaygen

In the context of a growing international focus on open access publishing options and mandates, this paper explores the extent to which the ideals of ‘openness’ are also being applied to physical knowledge resources and research spaces.

This study, which forms part of the larger Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative project, investigates the relationship between academic library access policies and institutional positions on open access or open science publishing.

Analysis of library access policies and related documents from twenty academic institutions in Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, Africa and the United Kingdom shows that physical access to libraries for members of the public who are not affiliated with a university is often the most restricted category of access. Many libraries impose financial and sometimes security barriers on entry to buildings, limiting access to collections in print and other non-digital formats.

The limits placed on physical access to libraries contrast strongly with the central role that these institutions play in facilitating open access in digital form for research outputs through institutional repositories and open access publishing policies.

We compared library access policies and practices with open access publishing and research sharing policies for the same institutions and found limited correlation between both sets of policies.

Comparing the two assessments using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient confirmed open access policies have a direct association with the narrow aspects of public access provided through online availability of formal publications, but are not necessarily associated (in the universities in this study) with delivering on a broader commitment to public access to knowledge.

The results suggest that while institutional mission statements and academic library policies may refer to sharing of knowledge and research and community collaboration, multiple layers of library user categories, levels of privilege and fees charged can inhibit the realisation of these goals.

As open access publishing options and mandates expand, physical entry to academic libraries and access to print and electronic resources has contracted. This varies within and across countries, but it conflicts with global library and information commitments to open access to knowledge.

URL : ‘Is the library open?’: Correlating unaffiliated access to academic libraries with open access support

DOI : http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10298

Universities and knowledge sharing: Evaluating progress to openness at the institutional level

Authors : Lucy Montgomery, Cameron Neylon, Richard Hosking, Karl Huang, Alkim Ozaygen, Katie Wilson

Universities are key sites of knowledge creation. Governments and research funders are increasingly interested in ensuring that their investments in the production of new knowledge deliver a quantifiable return on investment, including in the form of ‘impact’.

Ensuring that research outputs are not locked behind paywalls, and that research data can be interrogated and built upon are increasingly central to efforts to improve the effectiveness of global research landscapes.

We argue that mandating and promoting open access (OA) for published research outputs, as well as the sharing of research data are important elements of building a vibrant open knowledge system, but they are not enough.

Supporting diversity within knowledge-making institutions; enabling collaboration across boundaries between universities and wider communities; and addressing inequalities in access to knowledge resources and in opportunities to contribute to knowledge making processes are also important.

New tools are needed to help universities, funders, and communities to understand the extent to which a university is operating as an effective open knowledge institution; as well as the steps that might be taken to improve open knowledge performance.

This paper discusses our team’s efforts to develop a model of Open Knowledge that is not confined to measures of OA and open data. The Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative is a project of the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University.

With funding from the university, we are exploring the extent to which universities are functioning as effective open knowledge institutions; as well as the types of information that universities, funders, and communities might need to understand an institution’s open knowledge performance and how it might be improved.

The challenges of data collection on open knowledge practices at scale, and across national, cultural and linguistic boundaries are also discussed.

URL : https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02141887

Do we need to move from communication technology to user community? A new economic model of the journal as a club

Authors : John Hartley, Jason Potts, Lucy Montgomery, Ellie Rennie, Cameron Neylon

Much of the argument around reforming, remaking, or preserving the traditions of scholarly publishing is built on economic principles, explicit or implicit. Can we afford open access (OA)?

How do we pay for high‐quality services? Why does it cost so much? In this article, we argue that the sterility of much of this debate is a result of failure to tackle the question of what a journal is in economic terms.

We offer a way through by demonstrating that a journal is a club and discuss the implications for the scholarly publishing industry.

We use examples, ranging from OA to prestige journals, to explain why congestion is a problem for club‐based publications, and to discuss the importance of creative destruction for the maintenance of knowledge‐generating communities in publishing.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1228

Access to academic libraries: an indicator of openness?

Authors  : Chun-Kai (Karl) Huang, Lucy Montgomery, Cameron Neylon, Katie Wilson


Open access to digital research output is increasing, but academic library policies can place restrictions on public access to libraries. This paper reports on a preliminary study to investigate the correlation between academic library access policies and institutional positions of openness to knowledge.


This primarily qualitative study used document and data analysis to examine the content of library access/use policies of 12 academic institutions in eight countries. The outcomes were statistically correlated with institutional open access publication policies and practices.


We used an automated search tool together with manual searching to retrieve web-based library access policies, then categorised and counted the levels and conditions of public access. We compared scores for institutional library access features, open access features and percentages of open access publications.


Academic library policies may suggest open public access but multi-layered user categories, privileges and fees charged can inhibit access, with disparities in openness emerging between library policies and institutional open access policies.

Conclusion. As open access publishing options and mandates expand, physical entry and access to print and electronic resources in academic libraries is contracting. This conflicts with global library and information commitments to open access to knowledge.

DOI : https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:21881/

The Visibility of Open Access Monographs in a European Context: A Report Prepared by Knowledge Unlatched Research

Authors : Lucy Montgomery, Cameron Neylon, Alkim Ozaygen, Frances Pinter, Neil Saunders

This report explores the extent to which Open Access (OA) specialist scholarly books can be seen by the communities that might make use of them. It also identifies the key challenges that will need to be tackled in order to ensure that OA books are fully integrated into digital landscapes of scholarship; as well as the steps that need to be taken to achieve this goal.

The report focuses on Open Access books made available by publishers and platforms that are part of the OPERAS network, which is focused on the development of European research infrastructure for the development of open scholarly communication.

Specialist scholarly books are the core research output of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Ensuring that they are integrated into digital landscapes of scholarship will play a decisive role in the future of these disciplines, and their impact on the world. Identifying gaps in existing infrastructure and creating a roadmap to address them is vital groundwork.

This report forms part of the OPERAS-D project, which focuses on the development of a European e-infrastructure for open access publications in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Knowledge Unlatched Research is a core partner in the OPERAS-D project.

KU Research is an independent research and analysis group focusing on strategy and analytics that support the ecosystem of scholarly monographs.

DOI : https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:18269

Sustaining Scholarly Infrastructures through Collective Action: The Lessons that Olson can Teach us

Author : Cameron Neylon

The infrastructures that underpin scholarship and research, including repositories, curation systems, aggregators, indexes and standards, are public goods. Finding sustainability models to support them is a challenge due to free-loading, where someone who does not contribute to the support of an infrastructure nonetheless gains the benefit of it.

The work of Mancur Olson (1965) suggests that there are only three ways to address this for large groups: compelling all potential users, often through some form of taxation, to support the infrastructure; providing non-collective (club) goods to contributors that are created as a side-effect of providing the collective good; or implementing mechanisms that lower the effective number of participants in the negotiation (oligopoly).

In this paper, I use Olson’s framework to analyse existing scholarly infrastructures and proposals for the sustainability of new infrastructures. This approach provides some important insights.

First, it illustrates that the problems of sustainability are not merely ones of finance but of political economy, which means that focusing purely on financial sustainability in the absence of considering governance principles and community is the wrong approach.

The second key insight this approach yields is that the size of the community supported by an infrastructure is a critical parameter. Sustainability models will need to change over the life cycle of an infrastructure with the growth (or decline) of the community.

In both cases, identifying patterns for success and creating templates for governance and sustainability could be of significant value.

Overall, this analysis demonstrates a need to consider how communities, platforms, and finances interact and suggests that a political economic analysis has real value.

URL : Sustaining Scholarly Infrastructures through Collective Action: The Lessons that Olson can Teach us

DOI : http://doi.org/10.5334/kula.7


A multi-disciplinary perspective on emergent and future innovations in peer review

Authors : Jonathan P. Tennant, Jonathan M. Dugan, Daniel Graziotin, Damien C. Jacques, François Waldner, Daniel Mietchen, Yehia Elkhatib, Lauren B. Collister, Christina K. Pikas, Tom Crick, Paola Masuzzo, Anthony Caravaggi, Devin R. Berg, Kyle E. Niemeyer, Tony Ross-Hellauer, Sara Mannheimer, Lillian Rigling, Daniel S. Kat, Bastian Greshake Tzovaras, Josmel Pacheco-Mendoza, Nazeefa Fatima, Marta Poblet, Marios Isaakidis, Dasapta Erwin Irawan, Sébastien Renaut, Christopher R. Madan, Lisa Matthias, Jesper Nørgaard Kjær, Daniel Paul O’Donnell, Cameron Neylon, Sarah Kearns, Manojkumar Selvaraju, Julien Colomb

Peer review of research articles is a core part of our scholarly communication system. In spite of its importance, the status and purpose of peer review is often contested. What is its role in our modern digital research and communications infrastructure?

Does it perform to the high standards with which it is generally regarded? Studies of peer review have shown that it is prone to bias and abuse in numerous dimensions, frequently unreliable, and can fail to detect even fraudulent research.

With the advent of Web technologies, we are now witnessing a phase of innovation and experimentation in our approaches to peer review. These developments prompted us to examine emerging models of peer review from a range of disciplines and venues, and to ask how they might address some of the issues with our current systems of peer review.

We examine the functionality of a range of social Web platforms, and compare these with the traits underlying a viable peer review system: quality control, quantified performance metrics as engagement incentives, and certification and reputation.

Ideally, any new systems will demonstrate that they out-perform current models while avoiding as many of the biases of existing systems as possible. We conclude that there is considerable scope for new peer review initiatives to be developed, each with their own potential issues and advantages.

We also propose a novel hybrid platform model that, at least partially, resolves many of the technical and social issues associated with peer review, and can potentially disrupt the entire scholarly communication system.

Success for any such development relies on reaching a critical threshold of research community engagement with both the process and the platform, and therefore cannot be achieved without a significant change of incentives in research environments.

URL : A multi-disciplinary perspective on emergent and future innovations in peer review

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.12037.1