‘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/

Understanding Open Knowledge in China: A Chinese Approach to Openness?

Authors: Lucy Montgomery, Xiang Ren

This paper examines the development of open knowledge in China through two case studies: the development of Chinese open access (OA) journals, and national-level OA repositories.

Open access and open knowledge are emerging as a site of both grass-roots activism, and top-down intervention in the practices of scholarship and scholarly publishing in China. Although the language, vision and strategies of the global open knowledge movement are undoubtedly present, so too are the messy realities of open access and open knowledge innovation in a local context.

In attempting to position open access developments in China within a diverse and contested global landscape of open knowledge innovation we draw on Moore’s (2017) conception of open access as a boundary object: an object that is understood differently within individual communities but which maintains enough structure to be understood between communities (Moore 2017; Star and Griesemer 1989).

Viewed as a boundary object, the concept of open knowledge is making it possible for China to engage with the global open knowledge movement, as a beneficiary of the innovation of others, and as an open knowledge innovator in its own right.

URL : Understanding Open Knowledge in China: A Chinese Approach to Openness?

DOI : http://doi.org/10.5334/csci.106

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