The Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative : Sharing data on scholarly research performance

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

In the current era of worldwide competition in higher education, universities are caught up in market processes that encourage compliance with the measurement systems applied by world university rankings.

Despite questions about the rankings’ methodologies and data sources, universities continue to adopt assessment and evaluation practices that require academic researchers to publish in sources indexed by the major commercial bibliographic databases used by world rankings.

Building on a critique of the limited bibliometric measures and underlying assumptions of rankings, the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative interdisciplinary research project aggregates and analyses scholarly research data including open access output from multiple open sources for more than 20,000 institutions worldwide.

To understand who is creating knowledge and how diversity is enacted through the transmission of knowledge we analyse workforce demographic data. In this article, we discuss the project’s rationale, methodologies and examples of data analysis that can enable universities to make independent assessments, ask questions about rankings, and contribute to open knowledge-making and sharing.

Expanding on our presentation to the LIBER Online 2021 Conference, we discuss collaboration with academic libraries and other scholarly communication stakeholders to develop and extend the open knowledge project.

URL : The Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative : Sharing data on scholarly research performance


Global Diversity in Higher Education Workforces: Towards Openness

Authors : Katie Wilson, Cameron Neylon, Lucy Montgomery, Chun-Kai (Karl) Huang, Rebecca N. Handcock, Aniek Roelofs, Richard Hosking, Alkim Ozaygen

In this article we discuss the collection and nature of diversity data relating to origin (ethnicity, race, nationality, indigeneity), gender/sex and disability in higher education institutional workforces across 24 locations within Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania.

The research emerges from the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative project (n.d.), in which we analyse data relating to published research literature, its open access status, citations and collaborations for institutions, publishers and research funding bodies.

Our project explores demographic data relating to workforce diversity and research production; we examine who creates knowledge and how diversity is transmitted through research.

Collecting and analysing higher education workforce demographic diversity data reveals a global datascape with considerable variation in practices and data collected. The data reflect political and social histories, national and international policies and practices, priorities and funding.

The presence and absence of public data provide an opportunity to understand differing national situations and priorities beneath the statistics. We open a conversation about how the concepts of equity, diversity and inclusion differ between groups of countries, which makes global comparisons difficult.

By identifying higher education data and gaps, we also encourage institutions and countries to review their workforce demographics and their intersection with research production. Awareness of institutional diversity levels through data analysis can guide institutions towards knowledge openness.

URL : Global Diversity in Higher Education Workforces: Towards Openness


More readers in more places: the benefits of open access for scholarly books

Authors : Cameron Neylon, Alkim Ozaygen, Lucy Montgomery, Chun-Kai (Karl) Huang, Ros Pyne, Mithu Lucraft, Christina Emery

Open access to scholarly contents has grown substantially in recent years. This includes the number of books published open access online. However, there is limited study on how usage patterns (via downloads, citations and web visibility) of these books may differ from their closed counterparts. Such information is not only important for book publishers, but also for researchers in disciplines where books are the norm.

This article reports on findings from comparing samples of books published by Springer Nature to shed light on differences in usage patterns across open access and closed books. The study includes a selection of 281 open access books and a sample of 3,653 closed books (drawn from 21,059 closed books using stratified random sampling).

The books are stratified by combinations of book type, discipline and year of publication to enable likewise comparisons within each stratum and to maximize statistical power of the sample.

The results show higher geographic diversity of usage, higher numbers of downloads and more citations for open access books across all strata. Importantly, open access books have increased access and usage for traditionally underserved populations.

URL : More readers in more places: the benefits of open access for scholarly books


Evaluating the impact of open access policies on research institutions

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

The proportion of research outputs published in open access journals or made available on other freely-accessible platforms has increased over the past two decades, driven largely by funder mandates, institutional policies, grass-roots advocacy, and changing attitudes in the research community.

However, the relative effectiveness of these different interventions has remained largely unexplored. Here we present a robust, transparent and updateable method for analysing how these interventions affect the open access performance of individual institutes.

We studied 1,207 institutions from across the world, and found that, in 2017, the top-performing universities published around 80–90% of their research open access.

The analysis also showed that publisher-mediated (gold) open access was popular in Latin American and African universities, whereas the growth of open access in Europe and North America has mostly been driven by repositories.

URL : Evaluating the impact of open access policies on research institutions


‘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


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.