Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2007 10:09:27 +1100
From: Arthur Sale
Subject: Australia votes
Yesterday, Australia held a Federal Election. The Australian Labor Party
(the previous opposition) have clearly won, with Kevin Rudd becoming the
What has this to do with the [American Scientist Open Access Forum]?? Well
the policy of the ALP is that the plans for the Research Quality Framework
(the RQF - our research assessment exercise) will be immediately scrapped,
and it will be replaced by a cheaper and metrics-based assessment,
presumably a year or two later.
At first sight this is a setback for open access in Australia, because
institutional repositories are not essential for a metrics-based research
assessment. They just help improve the metrics. However, the situation may
be turned to advantage, and there are several major pluses.
(1) Previous RQF grants should have ensured that every university in
Australia now has a repository. Just mostly empty, or mostly dark, or both.
(2) The advisers in the Department of Education, Science & Technology
(DEST) haven't changed. The Accessibility Framework (ie open access) is
still in place as a goal.
(3) A new metric-based evaluation could and should be steered to be a
multi-metric based one. The ALP has already stated that it will be
(4) If the Rudd government is serious about efficiency in higher
education, they could simply instruct DEST to require universities to put
all their currently reported publications in a repository (ID/OA policy),
from which the annual reports would be automatically derived. In addition
all the desired publication metrics would also be derived, at any time. The
Accessibility Framework would be achieved.
It should now be crystal clear to every university in Australia that
citations and other measures will be key in the future. It should be equally
clear that they should do everything possible to increase their performance
on these measures. Any university that fails to immediately implement an
ID/OA mandate (Immediate Deposit, Open Access when possible) in its
institutional repository is simply deciding to opt out of research
competition, or mistakenly thinks that it knows better. Although I suppose
there is still the weak excuse that it is all too hard to understand or
Here is the edited text of a press release by the shadow minister before the
election. The boldface over some paragraphs is mine.
Professor of Computer Science
University of Tasmania
Senator Kim Carr
Labor Senator for Victoria
Shadow Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Research
Thursday, 15 November 2007 (58/07)
Building a strong future for Australian research
Federal Labor's key research initiatives, announced during yesterday's
Campaign Launch, highlight our commitment to a research revolution.
A Rudd Labor Government will be committed to rebuilding the national
innovation system and, over time, doubling the amount invested in R&D in
- Labor will bring responsibility for innovation, industry, science and
research into a single Commonwealth Department.
- Labor will develop a set of national innovation priorities to sit over
the national research priorities. Together, these will provide a framework
for a national innovation system, ensuring that the objectives of research
programs and other innovation initiatives are complementary.
- Labor will abolish the Howard Government's flawed Research Quality
Framework, and replace it with a new, streamlined, transparent,
internationally verifiable system of research quality assessment, based on
quality measures appropriate to each discipline. These measures will be
developed in close consultation with the research community. Labor will also
address the inadequacies in current and proposed models of research
citation. Labor's model will recognise the contribution of Australian
researchers to Australia and the world.
- Labor recognises the importance of basic research in the creation of
new knowledge, and also the value and breadth of Australian research effort
across the humanities, creative arts and social sciences as well as
scientific and technological disciplines.
The Howard Government has allocated $87 million for the implementation of
the RQF. Labor will seek to redirect the residual funds to encourage
genuine industry collaboration in research.