Aug 032010

The contract for the “Dynamics of improving access to research papers” project was awarded to CEPA (Cambridge Economic Policy Associates) working in association with Mark Ware Consulting.

This project is part of the Transitions in scholarly communications portfolio of projects that are being managed by the Research Information Network with a very diverse range of sponsors: JISC, ALPSP, PA, STM, PRC, BL, RLUK, SCONUL, SPARC Europe, RCUK, UUK and the Wellcome Trust. The sponsors represent virtually all the stakeholders in UK scholarly communication.

The project aims to provide evidence for a better understanding of the dynamics of the transitions needed to reach a selection of plausible end-points, and the costs, benefits, opportunities and risks that this entails. Transition is understood to relate to changes in practice, business models and organisational culture within the relevant constituencies, and any new entrants, over defined timeframes. The end-points will be associated with four broad models: open access journals (Gold OA); open access repositories (Green OA); extensions to licensing; and transactional solutions. The project will be founded on a comparative description of the transitions that (i) are taking place now, and (ii) would need to take place over the next five years, in order to reach each of the selected end-points. There will also be an analysis of the drivers and mechanisms underlying these transitions, and associated costs and benefits (both cash and non-cash).

We will be drawing on the model developed by CEPA for their influential 2008 RIN-sponsored report Activities, costs and funding flows in the scholarly communications system in the UK. In addition to CEPA / RIN model, we expect to develop a separate, high-level model for quantifying the wider economic benefits that might be associated with changes in the level of access resulting from the alternative scholarly communication scenarios (possibly based on the theoretical model (a modified Solow- Swan growth model) used in the JISC/Houghton reports). The work will differ from these earlier reports by the development of realistic scenarios capable in principle of being achieved over the next 5 years (as opposed to say an assumed global 90% open access), by looking at transition costs (rather than just snapshots), and by considering a range of routes to increased access (as above) which will be considered in combination rather than in isolation.

We hope this will be a significant piece of work that will contribute substantially to the debate around access, building on and extending the earlier work mentioned. The project is due to conclude in February 2011.