Open Access: An Evaluation of its Impact, Obstacles, and Advancements

Author: Rachel A. Miles

Comments: A detailed article providing reviews on OA and Impact Metrics, and discussions on their misconceptions and misunderstandings. A review on OA mandates and policies is also provided. Other interesting discussions include those on Altmetrics, Eigenfactor, SNIP, JOI. An extensive list of potentially useful references are given.

Abstract: Access to research results is imperative in today’s robust digital age, yet access is often prevented by publisher paywalls. Open Access (OA) is the simple idea that all research should be free for all to access, use, and build upon. This paper will focus on three critical areas of the OA landscape: its impact on scholarship and the public, the obstacles to be overcome, and its advancements. The impact of OA actions and initiatives has been difficult to quantify, but the growing number of studies on OA have shown mostly overwhelmingly positive results. Cultural norms within academia, such as the reliance on the journal Impact Factor (IF) to assess the quality of individual research articles, have impeded the progress of OA. Conversely, federal mandates and institutional policies have supported the OA movement by requiring that scholarly publications be deposited into institutional or subject repositories immediately following publication. As information professionals, library and information science (LIS) professionals have a responsibility as practitioners, authors, and editors to support OA and encourage other academics to do the same.

Cite as: Miles, Rachel. (2016). Open Access: An Evaluation of its Impact, Obstacles, and Advancements. Bibliotekar, 58: (1-2).

Source: Open Access: An Evaulation of its Impact, Obstacles, and Advancements

Imagining the “open” university: Sharing scholarship to improve research and education

Author: Erin C. McKiernan

Comment: An interesting article in which describes the author’s idea of an open university and suggests practices/interventions for it.

Abstract: Open scholarship, such as the sharing of articles, code, data, and educational resources, has the potential to improve university research and education as well as increase the impact universities can have beyond their own walls. To support this perspective, I present evidence from case studies, published literature, and personal experiences as a practicing open scholar. I describe some of the challenges inherent to practicing open scholarship and some of the tensions created by incompatibilities between institutional policies and personal practice. To address this, I propose several concrete actions universities could take to support open scholarship and outline ways in which such initiatives could benefit the public as well as institutions. Importantly, I do not think most of these actions would require new funding but rather a redistribution of existing funds and a rewriting of internal policies to better align with university missions of knowledge dissemination and societal impact.

McKiernan, EC (2017) Imagining the “open” university: Sharing scholarship to improve research and education. PLoS Biol 15(10): e1002614.

Source: Imagining the “open” university: Sharing scholarship to improve research and education

Think civic! Five ideas for universities

Author: Alex Miles is Deputy Director of Communications, Advocacy & Global Affairs at the University of Nottingham.

Notes: Framing of the idea of the civic role of universities in the context of  the UK obsession with Excellence Frameworks. Plays with the idea of a “Civic Excellence Framework” including many aspects of cultural engagement with communities, quality of staff experience, and salary levels.

Snippet: The public value and civic role of universities have, over the last 18 months, become a major topic of debate.

This national conversation has emerged in response to pressure from three sources. The first is societal pressure on the purpose and utility of universities. The second is internal pressure – illustrated by pay and pension disputes – but underpinned by longer-term unease about marketisation and reforms of higher education. The third pressure, exerted by politicians and regulators who detect that universities are losing the consent of the public to continue to operate – with independence – in the manner we have been.

Source: Think civic! Five ideas for universities

Mapping the global influence of published research on industry and innovation | Nature Biotechnology

Public research is critical to the economy and to society. However, tangible economic and social impact occurs only when research outputs are combined, used and reused with other elements and capabilities, to deliver a product, practice or service. Assessing the context and influence of scholarship during the dynamic process of innovation rather than measuring ex post impact, may improve performance. With this aim, we have integrated and interconnected scholarly citations with global patent literature and created new tools to link the scholarly literature with the patent literature. The resulting tools we present here enable diverse stakeholders to freely evaluate the influence published research has on the generation and potential use of inventions as reflected by the patent system. We outline an evolving toolkit, Lens Influence Mapping, that allows assessment of individual scholarly works and aggregated outputs of authors for influence on industry and enterprise, as measured by citations within patents. This performance measure, applied at many levels and normalized by either research disciplines or technology fields of use, may expose and highlight institutional strength and practices, and guide future partnerships.

Source: Mapping the global influence of published research on industry and innovation | Nature Biotechnology

Ethnographic approaches to the practices of scholarly communication: tackling the mess of academia


Author: Donna Lanclos

Summary: A discussion of ethnographic perspectives in mapping information and learning environments. Particularly explores the ways in which people’s experience spreads beyond their institution and offers some ways to think about mapping and analysing these perspectives.

Extract: In my anthropological research in academic libraries, and in higher education generally, I have encountered a contrast between the ways that institutions approach the information systems they build and buy, and how people use those systems. Confronting the ‘mess’ of people’s everyday practice is a necessary first step towards more effectively connecting people to the resources they want and need. Here I discuss some of the ways to visualize and embrace the actual practices of people, in physical and digital contexts.


Institutionally unbounded practices are messy and unpredictable, and they are much more interesting practices to engage in. In fact, I would argue that it is our responsibility to recognize the effectiveness of those practices. Institutions would be served better by engaging in far less locked-down control of scholarly content, because any sense of control that they have is an illusion in the first place. We do not have to control people’s practices to be able to equip them to be effective practitioners. We do not have to control people’s practices to be able to equip them to be well-educated citizens who are capable of making good decisions.

Lanclos, D. (2016). Ethnographic approaches to the practices of scholarly communication: tackling the mess of academia. Insights 29.

Source: Ethnographic approaches to the practices of scholarly communication: tackling the mess of academia

University courses in Australia: Half of degrees will soon be ‘obsolete’


Summary: Quite a good example of the kind of surface level engagement with issues of the future of universities. The article demonstrates a utility-based rhetoric and simplistic assumptions about value creation and return on investment. Not surprisingly it’s based on a policy report from a professional services firm and is mainly a retread of the press release.

Snippet: NEARLY half of existing university degrees could be obsolete within a decade leaving graduates with “more debt and poor job prospects” if Australia’s university system is not drastically overhauled, a new report has warned.


1. Champion University: A hands-on government actively champions universities as strategic national assets. Most students enrol in traditional undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Universities streamline operations by transforming service delivery and administration.

2. Commercial University: A hands-off government requires universities to be financially independent to ease national budget pressures. Students favour degree programs that offer work-integrated learning. Universities reposition by drawing closer to industry to collaborate on teaching and research.

3. Disruptor University: A hands-off government deregulates the sector to drive competition and efficiency. Continuous learners and their preferences for on-demand micro-certificates dominate as technology disrupts the workplace. Universities expand into new markets and services and compete against a range of new local and global educational services providers.

4. Virtual University: An activist government restructures the tertiary sector to integrate universities and vocational institutes, prioritising training and employability outcomes as humans begin to be replaced by machines. Continuous learners are the majority, preferring unbundled courses delivered flexibly and online. Universities restructure into networks that share digital platforms.

Source: EY University of the Future

Source: University courses in Australia: Half of degrees will soon be ‘obsolete’