The advantages of open access (OA) publishing focussed on scientific publishing in 2020, the year of COVID-19. Can it benefit higher education teaching and learning practice too?

The demise of the Australian Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) in 2016 has seen no subsequent strategic efforts to  develop and disseminate sector-wide innovation in tertiary learning and teaching.

Recently in Sally Kift’s CMM series, Pru Mitchell detailed the value of the Universities Australia Learning and Teaching Repository which now makes accessible all the resources and project outcomes of the disestablished OLT.

But the sector has been left lacking opportunities to propagate current research and innovative practice about students’ tertiary learning experiences.

Open access (OA) publishing might be the answer. As an example, the Student Success journal is the result of a simple question posed by a leading academic: How do we keep dynamic conference and symposia conversations related to teaching and learning going, outside events?

Student Success was the first of five OA academic journals supported by QUT (via the implementation of open source software and a proactive institutional library).

The Journal is still a small fish in a big pond.  While it is indexed by the “big guns” (Scopus and Web of Science), it recognises there is some way to go to change academic preoccupations with traditional publishing metrics and misconceptions around quality – puzzling since OA may actually increase citations.

Instead, the Journal pivots towards its strengths as an OA publication. Indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Student Success is only one of nine Australian OA journals that meet its specific criteria for best practice in OA publishing. There are no article processing charges  and authors retain copyright while articles are licenced via Creative Commons Attribution License, which ensures the content can be used and reused. Authors are encouraged to submit research on practice that clearly identifies elements transferable to other domains and detail how a specific initiative contributes to the broader knowledge base.

Publishing an open access journal is by no means “free.” It relies on the sustained effort of an engaged academic community – editorial teams, advisory boards, reviewers and authors – all enthusiastic about advancing student learning, success and retention. Even more, it depends on the willingness of academic institutions to recognise the value of increasing dissemination via platforms without paywalls and make scholarly research and investigation accessible and equitable for all.


Tracy Creagh is Journal Manager, Academic Journals in the Office for Scholarly Communication at QUT and supports three of the institution’s five open access scholarly journals [email protected] Twitter: @creaght @journalsuccess


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