Open access the great right way

By Tim Winkler

ANU is taking a “calculated hit” by not chasing rankings success says VC Schmidt

Brian Schmidt has said that research rankings are so flawed that pursuing them is not in his university’s long-term interest.

“We are paying some short-term price in the rankings because I think the rankings are so foundationally flawed that I am betting they are going to have to fix them, and I don’t want to have screwed up my university chasing what is quite frankly this little mirage,” he said yesterday

Professor Schmidt was speaking on a panel on research at the CMM-Twig Marketing ReMaking HE on-line conference.

He was joined by Ashley Farley from the Gates Foundation who pointed to the increasing importance of open access to data and research publications, saying they were critical for researchers seeking access to Foundation grants.

“We are starting to use more ‘nudge language,’ showing we value those who have demonstrated openness of their research projects. Collaboration is very important, especially in the time of COVID; these big world problems are not going to be solved in a vacuum or by a single team.”

Associate Professor Lucy Montgomery from Curtin University’s Curtin Open Knowledge Project used the discussion to release a new dashboard comparing international open access performance, showing about 39 per cent of Australian research outputs are published open access – compared to 55 per cent in the UK and 72 per cent in Indonesia.

“Countries in Africa and Southeast Asia are doing a fantastic job in shifting cultures towards open access. OA is on the way to becoming a gold standard for high quality research.

“Science is much more powerful when it’s open and it’s shared.”

But Professor Schmidt warned current rankings actively discouraged open approaches and weren’t always in the interests of a university seeking to serve the nation.

“Every time I spend a dollar on First Nations’ research I go backwards (in the rankings). Every time I do put something out in a prestigious journal that is open access I go backwards.

“Sometimes you have just got to do what’s right, even if it hurts a bit.”