Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Open Access: Good for Business!

The primary benefit of open access is that it is the best means of disseminating the results of research, thus speeding the process of research, and the impact of the individual researcher or research funder. Open access, however, does a great deal more, and this is just one example.

Providing open access to the scholarly research literature makes it readily available to the whole business community. All have access to the latest knowledge, on which to build new business ideas - based on the soundest knowledge we have.

Picture open access to all of the literature relating to environmental sciences, for example. What opportunities will emerge for the creative entrepreneur, to find new ways of producing goods and services that help us to protect and enhance our environment?

If any of our research finds new forms of producing energy, that are renewable and non-polluting - why not share them with everyone, so that we can devise means of applying the solutions as rapidly as possible?

It makes a great deal of sense that business would have access to research which is funded through taxpayer dollars, and conducted at universities. Businesses, after all, do pay taxes. Many also contribute to universities in various ways. For example, many businesses are corporate donors. Would a full institutional repository - providing many leads to new business ideas - help a university attract more donors of this sort?

Corporations produce research as well. Some research, of course, is applied and a trade secret, and cannot be published. Many corporate researchers do produce publishable articles, however, and when they do, it makes sense just as much sense for the corporate as the university researcher to publish their articles as open access. The OA impact advantage (50% - 250% more citations to open access articles), well documented in Steve Hitchcock's The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies, works just as much in the favor of the corporate as the university-based author. That is, when you make it easy for people to access your article - they are more likely to access, read, use, and cite your article. Go figure!

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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