Economic Study of OA Shows Benefits Outweigh Costs

New study by John Houghton and co-authors shows that the UK would both reduce costs and see economic benefits if there was a shift from subscription to open access.

Professor John Houghton from the Centre of Strategic Economic Studies at Melbourne’s Victoria University and Professor Charles Oppenheim at Loughborough University were asked to lead research that would throw light on the economic and social implications of new models for scholarly publishing.

The research centred on three models which include:

  • Subscription or toll access publishing which involves reader charges and use restrictions;
  • Open access publishing where access is free and publication is funded from the authors’ side; and
  • Open access self-archiving where academic authors post their work in online repositories, making it freely available to all Internet users.

In their report, Houghton et al. looked beyond the actual costs and savings of different models and examined the additional cost-benefits that might arise from enhanced access to research findings.

When considering costs per journal article, Houghton et al. believe that the UK higher education sector could have saved around £80 million a year by shifting from toll access to open access publishing. They also claim that £115 million could be saved by moving from toll access to open access self-archiving.

In addition to that, the financial return to UK plc from greater accessibility to research might result in an additional £172 million per annum worth of benefits from government and higher education sector research alone.

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