Economic case for open access

This morning, JISC released the report by John Houghton and Charles Oppenheim on the economic costs and benefits of three different models of scholarly communication – subscription, ‘gold’ open access and self-archiving with overlay services. The findings suggest that there are both considerable cost savings to be made by the HE sector by moving to open access, and significant benefits to the UK economy to be gained by doing so. Both the potential cost savings and the benefits run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

This is obviously important. It’s also important to stress that the research has been robust (we think it’s the most detailed modelling of scholarly communication), conservative (eg, the figures for cost savings and benefits to the UK economy assume that no subscriptions are cancelled), transparent (assumptions are clearly listed, and there is a simplified online model here where you can enter your own data to see the effect) and balanced (each model runs with a 20% return for those operating it).

[Please note the online model is an exe file, so you need to save it locally and run it as an application. It is does require some time to understand, and the notes are worth reading. Even simplified, the modelling is not simple]

There’s an outline of the report here, with links to the full version. Because it’s a complex piece of work, with potentially large implications, we have resisted the temptation to collapse the findings into a two-page summary at the moment, and instead we hope those interested will take the time at least to read the extended summary.