Open Research case studies

Open Research discusses the advantages of making research publicly available and is commonly known as ‘Open Access’ which is well established across academia.

What Is Open Research or Open Access?

The Australasian Open Access Strategy Group define “Open Access” as a push to make peer reviewed research freely available via the Internet, permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any lawful purpose, without financial, legal or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.

Case study – Opening research publications: Queensland public universities

The Open Access movement for research data promotes that research findings should be freely and widely available to anyone with an internet connection.  This approach is consistent with the objectives of the RTI Act and the Queensland Government’s policy of publishing data openly to enable the re-use of government information.

There is a requirement under the RTI Act for public universities to maintain a publication scheme.  In accordance with the Ministerial Guidelines, universities are required to include in the publication scheme all significant, appropriate and accurate information (read our publication scheme case study).  OIC considers that university research outputs are significant products of university activity.  Information on published research, and where possible the research literature itself, should be published digitally, online, free of charge, and under an appropriate copyright licence such as Creative Commons, for example, through the university website.

During the 2014-15 compliance review of four Queensland public universities, OIC found that each university proactively published a wealth of significant information, including research, as a matter of course.  This is consistent with the push model of the RTI Act.

All four universities embraced Open Access in principle and provided open access to research publications.  They also maintained extensive university repositories which included both Open Access and restricted publications.  The four repositories provided access to more than 40,000 open access publications.  Our review found that each university had policies or statements on their website supporting Open Access or were in the process of developing such a policy.  Each university also provided advanced search capabilities to enable access to their repository.

It is encouraging that the four universities actively monitored and increased the percentage of all research outputs available through Open Access.  Not only will the widest communication of research findings maximise the usage and outcomes of this work, but the sooner research findings are available publicly, the greater the opportunity for the benefits of the research to have an impact on the wider community.

Read the Queensland public universities compliance review report

Case Study – Open Access Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ePrints

QUT ePrints is the institutional repository which showcases the research outputs of QUT academics, staff and postgraduate students. The majority of the papers deposited in QUT ePrints are available on an open access basis.

This case study, written by Queensland University of Technology, considers open access to the cyberbullying and face-to-face bullying research of Professor Marilyn Campbell.

Read more on open access of QUT ePrints (PDF, 127.47 KB)

Case study - Curing malaria through global collaboration

In 2010 GlaxoSmithKline released its malarial dataset (of 13,500 chemical compounds known to be active against malaria) into the Public Domain. Teams of scientists worldwide are now using it in open source projects, including in Switzerland, Australia, India, USA and Israel, and the world is closer to a cure for malaria. "We all stepped up and took a risk to put our data out into the public domain, ... it’s demonstrably working," (R. Kiplin Guy, a Medicinal Chemist).  Other positive consequences include the World Health Organization adopting a similar approach in 2012 for neglected tropical diseases in partnership with 11 pharmaceutical companies who will share their intellectual property. “We’re starting to work together in partnership in an unprecedented way,” Christopher Viehbacher, Chief Executive of pharmaceutical corporation Sanofi.

Read more on curing malaria through global collaboration

Case study - Empowering Patients: HIV Self-Test

Worldwide it is estimated that as many as six in 10 HIV-infected individuals don’t know their HIV status and don’t seek testing. To increase awareness, knowledge and access to a convenient HIV screening option, and to expedite connections to treatment in nations hardest hit by the disease, Dr. Nitika Pant Pai and medical staff at McGill University and McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, developed a strategy based on the synergy of the Internet, an oral fluid–based self-test and a cell phone. This integrated approach included HIV education, an online test to determine HIV risk level, instructions for testing and interpreting the results, and confidential resources for referrals to trained counselors, support and healthcare workers. The tailored smartphone application, developed on the basis of original research published in multiple Open Access journals, helps circumvent the social visibility of testing in a healthcare facility. The application could alleviate fears of stigma and discrimination and make HIV detection simple and confidential.

Read more about empowering patients

Case study - Visualizing Complex Science

Many aspects critical to understanding science, experiments and the natural world can only be described in words and diagrams  in a limited way. Good quality multimedia can help make that understanding easier. Daniel Mietchen and his group accessed articles in PubMed Central to help them create the Open Access Media Importer (OAMI), a bot that can scrape and download supplementary multimedia files from Open Access science articles, repositories and data stores.  The bot has uploaded more than 13,000 files to Wikimedia Commons and has been used in more than 135 English Wikipedia articles that together garnered more than three million views.

Read more visualizing complex science