Evaluating Open Access:How could the RCUK Open Access policy be assessed?

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Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economics and Social Studies

Original languageEnglish
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Award date2016
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Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this study is to investigate how the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Open Access policy could be evaluated and whether it would be possible to use such an evaluation to bring more evidence to bear on the polarising issue of Open Access.

Aims and objectives
The aims of the study were to identify whether it would be possible to measure the outcomes of the recommendations of the Finch Report, the original catalyst for the development of the RCUK Open Access policy, and to investigate different methods of evaluation to determine whether any of these would be suitable for this purpose. This was achieved through identifying the stakeholders and success criteria of the Finch Report recommendations as well as those in the Burgess Review, an assessment of the implementation of the policy. The success criteria were used to identify measurable indicators from both reports. Different methods of evaluation were investigated to determine the most appropriate method for the RCUK Open Access policy, and from this analysis, suggestions were provided about how the success criteria and measurable indicators could be mapped onto an evaluation framework.

Method
To ascertain the basis for an evaluation of the RCUK Open Access policy, two reports were analysed using qualitative and quantitative content analysis.

Results
The content analysis revealed that the multiple stakeholders involved in scholarly communication and implementation of the recommendations of the Finch Report all needed to be represented in any evaluation, so the evaluation would need to accommodate multiple perspectives. No single evaluation would succeed in representing the plurality of requirements of an assessment of the RCUK Open Access policy, so a combination of process and outcome focused evaluations would be necessary to thoroughly understand the successes and failures of the policy.

Conclusion
Assessment of the RCUK Open Access policy through multiple evaluations would contribute to the understanding of how to maximise the impact of investment in Open Access. This would be of use not only to RCUK and other UK stakeholders, but it could also be used by those involved in scholarly communication all over the world. However, evaluations on the terms of the Finch Report itself would not include an assessment of the worth of Open Access.