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Economic and social returns on investment in open archiving publicly funded research outputs

Economics Investments Information technology Information resources management Australia North America
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apo-nid23376.pdf 978.76 KB

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provided support for this feasibility study, which outlines one possible approach to measuring the impacts of the proposed US Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) on returns to public investment in R&D.


The aim is to define and scope the data collection requirements and further model developments necessary for a robust estimate of the likely impacts of the proposed FRPAA archiving mandate.

Preliminary modeling suggests that over a transitional period of 30 years from implementation, the potential incremental benefits of the proposed FRPAA archiving mandate might be worth around 4 times the estimated cost using the higher end lifecycle costing, 8 times the cost using the NIH costing and more than 20 times the cost using the arXiv costing. Perhaps two-thirds of these benefits would accrue within the US, with the remainder spilling over to other countries. Hence, the US national benefits arising from the proposed FRPAA archiving mandate might be of the order of 5 times the costs.

Exploring sensitivities in the model we find that the benefits exceed the costs over a wide range of values. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any plausible values for the input data and model parameters that would lead to a fundamentally different answer.

These estimates are based on the information available to us at the time of writing. They are released in conjunction with an online model, which enables others to explore their own preferred values for the various parameters.

Report and model available for download

  • Release from SPARC (http://www.arl.org/sparc/).
  • Report (Full Report
    Houghton, J.W., Rasmussen, B. and Sheehan, P.J. (2010) Economic and Social Returns on Investment in Open Archiving Publicly Funded Research Outputs, Report to SPARC by Victoria University's Centre for Strategic Economic Studies.
  • Online model (Online Model
    An online model which makes a subset of the cost-benefit modelling available to those interested in further exploring the results. It runs as an executable application within MS Excel, by simply clicking on the file after downloading. Copies of the model can be saved locally to record results. Simply enter your preferred values into the Variables column of the results will be recalculated automatically. You can TAB between the active cells.
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