Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL)


Coalition for Innovation in Scholarly Communication
Chair: Professor: Malcolm Gillies
Phone: 08 8303 5186
Project Manager: Virginia Walsh
Phone: 0408 273 422

Education Minister Kemp Releases Report on Scholarly Information Crisis

Page updated 3 April, 2000
Australia’s Information Future: Innovation and Knowledge Management in the 21st Century is a report of proceedings of a workshop held at the ANU in March 1999. The workshop represents an important milestone in developing an appropriate response to the very significant recent cuts to scholarly journal acquisitions by Australia’s university and research libraries and the consequent decline in our information base.

Following the success of the workshop in showcasing opportunities for collaborative action by key stakeholders, the Coalition for Innovation in Scholarly Communication was established. The Coalition’s Chair, Professor Malcolm Gillies, who is also President of the Australian Academy of Humanities and of the National Academies Forum, has highlighted a number of initiatives that have emerged as a consequence of the workshop.

"The research endeavour in Australia is increasingly impoverished by the continuing downward spiral in the availability of scholarly information. If we wish to maintain a position of international competitiveness in the global economy of knowledge we must quickly address the decline in access to journals created by budget cuts and the escalating price of information." Professor Gillies said that, "between 1996 and 1998, journal prices had increased by about 60 per cent. In addition to increased prices, a number of other factors included:

Professor Gillies said: "The Coalition has proposed a national strategy to arrest the decline in access to research information. One important element of this strategy is to develop national site licences for important journals so that all researchers could have easy access to relevant information on a cost-effective basis. The proposal is based on a cooperative venture between government, universities and industry and is modelled on a Canadian initiative developed by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation."

Professor Gillies said that Australia lags well behind the UK and North America in its response to this problem and he noted President Bill Clinton’s January 21 announcement of an increase of nearly $3 billion in funds for research. "Our Coalition estimates that a funding commitment of $30 million over three years (government $12 million, universities/CSIRO $12 million and industry $6 million) would immediately resolve many of the problems associated with journal acquisitions for the hard-hit areas of science, technology and medicine. A similar proposal for the social sciences and the humanities is also being supported by the Coalition."

"It is hoped that the publication of the workshop proceedings with promote a broader understanding of scholarly communication issues and that it will encourage government, industry and the research fraternity to develop practical solutions" Professor Gillies said.


Extract from "Australia’s Information Future: Innovation and Knowledge Management in the 21st Century", Proceedings of a workshop held 3-4 March 1999 at the Australian National University, Canberra, Evaluations and Investigations Programme, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Canberra, December 1999.


From the Minister

The Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs was proud to sponsor the workshop on Australia’s Information Future. This was a joint partnership with the Australian Research Libraries Fighting Fund which was established specifically to tackle the challenging problems associated with access to research information in this age of rapidly evolving global information technologies.

With its broad and high level representation this workshop demonstrated that concerted collaborative efforts between the academic community, researchers, publishers, librarians and government can yield profitable debate. Reform of the research enterprise in Australia demands critical thinking and the development of innovative concepts. In this respect the papers published in this volume provide a great deal of valuable information.

What has evolved from this workshop is an ongoing effort to investigate and propose solutions to the problem of the increasing costs of collecting and accessing research material. My Department, the Australian Research Council and the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee are working together to coordinate further activities. This will involve the development of new models of best practice for managing the ownership of intellectual property rights, the enhancement of the technological infrastructure and the collection management policies of university libraries.

These proceedings are being published to ensure that the innovative concepts and analyses presented at the workshop can be widely disseminated to stimulate continuing debate amongst all parties who have an interest in this very important issue. Australia’s capacity to capture its rightful place in the global information economy is dependent on a strong, effective research enterprise. My Government is committed to this objective and my Department will continue its involvement in this endeavour.

 The Hon David Kemp MP
Minister for Education Training and Youth Affairs
June 1999

The Coalition for Innovation in Scholarly Communication

The Coalition for Innovation in Scholarly Communication was established to "foster widespread ownership of the agenda for change in scholarly communications through the development of a series of promotional and collaborative strategies". Its steering committee has representatives from the major university research libraries, the Academies, the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, the Australian Research Council, the CSIRO and the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.

The Coalition can be characterised as a broad, yet informal, group with a common interest in securing solutions to current and anticipated problems in accessing and distributing scholarly and research information. There is general acceptance that innovation and change is needed within Australia’s research enterprise. Changes in global communication demand that, to remain internationally competitive, Australia must adequately resource its research endeavour. The most appropriate mechanisms for providing effective ownership of and access to resources will include ongoing reform at the institutional level, greater collaborative endeavours between higher education institutions, government research organisations, government policy makers and industry. Most importantly, a national framework is required to ensure that strategies to advance the national interest can be identified and implemented.

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