by universities or publishers in producing the article; and the cost of various functions, such as peer review of the article, quality control, and certification.

Costing the various activities involved in research communication, we found that reading is a major activity and that in Australian universities during 2005 the time spent on reading alone may have cost approximately A$5.8 billion. Reading by those researchers who were actively publishing in 2005 (i.e., reading in order to write) cost around A$3 billion. We estimated that writing scholarly, independent, peer-reviewed publications cost approximately A$640 million during 2005, and peer review and the editorial activities of academics cost approximately A$170 million. In sum, the estimated system-wide costs of the activities associated with core scholarly communication activities in Australian higher education came to approximately A$4 billion, or 30 percent of the total expenditure for higher education.

Having adopted a matrix approach,4 we could then examine the activity costs in various ways. For example, summing the costs for objects suggested that, in 2005, producing a journal article in an Australian university cost, on average, A$21,000, excluding the research and reading time involved. By summing the costs for all actors, we calculated that writing all those journal articles counted in the Higher Education Research Data Collection cost the Australian National University approximately A$50 million in 2005.

In the second part of the study, we explored the potential benefits of enhanced access to research findings. Again, the analysis was based on an extensive review of the literature. It has been suggested that the most immediate benefits of enhanced access are probably felt within research itself, and these potential benefits might include increased speed of access resulting in a speeding up of the research and discovery process, a decrease in the amount of redundant research and a reduction in the investigation of blind alleys, and an increase in the efficiency of research and development. Wider access would also enable greater participation from poorer institutions and developing countries, provide more opportunities for interdisciplinary research and inter-sectoral collaboration, and allow researchers to study their fields more broadly, which could potentially lead to increased opportunities for commercialization.


The following list of the various costs included in this actor/object matrix analysis may be helpful:

• Reading: academic staff ≈$5.8 billion, published staff ≈$3 billion pa.

• Writing (HERDC publications only)≈$636 million pa.

• Peer review(scaled to HERDC)≈$132 million pa.

• Editorial activities (scaled to published staff)≈$36 million pa.

• Editorial board activities (scaled to published staff)≈$3.8 million pa.

• Preparing grant applications(ARC & NHMRC)≈$110 million pa.

• Reviewing grant applications(ARC & NHMRC)≈$26 million pa.

• Publisher costs(scaled to HERDC)≈$164 million pa.

• Library acquisition costs (CAUL)≈$199 million pa.

• Library non-acquisition costs (CAUL)≈$321 million pa.

• Cost per download (sample of CAUL subscriptions)$3.51 (mean).

• ICT infrastructure(estimated total expenditure)≈$1billion pa.

• Sum of core activities ≈$4 billion (≈30% of HE expenditure).

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement