Free for all, or free-for-all? a content analysis of Australian university open access policies

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Introduction. The purpose of this paper is to understand the characteristics of Australian institutional open access policies and to explore the extent they represent a coherent and unified approach to delivering and promoting open access in Australia.
Method. Open access policies were located using a systematic search of forty-two Australian university Websites. A formal open access policy was defined as a document with the terms "open access" and "policy" in the title, and which was located either in the institution’s policy library, or elsewhere on the main university Website.
Analysis. Content analysis was employed to examine policies across fourteen categories.
Results. Only twenty Australian universities were found to have a formal open access policy. There was found to be a wide variation in language used, expressed intent of the policy and expectations of researchers. Few policies mentioned monitoring or compliance.
Conclusions. When policies use language which does not reflect national and international understandings, and when requirements are not clear and with consequences, policies are unlikely to contribute to understanding of open access, to uptake of the policy, or to ease of transferring understanding and practices between institutions. A more unified institutional approach to open access is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Article number933
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInformation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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