Project deliverable Open Access

ON-MERRIT D4.1 Information Seeking Behaviour and Open Science Uptake in Industry: A Literature Review

Fessl, Angela; Klebel, Thomas; Ross-Hellauer, Tony

Spurring growth and innovation in SMEs is a key goal of policy-makers. A commonly stated advantage of Open Access to publications and data is greater return on investment for funders, as results are made re-usable to a range of societal actors including industry. Is open research data actually being taken up by industry, though? This deliverable report addresses this broad question by semi-systematically summarizing the evidence to date on how scholarly resources are used in industry, with a special focus on open science practices.
Crucial for understanding whether industrial actors are able to benefit from open science resources such as research papers or data is the concept of absorptive capacity, that is the ability of a firm to recognize the value of new, external information, assimilate it, and apply it to commercial ends. Recent research has highlighted that particularly SMEs struggle in benefiting from Open Data. Increasing absorptive capacity among industrial actors thus plays an important role in increasing the overall uptake of scientific resources.
Finding relevant resources is a crucial step in recognizing and assimilating new external information. The deliverable presents a systematic review of the evidence on how companies satisfy their information needs. Common barriers in this regard include difficulties in explicating the information needs and finding relevant information, as well as lack of time, accessibility and content quality. 
The literature on information seeking behaviours among industrial actors indicates that research outputs currently play a somewhat peripheral role in general information-seeking behaviour in many industrial sectors. The evidence collected points to a general lack of information-seeking skills amongst employees. Exploiting scientific resources for commercial needs also requires skills specific to the subject area. Companies commonly acquire these skills by either hiring graduates or directly collaborating with academia. Open access to research findings is found to provide efficiency gains, as well as enabling the development of new products, services, and companies, by lowering the barriers for companies of all sizes for accessing basic research.
The evidence assembled in this deliverable report lays the groundwork for the planned activities the project: the investigation of the uptake of the open science resources in industry with a stakeholder map, contextual inquiries and a questionnaire study; the investigation of the uptake of open science resources in industry through the analysis of patents.

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