Providing broad and unfettered access to research results, publications, reports and data in a timely and efficient manner is essential to improve agricultural research, development and its impact. Since the adoption of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities in October 2003, there has been a fundamental change in the way that research funding agencies view the importance of access to research outputs. Large agricultural funding agencies have embraced open access in one form or another as a condition of funding. For example, within Australia open access policies have been adopted by the ARC (2013) and NHMRC (2012), while at the international level a wide range of key funding bodies, such as the World Bank (2012), UNESCO (2013), Research Councils UK (2013), and the CGIAR (2013) have mandated open access to results funded by their grants.
Equal and open access to research results is vitally important to increase the visibility, accessibility and impact of scientific research. It is widely accepted that mandating open access to research results will not only be more effective for communicating scientific knowledge, but should lead to infrastructural and procedural improvements that will, over time, lead to savings and efficiencies across the agricultural sector. In this area, researchers will look at the role intellectual property plays in relation to open access. This will include an examination of historical antecedents that have been used to stimulate access to scientific literature (Sherman and Wiseman 2010), and how current issues relating to authorship, ownership and attribution are best clarified. It will also include an examination of the situations where it is legitimate to allow intellectual property rights to limit access to information. The researchers will also look at the under-researched question of the way in which copyright law might impede the translation of scientific works into local languages and how this problem might be overcome.