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India debates open access

India's premier publicly-funded research organization is pushing to make all research published at its institutions open access. But its pleas are falling on deaf ears, critics say, as individual laboratories have been slow to take up the charge. Image: India MostLast month (Feb. 6), the head of research and development planning at India's linkurl:Council of Scientific and Industrial Research;http://www.csir.res.in/ (CSIR), linkurl:Naresh Kumar,;http://www.jst.go.jp/astf/document3/CV%20Naresh%

By | March 24, 2009

India's premier publicly-funded research organization is pushing to make all research published at its institutions open access. But its pleas are falling on deaf ears, critics say, as individual laboratories have been slow to take up the charge.
Image: India Most
Last month (Feb. 6), the head of research and development planning at India's linkurl:Council of Scientific and Industrial Research;http://www.csir.res.in/ (CSIR), linkurl:Naresh Kumar,;http://www.jst.go.jp/astf/document3/CV%20Naresh%20Kumar%208.pdf sent a linkurl:memo;http://images.the-scientist.com/content/images/general/55521-1.jpg to the directors of CSIR's 42 labs urging that "all research papers published from all CSIR laboratories be made open access," either through online repositories or by publishing in open access journals. Kumar also recommended that all journals published by CSIR be made open access. It is now up to the directors of the various labs to decide whether or not to implement the policy. linkurl:Subbiah Arunachalam,;http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/infopoverty/biog.htm an information consultant based in Chennai who was involved in formulating the recommendations, said that "whether this will actually happen is anybody's guess." "The uptake [of open access policies] is rather slow in India," Arunachalam told __The Scientist__. "[The CSIR directors] will not take it seriously at all. I know these guys. For them, this doesn't look important." The directors don't necessarily see the benefits of open access publishing and claim that the infrastructure is too difficult to implement, he said. Arunachalam and leading policymakers and academics are meeting linkurl:today;http://listserver.sigmaxi.org/sc/wa.exe?A2=ind09&L=american-scientist-open-access-forum&D=1&O=D&F=l&S=&P=31673 (Mar. 24) at the CSIR offices in New Delhi and again linkurl:Thursday;http://www.icast.org.in/events/OA-Conf.html (Mar. 26) at the linkurl:Indian Academy of Sciences;http://www.ias.ac.in/ in Bangalore to discuss the merits of open access publishing and online institutional databases. Indian scientists who publish their work abroad often can't even access their own papers, said linkurl:Leslie Chan;http://tinyurl.com/LeslieChan of the University of Toronto, who directs the online publishing service linkurl:Bioline International;http://www.bioline.org.br/ and will be speaking this week at the Indian conferences. "By putting these articles that are published elsewhere in some sort of repository, they become available to scientists in their own countries and elsewhere," he said. But the contents of institutional repositories do not have high visibility for the scientific community at large because researchers are not likely to start trawling through databases of foreign institutions, said Stanford University's linkurl:John Willinsky,;http://ed.stanford.edu/suse/faculty/displayRecord.php?suid=willinsk who heads the linkurl:Public Knowledge Project,;http://pkp.sfu.ca/ a research initiative that develops software platforms to help journals publish online, and who is also presenting at this week's meetings. Instead of setting up dozens of individual databases, he suggests moving Indian journals in their entirety online through an open access publishing model akin to the__ linkurl:Public Library of Science;http://www.plos.org/ __or__ linkurl:BioMed Central.;http://www.biomedcentral.com/ __This would "hugely level the playing field," Willinsky said, because the journal articles would become indexed by search engines such as linkurl:Google Scholar,;http://scholar.google.com/ which helps papers get noticed by scientists around the world. "A move to open access will hugely increase the contribution [of Indian scientists] because these are journals that normally wouldn't be subscribed to" by libraries in the West, he said. It may be too early to consider such large-scale efforts, however. "We haven't achieved anything yet," said Aruchachalam, who stressed that the Indian initiative is still in its infancy. While deliberations take place, Chan thinks that India can take guidance from recent open access efforts in developing countries elsewhere. "If India can learn from these existing projects then they don't need to reinvent the wheel," he said. Last month (Feb. 19), the linkurl:Academy of Science of South Africa;http://www.assaf.co.za/ (ASSAf) announced a two-year pilot project to make one of the country's leading journals, the__ linkurl:South African Journal of Science,;http://www.sajs.co.za/ __open access with no page charges for any scientists -- not just South African ones -- publishing in the journal. "The main driving force is to increase the visibility of the work that's done in South Africa and other developing countries, and to make it globally accessible," ASSAf's president linkurl:Robin Crewe;http://www.nationalacademies.org/asadi/speakers/crewe.html told __The Scientist__. A few weeks before South Africa announced its effort, the small Middle Eastern nation of Qatar launched an online repository dating back to 1970, around the time that Qatar became an independent state. The linkurl:Biannual National Research Survey,;http://www.qnrf.org/activities/bnrs/search/index.php released by the linkurl:Qatar National Research Fund;http://www.qnrf.org/ (QNRF), provides a searchable online database containing a summary of all research conducted partly or wholly in the country before 2007. The QNRF plans to update the repository every two years. "We have in Qatar a significant gap in knowledge of past work and discoveries," said Sattar Al-Taie, director of QNRF, in a linkurl:statement.;http://www.qnrf.org/newsroom/announcement/720/ "It is important that we share our knowledge and progress internationally." "A lot of Middle Eastern countries are realizing that open access is a good way of promoting their research and attracting attention," said Chan. Asian countries have been slower to warm up to open access, he notes, but they're starting to come around. As in India, leading Chinese scholars are appealing to transform the country's journals. "At the moment, Chinese journals aren't very popular" outside of the country, said linkurl:Zuoyan Zhu,;http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/zeb.2005.2.1 a developmental biologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Wuhan and the former deputy head of the National Science Foundation of China. Zhu contends that adopting an open access model "will greatly help the Chinese journals get accepted by the scientific community." Zhu is currently preparing a report for the CAS to assess the impact and logistics of making some or all of the__ linkurl:Science in China;http://219.238.6.200/science/?lang=en __journals -- China's premier English-language journal series -- open access. He expects to submit the report before the end of year. Kumar, however, doesn't want India's CSIR to wait that long. "It is requested that the open access activities are implemented at the earliest [possible date]," he wrote at the end of his linkurl:appeal;http://images.the-scientist.com/content/images/general/55521-1.jpg to the CSIR directors.
__Correction (Mar. 30): An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Naresh Kumar urged for journals published by CSIR's National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) be made open access. In truth, Kumar's memo urged that all CSIR journals, not just NISCAIR journals, be made open access. __The Scientist__ regrets the error.__
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Online access = more citations;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55437/
[19th February 2009]*linkurl:Open access 2.0;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53781/
[November 2007]*linkurl:Developing nations to receive low-cost access to research information;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/20010103/04/
[3rd January 2001]
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Comments

Avatar of: Mahavir Singh

Mahavir Singh

Posts: 1

March 25, 2009

To advance science and sustain technological creativities/innovations research findings must be made available to every one and more importantly, be made freely available to the common man, except where the IP issues are directly related towards patent(s) protection.\n\n
Avatar of: subhranshu kumar

subhranshu kumar

Posts: 2

March 26, 2009

Open access of research papers is welcome. But\ninstitution should respond and return feedback.\nThis is a two way interaction for success.\n\nR Subhranshu

March 28, 2009

"The contents of institutional repositories do not have high visibility for the scientific community at large because researchers are not likely to start trawling through databases of foreign institutions," says Stanford University's John Willinsky. In reality though, there is no need for anyone to trawl through many repositories. When one searches for information using keywords, search engines like Google and OAISTER will bring forth all papers using those keywords irrespective of in which repositories those papers are deposited. It is as if the entire world's OA repositories is a single large repository. If all of India's journals go open access, it will still be only make a very small part of India's scientific output open. Indian researchers publish in thousands of journals published from a large number of other countries, and many of them are toll-access journals. It is necessary for those papers to be available via open access. That is why it is very important for setting up institutional repositories.

March 28, 2009

"Kumar also recommended that the 20-odd journals published by CSIR's National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) be made open access."\n\nWhat Dr Naresh Kumar's letter to the Directors of all CSIR laboratories wanted was all journals published by all CSIR laboratories, not just NISCAIR, be made open access.

March 30, 2009

India is publishing Indian Science Abstracts (ISA) since 1965. It has been computerised fully since 1990. Every country should publish science abstracts and all these abstracts should be electronically transferred into a unified repository under an organization like UNESCO. This repository can be made open access. The cost of maintenance of the database should be shared by all the countries. It would not be a costly affair. The hub can be in Europe, the USA, or even in India. The data base software can by CDS/ISIS of UNESCO used for ISA by NISCAIR of CSIR since 1990. This would meet the need of Open Access as well as bypass its problems.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

April 21, 2009

For the Behemoth that is CSIR, which started the "Impact Factor" rat-race in the 90's (and most of whose Directors still goad their scientists to publish in high impact journals), subscribing to the Open Access philosophy is indeed a great turning point for the advancement of Science in India. The fledgling Open Source Drug Discovery project of CSIR also needs support from the scientists from both CSIR, Industry and Universities.

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