India's NARS should accelerate Open Access
In 1947 Jawaharlal Nehru, former Prime Minister of India said, "Everything else can wait, but not agriculture." This stands even more true today. The information of agricultural research should be disseminated quickly to all its stake holders. The India's National Agricultural Research System (NARS) which is one of the world's largest publicly funded research system produces huge research output from 97 Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes and 58 Agricultural Universities. However, the research output seldom shared with the world as most of these publications viz., annual reports, books, leaflets, newsletters, research highlights, research achievements, research journals and technical bulletins are in print only form and when online are not searchable. The timely reached information shall empower innovation and avoids duplication.
Supporting the Open Access Movement initiated by Budapest Open Access Initiative and Berlin Declaration, the first institution in NARS, Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) had launched its journal, 'Journal of Tropical Agriculture' as open access in 2001 using Open Journal Systems (OJS), a free open source software (FOSS).
It was followed by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad which also made its journal, 'Karnataka Journal of Agricultural Sciences' open access with OJS.. However, only during 2010, In the ICAR system, the institutes viz., Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Indian Institute of Spice Research (IISR) and Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) have established open access repositories (OARs) Eprints@CMFRI, Eprints@IARI, DSpice@IISR and Erepo@IIHR respectively to showcase their research and other publications to the world. As sub-project of World Bank supported National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP), the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur has established 'OpenAgri' an open access repository for agricultural research in India and 'E-Publishing and System for Knowledge Sharing in Agricultural Research' (EPSKAR), a sub-project of NAIP, was started by the Directorate of Knowledge Management in Agriculture (DKMA) had started publishing it's journals viz., Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, Indian Journal of Animal Sciences and Indian Journal of Fisheries as open access journals using OJS on the epubs platform known as Indian Agricultural Research Journals. It is offering hosting support to scholarly societies for making their journals online. There are about 79 scholarly societies in NARS system which are supported by ICAR for publication of research journals in respective subject/discipline. The 'Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Association of India', 'Open Access Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants' and 'Fishery Technology' of Society of Fisheries Technologists (India) are being published as open access journals on epubs platform of ICAR. However, the Madras Agricultural Student's Union is publishing its open access journal 'The MASU Journal' using Google sites since 2003.
The Sugarcane Breeding Institute (SBI) with the support of Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) had established 'CaneInfo' a sugarcane knowledge repository. The Rice Knowledge Management Portal (RKMP) is another repository which had been established by Directorate of Rice Research to strengthen the better flow of rice knowledge and information of All India Networking Rice Research Project spread across various agro-climatic zones of India.
Digital Herbarium at Directorate of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (DMAPR), Digital Library on Bruchids, the Indian Institute of Soil Science (IISS), Bhopal's GIS- based Nutrient Status of Soils in India showing soil types, mineral nutrition deficiencies, the National Animal Disease Referral Expert Management System (NADRES) of Project Directorate on Animal Disease Monitoring and Surveillance (PDADMAS), Bengaluru, GIS maps of disease outbreaks are few open access databases in NARS.
The Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University is sharing its Journal of Research ANGRAU issues from 2007 online. The Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University is making few of its submitted thesis available online for full-text download and College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry under Anand Agricultural University is making all of its’ 67 thesis as full-text downloads on OpenMED@NIC an open access archive for Medical and Allied Sciences established by National Informatics Centre.
The Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) has made all its publications online except that for research articles which can be requested by email. For the purpose, CRIDA is providing the email address of an author in the bibliography. Under the NAIP sub-project 'Strengthening of digital library and information management' under NARS (e-GRANTH), twelve institutions in NARS are in the process of establishing repositories which would have a digital collection of rare books and old journals available in their libraries.
Though the modern information and communications technologies (ICTs) are being used for dissemination of information/technologies to farmers, the same are not being used to the full extent by the NARS institutions for data and information sharing among the researchers and with the world. The institutions under NARS are not showing much importance for sharing the research articles with other stake holders freely. This is because of absence of a policy on sharing and moreover publication of research articles are seen as individual’s job. It is proposed that, National Agricultural Data Centre would be established for web hosting and housing data & information sharing products in NARS.
By that time, it is necessary to formulate a structured policy guidelines on information, data sharing & management that are to be implemented at all levels in NARS system and the standards should be created and enforced at all levels for data collection, analysis and data sharing. An Open Access policy similar to Council of Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR) and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics should be adopted by the ICAR and system of accountability and reward for data sharing should also be institutionalised and for accelerate open access movement in NARS' agriculture research for development.