Open Access India: Advocating for Open Access to Scholarly Research in India


Open Access India: Advocating for Open Access to Scholarly Research in India

Sridhar Gutam

Open Access India


The National Knowledge Commission, India had submitted recommendations on Open Access (OA) to the Govt. of India in 2007. As per DOAJ, India has 369 journals in 2011 and 74 journals were added during 2012 and as per ROAR, 92 OA repositories have been established. When we look at growth of OA movement in agricultural sciences, it is very slow.  In the entire National Agricultural Research System (NARS) of India, very few journals have been transformed/launched as OA journals and only four OA institutional repositories have been established. Only recently, under the National Agricultural Innovation Project, two flagship journals of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have been transformed into OA journals and efforts are being made to take few other journals on board. Under the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP), two thematic/commodity digital knowledge repositories have been established which would also be housing scholarly materials.

Slow progress of OA movement in agricultural sciences in India

Lack of awareness on OA, non existence of OA policy/mandate and not considering OA as an important agenda by the research managers, lack of clarity on IPR/Copyright issues and lack of expertise in the use of repository software are the major reasons for slow progress of OA movement in agricultural sciences in NARS of India. Though internationally, efforts are being made by the organisations like GFAR, FAO and ICRISAT (CGIAR) towards “openness in agriculture research”, the researchers and policy makers in NARS of India are not fully aware and convinced about OA.

There are about 100 scholarly societies in NARS which are publishing scholarly journals. However most of them are print only and not online. Even if they are online, their meta-data is not interoperable. Many of them are not indexed in the popular agencies like Thompson Reuters and Scopus and don't have an 'Impact Factor' (IF) which scholars generally look for before they submit their manuscripts for publication.

Open Access India facebook group to advocate for OA

At this backdrop,the Open Access India (OAIndia) an online group was formed during June-July, 2011 by OA evangelists in NARS of India to take forward the movement of making all the publicly funded research publicly available and accessible in India by OA advocacy. The OAIndia wants to use most popular social networking sites for its advocacy and has choosen Facebook to reach to scholars in the NARS of India. Currently, it has ~2300 members on its facebook group comprising librarians, researchers, policy makers and students from NARS of India and other organisations.

On the OAIndia Facebook group, the OA advocates shares the success stories on OA and starts discussion on OA issues in which the members participate and debates on what is OA?, what needs to be done for OA? and what are the IPR issues in OA? The 'OAIndia' while advocating for sharing the research outputs in existing e-infrastructure 'Agropedia'/'OpenAgri' and other public OA repositories is also now looking for establishment of its own dedicated online repository for its members who have no institutional repository infrastructure to share their research/scholarly outputs. It also wishes to harvest all the publicly available research outputs in agricultural sciences at one locus and would work for “enabling access to knowledge” in agriculture. For this, the  'OAIndia' is working to constitute a core team from various NARS institutions for advocating  adoption of OA policies/mandates by universities and research institutes in NARS of India. Currently it has partnered with 'MyOpenArchive' and would like to work along with FAO's AIMS, 'Open Access in South Asia' and organizations working for OA to advocate and promote OA, build capacity for the launch of OA institutional repositories, and to educate on IPR/Copyright issues in OA among institutes under NARS of India. It is also planning to organise a first OA conference in Agricultural Sciences at New Delhi during this year (2012) for which consultations are going on.

How to Join?

This presentation is part of a one hour session entitled Promotion of Open Access containing 3 short presentations that will take place on Thursday 25 October 2012 (11:00-12:00 pm Rome time). To join this session, visit the main page for the Open Acces Week @ AIMS webinars.