Saturday, 5 November 2011

Two studies of the use of OA journals in India

Two publications on the use of OA journals by researchers in India have been published recently in Current Science. Below are the conclusions and a link to the full texts. Between them they provide a comprehensive picture of the status of OA in India.

[1]  Subbiah Gunasekaran and Subbiah Arunachalam: Use of open access journals by Indian researchers: CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 101, NO. 10,  25 NOVEMBER  2011, Page 1287-1295. For the full text (which includes many tables and graphs) see
OA to research findings can be provided by two ways: by publishing the papers in OA journals (the gold route) and or by placing the full text of the papers along with metadata in interoperable OA archives (the green route). At least three leading publishers of S&T journals in India have opted to go the OA way. MedKnow publishes more than 150 OA journals. The Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, adopted OA for all its journals more than ten years ago. Indeed, Pramana, its physics journal, was made open access in July 1998. More recently, CSIR made all 16 research journals published by the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources OA. A few years ago the Indian Council of Medical Research made the Indian Journal of Medical Research OA. While these moves are certainly welcome, we believe that the OA archives route is the ideal solution, especially for developing countries. No matter whether they publish their papers in OA or toll-access journals, Indian researchers will do well to place the full text of their papers in institutional repositories. Stevan Harnad, founder of Psycoloquy stopped publishing the journal in 2001, as it became clear to him by then that author self-archiving in interoperable institutional repositories was the best route to ensure 100% OA to the world’s scholarly literature.

In November 2009, 41 Nobel laureates wrote an open letter to the US Congress expressing their support to OA to research. They believed that the open availability of research ‘will make it easier for scientists worldwide to better and more swiftly address the complex scientific challenges that we face today and expand shared knowledge across disciplines to accelerate breakthrough and spur innovation’. P. Balaram told SciDev.Net; ‘I think every institution should be encouraged to set up a repository. This is a problem-free model I want to promote. There may be a few glitches at the start, but the next generation of scientists will be comfortable with it’. In a recent blog posting, Giridhar said, ‘The best way to make the work open access in India is not necessarily by publishing it in open access journals but by depositing the article in an institutional repository’. The Indian Academy of Sciences has recently set up a repository for papers by all its Fellows, both living and deceased. As of 7 October 2011, more than 60,500 paper/documents were deposited, but a vast majority of them do not provide access to the full text. One has to be content with metadata and abstracts. CSIR has decided to set up repositories in each one of its more than 35 laboratories.

[2] Subbiah Arunachalam and Muthu Madhan, Use made of open access journals by Indian researchers to publish their findings, CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 100, NO. 9, 10  MAY 2011, Page 1297-1306. For the full text, see

Indian researchers publish a large number of papers in OA journals, not necessarily because more than 360 Indian journals are OA. Their contribution to high-impact international biomedical OA journals is modest at best. However, India’s contribution to Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports is substantial. There are two reasons for this: India has a strong and vibrant community of inorganic crystallographers and the journal charges only $ 150 for processing a paper. A similar study on India’s participation in international OA journals in other fields, such as physics, chemistry, earth sciences and engineering will be interesting. Ideally though, Indian researchers and funding agencies should prefer the institutional archiving route recommended by both Harnad1,18 and Balaram. One hundred per cent OA through archiving should be the national goal. As pointed out by Joshi and as has been demonstrated most recently by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi, starting and filling an institutional EPrints archive is easy, inexpensive, and immensely beneficial to all. However, six years after the first workshop on setting up OA repositories was held in May 2004, we have not more than 40 active repositories in the country. We believe that such repositories would come up in most, if not all, higher educational and research institutions in the country if the Ministers in charge of both higher education and science and technology send out a note stating that from now on all publicly-funded research should be available through OA channels.

1 comment:

Electronic Publishing Trust for Development said...

A further article has been added to the original posting on this topic, providing further information on the use of OA in India. The original posting had an error which has been corrected in the current posting.