Open Access Day celebrated in India

Posted by Sunil Abraham at Oct 21, 2008 03:40 PM |
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The Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore and the Centre for Culture, Media and Governance co-organised joint celebrations of Open Access Day in Jamia Millia Islamia campus on the 14th of October 2008. Around 50 people attended the event from different departments in Jamia there were also some participants from the Indian Linux Users Group. CIS also published an Open Access flyer on this day featuring quotations from Sam Pitroda, MS Swaminathan, Peter Suber, Alma Swan, Frederick Noronha, Barbara Kirsop and Samir Brahmachari.

Prof. Subbiah ArunachalamSpeaking at Tagore Hall at Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof. Subbiah Arunachalam, pointed out that “there are over 25,000 scientific journals published in the world today but even the richest university in India cannot afford to subscribe to more than 1,200 journals. It is as though, Indian scientists and students are competing in a race with their legs bound.” Prof. Arunachalam called upon the student community to lobby for Open Access mandates for research outputs funded by tax-payers.Open Access is the principle that publicly funded research should be freely accessible online, immediately after publication. October 14, 2008 was the world’s first Open Access Day. The founding partners for this Day are SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), Students for FreeCulture, and the Public Library of Science, USA. According to the Directory of Open Access Journals – India publishes 105 Open Access journals.

Dr. Zakir ThomasSpeaking at the celebrations at Jamia, Dr. Zakir Thomas of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) traced the limited historical role that IPR has played in the development for drugs for Tuberculosis. Dr. Thomas is the project director of Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD), a project of CSIR. The government of India has already committed Rs. 150 crores to the OSDD project which is targeting neglected diseases from developing countries. Dr. Thomas also introduced the OSDD project and spoke about alternative systems of incentives that are more appropriate in the academic community such as attribution, citation and collaboration – all closely linked career growth in an academic or university context.

Dr. Andrew LynnDr. Lynn, a professor at the Department of Bio-informatics at JNU and Dr. Bhardwaj Scientist CSIR introduced the OSDD web platform and pointed out to various improvements over existing methods of research. While in peer-reviewed papers readers are only provided with reference number when experiments are discussed – on the OSDD platform readers can access the complete experiment details, including data even for failed experiments. This is critical in reducing wastage of valuable resources and efforts in attempting to re-invent the wheel.

Dr. Anshu BharadwajDr. Bhardwaj pointed out that she was already collaborating with students from the Jamia Millia Islamia campus on her projects hosted on OSDD. She said that the open access and open source models gives rise to many new collaborations both at the local and international level. Dr. Bhardwaj also announced that two CSIR open access journals were being launched by Dr. Samir Brahmachari - Director General on the occasion of World Open Access day.

Prof. Arif Ali, Head Dept. of Bio-Technology, Jamia Milia Islamia who presided over the meeting spoke of the challenges faced by faculty and students in the Indian context. Some international journals demand Rs. 40,000 from the authors in spite of assigning copyright. He predicted that the open access movement will lead to more Indian authors being published and cited. He also hoped that open access would become a norm instead of a novelty.

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