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Second Draft of Open Access Policy of the Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science released

Posted by Anubha Sinha at Oct 19, 2014 01:35 PM |
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The Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Science, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India drafted an Open Access Policy (“Policy”) in consultation with several open access experts, government officials and CIS. The second draft of the Policy released last week and is open for comments till 17th November, 2014.

 

The Centre for Internet and Society (“CIS”) commends the efforts of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India to make scientific research publicly available by developing an open access policy. The first and second drafts of the Policy may be accessed here. The following part highlights the changes inserted in the second draft of the Policy.

Second draft of the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Science Open Access Policy

The Centre for Internet and Society (“CIS”) commends the efforts of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India to make scientific research publicly available by developing an open access policy. The first and second drafts of the Policy may be accessed here. The following part highlights the changes inserted in the second draft of the Policy.

The second draft has been titled “Policy on open access to DBT and DST funded research.” At the outset, the second draft reflects that the Policy is voluntary and not mandatory in nature. To reiterate this, the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Science (“DBT-DST”) acknowledge and respect right of researchers to publish their work in a journal of their choice in the Policy. However, the DBT-DST maintains that it will not underwrite article processing charges. In addition, the Policy respects the limitations placed on research outputs under Indian law and intellectual property policies of the respective institutions.

The Policy lays out that the process for making a research output openly accessible will start at the institutional level, and it has been made mandatory for institutions which receive core funding from DBT-DST to set-up an Institutional Repository(“IR”). The DBT-DST will provide adequate assistance to set up institutional repositories. For other institutions, it is strongly suggested that they set up an IR. Meanwhile, institutions can submit their work in the central repository created by the DBT and DST (dbt.sciencecentral.in and dst.sciencecentral.in). The Ministry of Science and Technology will set up a central harvester (www.sciencecentral.in) that will harvest the full text and metadata of these publication.

The recommended deposit period of the works has been extended to two weeks after the acceptance by the journal, and the recommended embargo period is less than a year. Depositing in a suitable repository has been made mandatory for all research outputs. CIS strongly recommended an embargo period of one year, and making deposits in repositories mandatory, regardless of the open access routes ( Gold OA or Green OA) adopted by the scientist.

The draft makes it clear that the Policy does not intend to override the agreements between the researchers and publishers, however, it recommends the authors to bring to the notice of publishers their obligations under the Policy.

In furtherance of creating awareness of open access, the DBT-DST intend to celebrate “Open Access Day” during the International Open Access Week (http://www.openaccessweek.org/) by organizing sensitizing lectures, programmes, workshops and taking new OA initiatives.

The second draft successfully addresses concerns raised by scientists and publishers on the first draft. The comments on the first draft may be accessed here. In the comments, the scientific community requested clarification on the mandatory nature of the policy. It also raised the issue of impeding career advancement in view of limited number of open access journals and the dependence on publications in certain noteworthy journals while hiring. Therefore, the second draft of the Policy makes it voluntary to publish open access, however, depositing in repositories has been made mandatory.

Further, concerns about IRs and central repository have been addressed in the second draft with the DBT-DST committing to assist institutions in setting up IRs.

Some publishers raised concerns about the stipulated embargo period, and suggested it be extended to a variable of 12-24 months, instead of the 12 months period recommended in the Policy. However, the second draft retains the embargo period of one year because scientific research moves at a fast pace, and locking crucial research for more than one year runs the risk of rendering the research outdated.

FAQs on the Policy will be released soon, as requested by several commentators.

About the Policy

CIS has been assisting the DBT-DST on developing the Policy since June 2014. The Policy document was drafted by the Open Access Policy Committee. I blogged about the exercise undertaken to emerge with the first draft which was followed by a round of comments from the public. After releasing the first draft, the Open Access Policy Committee convened a meeting to review the Policy in light of the feedback received. CIS was invited to participate in the meeting and I attended it in furtherance of the submissions made by CIS previously. The second draft is the outcome of the Open Access Policy Committee meeting.

 

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