Debating Open Access in India

By Andrew Telford, Senior Programme Manager, RCUK India

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an interesting interactive seminar hosted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) Library and Information Centre, on open access policy in India. The aim of the seminar was to discuss the challenges, opportunities and benefits of designing and implementing an open access policy in regards to publically-funded science research at a national level.

Presentations underway at Looking Back and Moving Forward: Open Access Movement at the Crossroads

Presentations underway at Looking Back and Moving Forward: Open Access Movement at the Crossroads

Research Councils UK began implementing a new and comprehensive RCUK Policy on Open Access in April 2013, with the introduction of block grants to eligible Universities to cover costs of article processing charges (APCs). This policy was subject to an independent review – released in March 2015, on which I was asked to provide a presentation for the audience of TERI’s seminar outlining the good progress made so far and the remaining challenges.

The seminar, entitled ‘Looking Back and Moving Forward: Open Access Movement at the Crossroads’ began with an opening address from Mr Prabir Sengupta, Director of TERI’s Knowledge Management Division and presentations from Dr PK Bhattacharya and Ms Shailly Kedia on TERI’s open access initiatives. This was followed by an address from Mr Denis Dambois, Head of Research and Innovation, European Union India explaining the EU’s policies for promoting open access to research. A presentation from Dr Sudha Gopalakrishnan highlighted the creation of a fascinating new open access platform, Sahapedia, due to be fully operational by November 2015 and contain documents and media in a variety of formats cataloguing Indian culture and heritage. Finally, an informative presentation from Dr T Mohan, advisor to Department of Biotechnology explained the Open Access Policy currently adopted by both the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Biotechnology.

After a brief break for networking and of course refreshments of chai, the panel discussion on Open Access: Policies and Future Directions began.

Open Access: Policies and Future Directions Panel. (L-R) Dr. Anindya Chatterjee, Prof. Uma Kanjlal, Dr. Neeta Verma, Mr. Andrew Telford and Mr. Sanjiv Goswami

Open Access: Policies and Future Directions Panel. (L-R) Dr. Anindya Chatterjee, Prof. Uma Kanjlal, Dr. Neeta Verma, Mr. Andrew Telford and Mr. Sanjiv Goswami

Chaired by Dr Neeta Verma, Deputy Director General of the National Informatics Centre, the Panel members Professor Uma Kanjlal, IGNOU, Dr Anindya Chatterjee, IDRC, Mr Sanjiv Goswami, Springer India and I discussed models and mechanisms which have been implemented to assist Open Access – from research publication to massive open online courses. It was very interesting to see the breadth of ideas being circulated as well as the priorities for supporting open access, with DST and DBT’s policies geared towards allowing   6-month embargos whereas RCUK’s preference is for open access publication in the first instance (through APCs).

There was strong agreement throughout the day that not only is open access becoming increasingly feasible due to ease of information accessibility through new technologies but also that it must be a core aim for publically-funded science to assist maximum economic and societal returns. The fact that India is engaged in the open access debate is exciting because facilitating the sharing of research will lead to the development of even more new and exciting ideas, and create new possibilities for collaboration between researchers in the UK and India.

TERI’s summation from the seminar can be found here.

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