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  • Indian scientist bags open access award

[NEW DELHI] Efforts at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, to create an open access repository for research papers have resulted in recognition this month (1 January) from the Electronic Publishing Trust (EPT) for Development in the United Kingdom.

Francis Jayakanth, who manages the IISc’s National Centre for Science Information (NCSI), claimed the first international award instituted by EPT for individuals working in developing countries who have helped advance open access and the free exchange of research findings.

Runners-up for the award were Ina Smith from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, Tatyana Zayseva from Khazar University, Azerbaijan, and Xiaolin Zang of the National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Science.

EPT described Jayakanth as "a renaissance man of open access." He was instrumental in creating IISc’s institutional repository (IR) of open access research papers and providing technical support for establishing IRs and open access journals in India.

Jayakanth also developed a free, open source software tool (CDSOAI), which is now widely used in India.

NCSI, set up in 1983 as an inter-university centre and handed over to the IISc in April 2002, has more than 32,000 publications. It grew out of training programmes in Indian library schools.

India currently has 53 registered open access repositories, but "this number is very small compared to the number of universities and institutions that are engaged in higher education and research," Jayakanth told SciDev.Net.

"Moreover, research work done in India and published in Indian journals does not reach the international community. This is because many of the Indian journals are not being indexed by discipline-specific abstracting databases," Jayakanth said. 

According to Jayakanth, IRs should ideally have the final accepted version of research papers, but there is no official mandate for Indian scientists to submit their work to them.

Subbaiah Arunachalam, a former publications editor with the state-run Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and a leading campaigner for open access, observed that the IISc example was an "exception rather than the rule in India."

Similarly, Arunachalam commented, the Indian Council for Agricultural Research’s (ICAR)’s "attempts at open access are half-hearted, and wherever institutes have achieved something, it has come from individual initiatives."

Sridhar Gutam, an ICAR scientist who has initiated an online forum called Open Access India, said the Indian government is yet to adopt a policy of making all public-funded research open access.