National Conference on Opening up by Closing the Circle: Strengthening Open Access in India


Re-posted from Ramesh Gaur’s Post in Open Access India group on facebook

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National Conference on Opening up by Closing the Circle: Strengthening Open Access in India

UNESCO, in partnership with Central Library, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) is organizing a national conference on ‘Opening up by Closing the Circle: Strengthening Open Access in India’ on 21 October 2013 to mark the international Open Access Week.

The first international Open Access for Research Week was celebrated on 19–23 October 2009. Hundreds of leading academic and research sites in over 30 countries marked the week in unique ways, and expressed their support for the advancement of knowledge through free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research.

Ever since, Open Access Week has been observed internationally to help raise awareness of the potential benefits of Open Access (OA) for research, and to celebrate milestones in making OA a norm in the conduct of science and scholarship.

The one-day conference will focus on the need to create an enabling environment for OA in India, to promote and upscale existing OA initiatives, and to encourage the development of new OA programmes. This can be done by ‘closing the circle’ or linking multiple stakeholder groups, namely researchers, librarians, archivists, publishers, technologists, and policymakers, taking into account their concerns and views and providing a platform for them to advocate for a common cause. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to stakeholders to pool their insights, identify and discuss key OA-related issues in the country, and create a roadmap for strengthening OA in India.

The specific objectives of the national conference are to:

  • Build awareness among the stakeholder groups and student community about the importance of OA to scientific research
  • Facilitate the exchange of experiences, knowledge and best practices of various institutions in the OA space
  • Contribute towards the creation of an advocacy group that will promote OA at institutional and national levels
  • Analyze current trends and pitfalls with regard to the OA landscape in India
  • Develop policy recommendations for the creation of a national mandate to promote OA
  • Promote partnerships and collaborations among interested stakeholders

Venue: JNU Convention Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Mehrauli Road, New Delhi 110067

The conference is open to all Library and Information Science professionals. The academicians/researchers interested in open access may also attend. There is no registration fee. Registration is restricted to only 100 participants on “first-cum-first serve basis”. Registration can be sent by email at unescojnu@gmail.com with following information:
Name………………………………..
Institution ———————————
Address ———————–
Email address—————-
Mobile No——————-
Any contributions in Open Access————–

The last date for registration to the conference is October 18th 2013.

Contacts:

Ms. Iskra Panevska
Advisor for Communication and Information for South Asia
UNESCO New Delhi
Email: i.panevska@unesco.org

Dr. Ramesh C Gaur
PGDCA, MLISc,Ph.D. Fulbright Scholar (Virginia Tech, USA)
University Librarian
Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU)
New Meharuli Road, New Delhi – 110067
Tele +91-11-26742605, 26704551
Fax : +91-11-26741603
Email: rcgaur@mail.jnu.ac.in ;rcgaur66@gmail.com

Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, PhD
Director, CEMCA
13/14 Sarv Priya Vihar
New Delhi 110016

http://www.cemca.org.in/

Mr. Anirban Sarma
National Programme Officer
Communication and Information sector
UNESCO New Delhi
Email: a.sarma@unesco.org

1. The importance of OA in India

Open Access has emerged during the last decade or so as a movement and a business model whose goal is to provide free access and re-use of scientific knowledge in the form of research articles, monographs, data and related materials. Faster and wider sharing of knowledge fuels the advancement of science and, accordingly, the return of health, economic, and social benefits back to the public. By removing the barriers of price and permissions, OA publishing promotes the global flow of knowledge; improves access to ‘developed-country research’; creates much-needed visibility for ‘developing-country research’; and allows researchers and practitioners to access current knowledge.

The idea of open access to scholarly literature is not new to India. India has a large S&T research community and Indian researchers conduct research in a wide variety of areas. India also trains a very large number of scientists and engineers. One might believe that all is well with science and technology in India. But the truth is very different. In terms of the number of papers published in refereed journals, the number of citations per paper, and the number of international awards and recognitions won, India’s record is not all that encouraging.

India has a vast pool of academic talent and a track record of excellence in disciplines related to science and technology, but this is at odds with the limited endowments that academic libraries receive to support scientific research. Most Indian libraries cannot afford to subscribe to key journals required by researchers and scientists. This is a serious impediment to the acquisition of knowledge, and researchers’ own scholarly output is adversely impacted as a result. Another outcome of prohibitive subscription costs is the low visibility of Indian research.Academics in the region exert themselves to publish their work in well-known journals which very few of their peers can access afterwards. This leads to the poor citation of works by Indian researchers, the poor circulation of their research findings, and ultimately very limited awareness about scientific developments in the country. Thus, Indian scientists face two problems, namely, access and visibility. Both these handicaps can be overcome to a considerable extent if open access is adopted widely both within and outside the country.

2. Noteworthy OA initiatives in India

The lack of awareness might still be an issue for Indian researchers, but there have been various initiatives by Indian institutes, journals and publishers to make research content open. Since 2003, India has been contributing to The Directory of Open Access Journals (which contains free, full-text high-quality scientific journals). The Indian Medlars Centre (IMC), has taken the pioneering step of putting Indian biomedical journals accessible on to a single platform. IMC’s first bibliographic database IndMed, established in 1998, provides abstract level information from more than 70 journals. The Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Science Academy are premier institutes that run vibrant publishing programmes and offer open access to their journals and papers. Bioline International is a not-for-profit collaborative effort of the University of Toronto Libraries, Canada, the Reference Center on Environmental Information, Brazil, and Bioline, UK. Bioline provides access to 14 Indian journals on their primary site as well as archives these journals at the Bioline EPrints Archive. ePrints@IISC is a repository that collects, preserves and disseminates in digital format the works of the research community of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Open J-Gate – a free database of OA journals – currently offers access to more than 4000 OA English language journals from across the world. The work of Medknow Publications, an innovative publisher of OA journals, and that of the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela are also leading Indian contributions to the OA movement. It is important that these initiatives should not operate in isolation, but should form part of a concerted effort and campaign at a national level to promote OA in India.

In 2012–13, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) launched a major OA initiative. ICAR has formulated an OA policy stipulating that its member institutes across the country must allow open access to their research and technical publications, books, catalogues, conference proceedings, case studies, lecture notes and other digital objects. While these institutes will maintain their own OA repositories, ICAR is setting up a central harvester to allow ‘one-stop access’ to all the scientific and agricultural knowledge generated within the Council. Master repositories such as ICAR’s, composed of a network of repositories, greatly enhance accessibility, help realize the potential of OA, and strengthen the very purpose of the OA movement in India. But while developing policies and networks at the institutional level is necessary, it is critical to entrench the idea of OA at the level of national policy. A national mandate and policy framework for OA would ensure that OA initiatives cease to operate in isolated clusters, and become part of a coherent, progressive national movement to promote the flow of knowledge.

3. OA in India vis-à-vis global trends

Open Access is of particular importance to the Global South because it provides an unprecedented opportunity for equitable access to essential research information from around the world. So while removing the price barrier is important, the key to Open Access is that it allows researchers and the institutions they work for to regain control of their intellectual labour and capital by disseminating the research they produce in ways that they see fit, and not simply according to the business logic of for-profit publishing houses. This will hopefully result in a more balanced production and dissemination of knowledge from around the world.

With free software such as the Open Journal System, and with peer-review being performed without cost as a long-standing tradition, the cost of producing journals is far lower than commercial publishers would have us believe. The Directory of Open Access Journals now list over 8,500 titles from around the world; most do not charge an author fee. These Open Access outlets provide important opportunities for knowledge dissemination while reducing costs substantially for the libraries.

Most universities in North America and Europe have set up repositories individually or as consortia, and an increasing number of higher education institutions in the Global South have also set them up to feature their faculty’s research output. In addition, many universities have also set up publishing platforms such as the Open Journal Systems and other kinds of open source platforms to allow faculty to engage in Open Access publishing and other kinds of innovative digital scholarship.

However, many repositories remain poorly filled because researchers are often not aware of Open Access, or they have misconceptions about it and copyright, or about quality issues associated with it, not realizing that Open Access is compatible with traditional peer review and copyright. Hence more awareness-building efforts are needed to educate researchers about the benefits of Open Access, and the limitations and unsustainability of the traditional system.

In addition, a policy should be put in place to encourage researchers to deposit their research articles and materials into the repositories. Many institutions now enact either a voluntary or a mandatory policy requiring their faculty to deposit a copy of their work into the repository. It is also crucial for administrators to be better informed about the detrimental nature of adhering to the narrow use of the journal impact factor as a means of research evaluation.

In 2013, the Obama administration declared that all publicly funded research would be made freely available within 12 months of publication. Research councils in the UK have recently begun to make public-funded research open to all. The European Commission is expected to do the same from January 2014. The applicability of these approaches to the Indian context, and their potential benefits, must be seriously considered by stakeholders in the country.

In India, Open Access is now a key topic of discussions and engagement at many higher education institutions (including universities and deemed universities) as well as high-level research organisations, such as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Department of Atomic Energy, the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Indian Council of Medical Research. The tireless advocacy work of Subbiah Arunachalam [Chennai-based information consultant] has been instrumental in sensitising these key institutions in the Open Access debates. However, a strong national or institutional policy on Open Access is yet to be implemented.

At the same time, some key institutions such as the Indian Academy of Sciences have been playing a leadership role in providing Open Access to the journals they publish, and the Indian Institute of Science has one of the longest running institutional repositories with the most content in the country. There are now over 350 Open Access journals being published by various organisations across India, but they cover mostly areas in science and medicine. Social sciences and the humanities are poorly represented. Of the close to 600 higher education institutions across India, fewer than 100 have an existing institutional repository, though many are in the planning stage.

In an editorial piece in Current Science, Prof. P. Balaram, Director of IISc and Member of the National Knowledge Commission observed: ‘The idea of open, institutional archives is one that must be vigorously promoted in India. The introduction of legislation that vests copyright with institutions, in the case of publicly funded research, may also provide the necessary legal framework to avoid any contentious issues. Mandating open access for all publicly funded research publications is easy to do by legislation.’

4. UNESCO and Open Access

UNESCO promotes OA as part of its mandate to build inclusive knowledge societies, whose overarching goal is to facilitate the global flow of knowledge and to strengthen socio-economic development. UNESCO’s OA initiatives focus primarily on improving access to scientific information (journal articles, conference papers, datasets etc). Working through strategic partnerships, UNESCO seeks to build awareness about the benefits of OA among policymakers, researchers and knowledge managers. The organization encourages the development of OA-enabling policies; engages in global OA debates; and cooperates with local, regional and global initiatives in support of OA. As a leading advocate of OA, UNESCO adopted a policy in May 2013 to make its publications available free of charge and with an open license, in order to increase their accessibility and visibility. Major current initiatives include a partnership with the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) to develop curricula and self-directed learning tools for OA for librarians and researchers; and the upgrade and enhancement of UNESCO’s Global Open Access Portal (GOAP), a unique online resource that helps policymakers understand the global OA environment, and provides insights into the OA framework of individual UNESCO member states.

5. Scope of the proposed National Conference

UNESCO proposes to partner with CEMCA and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to organize a day-long national conference on Friday, 25 October 2013 in New Delhi during Open Access Week (the third week of October). The tentative title of the conference is ‘Opening up by Closing the Circle: Strengthening Open Access in India’, and it will be held at JNU. The title connotes the need for concerted efforts to create a more enabling environment for OA in the country, to promote and upscale existing OA initiatives, and to encourage the development and launch of new OA programmes which will lead to establishment of a national OA policy. This can be done by ‘closing the circle’ or
linking multiple stakeholder groups and taking into account their concerns and views – namely researchers, librarians, archivists, publishers, technologists, and policymakers – and providing a platform for them to advocate for a common cause. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to stakeholders to pool their insights, identify and discuss key OA-related issues in the country, and create a roadmap for strengthening OA in India.

6. Structure of the Conference

Beginning with a keynote address by a leading expert on open access to scientific research, the national conference will be structured into two panel discussions and a Round Table (RT) discussion. The two panel discussions will be on the themes ‘Why open access?’ and ‘The open access environment in India’. The RT discussion will be on the theme ‘Towards a National OA Policy: Forging the Missing Links’.

The first panel will explore the benefits and advantages of OA for researchers, academics and scientists, and will assess the relative merits and demerits of the ‘green’ and ‘gold’ approaches to OA publishing. It will draw attention to especially innovative features of leading OA initiatives in India and in other countries, and will discuss the advantages of these alternative, non-commercial publishing models.

The second panel will present a detailed overview of the OA environment in India, with a particular focus on the impediments to the widespread acceptance of OA. Core issues will include the need for a national OA mandate; sound institutional publishing and archiving policies; the lack of awareness, human and technical capacity; and the need for intensive advocacy and skill-building within the LIS community. The potential efficacy of the self-directed learning tools being developed by UNESCO and CEMCA will also be discussed.

The deliberations of the RT will be preceded by a rapporteur’s brief summary of the key issues emerging from the two panel discussions. On the basis of these points, the RT will revisit and update the recommendations made by the National Knowledge Commission in 2007 on the formulation of a national OA mandate. The RT will also develop a template for national OA policy framework The RT’s recommendations will subsequently be compiled in the form of a policy brief that will be circulated among decision-makers and policymakers.

7. Objectives

The objectives of the national conference are to:

  • Build awareness among the stakeholder groups and student community about the importance of OA to scientific research
  • Facilitate the exchange of experiences, knowledge and best practices of various institutions in the OA space
  • Contribute towards the creation of an advocacy group that will promote OA at institutional and national levels
  • Analyze current trends and pitfalls with regard to the OA landscape in India
  • Develop policy recommendations for the creation of a national mandate or framework to promote OA
  • Promote partnerships and collaborations among interested stakeholders

8. Expected Outcomes

As a result of the national conference, it is expected that:

  • OA stakeholder groups and the participating student community will appreciate the significance of OA, and will have understood the key trends, issues and challenges pertaining to the development of OA in India;
  • The innovative character and successful operation of leading OA initiatives in India will have been highlighted;
  • The collective efforts and actions behind the OA movement will be understood, and will inspire the next generation of researchers and librarians to become advocates of OA
  • Participating stakeholders will engage in a dialogue about possible partnerships and collaborative ventures
  • A set of recommendations will be developed for the creation of (a) a national OA mandate and policy framework, and (b) a general template for institutional OA policies, repositories and archives.

9. Target Group

The national conference will be attended by university students, librarians, researchers, academics, publishers, and representatives of journal consortia, developers of technological solutions, decision-makers, government representatives and policymakers.

CONFERENCE AGENDA

21st October 2013
JNU Convention Centre,
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi 110067

Timing Activity
9:30 AM-10:00 AM Registration
Inaugural Session
10:00 AM-11:00 AM • Saraswati Vandana: Lighting of Lamp

  • Welcome Address by Prof. Sudha Pai, Rector, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  • Inaugural Address by Dr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, MHRD, Government of India
  • Address by Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka
  • Address by Dr Sanjaya Mishra, Director, Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia
  • Vote of Thanks by Dr Ramesh C Gaur, University Librarian, JNU

11:00 AM-11:30 AM Keynote Address by Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, Vice Chancellor, University of Hyderabad

11:30 AM-11:45 AM Tea Break
Panel 1: Why Open Access?
11:45 AM-01.00 PM Chair: Dr BK Gairola, Mission Director, e-Governance Group, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and IT, Government of India

Invited Speakers:

  • Dr RR Hirwani, Head, CSIR Unit for Research and Development of Information Products
  • Mr Sanjiv Goswami, Managing Director, Springer India Pvt Ltd
  • Dr Usha Mujoo Munshi, Librarian, Indian Institute of Public Administration
  • Dr ARD Prasad, Professor and Head, Documentation, Research and Training Centre, Indian Statistical Institute
  • Dr Nehaa Chaudhari, Centre for Internet and Society

1.00 PM-2:00 PM Lunch

Panel 2: The Open Access Environment in India
2:00 PM-4:00 PM Chair: Dr Pawan Agarwal, Adviser, Higher Education and Culture, Planning Commission, Government of India

Invited Speakers:

  • Prof. Uma Kanjilal, Director, School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)
  • Mr Pratapanand Jha, Director (Cultural Informatics), Indira Gandhi National Council for Arts
  • Dr Rameshwar Singh, Project Director
  • Directorate of Knowledge Management in Agriculture, Indian Council of Agricultural Research
  • Dr NV Sathyanarayana, Chairman and Managing Director, Informatics India, Bangalore
  • Dr Jagdish Arora, Director, Inflibnet, Ahmedabad
  • Dr Sukhdev Singh, Technical Director, National Informatics Centre

4:00 PM-4:15 PM Tea Break

Roundtable:
Towards a National Open Access Policy: Forging the Missing Links
4:15 PM-4:30 PM Rapporteur’s summary of Panels 1 and 2
4:30 PM-5:30 PM Participants of Roundtable

  • Dr Pawan Agarwal, Adviser, Higher Education and Culture, Planning Commission, Government of India
  • Dr Gautam Bose, Head (Social Development), National Informatics Centre
  • Mr Vakul Sharma, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
  • Dr NV Sathyanarayana, Chairman and Managing Director, Informatics India, Bangalore
  • Prof. SK Sopory, Vice Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University / Dr Ramesh C Gaur, University Librarian, Jawaharlal
  • Nehru University
  • Ms Iskra Panevska, Adviser for Communication and Information for South Asia, UNESCO New Delhi
  • Dr Sanjaya Mishra, Director, Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia

Note: Prior to the event, certain background documents such as ICAR’s Draft OA Policy and UNESCO’s Model OA Policy will be circulated among participants of the policy roundtable. These could serve as useful models when framing a national OA policy.

Closing Session
05:30 PM-05:35 PM Concluding remarks by Ms Iskra Panevska, Adviser for
Communication and Information for South Asia, UNESCO
New Delhi
05:35 PM-05:50 PM Valedictory Address by Dr Ashok Thakur, Secretary,
Department of Higher Education, MHRD, Government of India
05:50 PM-06:00 PM Vote of thanks by Dr Ramesh C Gaur, University Librarian, Jawaharlal Nehru University

About Sridhar Gutam

Senior Scientist, ICAR RCER Research Centre, Ranchi. Convener, Open Access India. Working Group, Open Science, OKFN.
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