[LIS-Forum] FW: Open Access
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Thu May 20 11:17:04 IST 2004
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 11:41:10 +0530
From: Subbiah Arunachalam <arun at mssrf.res.in>
Here are a few questions on the two workshops on open access I organised at
MSSRF in the first week of May 2004 from Richard Poynder, a correspondent of
Information Today, and my answers. I thought I must share it with all the
workshop participants and some policy makers. Now I am working on holding a
three-country policy makers workshop on open access for India, China and
Brazil (plus representatives of TWAS, InterAcademy Council and InterAcademy
Panel). Best wishes.
Here are my answers to the questions. Sorry for the delay. I was away in
Europe to attend two meetings and returned to my office only this morning.
From: Richard Poynder [mailto:aotg20 at dsl.pipex.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 1:33 AM
To: Subbiah Arunachalam
Subject: FW: Open Access
In the hope that you can help the questions I had in mind are listed below.
" What was the primary objective of the Chennai workshops, and what do
you think has been achieved/will be achieved as a result?"
The primary aim of the workshop was to help Indian research laboratories and
hihger educational institutions set up their own interoperable institutional
archives and to raise the awareness of researchers (faculty, students and
laboratory scientists) and librarians on the need for and usefulness of self
Thanks to the dedicated and competent faculty, we hope we have achieved
considerable success. The 48 participants [25 in the first workshop held
during 2-4 May and 23 in the second held during 6-8 May] are now exposed to
the concept and philosophy of open access (both open access journals and
open access archives), the Eprints software [incorporating OAI
interoperability protocol and all the important modules] and examples of
both open access journals and open access archives. From our experience with
the first workshop and the feedback received from participants, we made some
changes in the second workshop which placed much greater emphasis on
actually loading the eprints software on to a Linux server. Particiapants of
the workshop actually loaded a few papers and created the metadata.
We hear that already within a week after the workshops, Mr Madhan of
National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, has set up a server at NITRKL.
The National Chemical Laboratory has also begun work on archiving papers by
its scientists. I expect to see at least a dozen archives up and running in
the next four months.
It is not just me. The OA workshops and the OA movement in India is backed
by some very important people. Prof. M S Valiathan, President of the Indian
National Science Academy, and Dr R A Mashelkar, Director General of the
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, have extended their support.
Soon INSA is likely to set up an archive for papers by ALL FELLOWS of INSA.
The INSA Fellows constitute the cream de la cream of Indian science. Prof. M
S Swaminathan and Prof. P Balaram, two of India's most respected scientists
addressed the particiapnts and motivated them to adopt OA.
After three months, I plan to do monitoring and evaluation; I or someone
else such as Dr T B Rajashekar of Indian Institute of Science will visit
some of the centres and talk to the persons implementng as well as the
researchers depositing their papers.
Stevan Harnad recently asked which country will be the first to be totally
open access; I wish India should try to win this honour!
" What further issues still need to be resolved?"
The 48 participants have had a good exposure. When they actually start
implementing what they have learnt surely they will face some problems. It
is for this reason we have set up a discussion group (OA-India dgroup) so
they can discuss among themselves. Incidentally, all four resource persons
are members of this group. Also we had specially invited a Linux expert (Mr
Suil Abraham of Mahiti) who will now be an evangelist for OA in India.
We also need to persuade vice chancellors of universities and directors of
research laboratories to proactively promote OA archiving in their
institutions. We should ensure that they provide a dedicated Linux server
and a decent Internet connection for the archive.
" What would you envisage being placed in any archives that are
created in the wake of the workshops (pre-prints/post-prints/self-archived
papers that have been published in traditional peer- reviewed
material/papers published in OA journals etc. etc., or something else?)"
We have suggested that the archives (or institutional repositories) may be
used to place preprints, postprints, PDF versions of published articles
(where permited by the journal publishers), theses, etc. Indeed, the IISc
archive is moving towards a repository of all publications of the institute.
" There seems to be considerable confusion surrounding the topic of OA
today (what it is, what needs to be done to achieve it, who should do what
etc.). Based on what you witnessed at the Chennai workshops how would
you envisage OA developing in India?"
Yes. There is confusion. Much of these confusions were cleared by the
faculty. Issues of copyright were discussed and participants were alerted to
the list of journals permiting authors to archive preprints/postprints/both
prepared by Dr N V Joshi of Indian Institute of Science on a request from
Stevan Harnad. As and when participants start implementing, they will
confront with some problems, and thse will be reflected in the discussion
" Does OA raise specific issues/have particular implications in the
Indian context? If so what, and why?"
By placing Indian papers in interoperable archives, we can gain greater
visibility for work done in India. But we also need to read papers written
by scientists elsewhere, especially in the advanced countries. It is
important for us, therefore, that scientists in advanced countries also
place their papers in publicly available archives - either distributed
institutional archives or centralised archives such as arXiv.
The one great benefit I see is that if a large number of Indian papers
become available through institutional archives, then institutions in other
developing countries will start setting up their own archives.
" What implications do you think the workshops will have for a)
researchers, universities, and libraries in India, and b) the OA movement at
Overall, the OA movement in India will have many beneficial effects. First
of all, scientists and research students will gain greater visibility to
their work. Which in turn will add to the reputation and image of thir
universities (research labs). Librarians, if they take the responsibility of
setting up and running the archives, can improve their status among the
academic community. The OA movement will make the field level playing for
scientists in India and the rest of the developing countries. Already the
workshops are being talked about as well organised and there are queries
about when we will hold the next set of workshops on OA!
My plan is to organise a meeting on OA for policy makers from India, China
and Brazil, preferably at our Foundation (MSSRF, Chennai, India) and invite
a few senior scientists from Third World Academy of Sciences, InterAcademy
Panel and InterAcademy Council apart from policy makers from the three
largest developing countries.
The Director of the British Council at Chennai, Ms Eunice Crook, who
addressed the participants of the first workshop, is looking at enlarging
the virtual activities of the British Council Library (rather than the
physical aspects) and is thinking of incresaing cross-country flow of
scientific and scholarly information through OA archives.
Leslie Chan, one of our resource persons, spooke at the Indian Institute of
Science, Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, etc.
after the workshops were over. I hear these were very well received and the
scientific community in India is getting more aware of the virtues of OA
If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. Thanks and regards.
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