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'International Open Access Day' at CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore, India

The ‘International Open Access Day’  was celebrated  at S R Valluri Auditorium in CSIR-NAL on October 24 2011 in commemoration with the ‘International Open Access Week’.  This global event in its 4th year is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access (OA), to share what they have learned from professional colleagues, and to help inspire in wider participation in helping to make OA a new norm in scholarship and research. Dr. Poornima Narayana, Head, ICAST welcomed the gathering and highlighted the significance of open access movement and initiatives being adopted around the world.  A ‘road show’ of video clipping depicting the advantages of OA was screened followed by a power point presentation on the current scenario of OA at international and national levels.  The OA mandate framed by the CSIR Core Committee and the guidelines / policies were highlighted. 

The Chief Guest of the day was Prof. P. Balaram, Director, IISc, the editor of the popular journal ‘Current Science’, an advocate of open access especially open archives.  The topic of his presentation was on ‘Science Publishing: Issues of Access’ wherein he expressed his concern over the science publishing, the publisher’s growing monopoly and in particular author’s rights.  He opined that open archives – one of the prominent OA channel is more preferable for promoting scholarly communication.  In his own words “much publicly-funded research work done in India and other developing countries appears in high impact factor journals. The key question is, how should the fruits of publicly-funded research be made available to readers in the developing world at no cost?  Since the question of who pays for open access journals is unresolved, scientists should go ahead and promote open archives.  His concern regarding the funding of publishing in OA journals was clearly evident when he remarked ‘OA – who will pay for the publishing - Authors or Readers??’  In Europe and the United States, the costs of publishing in open access journals are underwritten by grants from bodies such as the Wellcome Trust, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the US National Institutes of Health. These all provide grants that are far larger than any seen by scientists in developing countries.” He appreciated the efforts of Librarians / Information Scientists for bridging the gap in providing the much needed information between the publishers and the information seekers. Professor  Balaram suggested that the various consortiums, forums and organizations in the country have to come together for negotiations with the publishers with clearly defined agreements towards post-termination and perpetual access and discuss at length these issues at national policy making level while coming out with strong legislation to have sustainable open access model.

Dr. L. Venkatakrishnan, Head of Experimental Aerodynamics Division, CSIR-NAL was the second speaker of the day on the topic ‘Open Access: Promised Utopia Or Eventual Reality?’  He gave a brief background on publication channel with peer review, a lengthy process taking around  18-21 months.  His presentation touched upon the various channels/routes of OA: green, and gold for archival purposes.  He presented a clear picture of rising / escalating cost of the commercial journals as the actual reason for the evolution of Open Access while citing the different OA journal models: completely free and author-pays-model (PLOS).  In total agreement with Prof. Balaram’s statement of promoting OA through open archives (IR), he put a straight forward question “Faculty creating, editing and reviewing content – Are publishers required?”.  Citing the famous phrase “Chicken or Egg”, he pondered over the issue of ‘More Downloads -> More Citations’ Or More Citations -> More Downloads?’   Regarding the funding aspect especially in developing countries which Professor  Balaram had already raised in his talk, Dr. Venkatakrishnan mentioned that general reaction of OA as ‘Wider Access -> More Downloads -> More Readers -> More Citations and finally to more funding’.  He also provided some insight into the copyright policies of different publishers and statistics of authors citations/downloads in OA Context.

Mr. Shyam Chetty, Director, CSIR-NAL in his remarks highlighted the advancement in OA and mentioned about the adoption of OA mandates/policies at CSIR.  He also mentioned that, CSIR will lead the OA movement within the country and take on board other scientific channels to form a ‘National Open Access Policy’ including legislation if necessary to mandate the availability of out put of publicly funded research in public domain in near future. He appreciated the role of CSIR-NAL in actively advocating and promoting the OA initiatives.  He congratulated Head, ICAST & team representing CSIR-NAL for being recently awarded the ‘Platinum Award’ for the pioneering contributions to the CSIR OA movement along with CSIR-NIO.  He further mentioned that the CSIR-NAL’s Institutional Repositories (IR) has been one of the top ranked open repositories in the world’s leading IRs.  He mentioned that CSIR-NAL has been identified as the nodal point for guiding/setting up of IRs of not only other CSIR labs but other institutions in the country.

Mr B S Shivaram anchored the event while Mr. S R Dey proposed vote of thanks.

Poornima Narayana

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