R&D for public good: Breaking Stereotypes!

Eliminating monopoly over research and its published outcomes, the open access policy on content can go a long way to establish a transparent system with a systematic feedback mechanism


CSIR started open access policy

Taxpayer's money in science will now have more accountability with equal accessibility to the outcome. Taking a revolutionary step towards the realization of long term goals, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Ministry of Science and Technology have decided to bring an open and unrestricted access to its funded research. As one of the important scientific agencies, the function of the departments, as they mention, has been to support basic, translational and applied scientific research through the creation of suitable infrastructure, by providing funding to individual scientists, institutions and start-ups, and through any other means deemed necessary. Therefore, the new policy if implemented soon shall lead to new pathways

The former science and technology minister, Dr Jitendra Singh had reiterated in the Parliament that once the policy is adopted, researchers will have an unrestricted access to the papers arising out of the publicly funded research without requiring to pay for it. "Several concerns such as payment of publication charges, copy right issues, freedom to choose the journal, quality etc have been raised. These will be addressed while framing the open access policy, he had assured.
Since all funds disbursed by the departments are public funds, it is important that the information and knowledge generated through the use of these funds are made publicly available as soon as possible. While the recipients of funding are expected to publish their research in high quality, peer-reviewed journals, both the departments have affirmed that the intrinsic merit of the work, and not the title of the journal in which an author's work is published, would be considered in making future funding decisions.

Talking about the impact created by open access policy for published work, Dr Pawan Dhar, senior scientist and professor, Department of Life Sciences, Shiv Nadar University mentioned, "It is a very important for unmet need of the Indian scientific community. So, earlier the better! I don't think the OA policy will harm anyone. It is not a new concept. It has already been started, standardized and implemented in the US. In the OA model, copyright remains with the author of the publication. Using the old model, the copyright is transferred to the publisher."

Maximizing the distribution of these publications by providing free online access by depositing them in open access repository is the most effective way of ensuring that the research it funds can be accessed, read and built upon. This, in turn, will foster a richer research culture. Grantees can make their papers open-access by publishing in an open-access journal or, if they choose to publish in a subscription journal, by posting the final accepted manuscript to an online repository.

The Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) adopted the policy few years back and has been improving the process of sharing data and compliance. The institutes have been asked to deposit their research publications in a central repository. Says Dr Swapan Dutta deputy director general (crop sciences), ICAR, "Access to journals and the suggestions from public have increased since the open access policy at ICAR. The information about new varieties developed, technological interventions, government funding have benefitted the farmers and researchers alike to increase the yield."

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) through its open access policy has asked for all research papers published from CSIR laboratories and supported by a grant from CSIR to be deposited via the full text and the metadata (electronically archived data) of the paper in an institutional repository. It has been one of the leading scientific agencies to first open up though it was specifically on a global project initiated in India. Dr Samir Brahmachari, former director general, CSIR who was the brain behind Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) initiated in 2008, says that initiative has shown tremendous scope for future. He mentioned, "The open innovation in a country like India where we have so many young minds, serves as a great platform to express ideas and partner. At present close to 6,000 people across the globe are a part of the project and we are moving towards a new direction. Already clinical trials have been initiated on a TB molecule in partnership with TB Alliance."

Boost to translational research


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