Ever felt frustrated while reading a science research journal online, only to see the message “to continue reading, subscribe now”? That may soon change.
The Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Biotechnology (DBt) under the Ministry of Science and Technology have drafted a policy that says publicly-funded scientific work published in science journals must adhere to open access (OA) norms, enabling anyone to read online content on science research for free.
OA is an initiative of Open Archives Initiative (OAI), an organisation which works for greater reach and free access to online science research funded by public money.
T. Vishnu Vardhan, Programme Director, Access to Knowledge, Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, which assisted DST in drawing up the draft policy, said that in the absence of OA norms, commercial publishers were making money with content generated by scientists who used public funds for research.
However, those sceptical of the DST initiative are asking whether availability on the Net is equivalent to “public domain”. Concerns have also been raised about the quality of content provided through OA, as honing raw research material into scholarly journals requires rigour that commands a cost. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Hyderabad, said it was much more important to make reliable information available to the public, at a reasonable charge, because “the price of keeping it free has a cost”. The draft of the DBT-DST Open Access Policy is open to comments from the public till July 25.