“The opportunity for researchers to share their findings and draw on the research findings of others is vital for researchers, policymakers and wider society. But all too often, the way that this process works is decided by relatively small numbers of countries and people –- often those based in the global North, in “elite” institutions or in large, commercial publishers.
Important voices can be missed and, as a result, important learning about what people have found already works around the world is not reflected in academia, policy decisions, and practice.
In a recent Scholarly Kitchen webinar, I was delighted to be joined by great speakers from three continents, who are all experts in open access with different perspectives. This post summarizes some of the key themes discussed by Arianna Becerril García, who is based in Mexico, Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou, who is based in Cameroon, and Vrushali Dandawate, who is in India….”
Abstract: Sci-Hub, founded by Alexandra Elbakyan in 2011 in Kazakhstan has, over the years, emerged as a very popular source for researchers to download scientific papers. It is believed that Sci-Hub contains more than 76 million academic articles. However, recently three foreign academic publishers (Elsevier, Wiley and American Chemical Society) have filed a lawsuit against Sci-Hub and LibGen before the Delhi High Court and prayed for complete blocking these websites in India. It is in this context, that this paper attempts to find out how many Indian research papers are available in Sci-Hub and who downloads them. The citation advantage of Indian research papers available on Sci-Hub is analysed, with results confirming that such an advantage do exist.
Abstract: The study provides a comprehensive view of Indian contribution towards open access repositories particularly the repositories in OpenDOAR. The DOAR contains a total of 5391 repositories. These are scattered among the five continents namely Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. A total number of 94 repositories are from India. Out of 5391 repositories, 901 (16.71%) were contributed by the United States of America, 544 (10.09%) by Japan and 311 (5.77%) by the United Kingdom. India has 94 (1.74%) repositories with 16th position. The paper gives an analysis of the subject areas of coverage, software platform, language coverage and type of hosting organisation of the Indian share in OpenDOAR.
The comprehensive works of influential Urdu writer, social critic and political activist Sajjad Zaheer are now broadly accessible for scholarship and study thanks to a partnership between The University of Texas at Austin and Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), with endorsement from the Indian writer’s estate.
“We are pleased to announce our new partnership with the British Association for Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO). We have collaborated to index two of BAPIO’s medical journals, The Physician and Sushruta Journal of Health Policy, in featured collections on ScienceOpen to increase their visibility and discoverability to a wider audience. BAPIO is a non-profit, voluntary professional organisation in its silver jubilee year, whose mission is to provide a global forum for health professionals to promote excellence in healthcare, education, research and leadership by promoting diversity, equality and inclusion for all. BAPIO as a national organisation, functions through a number of regional chapters, special interest forums and arms-length bodies and is closely affiliated to the Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. …”
“To the argument that shunning such journals will compromise science, I can only point out to many journals of repute published by scientific societies and academies worldwide (such as the Indian Academy of Sciences) that make all their published papers free (diamond/platinum open access) and are able to run their journals with modest subscriptions and advertisements. There have also been initiatives like Amelica and Coalition-S. The alternatives are there for us to adopt as scientists and scholars if we wish.
I realise that, for early-career scientists, publishing in some of these journals is still important because of the undue importance still given to them by academic institutions in their scientific recruitment and recognition policies. I, too, have published in these journals and realise I am implicated in the perpetuation of this system. I will respect the views and needs of students and others I collaborate with on where they seek to publish in or review for. But as a token of protest, I declare that where it concerns my own work I will not submit a paper to these journals or review a paper for them, until such corporate predatory practices end. I do realise that my action is a mere token and not enough. There is more I myself need to do to make science universal, free, and accessible….”
Abstract: Recently most of the journals charge a fee known as article processing charge (APC) for publication of an article. These charges can vary from journal to journal. This publication fee is often paid by the author, the author’s institution, or their research funder organization. Though low- and middle-income countries are usually exempted from APC, India does not come under the category of waiver by most of the journals that ask for the APC. Most of the Indian institutes do not pay for publication and research thus individual researcher suffers huge financial burden due to APC. Hence, less affluent institutions, scholars, and students are unable to publish their work due to these barriers. These articles highlight the challenges faced by authors and solutions for publishers and journals to avoid APCs.
“Anubha will reflect on the arc of the guerilla open access movement, and its turning points such as Aaron Swartz’s prosecution, Libgen’s and Sci-hub’s missions, and more. She will also highlight the movement’s connections and relevance for Indian researchers….
Arul will be providing an overview of the legal issues involved in the litigation initiated in India by three major publishers against Sci-Hub and Libgen. He will discuss the specific facts of the case and examine whether there are any legitimate grounds for granting a “dynamic injunction” against Sci-Hub ad Libgen. As part of the remarks, he will discuss the factors that a court needs to take into consideration while deciding on an injunction application. During his remarks, he will also touch upon some of the important lessons for the global community from the prosecution of Aaron Swartz in the US and the tragic end of that prosecution.”
“So the final question is whether the government of India should try to address the basic problem of proprietorship of knowledge, and its subsequent commercialisation, by negotiating for a better deal from journal proprietors for access at less exorbitant fees; or should it examine how to change the law to give proprietary ownership to the creators of the knowledge?
The earlier bulk subscriptions negotiated by Uruguay and Egypt, cost them about Rs 48 per capita, while India currently spends about Rs 12 per capita. For India to arrive at an agreement at the same rate as Uruguay and Egypt would mean an expenditure of roughly Rs 6,500 crore (or $890mn). As it is, in India, public funding for research is scarce and becoming scarcer by the day through market-friendly policies. Changing the law, on the other hand, would either mean modifying existing legal provisions or at least passing legislation with respect to publicly funded research and its products within India as well as free access to such research globally….
Meanwhile, we must be quite clear that Sci-Hub and Library Genesis are providing an enormously useful service to scholars all over the world. It will be a long time before any official agency in India will be able to provide a comparable service. The best we can hope for is that the court cases against them languish for as long as possible as they do for much less laudable causes.”