Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Department of Science and Technology (DST), under the Ministry of Science and Technology recently released (pdf) the draft of what is termed as Open Access Policy and has invited comments from the public until July 25, reports The Times of India. Comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The objective of this policy is to provide unrestricted access to research work funded by the departments. The draft states that since all funds disbursed by DBT and DST 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.
As per the draft, DBT/DST will be creating a central repository wherein grantees can either publish their papers in an open-access journal or post the final accepted manuscript to an online repository. This includes papers funded by the two departments in 2012-13 as well as review articles invited by DBT/DST or author initiated that received funding from these departments.
The draft suggests that the full text of the research paper and metadata of all research projects fully or partially funded by DBT/DST or the projects that utilised infrastructure built with the support of DBT/DST will have to be made publicly available, failing which they wouldn’t be considered for future grants or fellowship opportunities among others.
The department believes that providing free access to these publications through gratis open access repository will enable increasing the distribution of these publications and will ensure that these research can be read and built upon.
Copyright of research papers: The draft also sheds light on copyright issues. It states that research work produced by a scientist as an employee of a government body or private institution the copyright would remain with the respective government body or private institution. However, following the final acceptance of the paper by any journal, it has to be deposited in an open access repository within a period of one week.
The author of the research paper will retain the right to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, and publicly display the article in any medium for non-commercial purposes. They can also prepare derivative works from the article, and authorise others to make any non-commercial use of the article with credit.
Implications: This is a godsend for students, teachers and institutions that don’t have the means to purchase expensive academic journals. Sunil Abraham, executive director of Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) told TOI that the idea is that taxpayers shouldn’t pay twice to access research funded by taxpayers’ money.
Earlier developments in Open Data
In August 2013 the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET), and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had launched an initiative called National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER). The objective was to provide free educational resources to school students under the Creative Common license.
The Union Cabinet had cleared the DST formulated National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NPDSA) back in February 2012. NPDSA was supposed to increase accessibility and ease sharing of non-sensitive data amongst the registered users and their availability for scientific, economic and social developmental purposes. However, very little has been reported on how NPDSA was utilised since then.