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India's Path to Open Access: A Journey Towards Accessible Scholarly Research

Despite progress, there are still certain challenges to overcome the problem of promoting open access in India. There is a lack of awareness among researchers as well as institutions to adopt the open access policy.
Representative image of pharmaceutical research. Photo: Louis Reed/Unsplash

India has a long history of disseminating knowledge through writing books, articles and other forms of scholarly work and now India is the third largest contributor of scholarly research followed by China. As on April 11, 2024, India has contributed 3,372,588, scholarly publications; 7,77,500 publications are published in various open access platforms.

The Indian government has made efforts to promote Open Access (OA) and adopt an open access policy at the national level. The plan is to make all central and state government-funded research available to the public through free access.  The government is also contemplating to adopt “one nation one subscription” to make scholarly research accessible to every Indian without any cost and has started discussions with 70 publishers.

Open Access is an emerging term often discussed in academic and various publishing houses. Researchers promote OA by contributing publications in various open access journals, open access repositories, open access books, and self-archiving repositories like ResearchGate. Open Access refers to free access to scholarly publications to the public without any barrier.

In India, the open access movement has gained momentum in the last few years. Now, it is one of the leading promoters of open access and disseminates knowledge to everyone through various scholarly publishing platforms such as open access journals, open access repositories, and preprint servers. 

Open access initiatives in India

Open access journals: There are 16 leading contributors to generate 306 open access journals from India which is higher than China and Pakistan. These OA journals are published in various subjects such as Medicine, Technology, Social Sciences, and Physical Science. Nilaranjan Barik and Puspanjali Jena reported that 79.08% of open-access journals published in Medicine subjects and leading publishers are Wolters Kluwer’s Medknow Publications, Thieme Medical and National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR).

Open access repository: India is not only contributing to open access journals but also coming up with open-access repositories. The first Indian OA repository was launched by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru.  As on April 11 2024, India has over 100 open access registered at OpenDOAR and ranked 15 number globally.

India is one of the leading OA repository contributors and is ahead of China. Various institutional repositories in the country have been implemented using open-source software and have disseminated scholarly content to the research community.

Open access digital library: Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) Centre, Gandhinagar hosts a national repository of theses. The INFLIBNET Centre signed MoUs [Memorandum of Understanding] with various Indian universities and has made many thesis readily available to the public without any restriction.

As on April 11, 2024, 5,26,350 theses have been added to Shodhganga. In addition, INFLIBNET also hosts an open access repository of synopsis of Indian researchers. The top leading contributors are Anna University (15906), Savitribai Phule Pune University (12699), and Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj University (101).

Krishikosh: It is an institutional repository of the Indian National Agricultural Research System and was was launched by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR-IARI). It hosts Ph.D. theses, M.Sc and PG theses.

The National Digital Library of India (NDLI) was launched under the National Mission on Education through the Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT) programme and it was funded by the Ministry of Education. This repository is maintained by the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

Another open-access digital library is the National Virtual Library of India which is multilingual and contains books, images, audio and video files, etc.

Science Central is also a renowned digital library of 42 institutional repositories funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) or the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India. As per a report, there are 3438 items in the Science Central and 69% of the documents are made full text available.

Open access preprint server: India has launched the first preprint server called IndiaRxiv (India Archive) to promote open access scholarly literature published by Indian researchers or literature on India. It hosted various scholarly publications on various subjects. This preprint server is managed by Open Access India and hosted by the Society for Promotion of Horticulture, Bengaluru.

Despite progress, there are still certain challenges to overcome the problem of promoting open access in India. There is a lack of awareness among researchers as well as institutions to adopt the open access policy. Secondly, there is a lack of funds, and infrastructures to promote and adopt open access policy.

The open access movement in India is at an unfolding stage. The future of open access in the country looks bright if organisations and funding agencies adopt open access policies and create more open-access repositories. To further promote open access, the Indian government should focus on research and development and initiatives like INFLIBNET Centre and the National Digital Library of India.


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