Transcript of Prof. Subbiah Arunachalam’s 20 June 2012 CSIR-NISCAIR Diamond Jubilee Lecture 2012-06-29


Use the link to access the full text of the presentation. An excerpt reads as follows: “All science and scholarship constitute the knowledge commons and everybody should have access to this knowledge at will so that nobody needs to go through barriers to obtain that knowledge. But currently there are barriers. If I want to read an article published in a journal that is available in the National Science Library, and if I don’t have that journal in my office, I have to pay US $ 30 to US  $ 40 to obtain a reprint from the publisher. That is the situation today. This is what we call the toll barrier which is preventing our goal to achieve the knowledge commons... And then came Paul Ginsparg, a physicist who worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in USA, in the early 1990s. He realized that scientists had to wait for research findings to be published as papers in journals before they could read them, and scientists and researchers who did not have access to the journals were deprived of the access to those papers – a flawed method of scholarly communication. So he thought that it would be better, if the scientists made available the first draft of their paper as soon as it was ready for others to read. Of course, in those days there was no Internet. So, scientists mailed the preprints, the first draft of the paper to one location in Los Alamos. They maintained huge racks full of preprints and every week Paul Gisparg and his colleagues mailed the list to hundreds of interested scientists by telex, by letter and so on. And then if one is a member of that list, he or she can ask for certain preprints which were then mailed to the particular scientist.  So, Paul Ginsparg centralized the whole thing which is now the famous open access repository, arXiv... In a meet of open access advocates in Budapest, Hungary, in 2002, convened by the Open Society Institute, they produced a declaration called the Budapest Declaration. This was followed by the Berlin Declaration, the Bethesda Declaration, the Bangalore Declaration, and so on. We are interested in mobilizing public opinion among scientists, scholars, librarians and the citizens to make the literature of science and scholarship open and free. That’s our ambition. About that time, the computer science department of Southampton University came up with the EPrints software for creating such repositories. It is a very popular software and many of us around the world use it. They also suggested that journals themselves could be made open access. For example, all the journals published by NISCAIR, IASc, INSA, ICMR, ICAR are open access... There are about 7,500 open access journals available today and a little more than 2,900 repositories all over the world. To this I am going to add that there are nearly 200 open access mandates.  What is a mandate? Funders and research institutions can mandate by saying “if you receive money from us, or if you work in our organization and do research you should necessarily make all your papers in open access. Either you publish in an open access journal or you place your paper in an open access repository.” Currently there are only 200 mandates. And some of these mandates are by big funders like National Institutes of Health, Welcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and so on... Suddenly things started happening in 2012.  Timothy Gowers, a mathematics professor at Cambridge University, a Fellow of the Royal Society and winner of the Fields Medal, has not been publishing in Elsevier journals for a long time. He wrote a blog entry in early January 2012 about why he did not want to associate himself with Elsevier in any manner. That led to ‘The cost of knowledge’ and the ‘Boycott Elsevier’ movement...”



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Date tagged:

06/29/2012, 14:50

Date published:

06/29/2012, 15:10