Thanks to the Open Access Policy that the India’s department of science and technology (DST) and the department of biotechnology (DBT) introduced last December, open access is at the forefront of research interest and its importance is certainly highly understood to allow researchers to publish in “high quality, peer-reviewed” journals and at the same time giving free access to information and data to the public.
Certainly a key role to this shift has been that of Open Access India, a community of practice that advocates for and assist with all aspects related to publishing using Open Access mechanisms.
It might seem surprising that this news are welcome with such enthusiasm as it would probably appear obvious to most people that research results should be available to everyone without any legal or technical restrictions especially when that same public has contributed with its taxes to the research behind the resulting knowledge.
Sadly though in many research environments this is not the case- yet! Often knowledge and information is in practice not shared but in fact locked away leaving out a huge percentage of readers who could otherwise benefit from it. The scientific community has been resisting to embrace Open Access mainly because of costs, reputation, and fears of plagiarism.
Cost: it is true that publishing on Open Access Journals involves a cost: however, given that governments and donors push for such approach, it should be the same donors who fund the open access publication; all proposals therefore ought to include that cost and fracture it in.
Reputation: it is no longer valid the argument that Open Access Journals are not good. Many well-kown journals like Elsevier now offer several Open Access options and it is easy to distinguish the predatory journals from the genuine ones that have as real object that of disseminating knowledge.
Plagiarism: by making research results and knowledge accessible and available and thus under everyone’s eye, attempts to copy and misappropriate somebody’s else work will become even more obvious and visible rather than the other way round.
All in all it seems therefore that these fears are not grounded while the benefits are enormous. I copy here a wonderful graphic representation done by the Danny Kingsley & Sarah Brown which nails the issue down perfectly. Surprisingly the CGIAR has only recently started seriously this approach. With the aim of improving the efficiency, efficacy, and impact of its research, on 2 October 2013 the Open Access and Data Management Policy was approved by the CGIAR Consortium Board to make unrestricted and free online access to and re-use, by any user worldwide, of all information products generated within the CGIAR research.
Open Access is not a fashion or trend; it is a strategy to ensure that research results can become truly international public goods while assisting scientists in building their publication reputation.