Abstract: Dissemination of the scientific literature is as paramount as scientific studies. Scientific publishing has come a long way from localized distribution of few physical copies of journal to widespread and rapid distribution via internet in the 21st century. The evolution of open excess (OA) publishing which has rapidly evolved in last two decades has its heart at the right place with the ultimate goal being timely, and rapid distribution of published scientific work to a wider scientific community around the world and thus ultimately promoting scientific knowledge in global sense. However, quality OA publishing of cancer research involve an average publishing fee of around 1,500 USD which poses a challenge for Low middle income countries (LMICs), where per capita income is low. This has led to deterioration of science in LMICs in the form of publication in Cheap OA predatory journals for sake of securing academic promotions as well as authors ending up paying exorbitant publishing charges out of pocket to get their quality scientific work published. In countries like India and other LMICs, the funding agencies and institution have so far not addressed this problem. Here we assess the framework of open access publishing in LMICs like India and what are the steps which can be taken to facilitate open access publishing in LMICs.
Abstract: This paper discusses the reasons for emergence of predatory publications in India, engendered by mandates of higher educational institutions: that require stipulated number of research publications for employment and promotions. Predatory journals have eclipsed the merits of open access publishing, compromised ethical practices, and left the research community groping for benchmarks of research integrity and publication ethics. To fight back the menace of predatory publications, University Grants Commission, India has established “Consortium for Academic Research and Ethics” (UGC-CARE) in 2018 to promote and benchmark research integrity and publication ethics among the Indian academia. The present paper discusses the UGC-CARE initiative, its structure, objectives and specifically, “UGC-CARE Reference List of Quality Journals” (UGC-CARE list) and finally, the challenges it faces.
“On December 21, 2020, academic publishers Elsevier Ltd, Wily Pvt Ltd, and the American Chemical Society sued websites SciHub and Library Genesis, also known as LibGen, for copyright infringement in the Delhi High Court, demanding that ISP providers permanently block them in India.
These websites are a primary source for researchers in India, making available for free thousands of otherwise paywalled research papers. Because, as SciHub notes, “Research should be free to read.” Having intellectual property restrictions in research throttle access to and flow of knowledge while science can only progress when it’s widely read and debated….
The first hearing occurred on December 24 last year where Elbakyan was told to give an undertaking that she would not upload any new paper on SciHub until the next hearing, which was set for January 6. In January, the undertaking was extended until the next hearing.
On September 5, SciHub published 23,37,229 paywalled research papers which had been held up because of the restriction imposed by the court, with Elbakyan claiming her undertaking had expired. The publishers soon filed an application accusing Elbakyan of contempt of the court’s initial order, and stated that Elbakyan was mistaken to assume the restriction had expired….”
“SBMT: Why are the “diamond/platinum” journals the least valued by editorial metrics and funding agencies?
Dr. TR Shankar Raman: I have no idea why this should be so. It feels like the academic community has just painted itself into a corner. There are lots of excellent diamond open access journals. The journals published by Indian Academy of Sciences are a good example (although they have a weird co-publishing arrangement with Springer Nature, the journals and papers can be freely accessed via the Academy website and there are no charges for authors to publish either). Of course, the number of papers that a diamond open access journal may be able to publish may be lower and many are in niche areas of science rather than multi-disciplinary in scope and hence their reach may be lower than what big-budget commercial journals can achieve with their resources. But this only means that diamond open access journals should be supported more to achieve better reach, not shift to commercial publishers. All public and philanthropic funding for science has everything to gain by supporting and mandating publication in diamond open access journals….
SBMT: How to design a policy in defense of Southern science through the promotion of “diamond/platinum” journals?
Dr. TR Shankar Raman: As individuals, we can each take a stand, as I have tried to in my post—that I will not review for or publish in commercial journals, but will especially do so for diamond open access journals. Particularly, senior scientists and leaders in their fields must set an example by publishing, reviewing for, or accepting to be on the boards of diamond open access journals. But this will not go far unless we also collectively work to change overall policy. As a community, we must petition our academies, funders, and science administrators to change policies to give greater recognition to papers published in diamond open access journals. This can trigger a big change: especially if it begins to count towards jobs and promotions in academia. Impact factor should be trashed as outdated, harmful, and retrogressive. Recipients of public funds should be mandated to publish in diamond open access journals published by nonprofit scientific societies as this is the most cost-effective way to spend the available (limited) funds to achieve publication that is freely, openly, and widely accessible, while supporting and advancing science. Other initiatives such as Gold Open Access, self-archiving of submitted final versions, or pay-to-publish APC models are all half measures or discriminate and exclude large numbers of scientists around the world, who cannot pay the large fees involved. Policies should support membership fee support for scholars and new and tenured faculty to join learned academic societies that publish diamond open access journals so that the funds are kept within the community and to advance science rather than feed the profits of commercial companies….”
“Over the past decade, Sci-Hub has grown to become a formidable force. From very humble beginnings it today offers a staggering 87.97m research papers and serves up hundreds of thousands of them to visitors every day. These include many thousands of students but also scientist and academics, who regularly add Sci-Hub DOI links to their publications to make learning easier….
Yesterday Sci-Hub celebrated its 10th anniversary with an announcement from Alexandra on her personal Twitter account….
The publishing of more than 2.3m new research papers is perhaps the most fitting way to mark the celebrations but the fact they weren’t published sooner is a sign of how unrelenting legal action has affected the site’s ability to continue its work. In her tweet, Alexandra references a legal action that may yet prove an important milestone in the site’s history….”
“Though the modern information and communications technologies (ICTs) are being used for dissemination of information/technologies to farmers, the same are not being used to the full extent by the NARS institutions for data and information sharing among the researchers and with the world. The institutions under NARS are not showing much importance for sharing the research articles with other stake holders freely. This is because of absence of a policy on sharing and moreover publication of research articles are seen as individual’s job. It is proposed that, National Agricultural Data Centre would be established for web hosting and housing data & information sharing products in NARS.
By that time, it is necessary to formulate a structured policy guidelines on information, data sharing & management that are to be implemented at all levels in NARS system and the standards should be created and enforced at all levels for data collection, analysis and data sharing. An Open Access policy similar to Council of Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR) and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics should be adopted by the ICAR and system of accountability and reward for data sharing should also be institutionalised and for accelerate open access movement in NARS’ agriculture research for development.”
“Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan said India has the highest number of users and winning the legal battle here can start a similar trend….
Elbakyan, during a session organised by the Indian National Young Academy of Science, a body of scientists, said that lawyers in India contacted the platform and voluntarily offered legal representation….”
“The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER-Kolkata) launched its own open access publishing hub with F1000, Taylor & Francis Group’s open research publishing arm. This will be hosted on the F1000Research site, adopting its pioneering approach to open science publishing.
NIPER-Kolkata, founded in 2007 as a centre of excellence for higher education, research and development in Pharmaceutical Sciences, will be adopting F1000’s open science practices to increase the reproducibility and accessibility of their published research. This means the research is free for anyone to read and will use the innovative F1000Research publishing model that combines the benefits of rapid publication with mechanisms to assure quality and transparency, thereby accelerating research impact.
The NIPER-Kolkata gateway provides a home for their conference-linked outputs, enabling their scientific outcomes to be published open access. This gateway welcomes submissions from the fields of, drug discovery, process chemistry, pharmacological studies, natural products, pharmaceutical formulation, computational studies, and medical devices, published in all forms, from traditional research articles, to a protocols, registered report, data notes, case studies, and much more….”
“In what may be a landmark case related to copyright law, Delhi HC ordered online article and book repositories Sci-Hub and Libgen to stop uploading material from thousands of journals controlled by Elsevier, Wiley India and American Chemical Society….”
“Now there is one bright star that rose among the scientific world and scientific community in the name of Alexandra Elbakyan to fight for the cause of this silent sacrificing community. No arguments, no requests no email. She simply devised a method to download any scientific papers that are published free of cost….”
“The latest lawsuit, filed in India by three academic publishers, including Elsevier, asks the High Court of Delhi to block access to Sci-Hub throughout the country. While the case is pending, the court has instructed Sci-Hub to stop uploading papers to its database. The order is not unusual; what’s surprising is that Elbakyan has complied. She has a history of ignoring legal rulings, and the Indian court has no power over Sci-Hub’s activities in other countries. So why has she chosen, at this moment, to give in?
One reason is that Elbakyan believes she has a shot at winning the case, and her odds might improve if she plays by the rules. “I want the Indian court to finally support free access to science,” she said. If that happened, it would mark a significant victory for Sci-Hub, with reverberations likely beyond India. Victory remains a longshot, but Elbakyan thinks it’s worth the hassle and expense. She didn’t even bother to contest the two lawsuits in the United States….”
“In the decade since Alexandra Elbakyan founded Sci-Hub, science’s so-called “pirate queen” has amassed more than 85 million full-text research articles, which she’s made available, for free, to anyone who can track down her custom search engine. …
In the swirling chaos of the pandemic—and a new, or at least newly-acknowledged, era of digital disinformation—Sci-Hub kicked into overdrive. Its number of daily users has grown 20 percent, from 500,000 to 600,000, according to Elbakyan. During lockdown, people accessed articles about COVID-19 10 to 100 times more often than articles about other diseases. …”
“A recent study showed that 67.2 percent of misinformation in India involves health-related topics, such as falsehoods on the COVID-19 vaccine, other forms of medical treatments, medical institutions, and healthcare facilities.
The same study also found that online media was responsible for higher volumes of inaccurate news (94.4 percent) in comparison with mainstream media (5.6 percent), with false claims being distributed mainly on social media platforms.
To address this problem, Elsevier, a global information and analytics business, launched its India COVID-19 Healthcare Hub for frontline healthcare workers and members of the public in India. It offers the latest evidence-based information along with information on the management and prevention of the virus, thereby limiting the spread of misinformation….”