G20 CSAR meet | Enabling universal access to scientific knowledge ‘a million-dollar question’, says Principal Scientific Adviser Ajay Kumar Sood | Ahmedabad News – The Indian Express

“[Q] Given that one of the talking point in G20-CSAR was acknowledging the need to enable immediate and universal access to scientific knowledge to communities, how do we do that in the Indian context?

[A] It is a million dollar question, how do we do it. The current publication model doesn’t deal with this because it is based on subscription through organisations. Our attempt in our negotiations with publishers is to strike a deal fair to them as well as us, which is a difficult job. The ‘One Nation, One Subscription’ is aimed at making publications accessible to say, all in colleges, which is not the case at the moment. When we ask publishers to grant greater access, they increase the price manifold. It is not easy but we are trying our best in collaboration with multiple ministries.”

India has lost its way on open access

This article highlights the lucrative nature of the STM publishing industry, the inequities caused by paywalls, the need for greater adoption of open-access principles, and the complexities surrounding efforts to improve access to scientific research in India. While a global open access (OA) movement has gained traction, India still needs to catch up in embracing OA, despite early initiatives. Efforts to negotiate a common subscription through the One Nation One Subscription (ONOS) scheme with global STM publishers face challenges and may not align with the principles of OA.

Adoption of a rights retention policy by academic and research institutions in India: a door to open science

“The Government of India is considering a one nation, one subscription (ONOS) policy to enable green open access to readers in India to journal articles published by the identified publishers. However, even if this succeeds, it will not provide green open access to pay-walled articles published by Indian researchers to readers outside the country or to readers in India to journals not covered under the ONOS. On the other hand, adoption of RRP by country’s educational and research institutions will enable free access to the country’s research output everywhere in the world. The ‘Open Science Policy’ (2014) of Departments of Biotechnology, and Science & Technology of the Government of India (https://dst.Gov.in/sites/default/files/ APPROVED%20OPEN%20ACC-ESS%20POLICY-DBT& DST(12.12.2014)_1.pdf) requires final accepted manuscript resulting from research projects, fully or partially funded by DBT/DST to be deposited at the institutional repositories or the interoperable institutional open access repository or the central harvester (www.sciencecentral.in). A rigorous implementation of this policy and the adoption of RRP by different academic and research institutions in the country will indeed open a wide door to the muchdesired open science…”

India’s Fumbled Chance For Sharing Knowledge – CodeBlue

“In terms of open access to knowledge, India could have been the Vishwa Guru — the world’s teacher.

As early as 2000, India was making moves to allow taxpayer-funded research to be freely available for anyone in the world to read, share and distribute. But India has squandered that advantage.

Fast forward to 2022, and much of India’s research is still locked up behind the paywalls of corporate academic publishers, while the global science community increasingly questions why taxpayer-funded research should not be available for everyone to read….”

The open access movement, to make academic papers accessible for all – The Hindu

“The government conceived of ONOS in 2020 to lower this bill, but experts remain sceptical. There are three main concerns — first, while the government will pay a fixed sum to journals, this sum could still be large; secondly which journals will be included in the negotiations and why? (a ‘recommended list’ faced some resistance in 2020); and finally as India has a large population of researchers with diverse interests, journals may not agree on a common price….”

Return of the Big Deal: Developments in Texas and India – The Scholarly Kitchen

“But it’s worth noting several recent developments that are nudging the scholarly communication ecosystem in the opposite direction and therefore complicate that future outlook….

For example, a deal struck in November between Elsevier and 44 universities in Texas (operating as the Texas Library Coalition for United Action, or TLCUA) provides for discounted and expanded access to Elsevier content across the consortium – a group that represents more than 660,000 students and 44,000 faculty. This is, importantly, a toll-access arrangement, not an OA arrangement – though it’s also worth noting that its terms include a rights reversion to authors whereby, after an initial copyright transfer from authors to the publisher at the time of publication, “rights (will) go back to authors after a period of time that will be collaboratively determined with Elsevier.” This will make it possible for authors to distribute their work on an OA basis after that period, but there doesn’t seem to be any requirement that they do so – and, of course, not everyone will agree that delayed rights reversion constitutes genuinely “open” access in any case. In other words, this large and important agreement does not move the scholarly communication ecosystem in the direction of a universal OA transition. Instead, what it represents is a slightly altered version of the much-maligned Big Deal model, at a state-wide scale and with a rights-reversion component. (There will be much more discussion of the TLCUA agreement to come in The Scholarly Kitchen.)…

Another, more recent announcement from India describes a deal currently in the works that – if realized – will create another roadblock (or at least a speed bump) on the road to universal OA. India’s national ONOS (“One Nation One Subscription”) program, which has been in the works since 2017 and will reportedly be implemented in April of this year, would be a multi-publisher, national-level Big Deal agreement, the purpose of which is to contain costs while making content available to all Indian institutions of higher education. While details are still a bit hard to come by, India’s Ministry of Education has reportedly issued a statement saying that the government “is considering 70 publishers’ resources under the first phase,” and there are also reports that the government’s Higher Education Secretary has asked university officials to coordinate this year’s subscription renewals with the work of the ONOS team. (I’ve been unable to locate any of these government statements themselves online, including at the website of India’s Ministry of Education; all of the information I’ve provided here is from third-party news sites. If any readers can provide links to government memos or press releases, please do so in the comments.)…”

India-wide subscription to research journals paves path for Global South

“India’s “One Nation One Subscription” (ONOS) policy has garnered plenty of attention.

India’s ONOS model, first called for in 2017 by the Indian Academy of Science and drafted into government policy three years later, calls for a centrally negotiated subscription deal with publishers, making scholarly articles free to read for all researchers, eliminating the need for individual and institutional subscriptions. The collective bargaining power of the entire nation is expected to allow greater value for money….

Its success depends on well-negotiated deals between government and publishing houses. The government would need a team of seasoned negotiators to ensure a good outcome. …

Many institutions worldwide have been pushing towards a “transformative agreements”, as the publishers call them, gradually moving from individual subscriptions to nation-wide free-to-read arrangements. These agreements enable all of society to have free access to scientific literature. 

The catch is such agreements put in place an up-front fee to scientists who want to publish their research findings. It shifts the burden of fees from readers to authors, which in turn is passed on to funding bodies or the taxpayer. The fee to publish for the most reputed journals are often exorbitant and, despite occasional fee waivers, researchers from the Global South many times cannot afford the “pay-to-publish” models.

The ONOS policy serves as a formidable alternative to transformative agreements for the Global South. This model will enable countries to stand on stronger negotiating positions through purchase of greater bulk of content and provide people with full access to a large number of journal titles. Although it is not yet clear whether scientists will need to pay up-front fees to publish, a mature ONOS policy is also expected to support access to journals in the Global South, especially for young researchers, by having separate provision for funding free-to-read publications or a one-time licensing agreement to journals with up-front publishing fees. Experts on ONOS policy have recommended a similar plan to promote and support accessibility for India….”

India’s fumbled chance for sharing knowledge – EastMojo

In terms of open access to knowledge, India could have been the Vishwa Guru — the world’s teacher. As early as 2000 India was making moves to allow taxpayer-funded research to be freely available for anyone in the world to read, share and distribute. But India has squandered that advantage.

Fast forward to 2022, and much of India’s research is still locked up behind the paywalls of corporate academic publishers while the global science community increasingly questions why taxpayer-funded research should not be available for everyone to read.

The Indian government initiated a new science, technology and innovation policy in January 2020. The draft policy, released in December 2020, enshrined open science in chapter one. Its three key features were to set up an Indian Science and Technology Archive of Research (INDSTA), a dedicated portal to provide access to the findings of all publicly funded research; to place the full text of scientific papers immediately upon acceptance into a journal in a publicly available repository or INDSTA; and to make all data from publicly funded research available to everyone.

But the policy is not yet in place. The government is instead focusing on a ‘One Nation One Subscription’ project. This would see the government pay academic publishers an eye watering sum to allow Indian scientists to publish in corporate journals and for all Indians to read them. Apart from benefiting the publishers more than science and scientists, this looks crazy in view of the rapidly rising share of openly accessible research papers and the emerging revolution in preprint servers that publish drafts of research papers for free….”

India heads into open access negotiations | Times Higher Education (THE)

“India could drive a hard bargain with academic publishers, leveraging its massive higher education system to secure a favourable nationwide deal for journal subscriptions, according to Europe’s open access guru….

From April 2023, India will adopt a “One Nation, One Subscription” policy, a move that would replace individual subscriptions with a single centrally negotiated deal, bringing all government-funded universities under one umbrella and putting it on par with countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland….

Johan Rooryck, executive director of the Coalition S group of funders advocating for open access in Europe, said India was in a “very strong position” heading into the talks. “They seem to have unified…subscribers into a single national negotiation consortium. That puts them in a very different position from when subscriptions were negotiated with individual universities,” he said.

The move comes at a time when institutions increasingly have come to expect open access, following the removal of paywalls during the pandemic. Just months ago, a Biden administration decision mandated that all federally funded research in the US be made freely available, seen as paving the way for global open access….”

Education Ministry To Implement ‘One Nation One Subscription’ For Open Access To Research Papers

“The Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India will implement the ‘One Nation One Subscription’ (ONOS) initiative for open access to scientific research papers and journal publication in India from April 1, 2023. All the educational and research institutions, including universities, colleges, and research organisations, as well as each and every person in the nation, are expected to gain benefit from this initiative.


The core committee is taking into consideration 70 publishers’ resources for the first phase of ONOS based on the Planning and Execution Committee’s (PEC) recommendations.

A statement of the MoE reads:” The ONOS intends to sign national licenses with most of the prominent STEM publishers and database producers of the world whose contents are already being subscribed by various institutions of higher education and research organizations either directly or through Government-funded consortia”.

The ONOS is implemented for the government, government-funded academic and research and development institutions, research labs from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEiTY), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and other ministry or department funded institutions….”

Changing dynamics of scholarly publication: a perspective towards open access publishing and the proposed one nation, one subscription policy of India | SpringerLink

In the midst of the most widely used subscription-based publishing model, open access publishing is gaining a foothold in the publishing world. India, as one of the world’s leading producers of scientific information, has seen a considerable escalation in the production of open access knowledge content, which has sparked a scholarly debate towards the availability and accessibility of scholarly knowledge to all. Despite the fact that two major science funding agencies of India, the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Biotechnology, adopted an open access policy in 2014 to promote green open access to articles produced from publicly financed research projects, academic content still remains out of reach for everyone due to inadequate planning and implementation. Recently the Government of India has proposed a “one nation, one subscription” (ONOS) policy to make scholarly knowledge more accessible to Indian citizens. The study’s primary goal is to look into the open-access situation across many subject groups in India and globally. The aim is to understand whether a blanket subscription policy is the best way to facilitate the accessibility of scholarly knowledge or if subject-specific needs implications of other global OA initiatives are worth considering when implementing the ONOS policy.

India Can Have Its Own Open Access Digital Publishing Platform – The Wire Science

“Non-commercial models to scholarly communication use decentralised electronic publishing platforms, have no APCs, host papers on open-access repositories, and are featured in not-for-profit indexing services.

Second, the African Journals OnLine and Nepal Journals Online publish papers that are open-access. More importantly, they focus on region-specific research and discussions. So as such they are freed of the need to make money by focusing on the more-profitable US- and Europe-centric points of view.

Third, some other publishers, especially F1000Research and eLife, have adopted a review system in which they publish peer-reviewers’ comments along with the paper.

Fourth, open-access preprint repositories like arXiv, bioRxiv, medRxiv, SocArXiv, agriRxiv, etc. are leading the way with online archiving (although there are some “non-fatal” downsides with their lack of peer-review). India’s Departments of Science & Technology and Biotechnology launched an open-access repository of papers funded by them, called ‘Science Central’, some years ago. But because of architectural and operational drawbacks, it has fallen into disuse….

 In particular, and with the European Commission’s ‘Open Research Europe’ as a precedent, it has an opportunity to develop a digital open-access platform with minimal to no APCs.

The Indian government has advanced a potential solution called ‘One Nation, One Subscription’ (ONOS). But it calls for large and recurring investments and wouldn’t address core issues like improving the quality of the research output, developing more practical research metrics, and preventing corporate publishers from monetising publicly funded research….”