Open Access Week, a global event now entering its eighth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.
It’s one of our favorite global event, We the team of Open Knowledge Nepal always love celebrating and organizing it because we believe Open Access and Open Research field need more advocacy and awareness in Nepal. We joined this momentum in 2014 with the help of Open Access Nepal and lead that momentum in 2015. This year to mark this global celebration, We did QA with some Open Access Activist of Nepal. The aim of doing this QA was to generate resources regarding Open Access and Open Research so, that newcomer entering this field can find and know about the momentum running in Nepal easily.
We ask three Open Access Activist regarding their work, organization, and vision. Thanks to all three of them for giving us their valuable time and replying our question.
Country Coordinator | EIFL and Secretary | NeLIC
1) Brief about Nepal Library and Information Consortium (NeLIC)?
The Nepal Library and Information Consortium (NeLIC) was established by a group of institutions with the idea of facilitating access to electronic resources to Nepali educational institutions. Its core area of activities is Open Access, Free and Open Source Software, Intellectual Property Rights, & Sharing of the available e-resources. More information can be found at www.nelic.org.
2) How is NeLIC using and promoting Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)?
NeLIC is promoting the use of ICT in libraries for better service and modernizing the library according to global trends. For that we recommend FOSS. Presently Koha, PMB, DSpace, GSDL, etc. are the FOSS being used in Nepalese library.
3) Brief about NeLIC Open Access Repository?
Central OA Repository is a web archive run by Nepal Library and Information Consortium (NeLIC) for the collection, preservation, and dissemination of intellectual outputs of an institution or an individual. Outputs may be journaled articles, research reports, and conference papers in a digital form. Researchers and students will have access to these materials through a single-point open access system.
4) How can libraries be used by businesses to provide professional development opportunities?
Libraries can be used by any professionals to enrich their professional knowledge and sharpen them by getting exhaustive and up to date information in the particular field.
5) How many institutes are currently the member of NeLIC and is the number increasing?
Currently, there are 56 members in NeLIC. The number of members is open to all Nepalese institutions which have a library and /or which are involved in learning, teaching and research activities. So it is growing continuously.
Open Science & Research Team Lead | Open Knowledge Nepal
1) Brief about Open Knowledge Nepal?
A working group of Open Knowledge in Nepal. An open network of mostly young people working towards increasing openness in data, education, science, and other and increasing opportunities for many people.
2) Brief about Open Science & Open Research working group and their interconnection?
Science is advanced by research. Research is a methodology with which all science progresses. These two are always interconnected.
3) When does a researcher satisfy the requirement for Open Access?
Most important thing, at first, is a commitment by researcher themselves. But that can only the cause of open access so far. The researcher can study more about types of open access, find open access journals in their domain, talk about open access with their colleagues.
4) How do you see the current open science practice of Nepal?
At least all journals in Nepal are Open access. However, there is no culture of sharing research data among Nepali researchers. Practice is influenced by culture, and culture by practice. We need to sensitize researchers and academics about open access and open science in Nepal. If all government funded research in Nepal mandates publication as open access and sharing of raw data in an open license, it will increase open science practice. Movements take time and we have only just begun. There’s a lot to do.
5) What are the expected challenges?
- Researchers want to publish data in the most reputed journal that they can publish, and most such journals are not open by default.
- Publishing in Nepali open access journals is frowned upon. The quality of paper matters more than the ranking of journals.
- We should push for raising the standard of Nepali journals. More rigorous peer review.
- Very few researchers of Nepal publish papers and conduct academic research. The potential of students and academics is wasted in Nepal.
Director | Open Access Nepal
1) Brief about Open Access Nepal?
Open Access Nepal is a non-profit and non-governmental organization and was established in March 2014. OANepal is the affiliate chapter of U.S. based organization “Right to Research Coalition (R2RC)”. The main objective of Open Access Nepal is to advocate and promote the policies and principles of Open Access, Open Education, Open Data and Open Repository in Nepal. It aims to nurture potential researchers with unrestricted access to scholarly articles. The activities of OANepal are supported by EIFL, INASP, R2RC and OCSD NET.
2) Brief about Open Access Button and Open Access Journals?
Open Access Button: OA Button is a browser bookmarklet which registers when people hit a paywall to a scholarly article and supports these researchers in 3 ways:
- Finding available research: OA Button searches thousands of sources with millions of articles to find legal access to research articles for the researchers.
- Requesting Research: OA Button was designed as a transparent and effective request system to help make more research accessible. If you are unable to get access, you can quickly create a request with the OA Button.
- Making Research available: Request for articles are sent to the author and other Button users can support your request. Together we strive for more accessibility to research.
The motto of OA Button is: Push Button. Get Research. Make Progress.
Open Access Journals: Open Access journals are the scholarly journals and publications that are available to the readers online without any financial, legal or technical barriers. OA journals are freely accessible to the readers. It essentially removes the price (licensing fees, subscription) and permission (copyright issues) barriers to a scholarly publication. Some OA journals are subsidized and are financed by an academic institution, foundation, or government itself while others are operated by the article processing charges (APC’s) obtained from submitting authors which are usually provided by their respective institutes.
3) What are the main factors that have led to the steady growth of OA publishing in Nepal?
Nikesh, I think rather than taking about the steady growth of OA publishing which is not true anymore. If you see the recent entries in DOAJ, there has been a dramatic increase in open publications in the last couple of years. Therefore, here I have discussed why OA publishing is important to different groups. But I have also answered your exact question at the end.
Open publishing seeks to return scholarly publishing to its original and core purpose viz to spread knowledge and allow that knowledge to resonate and be built upon. There are several factors in play that has led to the growth of OA publication in the past few years.
- Open Publications provides a complete education to students by providing them access to the latest research.
- With science advancing at an ever increasing pace it is crucial that professors have access to cutting edge research so students’ education is not outdated before they even finish a course. OA publishing has given the professors access to these cutting-edge researches and advancements.
- It provides research for your papers.
- OA gives the opportunity to the students to be innovative and conduct researches beyond their degree.
- Better visibility and higher impact for the scholarship.
- No researcher wants to waste time and money conducting a study that has already been done. Open publication helps researchers to avoid duplication.
- Opening access to research will allow doctors access to all relevant information, enabling them to make better decisions – decisions based on the most up-to-date medical knowledge, leading to more effective treatment and better outcomes.
- Open publishing provides patients and their advocates the access to the corpus of medical research.
For Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses:
- Access to the latest research speeds innovation.
For the public:
- Return on public’s investment as most research are funded by the taxpayers’ money.
- Exercising the right to research: as taxpayers who pay for much of the research published in journals, the public has a collective right to access the information resulting from their investment.
- Demonstrated benefits: numerous publishers, both non-profit and for-profit, voluntarily make their articles openly available at the time of publication or within 6-12 months. Many have switched from a closed, subscription model to an open one as a strategic business decision to increase their journal’s exposure and impact, and have done so with great success
The reasons for steady growth in OA publishing could be:
- Lack of awareness, advocacy, knowledge and benefits of OA publishing amongst the researchers.
- Issues related to impact factor of the open journals.
- The reluctance of PI to opt in for the open model of publishing.
- The poor government policy of making public funded researchers available publicly.
- Lack of repositories.
- Lack of funding.
- Inadequate development of the R&D sector of Nepal.
- Overindulgence and extremely powerful lobbyists for the traditional model of publishing.
- Lack of adequate investment from the government in the development of research and laboratory facilities.
- Researchers are not yet totally convinced that open publication will be advantageous for their careers the same as subscription journals.
- Fear of loss of credibility among the peers.
4) How do you think this trend will develop over the next decade, and explain why?
The gradual trend of OA publishing has been increasing over the years now and I am confident that we will witness a significant rise in OA publication over the next decade for the reasons mentioned above (People will eventually understand the benefits of Open publishing and how OA will help each group of people like students, researchers, entrepreneurs, doctors, patients and public).
However, the recent statistics also reveal a dramatic growth of Open Access. Globally the collections of open access archives are now collectively an order of magnitude larger than the 10 million articles and this is just from Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE). DOAJ showed an amazing 11% growth in the past in articles searchable at the article level – about half a million more articles today than a year ago. This past quarter DOAJ showed a healthy growth rate of 135 titles or added 1.5 titles per day. The internet archive now has more than 3 million open audio recordings. The Directory of Open Access Books added over 2 thousand titles in the past year for a current total of over 5,000 titles (60% annual growth rate) from 161 publishers (41% annual growth rate in publishers).
The number of journals actively contributing to PubMed Central continues to show strong growth in every measure: there are 212 more journal active participants in PMC today than a year ago, a 10% growth rate; 170 more journals provide immediate free access, an 11% growth rate; 113 more journals provide all articles as open access, a 9% growth rate; and the number of journals with some articles open access increased by 123, a 31% growth rate.
These statistics reveal that researchers and the general public are gradually being aware of the impossible subscription fees and the nobility Open Access brings into the lives of individual, family, society and a nation. People gradually understand that the fundamental aspect of education is sharing and locking knowledge and education will only harm. Researchers now realize that their work will be more recognized only if they prefer OA journals, they now realize that catastrophes like Ebola and Zika could be prevented with open access to research. The steep growth in the statistics is just the beginning and I am sure that we will see some serious hikes in a decade from now.
5) What will happen if a researcher does not make his work immediately Open Access accessible?
- Decreased visibility, usage and impact of their work.
- Open access increases the impact of research in which public money is invested and therefore publishing in a closed model is a bad return on taxpayers’ investment.
- Society as a whole will be barred from the benefits of their research as open research is more efficient and more effective, delivering better and faster outcomes.
- Obstruction in the nation’s’ technological advancement and economic growth.
- Students and researchers from a developing country like Nepal will never be able to read and use world class literature because of the high subscription fees if researchers don’t make it openly available.
6) Where will the funding for OA publishing come from?
Obtaining research grants from funding agencies is crucial for researchers to continue their work, supervise students and career advancement. Obtaining grants is directly linked to the researcher’s performance, mainly publications. Besides public funding, institutional and private foundations, opportunities dedicated specifically to fund – and reward – open research, open data and open software have emerged, especially in recent years. They are traditional funders, such as Wellcome Trust, NIH, and SPARC, which are allocating funds to open research, or new initiatives especially created with this view, as the Shuttleworth Foundation (established in 2007) and Mozilla Science Lab (2013), among others.
The notion that research funded with public resources should be made openly available to society has been consolidating in recent years and, consequently, public funding agencies are not only preferring but mandating the results to be published in open access. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have pioneered in 2008 to implement the open access policy, followed by Harvard University in the same year, the National Academy of Sciences of China (2009), and the National Science Foundation (2011). Next, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Defense Department and the space agency NASA, implemented in 2015 open access mandates. That same year, France launched the bill “For a Digital Republic”, and submitted it to public consultation. Funding agencies such as Wellcome Trust, CERN, UNESCO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many others have established similar mandates. Many of them still determine that the contents published in OA shall be governed by the Creative Commons attribution license CC-BY, the least restrictive of all. Despite these international agencies, the Nepal government should also play a pro-active role in the open movement, invest more in R&D, nurture young researchers, develop a culture of research among the students and provide funding to new ideas and researchers leading to new innovations.