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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Govt proposes to buy bulk subscriptions of all scientific journals, provide free access to all

The 'One Nation, One Subscription' policy for scientific journals is a radical move that could prove to be a game changer for the scientific community and individual researchers.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Pune | January 1, 2021 2:31:03 pm
All data generated from publicly-funded research is proposed to be made freely available to everyone. (Representational Image)

In an ambitious move to make scientific knowledge and data available to all, the government has proposed an open data policy that will make information generated by all publicly funded research, including its results, freely accessible to everyone.

More significantly, the government has also proposed to buy bulk subscriptions of all the important scientific journals across the world, and provide everyone in India free access to them. The proposals have been made in the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy that was released to the public on New Year’s Day for comments and suggestions.

The ‘One Nation, One Subscription’ policy for scientific journals is a radical move that could prove to be a game changer for the scientific community and individual researchers. There are more than 3,000 to 4,000 high-impact scientific journals, and sources say the government might have to spend a few hundred crore rupees every year to get their bulk subscriptions. But its impact on the scientific research community could be huge, given that access to these journals are highly priced and even big institutions are selective in buying subscriptions.

The Ministry of Science and Technology, which has drafted the new policy, proposes to set up a new Science, Technology and Innovation Observatory which will serve as a central repository for all kinds of data generated from research in India. All data generated from publicly-funded research is proposed to be made freely available to everyone. In cases where, for reasons of privacy, national security or intellectual property rights, the availability of data has to be restricted, “suitably anonymised and/or redacted data” will still be provided. Even in cases where it cannot be released to the general public, genuine researchers would be given access to it, the policy has proposed.

Additionally, libraries of all publicly-funded institutions are proposed to be made accessible to general public “subject only to reasonable security protocols”.

The policy also talks about promoting the goal of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” in the field of science and technology. “A two-way approach of indigenous development of technology as well as technology indigenisation will be adopted,” it says.

“Greater emphasis will be given on promoting traditional knowledge systems, developing indigenous technologies and encouraging grassroots innovations,” it says.

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