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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2005

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[Board accepted]

Global Access to Indian Research: Indian STM Journals Online

Lalitha Kumari
Information Management Area
Indian Institute of Chemical Technology
Hyderabad-500007, India


India has built up a strong research and development base in both the governmental and private sectors in all areas of science and technology. This has led to an impressive quantity of research publications. But the Indian scientific community has noted with great concern that Indian research findings, especially those reported in Indian journals, are underrepresented in the global knowledge base. This is a concern not only of India but of other developing nations as well. A global effort is underway to make scientific information affordable by bypassing the profit-making commercial scientific journal publishers. Using the Internet creates the possibility of establishing alternative models for the dissemination of information. The above problems may be addressed by facilitating free access to scientific information in electronic form to users worldwide. In India, many science, technology, and medical journals are now available online for a global audience through the initiatives of governmental and private non-profit publishers. This article outlines these international efforts briefly with a special focus on Indian initiatives.

After its independence, India built up a strong institutional science and technology framework with more than 2,900 research and development (R&D) organizations including many labs in the government and private domains, science agencies in industry, defense, health care, biotechnology, information technology, space, and many centers of learning. With all these efforts, India is now identified as an emerging hub for collaborative and outsourced research and development in drug development, biotechnology, and chemicals ( The scientific output of all these agencies is quite substantial with India occupying the 13th rank of the top 146 countries of the world ( Web Of Science has indexed around 20,400 Indian publications (2.09% of the world's share) in 2002 of which 5,900 are from 46 Indian journals (Arunachalam 2004a). Despite this impressive research output, it is of great concern to the Indian scientific community, and to developing nations in general, that a great imbalance exists with regard to participation in the global information exchange. On one side, the escalating costs of commercial scientific journals have turned into a stumbling block for easy access to current information. On the other side, high quality Indian research findings are underrepresented and are not influential in the global arena. The phenomenal changes in digital technology and communication networks that have blurred geographical and time boundaries have raised the hopes of the scientific community of developing nations. The Internet has had a profound impact on scientific publishing. But the elation is short lived as it appears that the digital divide is widening, as revealed by the Science & Engineering Indicators (2002). In 2000, the Internet penetration rate in North America was 540 times more than in Africa. The statistics for 2004 show that India, with its strong fleet of software developers and IT infrastructure, still has a penetration rate of 1.5% compared to 76.9% in Sweden and 67.6% in the USA (

Recent Developments in Information Accessibility

The past few years have seen tremendous developments in information production, acquisition, and dissemination. Budgetary restrictions in research libraries have led to a period known as the serial cutting era. Data compiled by the Association of Research Libraries ({}) have shown that from 1986 to 2001, research library spending increased by 210% but purchased 5% fewer serial titles. There was a fear that large bundles of electronic journals would force small publishers out of business while mergers and acquisitions increased prices and eliminated competition. Hence the scientific communities had to look for alternative models for publishing and communicating research findings. The new millennium has also ushered in the concept of the virtual library with seamless access to an integrated collection of print, electronic, and multimedia resources regardless of their physical location or ownership. Research scientists, policy makers, and reference librarians the world over are coming together to introduce reforms to make scientific knowledge affordable. Providing access to information free of charge in electronic formats is a concept that is gaining momentum. The ideal for the future is that research should be freely distributed for the advancement of scientific knowledge. The trend is to liberate scientific publishing from the clutches of commercial profit-making bodies and make it available easily to the generators of that knowledge and rightful users. Leary (2003) argued that "legislation should be introduced to make results of federally funded research available to public" and thus efforts are afoot around the world for methodologies to bypass commercial publishers.

Several international groups have formed to use the power of web to disseminate scholarly information free of charge and with minimal barriers of copyright and licensing. The strategy is that "scientific information should be treated as a public good, and therefore be made freely available to everyone -- with the costs of publication being met out of research grants, rather than subscriptions to scientific journals" (

Following are some of the approaches that have been widely accepted.

Open Archives Opportunities -- E-print Archive:

Open archiving may be defined as the "deposition of scholarly research papers into network servers accessible over Internet" (Chan & Kirsop 2001). This process allows scientists in the developing world the twin advantages of accessing front-line high-impact research from developed nations and increasing the visibility of their own research by contributing to a global knowledge base. One method of open archiving is the creation of e-print archives; these provide open access to refereed research literature online through author/institution self-archiving. The pioneering and most successful self-archiving model is arXiv, the e-print archive set up at Los Alamos National Research Laboratory, New Mexico in 1991 ( It is a full-text physics archive containing 140,000 research papers with more than 15 mirror sites around the world. ArXiv has removed the cost barriers and monopoly of commercial journals.

Open Access Journals

With the support and encouragement of advocates of free science and technology information, a large number of free full-text online journals, especially in medical specialties, are accessible through the Internet. To track down these journals easily, the Directory of Open Access journals (DOAJ) was created through the efforts of Lars Bjorshauge of the University of Lund, Sweden in 2003 ( To dispel the misconception that anything distributed freely over the web is of low intellectual value, DOAJ has set very high standards in compiling its directory. In 2004 the list includes 1,400 journals published by non-commercial agencies such as universities and R&D centers, the largest being Biomed Central with 100 journals.

Free Medical Journals

The Amedeo group serves the needs of health care professionals by facilitating free full-text online access to a number of high impact International medical and biomedical journals ( The group believes that "the access to free scientific knowledge will have a major impact on medical practice and attract Internet visitors to these journals. Journals that restrict access to their Web sites will lose popularity." There are around 1,380 journals at this site including many Indian medical journals. There are a wide range of policies for permitting free online access after the print version of the journal is published. For many journals the access is permitted from six months to three years after print publication.

J-STAGE (Japanese Science and Technology Information Aggregator Electronic)

With a view to disseminating outstanding R&D results electronically and instantaneously to the global scientific community, the Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST) developed J-STAGE ( to computerize the bulletins of academic societies and current print publications by user organizations. It has set up the hardware and software necessary for electronic journal release via the Internet. J-STAGE includes full-text electronic journals, proceedings, and reports from Japanese scientific societies in the fields of biology, chemistry, engineering, medicine, physics, science, and zoology.


Highwire Press at Stanford University is the largest and fastest growing archive of full-text journals in the life and medical sciences. These journals offer free online access to developing economies. Each journal sets its policy regarding when free access to the online version will be available after publication. Highwire Press makes many high impact titles available to the scientific communities of developing nations.

Indian Initiatives

Citation studies have shown the alarming fact that research published in Indian sources is poorly cited compared to research published in international journals. Low accessibility and circulation rates lead to obscurity of the research communicated in those journals. This may ultimately be translated into a failure to attract international funding and collaboration. Rajshekar (2003) explained that India's challenge is to reciprocate the information flow and improve access and thereby the impact of Indian research. To meet this challenge and to generate a national R&D resource base, an open access approach in line with the Budapest Open Access Initiative is being promoted. To achieve open access to scholarly journal literature, the initiative recommends the complementary strategies of self-archiving and open access journals (Arunachalam 2004b).


Researchers and scholars need tools and assistance in order to deposit their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives, a practice commonly called self-archiving. This is to achieve the goal of lifting these research communications from obscurity. A model has been proposed to set up interoperable institutional digital research repositories. By self-archiving and by adopting the interoperability framework, these institutional repositories are accessible via the Internet.

The first endeavor to be successfully implemented in this area is ePrints, an institutional repository of research output from the premier Indian research institute, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore ({}). The archive is maintained by National Center for Science Information (NCSI) and it supports self-archiving by IISc's scientists of research publications in various file formats (PDF, MS-Word, HTML, etc.). This open access system facilitates seamless access, thereby increasing international visibility for this research. India, with its large R&D base of federally funded organizations, has a great potential for open access publishing (Rajshekar 2003).

Open Access Journals

Initiatives by publishers

A number of Indian publishers are taking advantage of the improved communication networks and technology to initiate an open access policy for their journals. These initiatives are happening as isolated efforts by both society and private publishers.

Indian Academy of Sciences: (
The learned scientific society with its aim of promoting progress and upholding the cause of science in pure and applied branches publishes 11 journals in all front-line scientific disciplines. It has taken the lead in India in providing open access to Indian research by making available the electronic versions of its journals over the Internet. The Academy feels that open access to research literature achieves a quick impact and makes quality articles much more visible. Retrospective digitization of back files is complete and they are accessible. Unlike the open access journals of some of international publishers, the Indian Academy of Sciences does not charge authors for publishing their papers. The cost of publishing is met by government funding and subscriptions to their print journals.
Indian National Science Academy (
In order to strengthen the open archive movement at the national level, the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) proposed a project, "Building Digital Resources: Creating Facilities at INSA for Hosting S&T Journals Online." The National Information System for Science & Technology funds the project; it facilitated digitizing S&T journals published by INSA and hosting them on a web server. INSA wishes to promote a cadre of open access experts in Indian higher educational institutions and federally funded laboratories. INSA also encourages other professional societies having their own web sites to get a link on INSA's site to facilitate a single point of access.
BioLine international: (
This is a collaborative initiative of scientists and librarians of the University of Toronto Libraries, Canada, Brazil, and Bioline, UK. It is a non-profit electronic publishing service committed to providing open access to quality bioscience research published in developing countries. It makes available published information from peer-reviewed journals from Brazil, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe via the Internet. By 2005, the site will host 15 medical and bioscience journals digitized by Medknow Publications, Mumbai.
Indian Medlars Center: (
This is an initiative by the National Informatics Center (NIC) and Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR), two governmental agencies. The center has developed indMED, a bibliographic database of peer reviewed Indian biomedical journals. MedIND ( is the full-text archive for 28 peer-reviewed Indian Biomedical journals indexed in indMED.
NISCAIR (National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources) Journals:
This is an effort by the government-funded Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) ({}). The publication wing of CSIR, NISCAIR, brings out 11 research journals in different S&T disciplines. Though full text is not currently available online, bibliographic information and abstracts can be accessed and searched.

There are other isolated efforts from learned societies such as the Indian Statistical Association which provides full text access of its journal SANKHYA (


Within India a wide gap exists between haves and have nots, the urban/rural divide. A large number of developmental projects are underway to strengthen the infrastructure backbone of the country to make the fruits of scientific progress equally available to all. This will also ensure that the scientific knowledge need no longer be confined to economically strong institutions or regions as electronic dissemination replaces physical format. The open archives and open access initiatives in India are sporadic efforts which have to be consolidated and have a long way to go. It is heartening to see that Indian scientific community with the active participation of governmental funding agencies, learned societies, and publishers, has taken a step in the right direction.

Appendix 1
Open Access STM Journals -- International

Publisher/Promoter Content Web Address
Los Alamos National Research Laboratory, New Mexico Full-text physics archive (140,000 research articles
University of Lund, Sweden
Directory of Open Access Journals
1,450 STM journals
Amedeo Group 1,380 medical and biomedical journals
JSTAGE Contributions of Japanese scientific societies from e-journals, proceedings, and reports
Highwire Press 787 full-text life sciences and medical research journals

Appendix 2
Open Access STM Journals- Indian

Publisher/Promoter Content Web Address
Indian Institute of Science (IISC) Bangalore Repository of IISC Publications {}
Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 11 journals in all disciplines of science & technology
Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi 4 S&T journals {<}
Collaboration of University of Toronto Libraries, Canada, Brazil and Bioline, UK. 15 medical and bioscience journals
Combined efforts of NIC and ICMR 28 biomedical journals
NISCAIR, CSIR 11 research journals (bibliometric only) {}
Indian Statistical Association Sankhya An Indian journal of statistics


Arunachalam, S. 2004a. On publication Indicators . Current Science 86 (5):629.

Arunachalam, S. 2004b India's march towards Open Access. Science and Development Network.[Online]. Available: {} [Accessed: February 23, 2005].

Association of Research Libraries. 2004. Framing the issue: open access. [Online]. Available: {} [Accessed February 24, 2005].

Chan L. and Kirsop, B. 2001. Open archiving opportunities for developing countries: towards equitable distribution of global knowledge. [Online]. Available: [Accessed February 23, 2005].

Dickson, D. 2003. UN meeting urged to back open access science. Science and Development Network. [Online]. Available: {} [Accessed: February 24, 2005].

Indian R&D a growing competitor for Europe : report. 2004. EU Business. [Online]. Available: {} [Accessed February 24, 2005].

Leary, W E. 2003. Measure calls for wider access to federally financed research. New York Times June 25, 2003: section A column 1 page 22.

Rajshekar, T.B. 2003. Improving visibility of Indian research: an institutional, open access publishing model. Indo-US Workshop on Open Digital Libraries and Interoperability, June 23-25,2003.

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