Open Access - the way forward for scientific research

Open Access

People who read scientific data know that often they come across an abstract of a scientific publication which looks interesting but they cannot read the full article because of a prohibitive fee. Published scientific research seems to be within reach only to those who are part of elite academic institutions and business. The doors are closed to the public at large. This is in spite of the fact that a vast majority of research is funded by the Governments and thereby the taxpayer's money.

The Internet has changed the way information is published, read and shared. It has successfully broken down several barriers to access of knowledge and information in the last few decades. A significant change has been witnessed in the way publication - particularly those related to scientific research are being looked at. One particular giant leap is the open access option.

Open access is an option which allows authors to choose to pay the fee to process the article to the journal upfront, thus making the article free to read and share with the public. Some journals may choose to waive the publication fee for authors from poor countries and some may choose to waive it all together. More journals are now allowing authors to publish their work with this option.

Most of the research is paid by the government grants and thus public money and therefore the public must have the right to access the outcome of such research. It is discriminatory to restrict access to such research. Many nations have taken cognisance of this and made it mandatory to publish the findings of publicly funded research with the open access option.

Open access provides a selective advantage to the authors as well. PLOS biology reported that articles published as immediate open access were three times more likely to be cited than non-open access. Governments and grant-making agencies are also realising that open access publishing enhances the research impact. Open access is the way forward to speed up the translation of research findings into practice by enabling access to a larger community of readers.

We at Sankalp India Foundation, in line with the organisation's mission and vision, always choose to publish either on open access journals or with the open access option. We urge all researchers to factor in the open access option in their research planning itself and enable their work to reach the people.

Sankalp Unit
Patrika Section