Open Access: Bridging the haves and havenots in research
Indian research especially in Biology has gained momentum in recent years. Young researchers and graduate students have acquired interest in science through extra mural funding they receive. While there are well-to-do laboratories that have substantial funding, often the funding leads them to get published in reputed journals. In contrast, there are not so well furnished laboratories who may or may not be deprived of publications. Let’s consider these two parlance as the haves and the havenots respectively. Oftentimes, it is observed that the laboratories with good funding tend to publish good research articles in contrast to mediocre publications by the ones who have limited or no funding. I have an intuition that publishing through open access would bridge these two things. In developing nations like India where open access is a leeway for scientists to publish research, it is rather difficult for the havenots to get their research published in open access and reputed journals. There are quite good number of so-called havenots – young scientists and graduate students, not-for-profit organizations who have been doing noble research but often do not have the capital necessary to take forward the research to a next level or get their research published in open access journals. Although many journals provide access to scholarly literature, and waivers for little or no cost, there is no backing from government agencies for havenots.
So is it like the one who publish in reputed and high impact factor journals oft hail from well-to-do laboratories? Whilst the havenots end up publishing the spiffing research through waivereds or remain as just havenots if their research is not acceptable. The food for thought here is to raise the standards of havenots in research especially in developing countries like India. This can certainly be done if the funding organizations start a seed funding initiative like Nature Innocentive for innovative ideas keeping in mind the graduate students and researchers. This will carve out a niche for those laboratories to cover the cost for General Laboratory Practices besides seeking waivers for publishing in open access journals.
In doing so, we could produce two things in science and academia:
1. A creative output to financially compensate the research thus innovating ideas.
2. Creating science writers with passion for research and open access.
This I believe will hold relevance to Indian science especially when an estimated 50% of Indian graduates think to settle abroad. Otherwise, I’m afraid that the research investigations would just be amusing leaving the knowledge behind. Let there be no debate again on Publish or Perish.
“Creative thinking ability facilitates the ability to realize innovations.” ~ Emem Ite
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