Thursday, July 12, 2007

Scientific Journal Publishing in India: Promoting electronic publishing of scholarly journals in India

Presenter: Thomas Abraham, National Centre for Science Information, (NCSI) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Time: 2:55 PM - 3:55 PM, 12 July 2007
Location: SFU Harbour Centre, Canfor Policy Room, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Abstract (full text of paper available in PDF through abstract link)


At the time the project began in October 2004, a large number of journals in India were not published electronically. Even those publishing online had open access but did not use e-publishing tools or adhere to publishing standards like OAI-PMH (simple html pages). The Scientific Journal Publishing in India (SJPI ) project aim was therefore to increase awareness of online publishing opportunities, freely available technology and standards for information sharing and to provide training on how to use this knowledge to publish scholarly literature.

Partners and Sponsors:
-Asian Media and Information Center (AMIC)
-Pan Asia ICT Grants Program (based in Singapore) of the IDRC
-Public Knowledge Project

-To improve the quality of scientific journals in India
-To set up prototype journal indexing and managing systems using OA for a sampling of Indian Journals
-To highlight the need for structured metadata and standards like OAI-PMH among Indian publishers to make scholarly content more effective in the electronic media
The SJPI educated journal editors but also looked at what features the editors were looking for in a journal management system like OJS.

Phase I: Studied OJS, installed and configured OJS for Journal of the India Institute of Science (JIISc) and SRELS JIM and for 11 IAS journals, customized Current Science, uploaded content of all journals (nearly 1,000 articles), performed demonstrations and and received feedback from editors, feedback on OJS then shared with the PKP.

Phase II: Enabled search engine friendly URLs, incorporated 13 journals within system, helped journals go online, created Hindi support to OJS system (Resonance, Journal of Science Education), added new features to OJS (latex support, classification), conducted workshops on journal publishing

-Editor feedback:
a) Desire for classification system expressed
b) Desire for richer interface to aid editors in assigning reviewers
c) Desire for options to allow authors to select reviewers
d) Desire for co-authors to have access to see the status of the article
e) Desire to give reviewers choice of anonymous or signed
f) Desire to upload abstracts as files
-Previously print-only Journal of Tropical Agriculture set up online access using OJS
-Discovery by book author of plagiarized article when journal posted online highlighting to authors and publishers the importance of intellectual property rights and thereby enhancing journal quality
-OAJP mailing list created

Future Goals/Recommendations:

-Based on Hindi version, customize OJS into other Indian languages (Kannada, Tamil)
-Add new features into official OJS software
-Enhance OJS to support special characters
-Establish a centralized organization/support system for setting up online journals in India
-More intensive training of journal editors
-Assist interested journals in setting up their sites

Related conference presentations:
"Indian biomedical journals and Open Access: a case study at Indian Medlars Centre (IMC), New Delhi, India"

Further Reading:
Arunachalam, Subbiah (2003, June/July). Information for Research in Developing Countries: Information Technology–Friend or Foe? Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

“[i]n the 1920s, 30s and 40s,…there were very few journals. The journals, most of them published in the West, took a few months to arrive in India by sea, and to that extent Indian scientists were behind their Western counterparts in the matter of access to information. In contrast by the 1960s and 70s, there were approximately 50,00 research journals and many libraries in India could subscribe at best only to a few hundreds.” p.16

“Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the best-funded library among all India institutions of higher education, has an annual library budget of approximately Rs 90 million (about $1.8 million). Only a handful of Indian libraries have a budget of around Rs 10 million (about $200,000) – peanuts compared to the acquisition budgets of even moderate university libraries in the United States.” pp.16-17

Blogger's Blurb:
As Arunachalum points out in his article’s introduction, Indian scholars have been responsible for scientific innovations even in the print-reliant first half of the twentieth-century when the information gap between Western and developing countries was much larger than it is today: “It was then that men of the caliber of Srinivasa Ramanujan (‘the man who knew infinity’…), C.V. Rama (India’s first Nobelist in science), Meghanad Saha (known for his work on thermal ionization) and Jagdish Chandra Bose (who many believe was ahead of Marconi in recognizing the existence of radio waves) performed their world class work.” The SJPI project, in striving to provide modern Indian researchers with increased access to information but also to provide the rest of the world with access to the knowledge being produced in India is of huge value. Abraham’s point that having customized OJS for Hindi facilitates further customization into other Indian languages also reveals the potential of online publishing to reach a broader audience. The ability of OJS to connect scholars within India as well as throughout the world would stimulate cooperation and idea sharing and result in an increase in the quality of work produced.

In focusing on editors, the SJPI project recognized software such as OJS only becomes valuable when it is put to use (just as research’s value comes with its communication). The impetus behind OJS software is to increase the distribution of knowledge and thereby increase the quality of information. The feedback gathered by the SJPI project offers means to improve the software so as to increase its appeal and use.

The Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore is, as Arunachalum indicates, the best-funded library in India. It should be commended for taking the lead in both educating and being educated in making scholarly content more effective in electronic media.


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