Practising Open Science: Insights from an Empirical Survey in India

Authors & Affiliation

Arul George Scaria and Shreyashi Ray - NLU Delhi

Abstract

Science is going through a major crisis, which includes numerous issues in its production and consumption. One of the issues is access to scientific outputs. Dissemination of scientific outputs, including those from publicly funded research, is often restricted to individuals and institutions belonging to certain socio-economic positions. 

It is in this context that we have conducted a survey among researchers in five different disciplines; with the objective to understand their practices pertaining to conducting and communicating research, and policies governing the same. The survey was part of a larger project on ‘Open Science’, which seeks to facilitate a sustainable open science movement in India by identifying optimal legal and policy interventions.

In our presentation, we seek to highlight the major insights from the survey, and the recommendations arising from the same. In particular, we would like to focus upon:
a) factors relevant to the researchers while deciding modes of publication and data sharing;
b) transparency in scientific communication;
c) policies adopted by institutions and funding agencies with regard to sharing practices, and relevant compliance mechanisms;
d) researchers’ satisfaction with the existing rules or practices relating to scientific research and its communication in their institute, and attempts made to change the same; and
e) Institutional measures for ensuring social inclusion.

The data from our study demonstrate exorbitant article processing charges for open access publishing, high focus on impact factor of journals, lack of clear sharing policies with robust compliance mechanisms, insufficient social inclusion at multiple levels, and a general lack of motivation towards making scientific communication accessible and understandable, as significant problems in the Indian scientific research community. The responses have helped us gain a better understanding of the individual and systemic factors which affect researchers’ practices. On this basis we have evolved recommendations for suitable changes to existing incentive structures.

We hope that our presentation will help provide the Indian perspective on the multidimensional crisis in science. The feedback received on our presentation and discussions at the Open Science Fair will be extremely helpful for our project and in refining recommendations for facilitating a sustainable open science movement in India.

Tags: Open Access, Open Science Scholarly Communication

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