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ACADEMIC PUBLISHING

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ACADEMIC PUBLISHING

WHAT IS ACADEMIC PUBLISHING ?

  • Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship.
  • Academic publishing starts with a scien­tist submitting a new set of findings to a journal.
  • The part of academic written output that is not formally published but merely printed up or posted on the Internet is often called “grey literature”.
  • The journal assesses the manu­script by sending it out to experts for their comments, also known as ‘peer re­view’; the experts offer these com­ments on a voluntary basis.
  • The journal passes them on to the re­searchers, who may modify their manu­script accordingly.
  • The whole process takes a few weeks to several months.
  • After the journal ac­cepts a manuscript for publication, it is featured on the journal’s website and/or is printed as a physical paper.
  • The process of academic publishing is designed to ensure scientists’ studies are rigorous even as it makes validated research accessible to the wider community.

WHAT IS PAY-TO-READ ?

  • Driven by the academic demand for publications, academic publishing has emerged as a flourishing business.
  • Commercial academic publishing is led by for­-profit companies based mostly in the U.S. and Europe.
  • In their traditional subscription model, libraries and insti­tutes pay a fee to access published research.
  • This ‘pay to read’ paradigm restricts access to scientific material, particular­ly in the Global South, where universi­ties, colleges, and even research insti­tutes are often unable to afford the subscription fees.

WHAT IS PAY TO PUBLISH ?

  • The gold open ­access model, which allows immediate and long term access to published work, and has been adopt­ed by leading publishing companies.
  • Gold open­ access journals charge the authors of the papers a fee called the ‘article processing charge’ (APC) to make the work freely available online.
  • In this ‘pay to publish’ paradigm, pu­blishing companies receive scientific manuscripts and conduct peer-­review at no cost, while charging the scientific enterprise a digital publication fee.

ADVANTAGES OF ACADEMIC PUBLISHING

  • Communicating research is an inte­gral part of the scientific endeavour.
  • It advances scientific understanding and bridges science and society.
  • One impor­tant way in which this happens in aca­demic settings is through scholarly jour­nals, which publish scientific papers.

CRISIS IN ACADEMIC PUBLISHING:

  1. A crisis in academic publishing is “widely perceived”,the apparent crisis has to do with the combined pressure of budget cuts at universities and increased costs for journals.
  2. Academic publishing is today a lucra­tive industry, with a worldwide revenue of $19 billion and wide profit margins, of up to 40%.

  • The problem is that these are profits made from public money, funnelled into a few companies, while academic scientific research is consi­dered, as a whole, to be a not ­for ­profit endeavour.
  • In the U.S. and Europe, an initiative called Plan S requires research funded by public grants to be published in open­ access journals.
  • In India, scientific research is largely funded by government grants, with scientists across the country publishing more than 200,000 articles a year.

WHAT IS OPEN ACCESS JOURNAL :

  • Under Open Access, the content can be freely accessed and reused by anyone in the world using an Internet connection.
  • The terminology going back to Budapest Open Access Initiative, Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, and Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing.
  • Potential readership of Open Access material is far greater than that for publications where the full-text is restricted to subscribers.
  • Details of contents can be read by specialised web harvesters.

  • Details of contents also appear in normal search engines like Google, Google Scholar, Yahoo, etc.
  • Open Access is often confused with specific funding models such as Article Processing Charges (APC) being paid by authors or their funders, sometimes misleadingly called “open access model”.

WHAT DOES GOLD OPEN ACCESS MEAN FOR INDIA ?

  • Open­ access publishing, driven by com­panies and initiatives in the Global North, is a zero­ sum game for scientists and the people at large in India.

  • For one, the costs imposed by gold open ­access worsen the financial health of research in India.
  • In 2023-­2024, the Ministry of Science & Technology, which funds a large chunk of research in India, announced an allocation of Rs 16,361 crore for its three research­ sup­porting departments.
  • India’s expen­diture on research has stagnated. This is further reflected in India’s Gross Expenditure in Research and De­velopment (or GERD), which has stayed close to 0.66% of the GDP.

WAY FORWARD:

  • India restructuring its science governance, with the recently approved National Research Foundation, the national scientific enterprise can be a leading voice for accessible, equitable, and fiscally responsible research ­publishing.
  • Considering the ‘One Na­tion, One Subscription’ programme, as it will make scholarly publi­ cations accessible to higher education and research institutions in India at a fixed cost.

SYLLABUS: MAINS, GS-3, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

SOURCE: THE HINDU

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