Friday, May 21, 2010

Food for all: letter to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) urging open access

Indian open access advocate Subbiah Arunachalam (Arun) has sent a letter to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) urging that CGIAR require open access to CGIAR-funded research.

Following is the full text of the letter:

“Dear Dr Carlos Perez del Castillo/ Dr Kathy Sierra:

About a year ago, on 20 May 2009 to be precise, Dr William D Dar, Director General of ICRISAT sent a Memorandum on Launching of Open Access Model: Digital Access to ICRISAT Scientific Publications to all researchers and students in all locations of ICRISAT []. In the memorandum Dr Dar had said "Every ICRISAT scientist/author in all locations, laboratories and offices will send a PDF copy of the author's final version of a paper immediately upon receipt of communication from the publisher about its acceptance. This is not the final published version that certain journals provide post-print, but normally the version that is submitted following all reviews and just prior to the page proof."

ICRISAT is the only international agricultural research centre with an OA mandate, and is second among the research and education institutes operating from India, the first being the National Institute of Technology-Rourkela ( ICRISAT publishes a research journal ( which is also an open access journal.

Since then is growing fast and the portal now has virtually all the research papers published in recent times, and all the books and learning material produced by ICRISAT researchers.

We believe that it would be great if other CGIAR laboratories could also mandate open access to their research publications. Indeed, it would be a good idea to have a system wide Open Access mandate for CGIAR and to have interoperable OA repositories in each CGIAR laboratory. Such a development would provide a high level of visibility for the work of CGIAR and greatly advance agricultural research. Besides, journals published by CGIAR labs could also be made OA. There are more than 1,500 OA repositories (listed in ROAR and OpenDOAR) and about 5,000 journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Currently over 2050 journals are searchable at article level. Over 390,000 articles are included in the DOAJ service.

The world will soon be celebrating the International Open Access Week [18-24 October 2010] and you may wish to announce the CGIAR OA mandate before then.

As you may be aware, all seven Research Councils of the UK and the National Institutes of Health, USA, have such a mandate in place for research they fund and support. To see the full list of ~220 mandates worldwide, see ROARMAP.

We look forward to seeing an early implementation of open access in all CGIAR labs.

- Subbiah Arunachalam [Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India]
- Remi Barre [Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers (CNAM), Paris, France]
- Leslie Chan [University of Toronto at Scarborough, Canada]
- Anriette Esterhuysen [Association for Progressive Communications, Johannesburg, South Africa]
- Jean-Claude Guédon [University of Montreal, Canada]
- Stevan Harnad [Universite du Quebec a Montreal and University of Southampton]
- Neil Jacobs [JISC, UK]
- Heather Joseph [Executive Director, SPARC, USA]
- Barbara Kirsop [Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, UK]
- Heather Morrison [Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada]
- Richard Poynder [Technology journalist, UK]
- T V Ramakrishnan, FRS [Banaras Hindu University and Indian Institute of Science; Former President of the Indian Academy of Sciences]
- Peter Suber [Berkman Fellow, Harvard University; Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College; Senior Researcher, SPARC; Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge]
- Alma Swan [Director, Key Perspectives, UK]
- John Wilbanks [Vice President for Science, Creative commons]
- John Willinsky [Stanford University and University of British Columbia]”

Comment: bravo to Arun, our tireless defender of open access around the world! Let us hope that CGIAR heeds this message. What could possibly be more fair than ensuring that those who cannot always be sure to be able to afford quality food supplies, at the very least have guaranteed free access to the very research that is meant to help them?