Open Access in India

India has a strong community-driven Open Access culture and serves as a leader in the Global South. However, it lacks governmental OA policies like those in the EU’s Plan S. Here, we’ll explore Open Access in India.

We outline the history of Open Access in India and the current requirements for researchers following the 2020 policy that aspires to negotiate with publishers to provide nation-wide Open Access to research.

Open Access is the new paradigm

Open Access refers to a publishing model for scholarly research that makes information immediately available to readers at no cost. This research is also free to reuse for scholarly purposes.

The benefits of publishing Open Access include more citations and a greater impact, reaching a wider audience, advancing scientific innovation, authors retaining copyrights, and increasing the potential for collaboration and recognition. Open Access can also help researchers affiliated to institutions and universities in low- and middle-income countries by removing any price barriers to accessing academic research.

History of Open Access in India

India has a long history of engaging with Open Access. Here is a brief history of Open Access in India, which we’ll expand upon further below:

Community-driven Open Access

India’s Open Access movement has largely been led by Open Access India, which has helped connect advocates, inform policy, and establish repositories for institutions and disciplines.

Interestingly, India’s Open Access requirements have primarily revolved around Green OA, which requires the depositing of preprints or complete manuscripts into repositories. This likely reflects the greater financial burden of other publishing models for Indian institutions and scholars.

Current Open Access laws in India

Currently, there is no dedicated system for funding Open Access publications and no nationwide Open Access mandate like in many other countries.

Researchers receiving funding and support from specific organisations, like the ICAR and CSIR, must deposit their work into repositories. Specific requirements vary between organisations.

However, there is government-level motivation to go further than green OA and create a centralised system.

Establishing an open science framework

The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020 aims to fundamentally change research in India.

Firstly, it established the Indian Science and Technology Archive of Research (INDSTA). This is an Open Access archive that serves as a centralised repository and hub for research within India’s Science, Technology, and Innovation community. It hosts research articles and data and showcases funding and job opportunities.

Similarly, the policy includes the One Nation, One Subscription policy (ONOS), which aims for “all people in India” to have access to journal articles from around 70 publishers under a single negotiated payment made by the Government.

This is a unique approach, which seeks to address the impact of high costs for access, that would fundamentally alter the relationship between traditional subscription publishers and national research communities. However, as of 2024, negotiations between the Indian government and publishers remain unsuccessful.

Overall, the Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020 reflects India’s commitment to centralising its research infrastructure to improve access for all.

India Open Access statistics

Despite the growth of an Open Access culture in India, its percentage of subscription-only articles remains high (calculated according to the number of papers with corresponding authors based in India). Here are some statistics from Scopus:

  • 2012: 80% of articles were subscription-only, 6% were green Open Access, and 8% were gold Open Access.
  • 2016: 71% of articles were subscription-only, 5% were green Open Access, and 18% were gold Open Access.
  • 2022: 70% of articles were subscription-only, 5% were green Open Access, and 19% were gold Open Access.

Surprisingly, much of India’s research output remains closed access. Researchers often face cost barriers for publishing OA and the Indian system for evaluating researchers relies heavily on Impact Factors, which may influence them to submit to older, more-established journals.

Future trends

India is among the top 5 research-producing countries, with its research output growing by around 54% between 2017 and 2022.

The Science, Technology, and Innovation policy 2020 shows that India is committed to increasing access but may do it in a different way to high-income counties like the USA, which mandated that all US-funded research must be made OA by the end of 2025.

This shows the government recognises the different financial situation its researchers face than those in the Global North do. The Science, Technology, and Innovation policy reflects an impulse to centralise its research infrastructure and create access through alternative means before mandating any particular approach.

It is likely that green OA, i.e., depositing work in repositories, will remain important and that India will seek a unique approach to increasing access that will serve as a model for other countries in the Global South.

Value of Open Access

All articles published by MDPI are made immediately available worldwide under an Open Access license. This means:

  • Everyone has free and unlimited access to the full text of all articles published in MDPI journals;
  • Everyone is free to reuse the published material if proper accreditation/citation of the original publication is given;
  • Open Access publication can be supported by the authors’ institutes or research-funding agencies by payment of a comparatively low Article Processing Charge (APC) for accepted articles.

Researchers can satisfy India’s expanding Open Access policy and pre-empt any stricter legislation by publishing in an MDPI journal. Alternatively, if you want to publish an early version of your article, try Preprints, our service for publishing early versions of research that are not peer-reviewed and report on either ongoing or complete research.

Open Access makes vital information accessible to all readers and researchers and brings together scholars from across the world. Thus, it is ideal for tackling global challenges such as climate change and cancer research that require urgent and coordinated attention.

India is establishing its own unique approach to increasing Open Access in the Global South.  Click here if you want to learn more about Open Access Around the World.