Research in S&T hindered by high cost of journals

The number of international science and technology journals available in Indian institutions has drastically and his may affect research adversity

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

STATIC library budgets in India and soaring printing costs abroad have drastically reduced the inflow of foreign science and technology (S & T) journals. Indian institutions subscribe to less than 20 per cent of the 60,000 S & T journals published the world over. The number has dropped alarmingly -- 30 per cent in the past 12 years. "This will have an adverse effect on the future research output in India as many researchers will be unable to keep up with international research in their disciplines," fears T Vishwanathan, director of the Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC).

Laments Shiv Sethi, a Ph.D student in Delhi University's department of physics and astrophysics. "I'm unaware of what's happening abroad in my subject as our library has dropped 40 important journals relating to cosmology and particle physics since 1990."

Some universities and research institutes, however, are more fortunate. Explains H K Das, head of Jawaharlal Nehru University's biotechnology centre, "It's a question of haves and have-nots. The former, especially Central research institutes and universities, still get enough grants to be able to afford the leading journals. It's the state universities and sick research institutes that must be panicking."

Madurai's Kamaraj Institute of Higher Mathematics is a case in point. "A decade ago, the institute used to get 90 journals, now it cannot afford even 10," says Vishwanathan. The sciences also suffer from class differences. "Barring biological sciences, especially biotechnology and medicine, which have recorded a rise in their number of journals, all other sciences seem to have been affected alike," says the INSDOC director.

As a remedy, INSDOC has introduced a service called Contents, Abstracts and Photocopies Service (CAPS). Under this a subscriber can get the contents of 40 selected journals from the 5,000 core Indian and foreign periodicals. The service has at present 150 subscribers. "The number is fast increasing, but we do not have adequate facilities or personnel to cater to the swelling demand," Vishwanathan said.

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