ICIMOD is strongly committed to Open Access publishing

When did ICIMOD first take steps towards making its' information more 'open'?

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) as a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre in the Hindu Kush Himalaya has been promoting open and easy access to its information and knowledge since very beginning.

At the beginning of its establishment it had established library and documentation centre (1984) to share knowledge and information to help and promote the development of an economically and environmentally sound mountain ecosystem and to improve the living standards of mountain populations. One of its activity was to prepare and share bibliographies for AGRIS database. In 1989 ICIMOD used CDS-ISIS for library catalogue, in 1996 ICIMOD used Internet and developed its first website and. In 1997 we had started a ‘Drop down Centre’ to provide free Internet service and also online library catalogue. We had Publication Exchange Programme (PEP) to exchange publications. Under PEP we have 170 members as universities, institutions and organizations.

ICIMOD has rich volumes of scientific and general publications. In 2006 ICIMOD started a project to develop an online platform to make available of all is publications free full text online. In March 2007 ICIMOD formally launched ICIMOD Books Online where the publications were made available in PDF format.  In 2010 we started a project to develop a one-stop portal for all kinds of Himalayan information resources with the prime objective to make accessible to all possible information resources on sustainable mountain development issues through a single interface. And in the beginning of 2011 it launched HIMALDOC. We also had developed and maintaining Mountain GeoPortal which provides a gateway for geo-information on mountain.

Though all those open access initiatives were taken since very earlier, there was no clear publication policy of Open Access before 2014. In 2014 ICIMOD revised its publication policy which emphasizes very clearly on Open Access publishing.

Why were these early steps taken - what was the key motivation?

In absence of the clear policy, there was confusion among the authors in publishing outside, especially in scientific journals and also there was issue of access right. Peer reviewed open access journal articles are becoming more popular and reliable source of information for science, research and development.  ICIMOD revised its policy in 2014 to ensure and promote open access peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. We expect the open access to resources will support further study and research, specifically for the scholars in developing countries. We hope these steps will also encourage others to go for open access.

As a knowledge sharing centre ICIMOD always experienced many activities to make its resources open and widespread dissemination in the public domain.  ICIMOD has used different online and offline channels like web, repository (Books Online, then HIMALDOC), international repositories, social media, mailing list, networks, and others. Now, we are about to launch mobile app to share resources through mobile devices.

How were these early steps taken? Were there barriers to these ideas within the organization? How were they overcome?

We have Publication and Outreach Committee (POUT) who have full authority in developing and revising publication policy. There was no any barrier in implementing the revised policy 2014. We have clear mandate, mission and vision.

Where to use for an open source software for the open repository, in 2010 we decided to use a free and open source software for HIMALDOC as an institutional repository plus a knowledge portal for Himalayan information resources. We reviewed several free and open source software, namely Invenio, DSpace, Koha, GSDL, NewGenLib, EPrints. There was some confusion in using Invenio or DSpace. We made a comparative study of both these software.  Finally we agreed to go for Invenio. After the selection of the software, we made some customizations and moved our contents from Books Online to HIMALDOC. The main difficulty was to migrate contents (metadata and full text) from in-house build system to the new system.

Can you explain the full scope of OA policies at ICIMOD - do they extend beyond the ICIMOD repository?

ICIMOD is strongly committed to Open Access publishing. ICIMOD has revised its publication policy in 2014 policy which states that ICIMOD follows a policy of open access for all of its knowledge products. ICIMOD as a sole publisher all publications intended for widespread dissemination in the public domain. The policy also ensures the reliability and high quality of its print and electronic publishing through a process of quality control comprising internal and peer review and formal editing of its research and communications products.

Now it is more focusing on open access publications in scientific journals. We also encourage reproduction of our publication in whole or in part and in any form for educational or non-profit purposes. We promote libraries, online database, knowledge portals, and repositories to harvest our publications and also provide with metadata in different standard format on demand. However we do not encourage to duplicate full text in different servers to add unwanted loads on Internet system. We have well maintained server and encourage libraries to redirect uses to our server for full text (PDF).

What have been the main results and benefits to ICIMOD of the institutional repository and other openness developments?

The main benefit is easy access to information and most importantly for the scholars of developing nations. It has made our as well as users life easy in information sharing, dissemination and reproduction. We found the growth in use of our information products which has added visibility to our works and organization. The download statistics and citation count for the publications are increasing every year. Another benefit we have is availability of all our information products in one place. It also helped in minimizing loss of institutional knowledge and information.

What will be the focus in future?

We continue with our commitments in open access publishing and focus more and more on publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals. ICIMOD has Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) a Regional Programme which aim to build a dynamic mountain knowledge partnership among universities, ICIMOD, and regional member country partners to promote research and learning. HUC also aiming to encourage Universities in open access publishing and research, mainly thesis and dissertations on mountains issues and linking HUC libraries through HIMALDOC to make such resources accessible through a single interface.