This post was written by Shiva Khanal, Research Officer with the Department of Forest Research and Survey in Nepal. Shiva was one of the international scholars sponsored by GEO, the Group on Earth Observations to attend the CODATA-RDA School of Research Data Science, hosted at ICTP, near Trieste, Italy.
Availability of research data and publications has been observed as one of the important challenges in Nepal. This is more relevant in case of research results and datasets published/produced in earlier periods. Even some of the research works published in the past were produced only in hard copies for distribution. Therefore, in many cases they are no longer available. Getting access to and/or understanding past observations are of great significance for wide range of research applications for instance past environmental change research.
One important source of information on Nepalese forestry is Banko Janakari (A journal of Forestry Information for Nepal). This journal is the oldest and has been continuously published by the Department of Forest Research and Survey (www.dfrs.gov.np) since 1987. The issues till now have covered a diverse theme of research on Nepalese forestry. There has been an initiative to make those journal available through NepJol (http://nepjol.info/index.php/BANKO). However, the availability is limited to only few issues. There exist challenges due to the fact that many of the issues are hard to find and even for those with hard copy available would require a lot of scanning and other related processing.
With the keen interest to make those papers available to the public, I had been looking for options to digitize and host them in open access repository. During my recent participation in the research data science school (http://indico.ictp.it/event/7658/), one of the session by Gail Clement (@repositorian) included information about the very interesting initiative called Zenodo (zenodo.org). Now, I have created a zenodo community of Department of Forest Research and Survey (https://zenodo.org/collection/user-dfrs). After some doing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on scanned text, I have splitted some individual papers of the first issue of the journal (Vol 1 No 1 Spring 1987) and uploaded in the Zenodo.
I am still exploring the functionalities of Zenodo but so far based on my experience I found easy
to use interface, assigning DOIs and easy way to get access research through persistent links. This will most likely provide an important platform to make all Banko Jankari papers open access to all in near future. Further, there are various other publications that have become rare and likely to be lost forever. It will be really important to put them on open digital repositories like this.