Friday, July 15, 2005

Monsoon, markets and bans

The story we noted earlier has made it to Nature. This time, the reporter is K.S. Jayaraman.

Last month, the DST issued a directive prohibiting the publication of any results that differ from its official forecast unless they have been peer-reviewed and cleared by the head of the researchers' agency. The DST will in future collect and disseminate monsoon data produced by research institutes to avoid confusion, DST secretary Valangiman Ramamurthi told Nature. "Monsoon forecasting is sensitive for the Indian economy," he says. "It's not a free-for-all."

Prashant Goswami, who heads the monsoon research group at the C-MMACS, says he and his colleagues are upset at the directive. "Posting unpublished results on the web is the accepted norm in science everywhere," he points out. "What upsets us is that we have a monsoon model that seems to work, but we can't make the results public." He is also concerned over the implications for other research fields. "I hope this will be debated by the scientific community," he says.