Grants talk:IEG/Samskrit Shastra Project

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Eligibility confirmed, round 2 2014[edit]

IEG review.png

This Individual Engagement Grant proposal is under review!

We've confirmed your proposal is eligible for round 2 2014 review. Please feel free to ask questions and make changes to this proposal as discussions continue during this community comments period.

The committee's formal review for round 2 2014 begins on 21 October 2014, and grants will be announced in December. See the schedule for more details.

Questions? Contact us.

Jtud (WMF) (talk) 17:10, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

Licensing question[edit]

How many scholars have you contacted regarding licensing issues, and (of those) how many said they would agree to relicensing their content? How easy is it to locate the scholars that have written these papers? I don't know what common practices are for Indian universities, but in the US at least it would be uncommon for the university to be the copyright holder -- so it would be necessary to contact individual authors rather than universities. This seems to be a major potential problem for this grant. Would it make sense to start the grant with a smaller scope to see your success rate in terms of locating authors and securing permissions? Calliopejen1 (talk) 18:30, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Can this be divided into multiple parts?[edit]

I see several projects here. These projects sound aligned with typical Wikimedia community activity:

  1. Get copies of ancient Sanskrit texts into Wikisource
    1. Note that multiple versions of each text may exist
    2. Document all known sources for any given text
  2. Find whatever translations and interpretations of these texts which already exists
    1. Note these on Wikipedia
    2. Connect these to the original source documents

These projects seem less so:

  1. Do original translation of these texts
  2. Promote historical and cultural interpretation of these texts
  3. Have research done on these texts

I know how important these documents are to Hindus, because I have heard this project proposed many times before over many years. I agree that it is a great idea to curate these texts on Wikipedia, because that would be a project to capture the imagination and interest of a huge audience.

I am less convinced that there is a relationship between gathering the texts and sharing them on a Wikimedia project, and then actually organizing original research on the texts. It is my opinion that this proposal takes for granted that finding the original versions of the Sanskrit texts will be easy and getting people to agree that they are authentic is something that will happen quickly. I expect that many Hindu scholars would be argumentative about this, because Hindus are not quick to declare standardized versions of texts.

Would it be possible to divide this into two projects, one in which the texts are collected, and then a later project in which you propose to promote them for research? If that does not seem right, then can you say more about why you feel that the collection and research should go together in the same project? Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:28, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

My understanding of this proposal was that they were digitizing research papers about ancient Sanskrit texts, rather than digitizing the ancient Sanskrit texts themselves. Maybe I'm mistaken... Calliopejen1 (talk) 23:14, 31 October 2014 (UTC)

Aggregated feedback from the committee for Samskrit Shastra Project[edit]

Scoring criteria (see the rubric for background) Score
1=weak alignment 10=strong alignment
(A) Impact potential
  • Does it fit with Wikimedia's strategic priorities?
  • Does it have potential for online impact?
  • Can it be sustained, scaled, or adapted elsewhere after the grant ends?
5.7
(B) Innovation and learning
  • Does it take an Innovative approach to solving a key problem?
  • Is the potential impact greater than the risks?
  • Can we measure success?
6.0
(C) Ability to execute
  • Can the scope be accomplished in 6 months?
  • How realistic/efficient is the budget?
  • Do the participants have the necessary skills/experience?
4.6
(D) Community engagement
  • Does it have a specific target community and plan to engage it often?
  • Does it have community support?
  • Does it support diversity?
7.1
Comments from the committee:
  • The proposed project identifies a somewhat unique problem; the difficultly for non-experts or non-scholars to interpret or decipher the knowledge contained in the shastras. The solution to source academic commentaries on the shastras is therefore an innovative one.
  • No doubt about skills & experience of the proposers. Project leads seem to have experience and knowledge of Sanskrit scholarship.
  • Project supports diversity in content.
  • Some members feel this project fits with Wikimedia's strategic priorities to improve quality (by facilitating access to Sanskrit language resources) and increase participation (by supporting community efforts to create organizational models for the Sanskrit Wikisource and Wikipedia communities). Others are unsure to what extent getting these particular research papers released under a free license is a priority for Wikimedia.
  • Without a sense for how many authors will actually be willing to release their research papers under a free license, investing a lot of money in the management of this project involves substantial risk. There is no evidence that any scholars/institutions have given permission so far.
  • Negotiating these licensing issues and digitization in India could provide some useful learning.
  • Lack of criteria and clear process for selection of materials be put online is an issue. How to judge the value of specific papers? How to prioritize them? Missing information about quality control.
  • Unclear why 3,000 papers is a reasonable objective for the timeframe, and no details are provided about how the proposers intend to categorize and catalogue the 3,000 publications for use by the Wikisource/Wikipedia communities.
  • Activities proposed in this grant might be able to continue, but the project does not specifically mention an intention to develop materials or processes that will ensure its sustainability.
  • Some concerns that the bulk of the budget does not go towards supporting volunteer engagement. The activities of the project do not require much community participation.
  • Lots of endorsements indicate interest of this work and perceived value by the community. We note the small size of the target community however, and difficulty of scaling this project.
  • There are some interesting ideas here and a unique perspective on issues surrounding access to knowledge. It would be nice to see this proposal further developed in future so that there are 1) more concrete details about the proposed activities; 2) more consideration for sustainability after the grant; and 3) more ways of incorporating active community involvement.
  • A big commitment of a cultural partner may help a lot with the realization of the project.

Thank you for submitting this proposal. The committee is now deliberating based on these scoring results, and WMF is proceeding with its due-diligence. You are welcome to continue making updates to your proposal pages during this period. Funding decisions will be announced by early December. — ΛΧΣ21 17:06, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

Clarifications[edit]

I hereby want to make some clarifications regarding the discussion and valuable feedback given by the committee.

  • Permission - Here we would like to confirm that written permission from the Universities is all that is required for the online publication of these research papers. We have confirmation from 2 Universities already. In the Director’s meet held on 21st November, 7 research Institutes which are affiliated to KSU (Karnataka Samskrit University) were informed about the exercise and were requested by the Vice Chancellor Shri Srinivas Varakhedi himself to support the project by providing all the research papers pertaining to Shastras. All of them have agreed immediately keeping in view the larger context of the language being the final beneficiary.
  • No Samskrit texts – only (small) research papers- The project does not envisage any idea of Samskrit texts being published. Only research papers published on Shastras will be published online. These will in-turn fuel the content generation in the due course from other contributors.(Many of these Shastras can be compared to an encyclopaedia on a particular topic. However when the discerning students study the same, often clarity is required for application of the principles. Many Scholars have published small papers on such shastras . These research papers offer immense potential for future contributors from the point of view of content generation.)
  • Criteria for selection of material - A few hundred Samskrit Scholars well versed and experts in various Shastras guide the research students. The research papers will automatically be scrutinized for their authenticity, validity, and clarity before being allowed to be published as a researched paper. The quality of such research papers is the least of the worries since they are passed by the ultimate authority in the shastras - the scholars themselves.
  • Categorization - We will categorise all the research papers based on –Veda, Vyakarana, Jyotishyam, Dharmashastram, Aagama, Mimamsa, Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Dvaita-Advaita-Vishishtadvaita, Sahityam, Puranam, Shabdabodha.
  • Reasonable objective - The Goal was arrived at after initially doing a check on the kind of material available and the effort required to procure the content. All other critical requirements like Support from volunteers, time for travel, scrutiny, typing out the content, proof reading, uploading etc were factored in to arrive at the number. But here we would like to promise to do our best in bringing as many research papers as possible within the time frame of the project. - Shubha (talk) 05:04, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

What texts?[edit]

Hello. It is said, "No Samskrit texts – only (small) research papers". What does this mean? Only research papers about Shastras will be accepted? Will research be allowed for all Shastras, or just some of them? As I understand, there is no official list of Shastras. Is it possible for you to name the Shastras for which research will be allowed, so that the scope of research will be more clear? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:12, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Dear Blue Rasberry , I would like to clarify on this to you on behalf of Shubha. From what I can read from the proposal, its the research papers on the Shastras and not Shastras themselves. Most of the Shastras are already digitised in one form or other (may not be in Unicode necessarily) and bringing them onto Sa wikisource would be a matter of time and effort. And from what Shubha is trying to convey, she has approached some Universities, and its the University's decision on which research papers they are going to release under free license. And then these papers would be categorised as mentioned above. So the project scope may depend on which papers the universities release. And as per my knowledge UGC has mandated its sponsored researchers to release all research findings in a publicly accessible journal or publish it in a free license in electronic form. But still, most Universities did not implement onto it from India. Just 25926 theses at http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/, while equal number of PhDs awarded every year show that Universities somehow find it difficult to publish research papers online. This project, I hope, would bridge up the technical glitches and fears the Universities may probably have. Also, this would trigger for more content at Sa Wikipedia with readily available references/citations from these papers, which otherwise is very difficult to verify. I think this project's main aim is to evangelise open content access importance to various traditional, conservationist Universities in India and acquire the research papers. Once research papers are released by the Universities, the project grantee can define the scope and allow other volunteers to work with the excessive research papers, if any left. Hope I clarified some aspects. --Rahmanuddin (talk) 23:31, 26 November 2014 (UTC)
రహ్మానుద్దీన్ Can you provide a link to the UGC mandate about making papers available online? I work with some people and organizations which help universities with these mandates archive their papers online. Check out these examples on Wikisource - en:s:Wikisource:WikiProject_Open_Access/Programmatic_import_from_PubMed_Central. These are science papers, but they are archiving entire papers on a Wikimedia project. I have never heard that the UGC encourages universities to do this, but if it is true, then it would be a lot easier for us to partner with a university and host their papers because in that case we could save them the expense of setting up their own system. I had not understood that this was a possibility, and from reading the original proposal, I thought that this project was concerned with historical interpretations of Shastras and not contemporary ones. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:09, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Dear Blue Rasberry , While I do not have a web URL right now that speaks of his UGC mandate, but I have heard in one of the news very recently about UNESCO's suggestion to include State owned content under an open (read free) license. And subsequent adoption in NPTEL project. NROER has also recently started putting up content under CC-BY-SA. I would research through on this and get back to you with exact details. Thank you.
And regarding this IEG proposal, if the university does have a research paper that has been done on contemporary issue, it would definitely be possible. Again, I would like to iterate that most of the original texts are available in digital form. For instance, I have found texts of the four Vedas in Sanskrit but in Telugu script at Telugu Wikisource. So, if we can import such content after applying proper transliteration scheme, its quick to have original texts of Shastras on Sa wikisource as well. Thank you. --Rahmanuddin (talk) 01:14, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

Texts not online[edit]

I live in the United States and I have some idea of the differences between culture in India and Western culture. Western religious cultures, like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, have for centuries been quick to organize all of their writings into books. If someone wants a copy of the Bible or Koran then it is possible to get these things. In contrast, it is not possible to easily find Hindu religious texts in any standard form, or even to find out what those texts are. The Shastras described here are religious and cultural texts, but these books are not online in any accepted version, or published in book form, or translated, or on Wikisource.

In my mind, this project sounds like a review of an unpublished book. It is part of Indian culture to avoid publishing Shastras, which is why this project is difficult for me to imagine, because it is difficult to tie a lot of the research on these books to individual parts of the original texts when the original texts are not published in a public way.

I proposed that this project close scope and try to get some copies of the original texts onto Wikisource before proposing to bring the research upon them here. I know that is a troublesome proposal, but I am not sure how else to reconcile this project with an international understanding of its significance. Most people outside of India would want to see the Shastras along with the research, and not only the research. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:12, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Open access movement[edit]

There is a concept called en:open access, which is an international effort to make research papers free and available online. There are already open access projects in many Wikimedia projects. Sorting and arranging research papers has been complicated for many people who have tried to do this, mostly for copyright reasons. Can you say something about how this problem will address copyright issues with the papers which it seeks to share? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:12, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Hi! Don’t quite agree with you that you have some idea of the cultural differences between different religious cultures; I’d say you have a pretty good idea of it! Your subtle observation about how a non-Indian (or non-Eastern) mind, say a Western mind will perceive these papers is of equally great importance. I hope to address the issue or rather would like to explicate in the following manner and rather non-technically, mind.
The essential difference between the Sacred religious books mentioned by you is that they are ONE Book (with a capital B). In spite of there being numerous versions, say of the Bible, with all its ramifications of faith and creed, each faith, creed, sect or sub-sect still follows ONE Book (or at least a well-defined and relatively small number of Books). The Indian tradition on the other hand seems to have set off from the beginning, at least known beginnings, with a fairly large body of revelations and experiences (to avoid talking about Rishis and naming and classifying these “truths” as Religion), expressed in an oral form, which over centuries and millennia were expounded, treated, expanded, codified, made more accessible, explained and annotated by seers-seekers-thinkers- scholars-researchers, forming a colossal body of literature, viz. the Shastras.
The dissemination and sharing of knowledge continued further in a similar manner through commentaries and interpretations of the Shastras themselves or the topics in the Shastras by scholars; and still further through research papers by researchers. In tune with the intrinsic need of the modern mind, the treatises went on becoming more and more topical, section-ized and specialized.
We could derive 2 conclusions from the above. One, that the source material on which research is carried out is a different ball-game altogether, massive as well as complex. Two, that the Research papers this project aims to bring to the public domain through Wikisource are so to say of independent interest to the information seeker (who would be wise enough to choose Wikisource for his purpose). There are numerous websites and portals where what we have called “Texts” are available and that is not the priority of this project. However, on the other hand, it is extremely difficult for a present day seeker of information to find topical discussions and dissertations on these “Texts”, IN A SINGLE LOCATION, CATEGORIZED and SEARCHABLE. As such, the project is in excellent sync with the principles and objectives of Wikisource. In all probabilities, the mental process of query by the Wiki-fan would be that he or she already has the “Text” (or part of it) in mind and is seeking more detailed information, explanations, views and opinions related to it. This projects aims to provide such material to the Wiki-enquirer, within the set scope of the project at this stage.
I hope I have been able to convey our objective with reference to the particular questions you asked. Thanks for the minute thought given to the subject. - Shubha (talk) 12:04, 26 November 2014 (UTC)
Shubha I understand now, I was completely mistaken. You are right that it is not necessary to have the source texts, or at least, that having the source texts is an unrelated project. I now understand what you are trying to do. I asked above for a copy of any university mandate that these kinds of papers ought to be shared. Do you know of any university in India which already shares any of these papers, or which has a mandate to share them? If no mandate exists, then this project could at least propose one. If a mandate already exists, then I think this project should identify how many research papers it already has and could plan to import these to Wikisources if the copyright can be sorted out, and I think that can happen. Thanks for talking this through with me. I think this is a big project and idea and it is achievable. This idea can work and would have a lot of value. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:14, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Blue Rasberry thank you so much for your understanding and support. We acknowledge your suggestions and would like to consider them appropriately. - Shubha (talk) 13:43, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

Round 2 2014 Decision[edit]

IEG IdeaLab review.png

This project has not been selected for an Individual Engagement Grant at this time.

We love that you took the chance to creatively improve the Wikimedia movement. The committee has reviewed this proposal and not recommended it for funding, but we hope you'll continue to engage in the program. Please drop by the IdeaLab to share and refine future ideas!

Comments regarding this decision:
This proposal was a targeted effort to add diversity of content around a unique cultural area. While quite passionate in that regard, the unexplored licensing risks and uncertainty around volunteer engagement and sustainability didn’t leave the committee with enough confidence to go forward. We would encourage a future proposal with some groundwork in place around partnerships and intent-to-participate expressed from authors or institutions who hold the rights to these papers. More specific plans would also help justify measures of success in a way that lowers the uncertainty.

Next steps:

  1. Review the feedback provided on your proposal and to ask for any clarifications you need using this talk page.
  2. Visit the IdeaLab to continue developing this idea and share any new ideas you may have.
  3. To reapply with this project in the future, please make updates based on the feedback provided in this round before resubmitting it for review in a new round.
  4. Check the schedule for the next open call to submit proposals - we look forward to helping you apply for a grant in a future round.

Questions? Contact us.


Hello grant applicants! I think there is something more to this grant and that it could be re-drafted and explained in a different way. One aspect of this that could be a tipping point to making a more persuasive case is securing the copyright to any set of existing papers in advance of applying, as in my opinion, the lack of right to upload any papers is the most significant barrier in this process. I agree with this criticism which you already got:

  • Without a sense for how many authors will actually be willing to release their research papers under a free license, investing a lot of money in the management of this project involves substantial risk. There is no evidence that any scholars/institutions have given permission so far.

An organization called en:Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition has experience creating forms through which researchers can release their papers in a way to be compatible with Wikipedia licensing, and they support organizations which want to do this. To make this work, one first has to find an organization which is interested releasing rights, and assuming that they already have that wish, then this organization provides legal documents which describe the release of rights.

I like your idea and even if this team does not go forward with this, I think some other team in India will eventually do the same thing and bring these papers to Wikimedia projects. Thanks for making the proposal. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:17, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

Blue Rasberry thanks a lot for your encouraging words. We still hope to put efforts in this direction to bring these papers to Wikimedia projects. - Shubha (talk) 12:06, 6 December 2014 (UTC)