UKIBC & RSC Roundtable: How will the Growth in Open Science Impact India and the UK’s Scientific Progress and Business Growth?

By Emma Lynch, Tara Panjwani

Executive Summary and action points:

  • Open Science is a central theme in India’s new science, technology and innovation policy and is emphasising on the diffusion of knowledge across the community. Huge investments are being planned to build platforms/programmes to support this vision.
  • Academics suggested that an UK-India Platform on Open Science should be set up for creating awareness, discussion about issues as well as joint projects. This could be a single platform for bilateral Open Science programmes, addressing UN Sustainable Goals.
  • Scientific publishers (Springer-Nature & RSC), SERB and other organisations are open to collaborate and promote various aspects of Open Science in India.
  • It was observed that Open Science Framework should be planned, and common standards should evolve for data management and sharing to propagate Open Science practices.

Professor Sandeep Verma, Secretary, Science and Engineering Research Board, India

Professor Verma shared an introduction to India’s Science Technology Innovation Policy (STIP) open science framework. The draft STIP 2020 document is the 5th of its kind and is very encouraging because it places open science at the front and centre of its framework.

The reasons we need it are manifold — India has seen unprecedented growth in science & technology over the last decade, and this policy gives relevance to India’s future endeavours, broadens the scope and scale of how science will be conducted in the future, and highlights how important the sharing of knowledge will be to advance various national missions critical for growth.

Looking ahead, India needs a STIP that enables us to build upon our current assets which are as follows:

  • India is the 2nd largest in terms of number of stem graduates
  • 3rd in position for its quantity of publications
  • 3rd in the number of start-ups

India is also doing very well in the number of unicorns, and, in addition, the whole ecosystem is being strengthened to transfer knowledge from the lab to product and prototype and onward to full-fledged technology and business ready levels of investments. So, the STIP 2020 must be a people-centric policy which allows for optimal use of resources and prioritises society and the ease of living. Finally, the creation and diffusion of knowledge must be made available to all those in the research ecosystem and beyond and for all stakeholders. Openness must be at the core of the policy at every level, and it must be inclusive and fulfil the ambitions of the nation’s citizens.

The Indian government is very keen on institutionalization of this policy and wholly committed to bringing out this openness and transform it into self-reliance – the key mantra.

Professor Abhishek Dey, Indian Association for Cultivation of Sciences India

Professor Dey addressed Open Science and its impact on Indian scientific growth and community. Open science is a real necessity for India. Especially because over the last 15 years, scientific activity in India has exploded. There are numerous institutes and research bodies as well as more clients for Open Science than we had before.

What is crucial at this point is a data repository which provides direct backup of the data collected in centrally funded institutes and thus ensures transparency and open access to anyone interested in the research. This repository can start by being institutional with the hope that someday it will become regional and later national.

This data repository is important for the following reasons:

  • In India, 90% of the funding comes from the public resources, so we owe it to the public to make the data open and transparent.
  • In terms of publications and resources, it should be made compulsory to upload the research that is to be published into the archives. This is because once you put the research in an archive it automatically becomes open access and open to discussion and, most importantly, can be used for teaching. Currently, there exists a huge gap between research being done and what is taught to students, especially in the advanced courses. It is here that the uploaded material in archives can really aid teaching especially at the smaller institutes.
  • It will contribute to the development of an open mindset moving forward. Now, there is a real disconnect between industry research, academic research, and students – i.e., academics are not in touch with industry research, industry rarely share their research, academicians are not accessible to the public, and students are not able to access the research (academic or industry) unless they go to the top institutes. In addition, any collaborations that do exist between academia and industry tend to be short term with focused goals rather than being more blue-sky projects or the establishment of centres of excellence. This results in three different mindsets and limits the scope of scientific activity and impact.
    • This is a major problem and needs to be addressed. We need to change our mindset to be more collaborative to ensure resource sharing, and we need to do public outreach to encourage students to participate. Science should be by everyone and for everyone.

Professor Anshu Bhardwaj, Principal Scientist, CSIR – Institute of Microbial Technology, India

Professor Bhardwaj focused on Open Science and its impact on global science and community. She shared the perspective of authors and researchers on the acceptability and adoption of open science in their day-to-day practice, highlighted key challenges and put forward some recommendations.

One of the main problems is that open science is exploited by predatory journals, and it is getting increasingly difficult to segregate the authentic ones from the predatory ones. In addition, accreditation pressure on universities is promoting corruption in open science. We need a mechanism to flag predatory journalism, and this is very critical because if addressed there will be more acceptability of open science.

It is worth considering incentives such as reduced publication charges to encourage and facilitate more open access. Standards for data reporting should also be mandatory for submitting proposals and manuscripts submissions. This will make it easy for downstream analysis going ahead.

Another recommendation is to do an Indo-UK MOOC for Open Science. The primary objective will be to have custom MOOCs for different science domains and use this as a platform to generate awareness and update everyone especially the young generation on science and publication ethics.

We can bring in sustainability in open science if we can generate more ambassadors of open science. There should be a corpus of funds available to generate a network of OS implementers across institutes, provide mobility grants for training programmes, reward open science practices (OSP), and reward good engagement practices (GEP) – all these incentives will go a long way.

Citations are not the only way to identify who is doing a good job. We also need to bring in altimetric (a new matrix to supplement citations) in focus to assess the impact of science and engagement with a wider audience.

Using AI to eliminate citation bias was also discussed. Self-citation, authority of the author, and journal impact factor lead to citation bias and create a divide in the core matrix to assess the value of science. Until we find another matrix, we need to make sure this works on evidence and not just the limited knowledge of the authors.

Venkatesh Sarvasiddhi, Managing Director, Springer-Nature India

Venkatesh discussed the role of the publisher in the emerging open science world. He outlined Springer-Nature’s core mission statement, which is to help researchers advance discovery by making their findings as accessible, understandable, discoverable, usable, reusable, and shareable as possible. The core function of the organisation is committed to open science, open research, and open access.

In India there are I.65 million schools and 44,000 higher education institutions. Ideally, we need to ensure that open access platforms are available to a larger spectrum starting from the school level. There is a real need to evangelize this concept by promoting it in communities, having ambassadors in schools and colleges, giving awards, nurturing influencers, and providing incentives.

We also need to ensure access is available to industries, SMEs, and start-ups so that they can be empowered to use this information in a much better way.

Collaboration in Open Science is especially important in the Indian context because currently different entities are doing work in silos, and when they come together the impact will be significant. Collaboration will also yield other benefits such as increased visibility, immediate online access, citation advantage, and accelerated science.

The growing role of AI in Open Science cannot be overlooked. Over the next 5 years, how content is going to be consumed will change rapidly, e.g., moving into VR, augmented reality, etc. Therefore, the best teachers will not necessarily come from Ivy league colleges, they could come from anywhere.  Content is going to be the great gamechanger, and people who can create great content will be the real influencers.

Sara Bosshart, Head of Open Access Journals, Royal Society of Chemistry

Sara examined sustainable models for Open Access and beyond. Open Access means that published outputs are free, but it isn’t free. There are costs associated around platform hosting, the community development done by publishers, peer review management and additional services after publication.

Accordingly, she raised the important question, ‘How do we fund Open Science and Open Access and think outside of the box of the models we currently employ?’ The biggest challenge about Open Science is where does the money come from and ensuring it’s sustainable over the long term.

Sustainable means models that are inclusive allowing authors everywhere to participate equally and allowing publishers to continue to support the costs of their publishing operations. In the case of society, these models should support their community and be priced fairly for institutions. So, it all comes down to fairness.

The APC author pay model and the traditional subscription model are being replaced by emerging models where there are institution type deals to pay for publishing. There has also been a rise in collective action models which get groups of institutions to fund open access collectively to move away from author paying – the more institutions participate the more the costs go down. One of the most prominent such models is the ‘Subscribe to Open’ model (S2O) which relies on existing subscription procurement processes and leverages community support. This model is relatively new, collects non-subscriber usage data, and allows immediate open access without author fees.

Other examples of alternative models include PLOS Community Action Publishing, Direct to Open and Flip it Open.

It is worth considering how these models will work in India. India has incorporated Open Science into its S&T roadmap and calling for One Nation One Subscription, which creates an opportunity for a nationwide OA deal. A notable initiative is that of Manipal Academy of Higher Education which has recently launched an open access publishing hub in India with F1000 – an example of good partnership.

The key takeaway is that there is a real opportunity to be innovative and create the types of models that will mean Open Access can be both sustainable and fair.

Dr Anand Byrappa, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore  

Dr Byrappa addressed how developing Open Science plans to influence at an institutional level. The global average of Open Access is 26% and up. More publishers are now talking about Open Access, and its models are becoming globally more profitable and more growth centric.

In the Indian context, the global pricing model is too high, and the costs involved are exorbitant. At IISC, 700 articles are published as Open Access, and the average OA publishing fee is 3,000 dollars for each article, which is hugely expensive.

With these prices, the current OA models are not cut out for developing countries. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that most institutes have no idea how much they are spending towards publishing because payments are scattered, with most coming from government bodies such as the Department of Science and Technology, and do not come from the institution’s budgets. Suffice to say, they are spending beyond what they can afford. For example, at IISC, 80% of their library budget is spent on publishing fees which is extremely high and unsustainable. If DST were to look at how much they are spending to publish Open Access, they would be shocked.

This situation cannot continue, and something needs to change. Could the answer lie in India’s New National Education Policy NEP 2020 and the One Nation One Subscription policy? It is time to relook at the collective costs involved and come up with a real solution that doesn’t involve such high prices.

Many thanks to our brilliant speakers for their time and efforts on such an important topic. It is conversations such as this that can progress positive change for the higher education sector. If you would like more information on Open Science or anything specifically discussed in this session, please email UKIBC’s higher education lead Tara Panjwani at

List of participants and speakers

Professor Sandeep Verma, Secretary, Science and Engineering Research Board
Professor Abhishek Dey, Professor, Indian Association for Cultivation of Sciences
Dr Anshu Bhardwaj,  Principal Scientist  CSIR Institute of Microbial Technology
Venkatesh   Sarvasiddhi, Managing Director  Springer Nature, India
Dr   Anand   Byrappa, Librarian  Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Kevin  McCole, Managing Director, UK India Business Council
Dr  Sara  Bosshart, Head Open Access journals, Royal Society of Chemistry
Professor  Samuel  Raj, Director, Centre for Drug Design & Design, SRM University
Professor Amitava Das, Dean, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata
Dr  Ashis  Mukherjee  Consultant
Mr  Martin  Donnelly, Manager (Funder Relations), Royal Society of Chemistry
Mr  Richard  Kidd,  Head, Chemistry Data  Royal Society of Chemistry
Mr  Ajit  Sharma, General Manager,  Royal Society of Chemistry, India
Mr  Rajesh  Parishwad, Manager, External Relations  Royal Society of Chemistry India
Dr  Aparna  Ganguly, Editoral Development Manager  Royal Society of Chemistry India
Mr  Appa Rao  Patra, Manager (India and Middle-East  Royal Society of Chemistry
Ms  Lindsey  Munro, Manchester Metropolitan University
Mr  Eric  Lou, Reader and International Lead, Manchester Metropolitan University
Professor  Richard   Stephenson, School of Chemistry,  University of East Anglia
Ms  Helen  Carlin, International Partnerships Manager,  University of Liverpool

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