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NMIMS Hosts ERASMUS International Conference on Open Science – Sparks Dialogue on the Adoption of Open Science

Mumbai, India, March (date), 2024 – SVKM’s NMIMS Deemed-to-be-University hosted a conference on Open Science held under the aegis of the ERASMUS Open Asia-Boosting engagements in higher education institutes in Open Science in India and Malaysia, in collaboration with leading universities from across the world. The consortium meeting for the partner schools took place on March 19 and 20, 2024, followed by the International Conference on Open Science on March 21 and 22, 2024 at NMIMS Mumbai.

The partner universities for the Open Asia ERASMUS Project included Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, India; University of Tampere, Finland; VU Amsterdam University, Netherlands; University of Malaya, University of Malaysia Sabah & University of Malaysia Sarawak- all from Malaysia; International School for Social and Business Studies and European Policy Development & Research Institute both from Slovenia.

Dr. Ramesh Bhat, Vice Chancellor of NMIMS was the Convenor of the conference, and Dr. Sharad Mhaiskar, Pro Vice Chancellor of NMIMS, and Dr. Olesea Sirbu, Vice-rector for International Relations at the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova, served as the Co-Convenors. Meena Saxena, Director, International Linkages NMIMS University, is the ERASMUS Open Asia, Project Coordinator.

Extending a warm welcome to all the dignitaries, Dr. Ramesh Bhat, said, “The Open Science Forum is vital for researchers in tackling the problem of biased journal publications. About 60-70% of research faces hurdles in getting published due to this bias. With this forum, researchers can openly discuss their hypotheses, avoiding wasted time on unproductive topics. These interventions will promote open science and promote a positive shift in research culture. NMIMS is fully committed to embracing the OSF framework to drive forward a culture of open science and innovation.”

The two-day conference saw participants take part in discussions on various aspects of Open Science, including the Open Science experience across various countries, national policy development, community engagement, the significance of artificial intelligence in Open Science, commercial and open-source software, data-sharing, and open-access publishing.

Dr. Man Mohan Sharma, Emeritus Professor of Eminence, Institute of Chemical Technology, was the Chief Guest at the conference. Sharing a unique perspective, Dr. Sharma, said, “In universities, we have what is called spiritual freedom to pursue ideas. Research, contrary to normal belief, is unstructured because you don’t know the result. Open science encourages curiosity-driven research. It’s about trying new things without knowing the outcome. Failures are harbingers of success. If you want to do something original and you have that curiosity, how do you strike at a new idea? That treatment is not going to come without open science.”

Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Senior Advisor, Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Former Secretary of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) emphasised the importance of adopting an open science policy to create a vibrant environment through a vision for India’s Science, Technology and Innovation. He said this approach was crucial to align with the global transition from a closed to an open science world.

In an era marked by unprecedented technological advancements and complex societal challenges, the traditional paradigms of scientific research and knowledge dissemination are rapidly evolving. In India, the Open Science movement, symbolising the principles of transparency, collaboration, and accessibility crucial for addressing the intricate problems facing our world today, has begun to gain traction over the past few years. Open Access journals have proven pivotal in promoting Indian researchers in both, international and national databases, with central repositories boosting accessibility to scholarly publications.

According to Dr. Olesea Sirbu, “International collaboration is essential in advancing scientific research and ensuring its accessibility to all levels of society. This Open Science conference is an opportunity to strengthen ties between institutions and promote a culture of openness and inclusivity to encourage new opportunities for discovery and address global challenges in the field.”

Always at the forefront of emerging trends and innovation, faculty at SVKM’s NMIMS are actively involved in activities that support the implementation of open science, which includes collaborating on projects that align with the principles of open science, publishing in open-access journals, and utilising open-source software for research purposes.

Some faculty members of various schools and disciplines at SVKM’s NMIMS are working on research projects in compliance with the open science policy. For example, Dr. Kapil Juvale from the (SPPSPTM) is working in collaboration with the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative (DNDi), Geneva, to develop therapeutics for neglected diseases such as leishmaniasis.

Meanwhile, numerous faculty members at NMIMS publish their research in open-access journals, which enables immediate access to their work without any restrictions. The number of publications from NMIMS faculty in open-access journals has been rising of late.

At NMIMS, efforts are also on to transition from proprietary software to free open-source software. This is being done to support research, data management, and bibliography management. The Open Asia Project promotes Open Science principles among participating institutions, promoting transparency, collaboration, and innovation in scientific research. The conference, titled, ‘Unlocking Knowledge: A Conference on Open Science’, paved the way for a more inclusive and impactful scientific community throughout India by bringing scientists, researchers, and scholars together to explore the progressive potential of Open Science through discussions on project objectives, strategies, and future collaborations.

As part of the ERASMUS Open Asia Project, NMIMS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Tampere, Finland. The signing ceremony, which also marked the end of the event, took place on March 22, 2024, and proved to be a milestone in international academic cooperation.

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