Knowledge, Open-access and Us

Submitted by sankalp on
Knowledge, Open-access and US

On the occasion of the dedicatory services of the “Bose Institute” the great Indian scientist Aacharya Jagadish Chandra Bose spoke the following:

“The lectures given here will not be mere repetitions of second-hand knowledge. They will announce new discoveries, demonstrated for the first time in these halls. Through regular publication of the work of the Institute, these Indian contributions will reach the whole world. They will become public property. No patents will ever be taken. The spirit of our national culture demands that we should forever be free from the desecration of utilizing knowledge only for personal gain.”

“It is my further wish that the facilities of this Institute be available, so far as possible, to workers from all countries. In this I am attempting to carry on the traditions of my country. So far back as twenty-five centuries, India welcomed to its ancient universities, at Nalanda and Taxila, scholars from all parts of the world.” Yogananda, Paramhansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. The Philosophical Library, 1946.

I experienced instant delight on reading these words. There are many powerful messages hidden in the above golden words. Let me share a few which have deep significance with blood transfusion medicine.

There are quite a few journals available dedicated to the field of blood transfusion medicine. However, only two journals are truly open access. One of them is 'The Asian Journal for Transfusion Medicine' from India and the other one is 'Blood Transfusion' from Italy. Open access is the principle that research should be accessible online, for free, immediately after publication. Open access is improving the way scholarly information is shared. These are journals from where anyone can read without having to pay a hefty membership fee.

'Transfusion' - The Journal of American Association for Blood Banks, 'Vox Sanguinis' - journal of the International Society of Blood Transfusion, 'Transfusion Medicine' - the journal of British Blood Transfusion Society, 'Blood' the journal of American Society of Hematology, the 'The Lancet' and even 'Indian Journal of Hematology and Blood Transfusion' the journal of Indian Society of Hematology & Transfusion Medicine are all not fully open access. The giants of modern blood transfusion medicine do not lend their shoulder to the keen students of transfusion medicine. It's strange how even the accreditation agency the National Accreditation Board of Hospitals makes available their standard after payment of a fee.

Let us commit ourselves to do pioneering, original and insightful work nothing short of the best in the world and then share it. We in India have a unique position of opportunity and scale. This puts us in a far better position to do original work. We need to think forward and go beyond the tendency to see compliance to the standards laid out by the West as our further most limits. We need to start innovating while maintaining (or even surpassing) the most stringent levels of scientific scrutiny and evidence based approach. We need to get more comfortable and in tune to large studies carried out with strict commitment to quality and standards across multiple institutions in a way that enhances the confidence to the research. There is a need to replace the 'me' with the 'we'. There is a need to start looking at the benefits more from a 'global' than a 'personal' point of view.

Sankalp India Foundation firmly believes that the knowledge that we accumulate as part of our service to the society should be shared and more importantly shared freely. We are committed to making our knowledge public property and accessible to one and all. In keeping with this spirit we regularly share our knowledge and experience through our monthly newsletter The Sankalp Patrika and through which is available free of cost to any user. In addition where there is sufficiently novel work done by us which requires the test of independent scientific scrutiny we are committed to subjecting it to peer review and publishing it in journals which share the same in a truly open access manner.

Let's do the modern science while living the age old Indian tradition.