Tag Archives: India

India ‘limping’ in science publication rates

India has been ‘limping behind’ in science publishing rankings over the past decade, a leading analyst of India’s scientific publication output has cautioned. The warning follows an analysis of the total number of science and social science papers published by countries during the period 1 January 1999–31 October 2008 in journals indexed in Web of Science. The analysis was published by Thomson Reuters earlier this year. India is ranked twelfth in the index. While China — ranked fifth in the index — has jumped from 1.5 per cent of the world share in 1988–1993 to 6.2 per cent between 1999 and 2008, “India has limped” from just 2.5 to 2.6 per cent during the same time frame, observes Subbiah Arunachalam, a scientist with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and former editor of one of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s journals. Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan have also recorded a much higher growth rate than India, he notes. “India has a long way to go. Mere ambition to become a knowledge power is not enough,” Arunachalam, who tracks India’s annual scientific publication performance, told SciDev.Net. “When we recruit new faculty we do not give them sufficient funds and other infrastructure such as lab space,” Arunachalam says. “Where will they get bright students unless the schools are strengthened? Processes take time and you cannot compress them into here and now. Long term planning is necessary.” Arunachalam told SciDev.Net he sounded the first warning of India’s stagnation in scientific publications as early as 2002 but it was largely ignored by the country’s science administrators. The country has now started to take remedial measures by announcing new institutes for science education and research, new Indian Institutes of technology, and polytechnic institutes (see Indian plans boost next generation of scientists). But these “will take at least a decade to make a difference”, says Arunachalam. But Padmanabhan Balaram, director of Indian Institute of Science and editor of Current Science — a journal of the Indian Academy of Sciences — cautions in a 25 May editorial against the growing over-emphasis on counting citations and impact factors by the scientific community worldwide. “Even as we [Indian scientists] collectively lament the lack of enthusiasm of young students of science, there is little discussion of how institutions and the researchers within them are perceived from outside. ‘Fun’ may be a word hard to associate with [the] scientific community, obsessed with quantitative performance parameters …”


Silicon subcontinent

S. Arunachalam

15 January 2000, New Scientist,

WHEN a group of eight-year-olds at a secondary school in Chennai (what was until recently Madras) were asked recently what they’d like to be when they grow up, most replied: “Work with computers” or “work with computers in America”. Fifteen years ago, the smart ones would have picked medicine, engineering, the civil service or banking. A few adventurous ones would have dreamed of Bollywood or cricket. And the studious types would have chorused: “scientist”.

Those days are gone. India’s young and their parents know that the domestic software industry was worth 178 billion rupees (£2.5 billion) by 1999 and is growing fast. They know that popular websites such as Hotmail, the shopping site Junglee and the people search engine who were created by Indians. They know that the world’s youngest Microsoft certified software engineer Govind Jajoo is a 14-year-old boy from Jaipur in northwest India. And they watch enviously as executives from …


CHINA-INDIA: Scientists forge closer ties

S. Arunachalam

University World News, 14 September 2008

Indian and Chinese scientists are increasingly working together but it might take a few years before it becomes significant or sets the pace for South-South scientific collaboration. Until 2003, only a small percentage – around three-fourths of one per cent – of Indian papers were written in collaboration with Chinese authors, according to a report of a study published by Chennai-based Subbiah Arunachalam and IIT-Madras’ B Viswanathan.

Published in Current Science, a prominent Indian science publication, the study says that from 2004 onwards there has been a slow but perceptible rise in collaboration.

“International collaboration in scientific research is on the rise… The two great civilisations (of China and India) have learnt from each other for many centuries since the days of the Buddha and have had cultural and trade relations long before the well-documented travels in India by Fahian and Xuanzang,” note the authors.

But the past 50 years have seen the two Asian neighbours go through some border disputes and an uneasy peace. Yet, with doors open for improving ties, bilateral trade between the two countries has spurted in recent years.

In the study, South-South Cooperation: The case of Indo-Chinese collaboration in scientific research, Arunachalam and Viswanathan note that until a little over a decade ago, scientists in India were publishing a larger number of papers than those in China in journals indexed by the global Science Citation Index.

In 1997, China overtook India when Chinese scientists published 17,177 papers in SCI-indexed journals, as against 16,909 papers published by Indian scientists. Since then, China has accelerated the pace of R&D, and in 2007, China accounted for more than 2.76 times the number of papers from India, note the authors.

They found that in eight years from 2000, researchers from India and China have co-authored 1,807 papers. Of these, 1,682 were articles, 45 were reviews, 18 were letters, 36 were meeting abstracts and 26 concerned other issues.

“The number of Indo-Chinese papers has steadily increased over these eight years (from 124 in 2000 to 361 in 2007),” says the study.

Physics was found to be the most prominent area of India-China collaboration. Way behind came medicine. Multidisciplinary physics, physics of particles and fields, astronomy and astrophysics, nuclear physics and applied physics top the list with 468, 189, 181, 83 and 59 papers respectively
In many cases, India and China collaborated with partners from other countries, especially in areas like experimental high physics.

Other prominent nations on the global research scene considered collaboration with China to a much larger extent than with India, said the study. It noted that the ratio of preferring China over India for different countries was 4.2 for Japan, 3.52 for the US, 2.42 for South Korea, 2.30 for Russia and 1.95 for France.


How relevant is medical research done in India? – A study based on Medline

S. Arunachalam

Current Science Volume 72, Issue 12, 25 June 1997, Pages 912-922

Does India perform medical research in areas where it is most needed? According to Government of India sources, India suffers mainly from diarrhoeal diseases, infancy diseases, respiratory diseases, tuberculosis and malaria. An analysis of journal use as seen from seven years of Medline reveals that Indian researchers are active in general and internal medicine, paediatrics, pharmacology, immunology, pathology, oncology, surgery, cardiovascular research, gastroenterology and neurosciences. Apart from analysing the reasons for the mismatch, this study provides inventories of the amount and nature of available expertise and its institutional and geographic distribution.


A historiographic analysis of fuel-cell research A historiographic analysis of fuel-cell research in Asia – China racing ahead

S. Arunachalam and B. Viswanathan


Fuelcell research in China, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, over the years 1983-2007 is analysed and compared with that in USA for number of papers, document type, journals used and international collaboration. For India and China we have also identified the key researchers and institutions. Using HistCite, the visualization technique developed by Garfield and colleagues, we have constructed the historiographs for India and China based on both local citation scores (LCS) and global citation scores, and identified key papers. We find that the knowledge flow among different Asian countries is rather limited and that China has something to offer to India. The thrust in China is in developing noble metal nanoparticle catalysts supported on carbon nanotubes and the thrust in India is in the area of direct methanol fuel cells. In India, A. K. Shukla is the single most significant contributor to fuel cell research. He is the author of 14 of the 50 nodes in the India LCS historiograph.


Indian Medical Research Out of Touch?

Science 1 August 1997: Vol. 277. no. 5326, p. 643

Indian biomedical scientists are focusing on the diseases of the affluent at the expense of their own country’s health problems, suggests a study published in the 25 June issue of an Indian journal, Current Science


Low priority. Patients at a rural clinic.


Subbiah Arunachalam, an information scientist at the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Madras (now called Chennai), reports that, according to a review of Medline, the 10 fields in which the most papers were published between 1987 to 1994 did not include tropical medicine–infectious diseases such as malaria–or respiratory diseases. And despite India’s more than 12 million blind people, “hardly any” research is done in ophthalmology. The study showed that Indian authors are most prolific in the areas of general medicine, pediatrics, and pharmacology. In research targeted to specific diseases, cancer came first with 821 papers. There were 663 papers on cardiovascular diseases, compared with only 432 in tropical medicine.

In addition to having “lopsided” priorities, Arunachalam says, Indian biomedical research suffers from general low quality. Nearly three-fourths of some 20,000 articles by Indian authors over the 7-year period appeared in journals ranked as very “low impact” by the Institute of Scientific Information in Philadelphia, he reports. Only 58 papers appeared in high-impact journals like The Lancet or Science.

Many Indians believe the analysis is sadly on target. It reflects the fact that Indian medical research has “remained aloof from the people and continues to progress only by infusion of foreign know-how,” says cardiac surgeon Martanda Varma Sankaran Valiathan of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Gowdagere Vedanti Satyavati, director of the Indian Council for Medical Research, counters that “ICMR’s thrust areas coincide with national health priorities” and that other indices, such as the Index Medicus, show far more publications by Indian scientists than does Medline.

How relevant is medical research done in India- A study based on Medline, 1997, Current Science Vol 72, No 12, P 912-922

Open access – current developments in India

Berlin-4 Golm 29-31 March 2006

India is emerging from a land of cheap labour into a global player in world economy and geopolitics. She is increasingly perceived as a potential knowledge power. Harvard and Oxford are setting up centres of Indian studies. C&EN recently devoted a special section on science in India. Many corporations [GE, IBM, HP] have set up research labs in India. Several speakers yesterday mentioned India. Even President Bush has yielded to India on the question of nuclear reactors