Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ranking of Indian universities based on their research performance

Gangan Prathap (National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources, New Delhi) is the author of this preliminary study (pdf) ranking Indian universities based on papers listed in the Web of Science database. In order to do a fair comparison so that universities are compared only with similar institutions, he has wisely left out the institutions of national importance [Grrr, I hate this description --it implies universities are not of any "national importance"].

Here's the list of the top 20 research universities in India (based on their publications in the year 2008):

1. Delhi
2. Banaras Hindu
3. Jadavpur
4. Anna
5. Panjab
6. Annamalai
7. Madras
8. Aligarh Muslim
9. Calcutta
10. CMC, Vellore
11. Hyderabad
12. Jawaharlal Nehru
13. Poona
15. Allahabad
16. Rajasthan
17. Sri Venkateswara
18. Guru Nanak Dev
19. Mysore
20. Mangalore

One of the things he notes is the year-to-year variability in the rank order. For example, Mangalore University, with an overall University ranking of 20 in 2008, has an All India Rank of 23 in 2007 and 86 in 2004! This is clearly because the ranking is based on just one factor which, for any university, has a pretty large year-to-year variability.

Another observation from Pratap's data: the number of papers from the top 20 universities has registered a near 100 percent increase -- from 4034 to 8005 -- during the five year period of 2004-08.

The presence of CMC (Vellore) so high in that list (as opposed to better known, and better funded medical institutions such as AIIMS or PGI, Chandigarh) is also noteworthy. I think. [Update: As pointed out by Pratik in his comment, both AIIMS and PGI come under institutions of national importance, and therefore are left out by Pratap in this exercise.]

As Pratap points out, this is only the first such exercise, and it uses quantity -- the number of papers -- as its yardstick. He indicates that this effort may be expanded to include quality indicators such as citation counts.

[Speaking of which, I should link to this Current Science editorial by Prof. P. Balaram saying some nasty things about scientometrics.]

Anyways, if you want to know how the Indian Institutes of Technology (and IISc as well) have done in terms of publications during these last five years, check out Giridhar's post! [Update: Giridhar informs us In the comments section, Giridhar informs us that he has compiled a list (pdf) of top 40 Indian universities based not just on their publications, but also on citations and the h-index. See this post for the context.]


  1. Giri@iisc said...

    In my blog, I have also compared various indian universities based on publications, citations etc.


  2. Pratik Ray said...

    Isnt AIIMS an 'Institute of National Importance"? I think that's one reason why AIIMS doesnt find its way to the top 20 list.

  3. Megha said...

    I am quite shocked that CMC Vellore is so low in ranking when publications are taken into consideration. This is because CMC is one of the few institutes to get strategic funding awards from various organization such as the Wellcome Trust, to improve its capacity and research output. in fact, in terms of clinical and public health research it's a top institute in India. So, I am sad that in spite of availability of resources and academic freedom that most national universities may not have, CMC is still mid order in this ranking.

  4. pradeepkumar said...

    I wonder why University of Hyderabd, one of the finest Universities in India in terms of research, is at the bottom of the list? There is something seriously wrong with this analysis.

  5. Giri@iisc said...


    They are correct. Hyderabad is ranked 2 in terms of h-index but 8th in terms of publications alone. Look at my rankings, which is more detailed.


  6. Anonymous said...


    Note that CMC Vellore is top of the medical list. Needless to say, none of the others have even made it to the list. A quick and dirty Pubmed and Cochrane search will reveal that citations from CMC significantly outweigh (and I mean that in statistical terms) those from other top Indian medical schools. A key issue this survey misses altogether is that of the citation index, where I think CMC scores again, albeit anecedotally. Publication is a complex business, merely publishing a paper in a web of science listed journal is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Impact factors and citation indices are key markers of academic credibility. So, the methodology of this study is crude. The study itself is a great initiative nonetheless. More power to Gangan Prathap. India really needs more studies like this and with far far better methodology.

    And thanks for posting, Abinandan.

    A doctor and epidemiologist

  7. Anonymous said...


    CMC is on the top of med list - but when you compare with other big universities like Delhi & Jadhavpur, CMC occupies a lower place - because of the criterion employed, i.e, total NO. of papers. Obviously the big univs have far more disciplines and departments.

  8. Anonymous said...

    AIIMS is not on the list, and is ahead of CMC in terms of PubMed, Cochrane, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycInfo et al, as far as I know. However, CMC publishes papers under various banners e.g. CMC, BV Moses and ICMR Centre, as South Asia Cochrane Collaboration etc. And AIIMS has an in-house indexed journal, the NMJI, which significantly swells our tally, though this, of course biases the data. But I agree with my colleague, this survey is crude.

  9. Anonymous said...

    As a product of an Indian university, I have to say this whole ranking of Indian universities, as fun as it might be, is also a bit unsavory. A bit like the Top Ten list of all gutters in town!
    ...based on publications !! are you kidding me??? publications in which journals --- the Journal of no-one's-ever-going-to-read-me???
    This kind of an exercise in nonsense serves only to obscure the one overarching fact of higher education in India - The WHOLE thing is rotten, without exception (ok well maybe not NCBS).
    I mean profs hired at IISc who sit and blog all day - on taxpayer's money - WTF ???

  10. Anonymous said...

    @Last Anony

    Man, WTF if you were unable to grab knowledge from Profs in your university. IISc and some of the universities mentioned in the list are doing much better work and a number of publications are in highly revered journals.

    IISc is counted among top 100 universities of world in R&D contribution (and those rankings are from western agencies).

  11. Anonymous said...

    Bwaaa Haaa haaaa ! Keep dreaming. IISc and IITs are not part of any top-100 list complied on the basis of any metric.
    Besides, my comments were not about IISc/IITs, but rather the Indian universities discussed in the post above.
    Sure IISc/IITs are better than other Indian universities, but it would be a huge stretch to call them world-class.
    Just ask your self one question: Out of the 20 universities listed above which one would you be really really desperate to attend? See my point? It doesn't matter if you arrange all gutters on a list from 1 to 20; you're never going to jump into any.

  12. Anonymous said...

    IISc can not be included in the list of top univs in the world - by any stretch of imagination. Let us face it - though IISc might be the best in India. An institute averaging roughly 3-3.5 papers per faculty per year in the last several years, world class? only our govt. bureaucrats seem to think that way


  13. Anonymous said...

    @Anon above:

    I totally agree with you. I am not sure whether the figure of 3-3.5 papers per faculty per year at IISc is true or not, but if it is, then its even more ridiculous given how profs at IISc don't even have to teach undergraduate courses (unlike most top-100 universities in the world).

  14. Anonymous said...

    3-3.5 paper per faculty is a stretch. This is due to science faculty. Less than 10% of engineering faculty publish more than 2 papers a year. Yes, less than 10%. See the other blog, Life of IISc, which gives all kinds of statistics.