Saturday, December 06, 2008

Prof. C.N.R. Rao: 75 years and over 1500 papers

Yesterday, Prof. C.N.R. Rao's 75th birthday was celebrated in a grand fashion by his students and admirers. While I missed the event, I was happy to see two news reports on it. Some excerpts from one of them:

"The Indian Institute of Science is celebrating its centenary year and this year is also my golden jubilee as a scientist. The only weapon I have is publishing papers, and I want to do research till my last day,” said Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, CNR Rao, here on Friday.

“The only Indian scientist that I know who did research till his last day was Sir C V Raman. Most scientists publish one or two papers and forget about it. I feel miserable if I do not publish 20-30 papers a year. The only way to stay alive in science is to publish papers,” Rao said in his address during a felicitation ceremony organised to honour him on his 75th birthday. The Linus Pauling Research Professor, who published his first paper at the age of 19, has about 1,500 papers to his credit.

“As I am getting old there is one doubt that bothers me: What happens after I am gone? Will all things I did disappear? To this I would say that publishing paper is the only course to reach immortality.

There are many people in this country who look down upon people who publish papers or comment on their work. In fact, I am sorry to say, some of the Academies have encouraged the art of non-publishing,”


  1. Anonymous said...

    a few quick points:
    quote from the excerpt:

    "only weapon I have is publishing papers"

    1. when he says "weapon" who is he fighting against?

    another quote:

    "I feel miserable if I do not publish 20-30 papers a year."

    Feynman published only 37 papers his entire career. Everybody knows who is the "immortal" one amongst the two.

    And what is this balderdash about immortality? Is that the reason why one does science? To be "immortal?"

    Perhaps that explains his wanting to be compared to Raman.

  2. Anonymous said...

    Anon above: a minor correction. Feynman published approx 70 research papers - a quick search in web of science will give you the details.

    But yeah, he averages over 250 citations per paper, with 4 papers that had been cited more than a 1000 times.

  3. Anonymous said...

    It is easy to criticise a person who has accomplished a lot(atleast better than the critics). A non performer has more time to criticise others. It shows one person's incompetence. Why didn't you ask "why Feynmann need 70 papers? why not with one paper?" Is there any limit for publishing papers? More number means more efforts you are making to reach your goal. If the success rate in a mission is one percent one has to attempt 100times to be successful. I feel the blind and sceptic criticism will reflect nothing but the critic's inability to shine in life.

  4. புருனோ Bruno said...

    As long as the papers are original works, there is nothing wrong in publishing them..

    There is no great glory is just adding the name in the last for the name list in papers published by staff and students working under oneself.

    and on the other hand, // In fact, I am sorry to say, some of the Academies have encouraged the art of non-publishing,”//

    சீச்சீ, இந்த பழம் புளிக்கும்

  5. Anonymous said...

    >1. when he says "weapon" who is he fighting against?

    His critics.

  6. Anonymous said...

    NOBEL comittee should give him noble prize to comemorate 100 yrs or else atleast all PATRIotiC INDIANS must boycott noble prize ceremony by winners like amartYA sen and PACHORI should return their prizes in protest. This is reAlly too MUCH. Enough is enough. CNR Rao is gratest living scientist and it is a inSULT 2 INDIA . let us all in the science community those who are patriotic rise in supportof this national gem. also, even ABDUL KALAM must get noble prize for sccessfuly guiding moon mission into space. INDIA has greatest scientists in world but politics is keeping them from getting recognized. so let us unite. JAI hind!!!

  7. Wavefunction said...

    I wonder what CNRR's H index is...
    Sometimes it does not matter how many papers you publish because a single paper can make you immortal...consider Axel Becke whose paper on density functional theory has been cited more than 23,000 times.
    On the other hand, the most cited paper ever is supposed to be Oliver Lowry's paper on the folin phenol reagent. Ever heard of him?...

  8. Anonymous said...

    For all CNR's mighty talks, I am yet to see him, creating a new field in science..All he has been doing till date is to jump into research areas that are exciting at that time (superconductivity in late 1980s to early 2000).

  9. Giri@iisc said...


    CNR's h-index is 81. There is only one more faculty in IISc, who has a h-index above 50 i.e., Prof. P. Balaram.

    CNR's h-index is among the top 50 living chemists in the world. You can look at the complete list at

    It is slightly outdated (June 2008).

    Regarding the other comment,

    // In fact, I am sorry to say, some of the Academies have encouraged the art of non-publishing,”//

    சீச்சீ, இந்த பழம் புளிக்கும்

    This is ridiculous. CNR is a fellow of all academies. However, the academies have overlooked a few faculty who have published and cited a lot. Probably, CNR meant that.

  10. Anonymous said...

    Now , Venki the Nobel in chemistry has published 95 papers . All high class and very difficult ones.

  11. Anonymous said...

    I think a balance between quality of work and quantity of publications would be a better scientific career. But one has to publish standard papers to keep a dynamical scientific life. CNR has been doing dynamic research by publishing standard papers..he has made some standard for science research in India. CNR is a top class scientist .... most important is his hard work and devotion.. Other Indian scientist should learn from him.

  12. Anonymous said...

    dont argue on this topic, publishing papers are good, leave the rest to god (nobel prize and other stuff)

  13. Arjun Ravichandran said...

    Leaving all things apart, Great people like Prof.CNR Rao serve as an inspiration to many students and researchers in their initial stage. They serve as the benchmark when India is facing a tough goal to improve research outputs.