Friday, April 01, 2011

More stats on India's scientific enterprise

After reading the previous post, my colleague Prof. U. Ramamurty sent me the link to this Science Watch listing of field-wise comparison of India's performance against the world average. It has quite a few surprises.

First, the unsurprising bit: India's average for citations per paper is smaller than the world average in all the fields.

The surprise is in the fields that come closest to the world average: Engineering (a deficit of 16 percent), Computer Science (20%) Materials Science (22%), Physics (22%) and Psychiatry / Psychology (33%) are at the top. We see a lot of biology-related fields (agriculture, medicine, biochemistry, microbiology) among those where India's average is less than half the world average.

Once again, this table represents a snapshot; it has no timelines and trends. The accompanying report has some (but only some) info that points to a positive trend in India's share in publications and citations:

... [S]ince 2000 [India's] output has increased from some 16,000 papers to 40,000, world share has risen from 2.2% to 3.4%, and citation impact has improved from 40% to nearly 60% of the world average. While that means that Indian research still underperforms in per-paper influence compared with other nations, the gains represented by these statistics are noteworthy.

For the 11-year period from 2000 to 2010, India accounted for 2.8% of all the scientific publications. What are the fields in which India "held the highest world share"?

... agricultural sciences (5.8%), chemistry (5.4%), materials science (4.8%), pharmacology (4.4%), plant and animal sciences (3.7%), physics (3.6%), engineering (3.3%), and geosciences (3.2%) – all higher than India’s overall 2.8% share.


  1. Fëanor said...

    Don't know if you saw this large survey of world English proficiency? It shows, e.g. that the Chinese are getting more proficient at the language than Indians - shock! horror! But because overall the proficiency of the two countries is poor, so is the extent of collaborative research between scientists of these nations and the industrialised West. While Chinese might be the 2nd biggest churners of academic literature, their lack of English hampers their influence. "In 2009 only 15% of scientific papers
    published in China cited an international collaborator, compared to 45% in the U.K. and 48% in Germany. This inability to read the research published by others and to contribute to international innovation is a significant challenge for countries lacking English skills amongst highly trained professionals."

    Not sure if this applies to Indian scientists as well?