Monday, August 08, 2011

Prof. M.S. Ananth's Directorship at IIT-M

In an interview with A. Chitradeepa of The Hindu, he looks back at IIT-M's progress during the 10 years of his leadership:

... When Prof. Ananth took over, IIT-M had 320 faculty and 120 of them were to retire in five years. “Having young faculty can refresh the system if they have the academic freedom. With this idea in mind, I recruited 300 young faculty. And this is the biggest addition in the institution in ten years time,” he says. [...]

... Research publication has gone up by a factor of four. IIT-M has three publications per year per faculty member. [...] “At IIT-M the research productivity is on par with any top university around the world.”


  1. Giri@iisc said...

    "IIT-M has three publications per year per faculty member. At IIT-M the research productivity is on par with any top university around the world.”

    Excellent. However, let us look at the real stats.

    Chemistry: IIT-M, Pubs/year/faculty = 2.6; Citations/year/faculty = 18.5
    IISc, 5.3; 57.5
    UC- Berkley, 9.6; 171.5
    Tsing Hua University, 10.4; 113.6

  2. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    Thanks for pointing that out Prof Madras. Since the time IITs started pushing for research, which is mainly in the last 10 years, the research output of IITs has increased significantly. I think all old IITs now publish about 1000 papers a year and are at level where the top universities were 10 years ago. However it seems that while IITs were catching up with the top universities, these universities have moved into a different gear and are now publishing about 2-3 times what they were publishing in 2001. I have checked this on scopus for UIUC - in 2001 this huge university published ~1200 papers. In 2010, this number was ~3800. IITB went from 300 to 1000 or so.

    It is all well and good to want to have high research output and use the top universities as a benchmark, but at some IITs need to may be think if this is really the race they want to run and if they can ever win it.

  3. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    In fact, it may be that in this big 'reality-show' where US universities are competing against each other for funding by putting up larger and larger publication counts, the trend may shift to maximizing something else. They may find another altogether different metric to impress funding agencies. It may not be sensible for universities elsewhere to keep chasing these shifting goal posts.

  4. Ajay Harish said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  5. Ajay Harish said...

    Thanks for the statistics, Prof. Giridhar. It definitely helps to analyze. As a junior research member in Engineering and from what I briefly understand: I believe that there is a huge correlation between number of citations to number of Doctoral students (from the institute) who end up being placed in an academic setting ("where research is encouraged" like say IISc).


  6. Giri@iisc said...


    I definitely think that IIT-M has progressed leaps and bounds under the directorship of Prof. M.S. Ananth. The trebling of publications is no mean achievement and has been accomplished by astute recruitment. However, IITs are still behind the top universities i.e., top 10 of the USA, if that is what is meant. If it is meant that the top 50 universities of USA represent the "par with any top university around the world", then it is correct.


  7. Anonymous said...


    Are there any realistic means to place Cal's 9.6; 171.5 on a pat with TsingHua's 10.4; 113.6? But critical mass/momentum is important. But if IIT-M's Chemistry department (not traditionally considered the "best IIT Chemistry department", which honor is usually reserved for IIT-Kanpur's) is now research oriented, then there is no way but a steep growth curve up. What is heartening is the expansion of the faculty rolls. And if I may add, Dr.Ananth speaks with the gravitas of a wise scholar.

  8. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    @Prof Madras: Exactly. The achievement is great and it puts the IIT output at par with what today's top universities produced 10 years ago. However it is not at par with the current performance of these universities. I think Prof Ananth is not accounting for the fact that the benchmark has been raised during the time that IITs were catching up.

    I suspect that the publication numbers race is not worth running. Given that the output is at good levels, perhaps institutions should channelize their improvements in the directions of meaningful impact, societal relevance, futuristic problems, IP generation etc, instead of further pumping numbers just to match up to top universities.

  9. Neelima said...

    Thanks Abi, I'm really happy to know this about our IIT.