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Universities wasting taxpayers' money? No, India is actually improving

Sourjya Bhowmick | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:52 IST

One of the biggest allegations emerging out of the JNU sedition row is that taxpayers' money is being wasted by students of central universities and other higher education institutions.

However, according to reputed science, technical and medical publisher Elsevier, India's global share, at least in terms of scholarly output in science and technology, has risen from 3.1% in 2009 to 4.4% in 2013.

The report looks at the publication output by countries, based on peer-reviewed journals. In India, publications from 30 institutions were surveyed.

Here are some of the major findings from the report:


  • The number of scientific papers that were published from India in 2013.
  • In 2009, about 62,955 scientific papers were published
  • In 2014, 112,009 papers were produced, increasing by a meagre 5%.

  • During this time, India's share of the world output of international collaboration publications increased from 3.3% to 3.9%.
  • In 2009, India's output crossed Spain, Australia, Korea, Brazil, Sweden and Singapore. In 2013, India even crossed Canada and Italy.

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  • Total number of India's patent citations in 2013.
  • In 2009, the number was 953.
  • India's global share during this period increased from 1.7% to 2.2%.

  • Elsevier states: "India is still a relatively small player on the global scientific stage, its wide-ranging international collaboration network and increasing shares of the world's main research performance indicators reflect its overall growth in output, impact and knowledge transfer."

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  • Chemistry and Pharmacology, the two main areas of scientific focus in India between 2009-13.
  • The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, led in Chemistry, while Annamalai University excelled in Pharmacology.
  • India's top three institutions in science and technology in this period were the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Delhi.

  • The bottom three were the University of Mysore, the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Pune.
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  • The number of science researchers in India.
  • Though India's output has increased, the citation impact is 0.75, which is 25% less than the global average.
  • Engineering papers are cited the most (still 6% less than the world average), followed by materials science and veterinary science.

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  • The proportion of India's scholarly output that was the result of international collaboration.
  • The 'most impactful' collaborations were with Brazil, Russia, Netherlands, Spain, China and Sweden. The least impactful was with Malaysia.
  • However, the highest share of publications in India are a result of institutional collaboration, followed by national-level collaborations, and the least, single-author.

India is taking small steps and improving, even crossing China. "On the quality side, although we see an overall impact that is below the world's average, there is a rising share of higher-quality articles from India. Articles from India that resulted from international collaboration show impressively high quality, at more than twice the impact of articles from a single institute," said Dr Michiel Kolman, senior vice-president of academic relations at Elsevier.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

More in Catch:

#JNURow: legal scholar Liang champions the right to be seditious

#RohithVemula to #ShutDownJNU: these are the new battlefields

First published: 9 March 2016, 2:12 IST
Sourjya Bhowmick @sourjyabhowmick

Born and raised in Kolkata, Sourjya is all about the numbers. He uses data to contextualise stories on a broad range of topics. Formerly with the Hindustan Times and IndiaSpend, any time not spent researching and writing is spent reading non-fiction and tackling his unending collection of films. An alumnus of Presidency College, Kolkata, he has a post-grad degree in Political Science from Calcutta University and was actively involved in student politics. He's a fan of Tintin comics, Germany's football team, Mohun Bagan and Old Monk.