India’s chemistry research: quantity over quality


Study reveals India’s research output in chemistry is high, but little of it makes it to top journals.

Bharath infograph.jpg
India is poorly represented in top journals across the world.

Bangalore, November 20, 2017: Despite being home to 17 per cent of the world’s population, India is poorly represented in top journals around the world, a study reveals.

India’s share of research papers in the Journal of the American Chemical Society is 0.7% compared to 58.4 per cent for the US, 7.6 per cent for Germany and 5.1 per cent for China. It’s share in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. is 1.2 per cent as compared to 28 per cent for Germany, 25.3 per cent for the US and 9.9 per cent for China, says the study published in Current Science magazine in April, 2017.

This comes against the backdrop of a recent Nature Index report that said India is a top performer in chemistry research output. Reports from Thomson Reuters and Elsevier that were prepared for India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) said the field is growing rapidly in the country.

“The culture of ’publish or perish’ that exists today in academia has pushed down the quality of peer-reviewed journals. We have to go through a whole lot of bad stuff before we can spot a study that is actually good,” said, Raghu Hegde, a former researcher at Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences, Bangalore.

The researchers Subbiah Arunachalam and Muthu Madhan of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Subbiah Gunasekaran of Central Electrochemical Research Institute, Karaikudi, made an analysis of contributions from India in leading multidisciplinary chemistry journals over the 25-year period 1991–2015. “India accounts for only a small number of papers in the top one percentile of the most highly cited chemistry papers, whereas China leads the world. Only 2.3% of the 2234 papers published in 2014 that are in the top one percentile is from India compared to 38% from China”, the study pointed out, using China as a benchmark for comparison.

The study says lack of mobility across disciplines in Indian universities could be one of the reasons for the poor representation. Also, the fact that only a small number of Indian researchers and institutions publish in leading journals is also a matter of concern.

Originally published on TheSoftCopy.


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