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More Indian scientists authoring papers

Kalyan Ray

Quality of Research

In what may be an indirect recognition of the improvement in the quality of Indian science research, the number of research papers authored by Indian scientists in Nature group journals has increased nine times between 1998 and 2009.

A new publishing index from Nature group journals says the number of Indian papers published in their group has gone up from two in 1998 to 18 in 2009. In the Asia-Pacific region overall, Japan, China and Australia are miles ahead.

They are the top three in the index whereas India is at the sixth spot. A report accompanying the Nature Asia-Pacific index notes that though somewhat overshadowed by China’s spectacular rise, emergence of India as a scientific and technological power has not gone unnoticed either in the region or globally, and the next decade may well belong to Indian scientists. While the contribution of scientists from the subcontinent to Nature journals is modest in terms of the absolute number of papers, the trend is upward.

Since 1998, the number of articles published in Nature journals by Indian scientists has representations from 24 Indian institutions in 2009, the report says. The index analyses the ranking of individual institutes also. National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore tops the list from India with a rank of 53 followed by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad at 76.


Because NCBS has one paper in Nature Nanotechnology fully authored by its own scientists, it ranks higher than the coveted Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore which has four papers though all authors are not from IISc.  The east figured prominently with two research institutes from Kolkata, Bose Institute and Indian Association for Cultivation of Science, standing at 77 and 80th spots respectively.

However, China is leagues ahead of India in terms of the numbers. “Only in the last three years the number of papers from India in Nature-group journals has increased to double digits: ten in 2007, 11 in 2008 and 18 in 2009. From 1998 to 2006, in nine years, India’s tally was merely 24,” Subbiah Arunachalam, former editor of many Indian scientific journals told Deccan Herald.

“China, on the other hand, has shown a consistent improvement. Starting from 10 in 2001, the number of Chinese papers grew to 59 in 2007, 75 in 2008 and 93 in 2009,” said Chennai-based Arunachalam who is on the editorial boards of many Indian journals.

On the contribution of other countries, the report finds that in 2009 as many as 232 original articles from Japanese institutions were published in Nature and the Nature Research journals compared to 93 articles from Chinese institutions and 98 from Australia. When it comes to the percentage of authors from a given country, Japan ranks first, China second, Australia third. Korea and Singapore also performed strongly. The data shows the recent strong growth in output of high quality scientific research from China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

In 1998, China published three articles in Nature and Nature Research journals and, while the number of Nature-branded primary research journals has since doubled, the number of articles from China has increased 30-fold At the institutional level, six of the top ten institutions in the 2009 rankings are in Japan. The University of Tokyo leads the table with 68 articles, followed by Kyoto University, Osaka University, RIKEN and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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