New Delhi: Only 15.8 per cent of the total publications produced by Indian researchers feature in the top 10 journals globally, a government report has revealed. It has emphasised on the dire need to focus on the quality of research in the country.
Compared globally, India trails the UK, which has 37.3 per cent research work published in top 10 journals, the US (36.2 per cent), Germany (33.4 per cent) and China (27.6 per cent).
As per Scimago Journal Rankings, India ranks fifth in global research publication output. But countries such as the US, China, Germany and the UK continue to dominate the world rankings both in terms of quantitative and qualitative research.
"Presently, sizeable numbers of research and technology institutions/universities are spread across the nation, which includes central/state government funded and self-financed institutions. Despite these huge investments, the quality of research and innovation (R&I) is not of current global standards. Moreover, none of these institutions are amongst the top 100 R&I institutions in the world. Also, the quality of the workforce produced by these institutions is not amongst the best in the world," the HRD Ministry's Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP) report has said.
The quality of academic research produced by Indian scholars has become a subject of grave concern for the University Grants Commission (UGC), which had flagged the issue of increasing the number of students getting their research published in 'sub-standard journals'.
Following this, the UGC has released a list of journals and research work published only in those journals will be considered for academic credit.
The report has called for an increased shared of investment for the purpose of achieving global standards in research and innovation.
"India's R&I investments vis-a-vis global standards show that India's R&I investments have steadily dropped over the last decade - from 0.84 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008 to around 0.69 per cent in 2018.
"For the sake of comparison, the levels of R&I investment as a proportion of GDP in some other countries are the US (2.8 per cent), China (2.1 per cent), Israel (4.3 per cent) and South Korea (4.2 per cent)," it added.
The report noted that with a significant increase in investment in research and innovation, China now produces the maximum number of PhDs globally, having steadily increased the numbers yearly over the US.
According to the HRD Ministry's All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) data for 2017-18, 34,400 students were awarded PhD level degree during 2017.
China has produced four times the number of articles than India.
"India's share of scientific publications has increased from 3.1 per cent in 2009 to 4.4 per cent in 2013 and to 4.8 in 2016. However, a 2018 compilation of Science and Engineering indicators by the US National Science Foundation showed that both the US (17.8 per cent) and China (18.6 per cent) published approximately four times as many articles as India in 2016," the report added.
Due to the country's steady decline in investments, India severely lags in the number of patents and publications produced.
"According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) 2017 report, China made as many as 13,81,584 patent applications, with just 9.8 per cent being made by non-resident Chinese; the US made 6,06,956 patent applications while India made a mere 46,582 applications, of which approximately 68 per cent were by non-resident Indians, and only 26 per cent (12,387) of them were accepted as patents," it said.
The report, which aims to improve the standards of higher education in the country, has stressed the need for collaborative efforts between central and state governments as currently the research and innovation efforts are primarily funded by the Centre.
"The fundamental limitations of our educational system include marks-based assessment of students' potential, thereby promoting mugging-up of entire textbooks, too much parochialism, and inability to impart analytical skills. Very small percentages of students are capable of identifying a problem and visualizing an approach for finding the best solution. Moreover, the ability to think out-of-the-box is completely missing. As a result, confidence level or appetite for taking risk is very low, especially for pursuing new ideas," it added.