Central institutions contribute over 70 percent of research in India: BHU Study

IITs, NITs together account for more than 20 percent of research publications in India, the BHU study says.


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IITs alone have contributed to over 15 percent of research publications in India (source: IIT Delhi)IITs alone have contributed to over 15 percent of research publications in India (source: IIT Delhi)

Atul Krishna | November 10, 2022 | 02:17 PM IST

NEW DELHI: A new paper, released by the Banaras Hindu University researchers, has shown that centrally-funded institutions were responsible for more than 70 percent of research in India during 2016 to 2020.

Centrally funded institutions include educational institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) as well as other research departments such as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The study, which looked at the number of research publications between 2001 to 2006 and 2016 and 2020, pointed out that there is a notable increase in the contribution of centrally funded institutions in the overall share of research done in India over the past two decades.

IITs, NITs contribute

However, some academics pointed out that this increase in the central share of research points to the need to strengthen research cultures in state universities.

According to the research paper, the research share of centrally funded institutions from the period between 2001 to 2006 was only 62.46 percent compared to 72.70 percent in 2016 to 2020.

The IITs, with 15.86%, had the highest share of research publications, followed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with 10.32 percent, and central universities with 10.12 percent. Moreover, IITs and NITs (4.78%) together contributed to more than 20 percent of the research done in India.

Decline for CSIR, DRDO

The study also noted that although all institutions recorded improved growth in research, the proportional share of institutions such as the CSIR and DRDO decreased slightly compared to the IITs and NITs. The study noted that this could be because of the boom in the number of IITs and NITs.

“There could be two probable explanations for this. First, since more institutions have been added to some of the systems, like IIT and NIT, in the study period, their total research output has increased much faster. Second, most institution systems have also recorded a genuine growth in research productivity in this period,” the paper published in Current Science says.

It also noted that institutions such as CSIR and DRDO “engage in different kinds of R&D activities” including patents but this study “has limitations that it only considers research papers, and ignores other R&D outputs”.

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The study, while praising the research improvement in central institutions, also raised concerns about the state of research in state-funded universities and institutions. It noted that state institutions and private institutions together amount to only one-third of the research output in India.

“The number of institutions under state governments and the private sector will be many times more than the total number of centrally funded institutions. Yet their research output is less. Thus, the results indicate that centrally funded institutions have an important role in India’s R&D activities, and that state governments should strive to promote more such activities in their institutions,” the study said.

The study also noted that an improvement in the research culture in state institutions will result in “a manifold increase” in India’s research output. Many academics agreed with this assessment.

V Ramagopal Rao, former director of IIT Delhi, said: “As expected, IITs come on top. However, there is a dire need to strengthen the research culture in state universities with major initiatives.”

The research paper is authored by Anurag Kanaujia, Prashasti Singh, Abhirup Nandy and Vivek Kumar Singh of the department of computer science at BHU.

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