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India by the numbers

Highs and lows in the country’s research landscape.


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Indian science is a study in contrasts. With its vast population and rapidly expanding economy, the country has ramped up scientific production at an impressive rate. India started the twenty-first century well behind Russia, France, Italy and Canada in terms of yearly publications and it now leads them all by healthy margins. It is quickly closing in on Japan.

Nature special: Science in India

Despite those gains, India is not yet a major player in world science. Its publications generate fewer citations on average than do those of other science-focused nations, including other emerging countries such as Brazil and China. Relative to its size, India has very few scientists; many Indian-born researchers leave for positions abroad and very few foreign scientists settle in India. The country invests a scant portion of its economy in research and development (R&D), and it produces relatively few patents per capita compared with other nations.

But there are bright spots. India boasts several world-class centres for science education, particularly the highly regarded Indian Institutes of Technology. Businesses in the country are investing more in R&D, which bodes well for future innovation. And more women are participating in science, although their numbers still fall far below those of men.

SCIVAL/SCOPUS; CSIR; IACS; Nature 472, 24–26 (2011)

Top ten institutions

Institution Location Citation impact* Number of papers in Scopus database 2010–14**
Panjab University Chandigarh 1.4 4,000
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai 1.39 4,400
Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science Kolkata 1.28 2,400
CSIR Chemistry and Physics 5 locations 1.18 9,300
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay Mumbai 1.15 6,800
Indian Institute of Science Bangalore Bangalore 1.11 10,800
Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati Guwahati 1.07 3,700
CSIR Industry and Standards 12 locations 1.07 4,800
Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur Kharagpur 1.06 8,100
Indian Institute of Technology Madras Chennai 1.03 6,700

* World average = 1, ** Number of papers rounded

Publications: SCIVAL/SCOPUS; Scholarly citation impact: SCIVAL/SCOPUS






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The map of India accidentally omitted the state of Meghalaya. This has now been corrected.

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