Why India falls behind in citations despite producing high numbers of research papers?

India ranks fourth in research output but ninth when it comes to research citation raising concern over the quality of work produced.

The low citation rate of Indian research papers is mainly due lack of originality and the rigour required.
The low citation rate of Indian research papers is mainly due lack of originality and the rigour required.

Mediocrity in research and a lack of research culture in India are considered among major factors behind low standing of Indian Indian Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the global university ranking systems. India ranks ninth in research citation despite producing double the global average in research output. “This shows that a lot of research being done is not as impactful and relevant as it is expected to be. It is a matter of concern as the purpose of research is to contribute to the existing pool of knowledge and  benefit the society at large,” Tripti Toor, associate professor, IILM University, said. 

Experts believe that the low citation rate of Indian research papers is mainly due to the lack of research and writing skills, proficiency in language, and the desire to obtain academic titles, perks, and promotions. “Many published research works from India lack originality besides the rigour required for a scholarly paper to be cited by the academia. Institutional rankings have further encouraged a culture where analysis is assessed in numbers rather than on qualitative indicators of creativity and inventiveness,” Kokil Jain, dean of research and EFPM program chair, Fortune Institute of International Business, explained.

Furthermore, despite an increase in the number of women in STEM education, there is still a significant gender gap in research and innovation careers. “Unconscious biases in hiring and promotion can result in women being overlooked for research and innovation careers, even if they are equally qualified or more qualified than male candidates. Their familial responsibilities become a hindering factor while balancing demands of a research or innovation career,” Daviender Narang, Director, Jaipuria Institute of Management, explained.

In addition, cultural biases may be operational when it comes to citation of Indian research work. There may be a bias against citing research from certain countries or regions. It is possible that researchers would prefer to cite research from countries they perceive to be less developed in certain areas,”Jain noted. 

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To address these challenges, experts opined that India needs to invest more in research infrastructure, provide better training to researchers, encourage more international collaborations, and increase funding for research. “Additionally, researchers need to focus on producing high-quality research with global significance and publish in international journals to increase their visibility and impact,” Narag added.

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First published on: 11-05-2023 at 08:00 IST