Field rankings for India

March 17, 2011

Indian research in the sciences and social sciences has improved markedly over the past decade. Publication and citation indicators derived from the internationally influential peer-review journals indexed by Thomson Reuters for its Web of Knowledge database reveal that since 2000, India’s output has increased from some 16,000 papers to 40,000, world share has risen from 2.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent, and citation impact has improved from 40 per cent to nearly 60 per cent of the world average. Although that means that Indian research still under­performs in per-paper influence, the gains represented by these statistics are noteworthy. India’s impressive recent rise, after a period of stagnation in the 1980s and 1990s, was documented and discussed in Thomson Reuters’ October 2009 Global Research Report India, by analysts Jonathan Adams, Christopher King and Vinay Singh (

Across the science and social sciences fields surveyed in Essential Science Indicators, for the period 2000-10 India ranked 11th in output, 17th in citations received and 34th in citations per paper (among nations publishing 50,000 or more papers during the period). The table above ranks fields for India by relative citation impact, that is, citations per paper for India in a particular field compared with the world average citations per paper score in the same field. India’s percentage below the world average for each field is presented in the column at the far right. Articles were assigned to a field based on the journals in which they were published and a journal-to-field scheme used by Thomson Reuters. Papers published in multidisciplinary journals such as Science and Nature were assigned, paper-by-paper, to specific fields. Both articles tabulated (articles and reviews) and citation counts to those articles are for the entire 11-year period.

The table focuses on relative citation impact by field and relates these data to the percentage of the world’s highly cited papers (those in the top 1 per cent by citations, considering the field and year of publication of each paper) by Indian scientists (listed in the column at the far right). Not supplied here, but relevant to the analysis, is the world share by field for India. Across all fields in 2000-10, India held a 2.8 per cent share (as noted, it has reached 3.4 per cent in the most recent year). The fields in which India held the highest world share for 2000-10, in order, were: agricultural sciences (5.8 per cent), chemistry (5.4 per cent), materials science (4.8 per cent), pharmacology (4.4 per cent), plant and animal sciences (3.7 per cent), physics (3.6 per cent), engineering (3.3 per cent) and geosciences (3.2 per cent) – all higher than India’s overall 2.8 per cent share.

By combining world share data, relative impact and India’s percentage share of highly cited papers by field, the following can be noted. Materials science would seem to be India’s leading area, with high world share, high relative impact and a larger-than-expected share of the world’s highly cited papers in the field. Next come engineering and physics, for which India held a higher-than-expected world share and high relative impact and percentage of the world’s highly cited papers. Chemistry, the second-ranked field for India by world share, turned in a significantly higher-than-expected performance in relative impact and percentage of highly cited papers. Pharmacology was a solid performer: better than average in world share, relative impact and percentage of highly cited papers. Agricultural sciences, which is highest for India in world share, exhibited low relative impact but, interestingly, a high percentage of the world’s highly cited papers in the field, which may indicate a high volume of work with marginal impact topped by the work of a group of world-class researchers. Plant and animal sciences, on the other hand, is a field for which India was high in world share but a poor performer in relative impact and percentage of highly cited papers. Computer sciences and psychiatry/psychology are highly ranked in the table above, but by virtue of small numbers, world share for India in these fields was small, as was India’s percentage of highly cited papers in these two fields.

In summary, India’s research portfolio, in broad terms, shows strength in the physical sciences, despite many resources being dedicated to agricultural sciences, and plant and animal sciences.

For more information on the Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators database, see:

Field rankings for India
Data provided by Thomson Reuters from its Essential Science Indicators, 1 January 2000-31 December 2010
 FieldPapersCitationsCitations per paperWorld average% differenceHighly cited papers
2Computer science4,41713,53.013.75-200.99
%3D3Materials science21,860119,0715.457.03-221.77
5Psychiatry/ psychology7465,6237.5411.26-330.04
%3D9Economics/ business1,0983,9023.556.22-430.37
%3D9Social sciences2,8447,5772.664.67-430.31
11Environment/ ecology7,47147,3676.3411.35-441.44
12Astronomy/ astrophysics3,38225,9697.6814.30-461.34
14Agricultural sciences11,92838,6333.247.05-541.84
15Clinical medicine28,220164,9025.8412.93-550.43
18Plant/ animal sciences20,65265,5913.187.74-590.89
%3D20Molecular biology3,93836,8439.3625.62-630.28

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