India climbs to third among G20 nations for research output

China continued to produce more publications last year than anywhere else, according to new report

July 12, 2023
Source: iStock

India surpassed the UK’s research output for the first time last year, although it still lags behind many of the world’s best research systems in terms of its citation impact.

A new study has analysed almost 25 million scientific publications from Elsevier’s Scopus database, revealing that G20 nations were responsible for the co-authorship of 75 per cent of global scientific publications from 2012 to 2021.

Researchers in India produced around 278,000 publications in 2022 – overtaking the UK for the first time and leaving it behind only China (a million) and the United States (721,000).

The number of scientific publications with authors in India rose by 11 per cent between 1999 and last year, far outpacing the growth seen in the US or the UK.

Although all G20 countries increased their scientific capacity, the analysis reveals that those in the Global South had seen the most growth.

Rates of increase from the end of the 20th century were highest in Indonesia (20 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (16 per cent).

In 1999, the largest publishers in the world were the US, Japan and the UK – although China has led the field since 2020.

The figures reveal that the global research landscape has changed from that of 30 years ago when the rich countries of the Global North dominated research, according to author of the report, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, senior vice-president at Elsevier and professor emeritus at the State University of Campinas in Brazil.

“Now there is a change, and countries from the Global South are becoming more and more relevant in research and science,” he said.

“India has brought so many collaborations, especially when addressing the SDG goal of reducing world hunger. Scientific production in India is growing 25 per cent per year.

“Soon India will have a mass of knowledge that will become a reference for every other country in the world.”

The report, which was spotlighted at a seminar jointly organised by India’s Ministry of Education in partnership with Elsevier, said the number of citations with authors in each country offered a limited – but useful – way to estimate the influence of the publications in the scientific literature in the field.

By this measure, India still has some catching up to do, with the report ranking it 12th for the citation impact of its researchers’ publications.

Overall, the average share of publications with international collaboration for G20 countries grew from 20 per cent between 2012 and 2016 to 24 per cent between 2017 and 2021.

But international co-authorship for this latest period ranged drastically, from 73 per cent in Saudi Arabia to just 19 per cent in India.

Collaboration strategies between G20 countries also varied, though the main overall collaborator for all members was the US, except for Indonesia whose researchers collaborate mainly with those in Japan.

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