Friday, September 4, 2009

All are equally outstanding?

Subsequent to my colleague, Abi's post on "All of us - yes, all of us are outstanding", some of my colleagues read my post that he cites and asked me whether it is true of all institutions in India and whether groups of institutions also follow this rule.

In my post of Gini index , I had written that 23% of the faculty contribute to 77% of the publications. A more recent analysis for the period of 2004-2008 indicates that the ratio has improved to 27% faculty contributing to 73% of the publications. However, it has a caveat. 22% of our faculty strength are assistant professors who have joined within the last six years. [In IISc, the normal period of promotion is six years from assistant to associate and six years from associate to full]. They are establishing themselves and their labs. So, one can not expect them to contribute significantly.

Back to the Pareto's principle and Gini index, in most of the institutions in India, the 20/80 rule applies and 80% of research output is by 20% of the faculty. Similarly, 80% of funding is brought in by 20% of faculty and 80% of administrative work is done by 20% of the faculty. I am not counting teaching because I assume nearly all the faculty teach. Ideally, if each of these 20% of faculty are different, this would mean that atleast 60% of the faculty are active. But it is not !

However, if one discusses the research output of institutions and compares them, it is even worse than 20/80. 10% of the top institutions in India contribute 90% of the publication output and 3% of the top institutions in India contribute to 50% of the publication output. Naturally, many of the institutions like IISc, IITs, TIFR, AIIMS etc fall in the top 3%. Because these institutions are small but contribute significantly to India's research output, there is a tendency to think that everyone in these institutes are outstanding. But statistics and nature are wiser and the Pareto's principle applies even in these institutes.


Anonymous said...

Dear Prof. Madras,
As mentioned in one my previous comments, there seems to be a scientific babudom developing(developed). People are ready to discuss/argue pay scales and or tax (evasion) rather than science! This post especially might put them in auckward poistion (thinking how far they are in terms of their own achievements, do they belong to the 3% who produce maximum? etc.).
I guess best way to make them happy is to write only about pay scales;).

Anonymous said...

Hell, you are right Anon, these guys are good in discussing payscales and not anything else! How hot the discussion grows if it is about pays and perks??!. They compete each other IITs, IISc, IIMs...Alas! if they had the spine to compete in science (papers) with the best in the business! Each of those who are worried about pay, if didnt publish above 10 papers in the last 5 years should be sent home! I guess that will be most of them (again 20/80 ratio)!