Wednesday, December 24, 2014


to Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, who has been confirmed as the DST secretary. He is an outstanding scientist and someone I look up to for research.

He also writes wonderful poems and he presented me a great book called Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

I think he will miss doing research in IIT, Kanpur but I feel his contribution to science will increase by taking over this position.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Impact factor

Another new impact factor by Scopus.

IPP: The IPP measures the ratio of citations in a year (Y) to scholarly papers published in the three previous years (Y-1, Y-2, Y-3) divided by the number of scholarly papers published in those same years (Y-1, Y-2, Y-3). 

SNIP: Source Normalized Impact per Paper measures contextual citation impact by weighting citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field.

SJR: SCImago Journal Rank is a prestige metric based on the idea that not all citations are the same.

Of course, you have the famous journal impact factor (JIF) by Thomson Reuters as published by Journal Citation Reports (JCR). This is based on 2 and 5 year windows. Thus, now we have impact factors on 2, 3 and 5 year windows but based on different databases.

The Eigenfactor is another PageRank-type measure of journal influence.

Scientists normally choose a journal based on factors such as longevity, publisher and reputation in the community rather than impact factor. However, in my experience, in the Indian scientific community, impact factor is given a lot of importance rather than how many times the paper is eventually read/cited. It should be remembered that less than 5% of the total papers that are published are cited more than 10 times (the i-10 index) and only 20% of the papers published in the journal contribute to 80% of the impact factor (Pareto principle).

Friday, December 5, 2014


You can listen to Prof. Balaram talk about rankings..the video is nearly for 2 h (including the question-answer section). Below is the youtube link

Ranking Indian Institutions : Choosing Courses for Horses 

Prof. Balaram, as usual, is clear and critical. He says that these lectures should not be held in INSA because no practicing scientists attend these talks in INSA. He points out clearly the problems with the administration of the universities.

Prof. Balaram is really one of the very few people to understand rankings. As he clearly says in the talk, we can not move up the rankings unless we understand these rankings. People think it is very easy to understand rankings by just looking at the final numbers. It is important to understand the methodology and the fine print. 

For example, in the BRICS rankings released this week, IISc is ranked 25 but fares poorer in citation scores than IIT Roorkee. Why? The number of citations, number of citations per faculty, number of citations per paper etc. are all higher for IISc compared to IIT-R but then why does it score lesser? Well, I am not giving the answer here but that is something administrators who indiscriminately talk about rankings should understand. They should spend time reading the methodology used and understand all the fine print or at least contact people who understand this.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Comments on the blog

Ankur Kulkarni says

I think the reason is not lack of talent. I think the reason is that the Kafkaesque bureaucracy, untrusting or even hostile attitude of administrators (who are also other faculty, often from a deprived generation) and lack of systemic incentives and individual recognition for excellence, humiliates, depresses and eventually ruins the zest for research of all but a few thick-skinned faculty. 
You can see evidence of this on the ground. IITs have been hiring people with great potential since about 2008 (since the 6th pay commission - roughly a year before this FAQ post started). Now would be a good time to take stock. How many of them have achieved their potential? And how many have degenerated into pade-shadows of their earlier selves, still talented but drained and defeated? I think a sadly large number are in the latter category.

Senior IISc Prof says

The anon posters above..please do not forget that things that Prof. Giri has said before here and Prof. Balaram put it eloquently "IIX has benign neglect for people who perform."

IIX is a government job. Nobody cares a damn whether you work or not work. They may be some minimum requirements for promotion like 5 papers in 5 years, 1 ph.d student etc. So, people work towards working for these requirements. Beyond that, do not expect to be appreciated if you publish 50 papers in 5 years. You will be treated the same. 

Same number of students, same number of space, same money, same salary for everyone. We practice socialism but expect capitalism in output. 

So, you might wonder why people talk about increasing research output and rankings etc. Then, please read this.

"One of my colleague once said that we talk about PhD program because it is in fashion to talk about research, and we need to justify not doing research. But we really don't want to admit more PhD students because we are afraid we will have to work harder. "

Take examples everywhere. Hard working professors in IIX work hard because they are self motivated. They will not get 1 rupee more either in research or personal money. They will not be given even one research student extra that prescribed maximum in the institute. No one (Expect their friends) will appreciate what they are doing.

This is reality. IF you do not know what is the reality of a government job, do not join. And repeat after me: IIX is a government job.

Senior prof in IISc.

Another commentator from IIT says

Why 50 papers in 5 years? There are even some faculty who publish 50 good papers in 1 year, patent, teach and also bring projects. They are also treated the same..not even more space or students or research/ equipment money from the institutions..forget personal money.
IIX runs primarily on motivated faculty and staff who work irrespective of rewards and without expectations. The admin knows that they work because of self motivation and nothing needs to be done.

Thanks to the commentators..glad to keep the blog unmoderated and allow anonymous comments. I do not think many would write if it is otherwise.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Peer review scam

When a handful of authors were caught reviewing their own papers, it exposed weaknesses in modern publishing systems. Read about it in Nature.

I am slightly surprised because editors will not normally contact people with non-academic addresses for reviews, especially if they are suggested by the author. I am an editor for 5 journals and I will either send it to people I know (or interacted with email) or send it to reviewers who have official addresses (basically people who you can look up quickly in google).The peer-review system certainly is imperfect but I think it is still better than self-publishing.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Anand Carlsen

Anand takes on Carlsen for the world championship starting today. Best of luck to Anand !

Games start at 5:30 pm IST. Watch it live !

A preview here.  I wish to see a lot 1.d4 games in the upcoming matches. No more boring Berlins !

Update @9 Nov, 9 pm: A blunder by Anand 34..h5 closes the game. Qd2 may have drawn the game. Guess he completely missed Qb7.

Update @11 Nov, 9:30 pm. Anand proved superior by playing a very theoretical game of the Queen Gambit Declined. The first 20 moves were exactly the same from the Aronian - Adams from Bilbao Grand Slam Final 2013. Aronian played Qe2 and drew. Anand played fxe4 instantly and had the advantage. But the advantage was not much till Carlsen did a mistake with 28...Ba5, which basically lost a bishop. Somehow, I had a feeling that even if Carlsen had not blundered, Anand would have won because he was precise and controlled the c file. I hope Anand plays like this and win.
Was distracted today because Anand missed Qb7 in the previous game

Update @15 Nov, 9 pm. After 26. Kd2?, Anand blundered by not choosing 26... Nxe5 27. Rxg8 Nxc4+ 28. Kd3 Nb2+ 29. Ke2 Rxg8 30. Rxh6. All the moves are forced after Nxe5. Read all about it here. Anand should and hope will prove me wrong but it will be very difficult for him to come back. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I have been reading two good books,

"Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Lessis an excellent book for doing less but accomplishing more. Instead of saying yes and being available all the time constantly checking calls and emails, it is time to prioritize the important things in life. As the book clearly shows that if we do not prioritize, someone else will prioritize for us.

The other book is not about the disciplined pursuit of less, but ending the pursuit of happiness. This is a very grounded book on practice and reality.  Zen or Advaita or any real practice should change our outlook such we have to leave everything just as it is and accept things for what they are. It’s really very simple, but it is extremely hard for us to keep it simple and to let it stay simple.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nature journals

When the nature publishing group first introduced scientific reports, there was a lot of comparison between this journal and PLOS ONE. Both had a similar philosophy: "the journal will not reject papers based on their perceived impact" 

PLOS even welcomed Nature. Both charged the authors a similar fee and many argued why PLOS one was better than scientific reports. As time has progressed, scientific reports has an impact factor of around 5 now while PLOS ONE has decreased to around 3.5. PLOS ONE publishes roughly 100 papers per day.

The nature publishing group has recently converted Nature communications into a completely open access journal. Therefore, if you want to publish there, you just need to pay $5200, roughly what you will pay a project assistant for a year.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Malgudi days

Today is the birthday of R K Narayan, who created Malgudi, possibly based on the two places he liked - MALleswaram and BasavanGUDI. These two places still remain the best places in Bangalore for many things.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Significance of numbers

My citation count is 8888 as of today in google scholar. What is the significance of this number
The 8888 number sequence may indicate that there is light at the end of the tunnel and in addition it is a message for you not to procrastinate when making your move or enjoying the fruits of your labour.  Make the choices that please you.  That is your reward.
Meanwhile, the number of visitors to this blog reached 888 888 a few days back. Thank you.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dual/Integrated degrees

As IISc, recognized as a deemed university under UGC, completes its admission to the four year UG B.S. program for the fourth time, I am frequently asked by everyone about the recent UGC notification.

As many readers are aware, UGC has recently notified against dual degree programs. Professor Sanghi has written a detailed explanation regarding this. The IAFYO* has lodged a protest against this post for allegedly insulting their intelligence.

The following is clear: UGC does not like dual degree programs. They do not like four year undergraduate programs either. They, however, have no problems with the integrated programs. Therefore, UGC is fine and dandy if institutions give a master's degree  instead of a bachelor's degree at the end of four years. If we rename the four year B.S. program in IISc to M.S., everything will be fine.

Can IITs ignore UGC? Well, they can but students can and do get affected. For example, if a student graduating from a M.Tech dual degree from IIT wants to join as a faculty in an university (whose specific requirement is an UGC recognized degree), the university may not shortlist this candidate for interview at all. When IITs (and IISc) introduced direct Ph.D admission (after B.Tech), everyone praised the program because it would save at least a year. However, it has its own problems. A person joining with a B.E./B.Tech and graduating with a Ph.D still has trouble finding jobs in NITs and other universities, where they explicitly need a master's degree. Some follow a point system: performance in bachelors, performance in masters, performance in doctorate, publications etc. Everything has some points. Therefore, if you do not have a master's degree, you get zero points. Any amount of discussion with these institutions that the student should be shortlisted for interview though he/she does not have a master's degree falls on deaf ears. I do not want to compare the personnel involved in shortlisting with some children because IAFYO may take offence to their intelligence. But that is the ground reality.

*IAFYO: Indian association of five year olds.

Monday, June 23, 2014

JEE (Advanced) Marks versus Rank

Self explanatory. A double exponential decay fits the data.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

IISc admission 2014

For the UG program, the admission is based on KVPY, JEE (Main), JEE (Advanced) and AIPMT. For the PG M.E. program, the admission is based on GATE. For the Ph.D/M.Sc (Engg) program, it is based purely on marks obtained in the research interview.

For the UG program, the first round of offers were made based on KVPY and the first counselling was held on May 30. The other round of offers will be made in the next few weeks. The second round of counselling will be held on July 4. The cutoffs for the UG program will be similar, if not higher, compared to last year. 

The offers for the research program will be sent on 12 June. The offered students will be given around 10 days time to pay the fees. The waiting list will be operated subsequently depending on the numbers who do not pay the fees.

Some useful information for students planning to join IISc is provided in my website.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Great News

IISc has a new director, Prof. Anurag Kumar, from Aug 1. My heartiest congratulations.

Anand draws the game against Karjakin in 91 moves, wins the tournament and will challenge Carlsen for the world title. Congratulations.