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.