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.


Anonymous said...

Why this reluctance ? If you dont educate the administrators, then who will ? It is not enough to do it in private. The general public also needs to be told what is wrong with this ranking system. Otherwise they hear from the clueless people on TV. People like you must be more active in PR and write articles in popular press on these matters. I am sure Hindu would publish it.

Anonymous said...

I think Prof. Giridhar should do his research and not worry about rankings or educating administrators etc. No one has asked him anyway, so just do your job, which is research and teaching.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous at December 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM...

I think you need to properly understand role of a professor in the society. This essay might help

Prof. Madras is already providing a great service as it is by hosting this blog and frequently pointing out the important issues. I don't think one should force him to do more. It is a collective responsibility of the people in Indian academia.


Anonymous said...


Please read the comment properly. It is anon@11.32 am who is saying he should be active in PR and write in popular press etc. I am suggesting he stick to research because he is one of the best in it.

Anonymous said...

I have great respect for Prof. Balaram, but listening to this eloquent speech for more than an hour I hear only the problems and about some isolated manipulators. I do not get answer or rather specific questions on how to improve rankings specifically.

1. How to attract and retain faculty who can be potential Nobel prize/Fields medal winners or great researchers to make stellar contributions. Certainly we need to do better given the hibernation that some people even in top places are in. Part of this has to answer on how do we flush out proven incapable researchers.

2. How do we retain best UG students to the top Indian institutes ? Best students can only produce best work under best guidance, statistically.

3. How do we convert small institutes into big universities ? If government is so concerned why cant it attach 1 medical school, 1 law school and 1 med school to 5 top IIXs ?

Anonymous said...

December 5, 2014 at 3:49 PM,

you make very good points.

However, has IIX ever even encouraged scientists who publish??
As the other poster said, you get the same students, space etc.

Anonymous said...

A famous Professor once said to a young scientist gathering: You can be famous in science in either of two ways: A) by being a productive farmer B) by being a fearless explorer. In India of course most people are in NREGA mode and success is now measured mostly in terms of A i.e. volume of production. When shall we understand the importance of B as well, if at all. I hope we recognize that in any highly civilized and prosperous society both A and B are equally required.

Anonymous said...

It should be clearly remembered that any one who publishes more than 1-2 papers is just publishing junk. Like the farmer you point out above.

In fact, IIX should throw out faculty who publish more than 5 papers a year.

Anonymous said...

@Anon December 6, 2014 at 6:20 PM.

I assume you are sarcastic but even then I do care to point out that I strongly disagree to:"any one who publishes more than 1-2 papers is just publishing junk". 1-2 papers per year fizzles out even before they make an impact for people don't even know where it came from. Publishing must be strongly encouraged at all cost, good if it is in large numbers since some fields require large data/work/papers to make progress. They are indeed valuable contributors to science. All I am seeing, we should not be shortsighted to leave no room for explorers.

Anon of December 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Anonymous said...

IIX has a publication to faculty ratio of 2.5-3 per year. If you remove the top 20%, then the average apparently drops to less than 1 per year. Therefore, already 80% of faculty are publishing one manuscript per year or less.

Anonymous said...

That is a classic 20:80 rule.

Less than one paper per faculty in an "elite" institition like IISc does not bode well.


Anonymous said...

I meant IIX and not IISc. Sorry for the typo.


Anonymous said...

In IISc, nearly 300 faculty have published less than 15 papers in the last 10 years. So, if you say 1.5 papers per faculty in IISc and 1 paper per faculty in IIX, then 80% seem to satisfy this.

Senior IISc prof.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand we have people who publish 25-30 or more papers in a year. Most of them crystal reports in Acta Crysta (two- three papers per page!), but those numbers make an impact when it is recognised one way or the other. Quality comes from within and cannot be imposed. That is the main reason, we are sliding in quality. And as is said in economics, bad money drives good money, bad papers drive good papers. To hold on against that itself is a challenge.
A University Professor

Anonymous said...

See the blog owner profile

He has more than 30 paper this year, but none in Acta or 2-3 pages per year.

Look it up before you malign iisc faculty.

Citations are more important than numbers. Citations indirectly show impact. Simply saying this is high quality means nothing unless it is recognized somehow (citations or peers quoting etc).