Monday, December 28, 2015

ACS Omega

The American Chemical Society (ACS) introduces a new open access journal, ACS Omega. ACS has another purely open access journal called Central Science but they are very selective and will publish only 200 papers a year, unlike PLOS One that publishes ~200 papers in 2 days.

In the press release, it is stated, "ACS Omega will publish articles on the basis of rigorous technical review rather than subjective editorial or reviewer opinions of the work’s significance or impact. .....are introducing an agile and seamless manuscript transfer system that will enable authors submitting to one ACS journal to be easily referred for review and publication in another suitable ACS journal, should their paper not be accepted by their first-choice forum. "

Thus, if your manuscript is rejected by any of the other 50 journals of ACS due to poor novelty or impact, you will be asked to transfer it to ACS Omega. You can pay and publish (assuming, of course, that your manuscript is scientifically sound). Read about the discussion here.

This is similar to other journals (megajournals) such as Scientific Reports by the Nature publishing group, AIP Advances, IEEE Access, Springerplus, Heliyon of Elsevier and the forerunner to all of them, PLOS One.

I am sure that many authors from India will pay from the CPDA grants for these open-access journals. After all, they are published by Nature and ACS. 

This is not to be confused with RSC advances, which requires significant advance and impact. RSC advances started as a transfer journal for RSC but immediately rose up the ranks. In 2015, it received more than 50000 submissions and accepted around 25000 papers and published 100000 pages. The reason for the large number of submissions to RSC advances is because it is NOT open access.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


I have been asked frequently about the introduction of the tenure system in IISc. There are no official notices in this regard and I guess it may have been discussed with the chairmen of the departments. Therefore, what I say below is based on what I know and what I have been told by others.

Currently all faculty who have joined before August 1, 2015 were given a five year contract. At the end of 4.5 years, they were asked to submit their papers in the format given in the following link. If the performance was not satisfactory, they were given a two year extension. Then they were asked to submit the performance form again and given tenure or extended for a further two years. This continued till the tenure was granted at some point. No one was asked to leave.

All faculty joining after August 1, 2015 will be given a five year contract. At the end of 4.5 years, they will be asked to submit their papers in the format given in the following link. I guess some feedback will be given to the faculty at this stage. At the end of 5 years, all the faculty will be given a terminal 3 year contract.

At the end of 5.5 years (extendable to 6.5 years ??), the faculty will be asked to submit their papers again. The faculty will suggest 8 referees (4 Indian and 4 foreign) and the department will suggest 8 referees (4 Indian and 4 foreign) and this list is sent to the divisional chairman, who will pick up 8 names from this and send your details to these referees. Once the comments are received, these will be discussed by a promotion and assessment committee. This committee consists of all six divisional chairmen, the associate director, director and 8-12 very eminent scientists from India, who do not belong to IISc. The case will be considered by this committee. Either they will be promoted to Associate professor with tenure or the contract will be allowed to expire and the faculty has to leave by the end of 8 years.

This seems to be the procedure. I have been asked frequently is what will be the criteria for tenure. I guess it will be depend on the criteria (research, teaching, consultancy/service) given in the form. Some of the new faculty who have been offered have been explicit in asking the following 

"Professors in the west have to continuously get research funds in order to just maintain a lab (sometimes even paying rent and electricity bills) and pay the students. Many are forced to work fast and publish fast....
India is faring much better in this regard...Tenure isn't a problem as the job is made permanent after a year. Student evaluations of courses do happen but they're mostly for professors to improve their teaching. They're not a criteria for promotion or salary increment..."

Thus the question boils to this "If other institutions do not insist on publishing research or teaching well and give tenure to all faculty at the end of the first year, why should IISc have a tenure system?" Basically, I do not know but I believe that the tenure will be based on minimal criteria !

Asking me on whether one should choose IISc or IITs that do not have the explicit tenure criteria will not fetch any answers. In case you are not aware, the conduct rules state "No employee shall make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the Institute or which is capable of embarrassing the relations between the Institute and (... government)".

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thank you

As the number of cases of dengue increases in IISc, I was admitted to hospital last week for a couple of days due to dengue. The doctor recognized that dehydration was the key and the platelet count is not as important and put me on saline/dextrose.

I would like to place on record the outstanding response of my students and some of my colleagues. My students were always with me during the entire stay in the hospital and helped me with food, clothing and care. My colleagues also helped me move around, picked me up, dropped me off and were available for any help.

In my interview last year, I had mentioned that I am very proud of my students and how they motivate me. This incident only confirms the same.

A big thanks to the OVERWHELMING wishes from each and everyone of you! Blessed to have such amazing students and friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Shanghai rankings..

No need for words..comparison of IISc with two Chinese universities. All these universities had similar ranks in 2003 but the rankings have changed due to judicious implementation of certain policies.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Admissions 2015

Every year, I used to post on the status of admissions to our B.Sc (Research), M.E and research programs. Due to this, I am getting several emails this year also. I am not in the UG/PG admissions committees effective Jan 2015. This is a personal decision so that I could concentrate on certain research problems that require undivided attention. On an aside (as I am frequently asked this question), I am also not on the committee that will advise the director so that IISc will become a top 50 university within the next five years. I am, therefore, sorry that I am unable to respond to the emails or provide updates on admissions or my opinion on rankings.

Monday, February 23, 2015


There is an extremely well written article on publishing/publishers/high cost of journals etc. that has appeared in the latest issue of Current Science. The article seems to focus on mathematics journals but the principles there are applicable to all fields.

Unfortunately, another book which promises much from the title, "Do We Still Need Peer Review?" fails in the quality of the content. Read the review of the book.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thanks the readers and commentators on this blog. This blog has crossed one million visits in 5 years. Thank you all.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Choosing a research advisor

How can you avoid a picking a bad adviser if you’re not sure what you’re looking for in the first place?
One way is to study what goes into the decision. Be an informed consumer: Know what you want, and expect what you’re entitled to.
From the comments
Spotting (and avoiding) a bad adviser is actually much easier than finding a good one. Common issues to watch for:
(1) Ask: find former students or colleagues and [delicately] ask whether (s)he is an effective adviser who supports students. 
(2) Speak: is (s)he someone with whom you can truly speak... candidly? You will need that later on, so avoid those aloof, cagey, dismissive, and distant personality types (and yes I realize that probably rules out half of academia);
(3) Publications: does (s)he publish results regularly? If not, avoid. Remember you're there to do work and get published.