Why Only 10 Indians on list of world’s 4,000 top scientists: Explained by Dr. Ashok Pandey, who secured a place in the list

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Scientist Dr. Ashok Pandey, is in the list of World’s most influential scientist in the world along with nine other Indian scientists. The report is prepared by Clarivate Analytics. Dr. Pandey is the only scientist from CSIR and working in CSIR-IITR Lucknow. I have contacted Dr. Pandey to understand about the various aspects of reports.

First of all congratulations to you for this great recognition. Definitely you deserve it, as I have seen you CV and it is having huge lists of your work either in form of research article, books or other related activities.
Q- Highly Cited Researchers (HCRs), what it means to non scientific people or laymen?

Scientist Dr. Pandey: This in a way shows that the research and technological developmental work done by the person has been highly read by the community which found it of great relevance for them; then they followed it for their won works and referred it in their papers.

Q- Is HCRs report is free from limitations or this too has similar to ongoing debate of judging the working on the basis of impact factor or number of article v/s quality of article?

Scientist Dr. Pandey: For sure there can be endless debate and arguments and various issues can be raised (even just for the sake of raising the issues!) but it is well proven and accepted that the methodolo

gy adopted for this is perhaps the best. In fact, globally it has widest recognition.

Q- What you think about this report, it will be helpful for scientific community around the globe?
Scientist Dr. Pandey: Yes, it is of not just only of great relevance for individuals (great recognition), it helps overall the community to network and collaborate (based on the common interests and to compliment the expertise).

Q- You are the only scientist from CSIR, world’s largest scientific organizations having more than 5000 scientists, in the list of Highly Cited Researchers? It seems that somewhere is problema or limitations either in CSIR or in the methodologies followed by Clarivate Analytics while preparing the HCRs lists?

Scientist Dr. Pandey: As I have mentioned above, the methodology adopted by the Clarivate Analytics is the best one- at least now (tomorrow there may be possibilities of some other better methods); this is un-disputed method globally. In fact, if you look at various other kinds of scales, which are used to rank, for example, universities, institutes, etc globally, similar reflection we find for us (for Indian universities and institutes); we should resist to blame others and try to do truthful analysis/introspection and take remedial actions.

It’s not easy to summarize in one sentence the reasons for the poor performance of Indian scientist in the list (of for that matter that of CSIR scientists) but let me try to tell you in my individual/personal capacity (which of course is based on my professional experience as an individual and also as global traveler for professional works/collaboration).

Let us see about CSIR alone. At times, we encourage to publish; then suddenly someone decides ‘we don’t want publication’; “we just want technologies”. There are people –at top management who even used (impolite) statements like ‘we don’t want PAPER SCIENTIST’. What is most pity that such statements and changes in stance have often been related with the policies of government (central government), which perhaps is never true. For any government obviously the most important agenda would be welfare of the people. For the development, govt would want to take the help from the scientists of the country for ways to improve the health, hygiene, good, infra-structure development, etc. That means scientific knowledge developed by the scientists should have avenues for its utilization as technologies, etc. No govt said that you don’t do good science! It is the people who mis-conducted themselves in leadership roles and mis-governed the scientific community.

For any scientist, the bottom line is to do good science; good science needs to be known to the people (for which avenue is paper publication). Note that its highly completive world for quality publications as well. Thus, at no point of time, it should be point blank discouraged. Then, the second aspect, which is important for the scientist is to carefully evaluate the findings – individually and/or through institutional team to identify if any of the results could be of technological relevance. Such results should be protected (patenting) and then look for industrial avenues for these. Note that every work cannot be high quality science or patentable results; also, note that some scientists would always like to do works directly related with the society, such as environmental programs, or modern farming, etc, which too are of extremely relevance. These should not be neglected.

I am very happy that at least now, the new DG of CSIR, Dr Mande has put the policy framework and working goals for CSIR scientists very clearly. In his message to CSIR community on 1st January 2019, he mentioned about the three aspects, which included science for society, doing good quality science (and to publish) and explore/exploit the work for technological developments. The message is very clear.

Having said all above, I would also want to briefly touch upon one another issue. In fact, honestly telling this could be even controversial but I am putting straight forward fact to you. One very critical issue, which is in some way responsible for not high quality publications or technological developments coming out is directly related with the manpower quality we have. We see that large number of highly meritorious scholars do not get job, while much less meritorious get! Then, how should you expect the ‘high quality science’ from them?

Q- Scientist CNR Rao told Time of India that 15 years back China and India were at same level but now China (15-16%) is contributing far more in World science then India (3-4%). Mean time, Indian academics became leader in publishing the fake research. What went wrong with both the cases India and China?

Scientist Dr. Pandey: I would not like to comment on who said what but would elaborate more here what I just said in last above. I do not believe so-called ‘blame-game’; I never did it any time in my professional career (note that I am just one; you would find n number of such people who would want to work, rather not getting involved in gossip-groups, which are very popular in CSIR institutes).

In a sting operation a few years ago, two professors from Wisconsin University created a large number of fake research manuscripts based on 7th and 8th standard science books and sent them for publication in some 250 open access journals (mostly having very modern and fancy names); to sum-up the story majority of these journals accepted large majority of these ‘papers’ within seven days. Whatever above, now the fact is this that many-many Indian researchers, including from those whom we call as ‘premier institutes’ are too happy to publish in those journals. Who is responsible scientist/professor? Or, the student? To me, the onus lies on former ones.

Now I will comment specifically on the question with China. In China (and many other countries, including South Korea), there is internal recognition system. If a professor/scientist publishes one paper in a Q1 journal (based on impact factor and h index, journals are classified, in which Q1 is highest), he/she is given cash intensive for this (which he can share with all co-authors). The amount for various countries varies and it could be as high as US$ 1200-1500 per paper. I am not asking to simply follow what others are doing but at least we can stop discouraging the scientists.

Q- When I talked about Ease of Doing Science in India, similar to Ease of Doing Business, few scientists recommended liberalizing the lateral entry for Indian researcher working abroad setup lab in India and removing the age limit in recruitment of scientists.

1- What do you think about these recommendations and

2- What types of measures you would recommend to improve the Ease of Doing Science with quality in India?

Scientist Dr. Pandey: I would not be shy to tell that firstly we need to learn to respect the merit. Absolute efforts should be made to recruit meritorious scholars (note that I do not mean that this is not happening; for sure this is happening but only a small portion). I do not (fully) agree that there is no environment for doing Ease of Science in India; there are hurdles but still it is happening. As far age limit, there are different levels of scientist, for example in CSIR (same for any other organization), where age limit is different for different level).

Recruit meritorious people with open grading system based on credentials and institutional requirement,

Allowing to establish individuals to do science of their choice with a set potion of time and rest time for the institution project with team building. The former one to see/allow for a given period (not open ended).

Emphasis on team work with defined and quantifiable goals.

Objective based evaluation (no subjectivity at all) for career growth.
Incentives based on performance.

Q- As you are recipient of Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize and veteran scientist, Please make a comment on below query. I have also contacted with other concerned authority dealing with Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize.

what is the logic or reason behind putting the 45 age limit for considering a candidate for India’s highest multidisciplinary science awards for Science and Technology. The other different awards either of a particular field such as sports or films or padma awards etc (as far as I know) they do not have the age limit criteria for conferring award to any eligible candidate.

Scientist Dr. Pandey: Sorry; I am not recipient of SSB prize.

Thank your once again sir, for sparing time for answering the queries. I am hopeful that this will help the scientific community in one way or other way.

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