A Nature Index analysis
India’s high-quality research output in a global context
India’s marked growth sets it apart from the comparator countries considered in this study. Of these countries, only Russia experienced a similar increase in growth rate, although its weighted fractional count (WFC) is less than half of India’s (Fig. 3). The Nature Index highlights India’s historic love affair with chemistry — mirroring a strong propensity towards the discipline across Asia — and the physical sciences.
In chemistry, India’s top institutions are competitive with those in Europe, the USA and Asia, and stand up to be counted among the world’s top ranks (Fig. 4). India is ninth (WFC = 448.9) in the index global ranking for Chemistry (Fig. 5). Not surprisingly, the top-ten journals where Indian scientists publish are all in chemistry and the physical sciences, with 50 per cent of India’s overall Nature Index output coming from chemistry alone (Fig. 6).
Between 2012 and 2014, Indian chemistry research increased particularly rapidly, with the country’s chemistry-specific WFC growing by almost 100 over the course of three years with a compound annual growth rate of 8.6 per cent. This is the largest increase among the comparator countries considered here.
Indian institutions compare very favourably on a global level in chemistry, producing more output in the Nature Index during 2014 than some of the world’s top institutions in Asia, Europe and North America (Fig. 4). In particular, the Indian Institutes of Technology are among the world’s top institutions in chemistry (ranked 24th globally in 2014), rubbing shoulders with world class centres such as the University of Cambridge (at 20) and Osaka University (at 25).
Overall, Asia’s traditional strength in the physical sciences and chemistry reflects a regional pattern — besides India, other Asian nations such as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea show a great focus on these subject areas. However, these countries show greater engagement in the life sciences than India. Russia as a traditional stronghold in the physical sciences is continuing to produce most of its output in this discipline (Fig. 6).
Italy, by comparison, has a more balanced output. Across the Atlantic, Brazil’s strongest interest is also in the physical sciences, although it also has one of the highest relative Earth and environmental sciences outputs. Of all the countries, Australia is the most balanced, with a slight emphasis on the life sciences.
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