Funds to access content will boost research in India

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Research and innovations has been the lifeline of economic growth of any country. Publishing plays an enormous role in the entire knowledge ecosystem of research and innovation. It drives learning, knowledge and innovation in the country. For a country like India, which is aspiring to become the knowledge hub of the world, the contribution of publishing cannot be easily relegated. In order to highlight the importance of publishing in research and innovation, FICCI recently organised a seminar on ‘The Role of Publishing in Enhancing Research in India.’

The seminar witness representation from key research institutions and some prominent international publishers. Speaking at the occasion Dr Jagdish Chander, scientist-G, DST, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt of India highlighted that every third pill consumed across the world is made in India and that Indian publishers can play an important role in knowledge sharing through publication of the research done by Indian scientists and academia. ML Srivastava, deputy inspector general of forests, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt of India also urged Indian publishers to consider publishing stand-alone research articles and journals, in order to promote information discovery.

Publishers present at the programme emphasised that the country need to invest heavily into research and more importantly for access of global content for enhancing research. Rohit Kumar, co- chair, FICCI Publishing Committee, and Advisor, RELX Group informed that the quantum of research publications of China is of way ahead that of India. The ratio of educational funding to GDP is an important factor towards achieving economic progress.

While, Vikas Gupta, managing director, Wiley India pointed out that if India aims to be part of the top five countries, then there is a need to increase government funding to research institutions for access to content. Overall India spends less than 0.88 percent of its GDP on science research. When compared to advance countries this appears small as USA spends about 2.76 percent of its GDP in scientific research, while South Korea spend about 4.04 percent.

Sanjiv Goswami, managing director, Springer Nature pointed out that India’s position as a creator of scientific knowledge is unique. While universities in India are mainly concerned with teaching, scientific institutions have an exclusive focus on research. The outcome of this policy is that Indian university students are deprived of contact with top researchers in the country.

Dr Ramesh C Gaur, university librarian, JNU added that research funding, though limited, should be properly utilised. He further pointed out that though the number Indian publications have increased over the years, their citation count has decreased dramatically. He emphasised that there is a need to focus on quality research to meet international standards. Dr Prabhat Ranjan, executive director, Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), Govt of India also emphasised on outcome driven research rather than targeting more publication of research papers.

Dr Prabhat Ranjan also pointed out to the need for private sector investment into research. Currently less than one third of India’s funding is contributed by the private sector. Sharing his perspective on funding by private sector, Kailash Balani, managing director, Balani Infotech said that if we have good academic standards, then private sector (including publishers) would be happy to fund research projects of reputed institutions.

Publishers at the programme pointed out that there is a need to increase funding of quality research, which will increase the publishing worth of Indian authors. They highlighted that access to content is a fundamental requirement for furthering research in India and that the Government should actively look into this important aspect for enhancing research in India.

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