Accessible science and collaboration are critical factors for advancing Sustainable Development Goals, global academic leaders concurred

India is now the world’s 3rd largest producer of research output, behind US and China, overtaking the UK
Joint seminar organized by the Ministry of Education and Elsevier ahead of the 4th G20 Education Working Group meeting highlights India’s potential and role as a centre of research excellence

Pune, June 21st, 2023 – According to data from Elsevier – a global leader in evidence-based clinical practice content, research publishing and information analytics – India’s scholarly output has been steadily increasing, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of around 11% over the past 20 years and has also now moved to becoming the third largest producer of scientific research, overtaking the UK in 2022.

The country also boasts achievements in academic quality where its Field Weighted Citation Impact (an international measure of research quality) has improved from 0.85 in 2019 to 1.05 in 2021, putting India above the global average for publication citations. In addition, the Indian government’s focus on driving qualitative research to strengthen the country’s competitiveness in global research and innovation has resulted in India achieving its 40th ranking in WIPO’s Global Innovation Index 2022.

These were amongst some of India’s academic achievements that were spotlighted at a seminar jointly organized by India’s Ministry of Education in partnership with Elsevier as a precursor discussion to the 4th G20 Education Working Group meeting around the topic of “Accessible science: fostering collaboration”.

The seminar convened stakeholders from the G20 group of nations across the scientific community to discuss best practices for accessible science, how accessible science can be applied across individual nations with differing local capacities, and ways to utilize science practices to support global progress.

Hon’ble MoS Shri Dr. Subhas Sarkar, Ministry of Education, while inaugurating the event, stated: “Guided by inclusivity and innovation, we seek to strengthen ties with higher education institutions worldwide. Through robust partnerships, joint research endeavors, and shared knowledge, we aspire to create a vibrant ecosystem that transcends borders. India’s G20 Presidency recognizes the importance of accessible science in addressing global challenges and fostering sustainable development. Openness, transparency, and inclusivity are crucial to trust and integrity in scientific approaches. By embracing Open Science, we can ensure data sharing, research reproducibility, and robust societal impacts. Together through partnerships, we will navigate uncharted waters and create a brighter future for all through scientific innovation.”

During his keynote address, Shri K. Sanjay Murthy, Secretary Higher Education, Ministry of Education, GOI, said: “Cooperation and an exchange of knowledge are key to build a thriving ecosystem that cuts across national boundaries and addresses global challenges. We understand that there is a need to enhance our research output and hence seek pathways to foster collaborations among universities and academic institutions. Let us strive to provide solutions for global challenges and achieve our sustainable development goals, leaving a visible impact on the richness of our collaborative endeavours.”

“India’s stellar performance in scientific research is intrinsically tied to the local and global trends that we have seen towards accessible science,” said Dr. Nick Fowler, Chief Academic Officer at Elsevier and Chair of The International Association of STM Publishers, which represents over 140 global academic publishers. “As scientific findings become more accessible, other researchers around the world can use and build on the findings, thereby enhancing academic quality.”

Dr. Fowler added: “Academic papers developed via international collaborations in India have been cited twice as often as those with no international collaboration, and India would do well in optimizing opportunities to expand its global collaborations, particularly with G20 countries.”

At the seminar, highlights from an exclusive Elsevier report commissioned by The Ministry of Education, Fostering collaboration: a study of scientific publications with authors in G20 countries, was also presented by the report’s author, Dr. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Senior Vice President at Elsevier and Professor Emeritus, State University of Campinas.

“The research landscape in the world is changing. Thirty years ago, it was the rich countries of the Global North that conducted research. Now, there is a change, and countries from the Global South are becoming more and more relevant in research and science,” said Dr. de Brito Cruz. “India has brought so many collaborations and one of the best things they’re doing in the growth of scientific production is Sustainable Development Goal #2, which is related to reducing hunger in the world, where the scientific production of India is going up 25 percent a year. Soon, India will have a mass of knowledge that will become a reference for every other country in the world.”

For the main discussion session, several esteemed panelists joined us and shared their insights on ways to foster collaboration between G20 countries through accessible multi-lingual regional resources and multi-lateral open facilities; and various approaches to enhance academic interactions to meet UN SDGs. Panelists at the session included Prof. S. K. Satheesh (IISc Bengaluru and Chief Editor of Current Science (Indian Academy of Sciences); Mr. Piers Purdy (Head of G20, Research and Innovation); Mr. Kaspar Meyer (Head of S&T, German Embassy in India; Mr. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz (SVP, Research Networks, Elsevier, Professor Emeritus, of Campinas, Unicamp, Brazil); Prof. Amit Agarwal (Dean, International Relations, IIT Bombay); Mr. Mudit Narain (Formerly Program Director at the Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and Director, Foundation for Advancing S&T); and Dr. Ravindra Utgikar (Vice President Corporate Strategy & Marketing at Praj Industries Ltd, Pune). This session was chaired by Prof. Sunil S Bhagwat (Director, IISER Pune) and Co-chaired by Dr Ayesha Chaudhary (Advisor, Stanford University, Stanford Byers Center for Bio-design, India program; Consultant, World Bank and Adjunct Faculty, IIT Jodhpur).

A panel discussion moderated by Dr. Nagaraj Balasubramanian (Associate Professor, IISER Pune) with the above participants was held where aspects related to growth in capacity in terms of infrastructure and human resource were discussed along with inputs from the audience. The importance of interactions among researchers at the global level and various models to achieve this was discussed in this session.

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