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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Explained: Why Stanford University has a list of the top 2 per cent scientists

In the exhaustive list of 1,59,683 persons, 1,492 Indians have found a place, with a majority of them being from IITs and IISc and other top institutes, representing fields like physics, material sciences, chemical engineering, plant biology, energy and others.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 19, 2020 11:32:00 am
Stanford University’s list of top 2 per cent scientists, stanford university news, express explained, indian expressStanford University (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Stanford University has recently released a list that represents the top 2 per cent of the most-cited scientists in various disciplines. The exhaustive list has 1,59,683 persons with nearly 1,500 Indians in it.

Why such a study

There is no large scale database that systematically ranks all the most-cited scientists in each and every field to a sufficient ranking depth. There are some like Google Scholar that allow scientists to create their profiles and share them in public. This large database created by experts at Stanford University led by Dr John Ioannidis is also based on data from Scopus that ranks journals and gives a citation index.

This database includes the top 2 percent of scientists of the world from different fields on the basis of standardized citation indications. These include information on the number of citations, H -Index, co-authorship and a composite indicator. The results were published in PloS Biology recently and they have been classified into 22 scientific fields and 176 sub-fields in the report

Nearly 1,500 Indians in the list, majority from IITs, IISc, other top institutes

In the exhaustive list of 1,59,683 persons, 1,492 Indians have found a place, with a majority of them being from IITs and IISc and other top institutes, representing fields like physics, material sciences, chemical engineering, plant biology, energy and others. There were 16 Indian scientists who are ranked 30 or higher in the world, in their respective fields. The list represents the top 2 per cent of the most-cited scientists in various disciplines using a cumulative career citation index (c-index ) as a guide. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

Two Indians in the list of top 30 theoretical physicists in the world

In the field of Nuclear & Particle Physics, there are two Indians: Ashoke Sen (ranked 13) and T. Padmanabhan (ranked 24). In Pune, distinguished professor at Inter University Centre of Astronomy and Astrophysics Prof Thanu Padmanabhan said that he was prompted by several inquiries and congratulatory messages, to closely study the Stanford list of scientists.

“I was interested in finding who were the top physicists in the area I work in (the area of theoretical physics, which the Stanford list calls “Nuclear & Particle Physics”). There were only two Indians and the next Indian name in my field is way down the list, so that the cut-off at 30 does not seriously affect the situation. The fact that many non-Nobel Laureates outrank Nobel Laureates shows the multidimensionality of the selection criteria of the rank list,” Prof Padmanabhan said.

Edward Witten from the Institute of Advanced Studies tops the list in the field of as many as 1,10,499 authors.

Two ranked close to the top in the field of Inorganic and Nuclear Chemistry

There are two Indian in the field of Inorganic and Nuclear Chemistry: Prof Gautam Desiraju, (ranked 2) and CNR Rao (ranked 3) close to the top. Prof Desiraju, former President of the International Year of Crystallography said that the study has been a serious effort as nearly 1.6 lakh scientists are included. “I suppose we are beginning to make a mark in chemistry,” Prof Desiraju said. “Those who are making this list with very high ranks, say less than 1000, are generally known names,” he said.

Others in the top 30 list are two from Biotechnology

Biotechnology also has two names: Dr Ashok Pandey, (ranked 8) and Dr S Venkata Mohan, (rank 29). The remaining 10 Indians are distributed as one each in different subjects, defined by a somewhat subjective classification. For instance Dr Shyam Sundar (rank 7) is from Banaras Hindu University in the field of Tropical medicine. There are 28,529 total authors in this field. Similarly, Anisur Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh (rank 26 in the field of complementary and alternative) is from the University of Kalyani. He said that he had to work with many constraints, particularly lack of proper infrastructural facilities and funding. “The survey has given the scope to know where we really stand in terms of contributing to science in our respective fields,” the retired Professor Emeritus of UGC said. Such studies encourage potential researchers to put in more vigor and zeal to do meaningful research, he added.

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