Publishing with impact

How Indian journals can compete with international ones

Updated - December 04, 2018 04:15 pm IST

Published - December 04, 2018 12:15 am IST

When publishing scientific research, the impact factor of a journal is an important consideration. Impact factor refers to the number of citations to articles published in that journal over the previous two years divided by the total number of articles published in the journal over the previous two years. Indian scientific journals have a much lower impact factor than their international counterparts. If Science has an impact factor of about 41, Current Science in India has an impact factor of about 0.8. Nature Physics has an impact factor of about 22; the Indian journal of physics, Pramana , has an impact factor of about 0.6. One primary cause for this low impact factor is that not many scientists choose to publish their quality work in Indian or ‘national’ journals. While there are arguments that the impact factor alone should not be considered, we have no better metric of quality at the moment, and until such a metric evolves, we cannot ignore the impact factor.

Subhash Chandra Lakhotia, Indian National Science Academy senior scientist and Distinguished Professor at the Banaras Hindu University, is among the exceptions. In 1971, when he started his career, Professor Lakhotia made a resolve to publish equally in international and Indian journals. He has maintained that stance for over 45 years by publishing papers in national and international journals alternately. According to him, the terms ‘national’ and ‘international’ are misnomers in this context, because they imply that one set is inferior in some way to the other. A cytogeneticist of repute, his own career has not been hurt by his choices.

Unfortunately, his confidence is not shared by most scientists who seek to publish only in international journals. The main reason for this is that most selection committees — whether for faculty positions or awards or promotions — only count the number of publications in international journals, especially ones like Nature or Science . This is not true in other countries. For selection committees in Japan, it is imperative that candidates publish some papers in Japanese journals. The same holds true for countries in the EU. Unfortunately, there is no such incentive for Indians. The obsession of selection committees with international publications disincentivises Indians from publishing in Indian journals.

Though many Indian journals have a good editorial and peer-review process, they still do not see themselves as ‘international’. Apart from the processes, even the software used for submission and editing needs to be upgraded, says Sunil Mukhi, professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune. If these systems and processes are put in place, scientists from other countries can be actively invited to publish in these journals, which will make these journals interesting for the international community. Also, as Professor Lakhotia says, selection committees should pay attention to what is published rather than where it is published.

The writer covers science for The Hindu

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.