Assessing Scientific Research & Innovation: Study of frameworks and parameters for evaluating institutional research

Pratyaksha Jha and Tarini Sudhakar |17 January 2022 | January 13, 202


Across the world, innovation is understood as a key driver of economic progress. Fuelled by both public and private sources of investment, scientific research sits at the heart of countries’ ability to achieve innovation success. India’s budgetary allocations towards scientific research and development (R&D) have stood at 0.7% of the country’s GDP through 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 (Department of Science and Technology 2019). This puts the country’s spending in this area significantly behind OECD countries’ average R&D expenditure of 2.37% as of 2017 (OECD 2019). While this in itself is an indicator that allows one to benchmark India’s innovation systems against other countries, there is a need to examine how scientific research in the country is taking place, and what kind of outcomes it is yielding, to understand its contributions to innovation. Indicators designed to measure innovation aim to evaluate research inputs, outputs, and other parameters as contributors to scientific development and innovation.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation, in collaboration with INSEAD, releases the Global Innovation Index every year, using 81 such parameters to map innovation success for 132 countries. Four innovation indices used in India employ similar mechanisms across multiple parameters to measure the research contributions of higher education institutions (HEIs) and other scientific research organisations. The Evaluation of Science Indicators of Public Funded R&D Institutions and the Ease of Doing Research framework by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research examine the success of institutions in the space of publicly funded and agricultural research respectively. At the same time, the National Institution Ranking Framework and the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements rank HEIs on the basis of how they contribute to innovation in the country.

This study aims to illustrate the present state of scientific research evaluation in India, and examine the role played by existing indices in shaping India’s innovation ecosystem. Reviewing how these indices define and measure research helps illuminate the role of factors such as management of researchers, research practices and norms, quantity and quality of research output, and the socio-economic impact of research, in creating effective environments within which scientific innovation can take place.





Research Funding for STEM Higher Education Institutions: An Analysis of India vs International Models

Bhavya Mehta & Ishita Puri | January 13, 202


Researchers across the globe often face a dilemma of ambiguity about and inadequacy of funding for their projects. In India too, despite the increase in the overall amount of research funding over the years, it continues to remain insufficient and difficult to utilise by university-based researchers.

Many of these issues point towards the lack of well-defined processes and procedures to capitalise on the country's research funding model. In order to enhance India's overall investment in research, we need to study each component of the Science and technology ecosystem that contributes to the performance of Research & Development (R&D). This report attempts to focus on India’s universities and innovative young minds therein who form the essential staple for the research ecosystem.

The report examines project-based R&D funds received by India’s leading higher education institutions through five major government research funding agencies (DST, DBT, SERB, ICMR, and CSIR) and compares the model with the funding models of top R&D performing countries. It aims to bring to light some of the pressing issues, often ignored, that obstruct the country’s higher education sector from improving its performance in the R&D ecosystem.

The first half of the report, ‘India in spotlight’, deep-dives into the schemes & programs of five of the above-mentioned agencies. A detailed analysis has been undertaken in order to understand their application procedure, selection & eligibility criteria, components (permitted grant utilisation), duration and institutions funded. This is followed by the ‘India vs International Models’ section which provides a cross-country analysis of relevant statistics, the national research funding models for those countries and, provides a nuanced look at the individual traits of research funding across these countries. In addition to India, this section of the report analyses models of seven of the top countries known for their contribution to STEM research, namely Japan, USA, UK, South Korea, China, Germany and Israel.

The report brings forth the latent cry of decades of researchers and scientists in India. It argues that India's research funding model can only produce better results if we tackle the issues of transparency, lack of feedback mechanisms, ambiguous guidelines (both on description of the grant and utilisation of the grant) and have a rigorous monitoring & evaluation process. Significantly, it points towards the lack of consolidated data in the public domain that could be utilised by researchers and civil society to study and produce reports, make recommendations and to understand the higher education sector’s role in R&D. For a country poised to become Atmanirbhar in this decade, periodically publishing granular data and statistical evidence on the R&D contribution of the higher education sector will give the much-needed impetus to public participation and private investment in university-based research.





Possibilities for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Reforms in India

Bhavya Mehta, B. Chagun Basha and Nitesh Anand  | January 13, 2022


India's aspiration to transit into a knowledge-based economy is highly dependent on strengthening its Science, Technology, and Innovations ecosystem. Underinvestment in research and development (R&D), debatable quality of the research output, and lack of innovations present significant hurdles in realising the ambition. In the age of rapidly emerging new technology solutions and S&T-based innovations, it becomes critical to proactively (re)shape public policies for the best socio-economic development outputs.

Through this landscaping study, we wish to develop deeper insights and understanding of various perspectives of India's STI ecosystem and identify possible policy action areas that require liberal reforms.

A qualitative scientific methodology was applied to identify indicative perspectives and generated evidence through in-depth interviews with various stakeholders. Discourse analysis, qualitative content analysis, policy prioritization analysis and feasibility analysis were done to arrive at the findings. We engaged with ecosystem stakeholders, independent thought leaders and industry leaders to professors and ecosystem innovators from within the country and abroad. Through this detailed analysis, we identified the following nine specific outcome-focused and action-oriented policy priorities for the STI ecosystem of India:

  • Improving R&D Investment Portfolio
  • Strengthening critical base of scientific workforce
  • Increasing access to frontier knowledge, research data, and infrastructure
  • Promoting Meaningful & Impactful research assessment and evaluation
  • Facilitating efficient Research Management practices
  • Stimulating utility of Research outcomes
  • Improving integration of research with higher education institutions
  • Re-inventing India's STI Internationalisation strategies
  • Building robust evidence framework for S&T policy planning