Social Science research landscape in South Asia: a comparative assessment of research output published during 1996-2013.

Author:Dhawan, S.M.
  1. Introduction

    South Asian economies have been evolving, experiencing a long period of robust economic growth, averaging 6% a year over the past 20 years. They have increased their economic profile on the world stage, built human capital by ensuring that the people of South Asia have access to education, health care, and social safety nets. But in their race for socio-economic development, these economies had followed different trajectories for the expansion of social sciences to achieve the levels of growth needed to meet the aspirations of all their people. South Asian countries as such have come to experience widely varying impact on their national research output in social science disciplines. There exist sharp differences between South Asia nations both in the nature of their social science institutional structures and in the pace at which these economies have grown. India leads in the number of universities, specialized research institutions, and other governmental and non-governmental bodies conducting social science research. Research and educational opportunities here are highly developed compared to its neighbouring countries. In contrast, social science landscapes in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are different. Their educational and research enterprises are not so large in number count as India's. Their institutions of higher learning, NGOs, and specialised research institutes highly differ in research facilities and quality (1).

    The 'Report of the Committee Constituted by Government of India to Review the Functioning of ICSSR, 2011' (2) had observed that the current number of universities, research institutes, NGOs and their research outputs in the region were lopsided, no longer meeting rising demands for higher education access. Their R&D sector was lacking high quality research facilities, despite their growing importance to the economic development agenda. Their public spending in the higher education sector was less compared to the needs, and not able to withstand the impact that the fast growing young population in the region is having on the higher education and research sector. India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal together account for around 25% of the world's population.

    Given the wide differences in their social science landscapes, South Asia countries are bound to have wide differing impact on the research emanating from their respective countries. To determine and evaluate their comparative research performance from a regional perspective, it would be useful to undertake a detailed analysis of their scholarly output in social sciences using publication and citation indicators. Mapping social science research would give stakeholders across South Asia countries an opportunity to understand and ascertain their comparative strength and weaknesses in social science disciplines. Such an insight would provide fresh opportunities to introspect and frame future policies pertaining to research spending, quality, visibility and ensuring long term growth and development of social science research from a regional perspective.

    This paper therefore looks at the status of social sciences research in South Asia and determines what impact the socio-economic developments within India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal had had on their comparative research profiles in social sciences. This paper therefore compares and benchmarks their research performance on publication and citation indicators. These indicators provide a reasonable measure of research publication size, publication growth rate, visibility and impact of research. This study covers research publication and citation data pertaining to South Asia countries in social sciences for the years 1996 to 2013.

    1.1 Literature Review

    Bibilometric literature comprises a good number of studies on social science research in South Asia. But comparative evaluation undertaken in these studies is focused mainly on publications productivity made by select three or four South Asia countries and the captured data analysed using select publication and citation indicators. There is no study till date which has sought to undertake comparative assessment and evaluation of social science research in five South Asia countries covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Mehbuba and Rousseau (2010)(3) compared India vis-a-vis Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka publications in social sciences using three indicators: percentage of un-cited articles, citations per document and h-indices. Gupta and Bala (2012)(4) examined S&T publications of four South Asia countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal) published during 2001-10, using measures such as global publication contribution and share, growth pattern, distribution of publications by subjects and geographical areas, share of international collaborative publications and characteristics of high productivity institutions and highly cited papers. Gupta and Mahesh (2013)(5) compared social science research in four South Asia countries, namely Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal for the period 1996-2011 using various quantitative and qualitative indicators. They looked at the similarities in the research profile of these four countries, and their research priorities across sub-fields under the five broad social science subjects, such as business, management & accounting, decision sciences, economics, econometrics & finance, psychology and social sciences-general in these three countries. Gupta, Kumbar and Gupta (2013)(6) analysed India's performance on social sciences on publications growth rate, citation quality, internationally collaborative publications in the national output, productivity distribution by broad and narrow subjects. Gupta, Tiwari and Gupta (2014)(7) examined social science research by four South Asia countries on indicators including publication growth rate, citation impact, share of internationally collaborative papers, leading collaborators, broad subject-wise scatter of publications productivity, geographical distribution of publications productivity, institutional contribution and impact, and most productive journals in social science research. Gupta and Kumbar (2014)(8) examined the status of social science research of India, China and Brazil for their comparative performance on quantitative and qualitative indicators including global publication share and rank, annual growth rate, national publication share, internationally collaborative publications share, and research impact as reflected in citation analysis. They brought out similarities in their research profiles, looked at their research priorities, the citation impact of their publications across subfields under the five broad social science subjects, such as business, management and accounting, decision sciences, economics, econometrics and finance, psychology and social sciences (general) in the countries.

    To fill the gap in the literature, this study aims to look at comparative performance of five South Asia countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal using a different methodology to aggregate and analyse publications data on a series of publication and citation indicators.

  2. Objectives

    The main objective of this study is to analyze publications and citations data for comparative assessment of social science research in five South Asia countries, namely Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The study uses a series of quantitative and qualitative measures to: (i) measure and analyse annual growth and the growth pattern of South Asia countries; (ii) measure national output and the global share of South Asia countries; (iii) analyse the citation visibility and impact of research output by South Asia countries; (iv) compare the share of internationally collaborative papers in the national output of South Asia countries; (v) study the research productivity distribution by broad subjects to discover publications growth pattern, identify national research priorities, impact of research, and the extent of international collaboration in social sciences.

  3. Methodology & Data Source

    The study is a bibliometric analysis of social sciences research conducted in five South Asia countries, viz. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. The data for the study has been sourced from SCImago (using its Journal and Country Rank website, developed by Prof. Felix de Moya Anegon of the University of Granada in Spain from the Scopus database ( The social sciences data captured for the study is limited to five major sub-categories viz i) Social Science--general, ii) Business, Management, & Accounting, iii) Decision Science, iv) Economics, Econometrics, & Finance, and v) Psychology. The study covers 18 years data pertaining to the period 1996-2013. For capturing trends in overall social science output coming from five countries South Asia countries, the output under the above five subject categories has been combined

    Publication data count is based on publication year. Citation and bibliometric indicators have been derived, not on yearly publication data count, but on five-yearly overlapping publication count. Accordingly, the annual time series data covering publication years 1996-2013 has been split into 14 five-year overlapping data subsets...

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