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This paper analyzes India’s contribution to world microbiology research during the period 2003–2014 based on Web of Science database. India’s growth of research, global publication share, citation impact, the share of global collaborative publications, impact of major collaborative countries, prolific institutions and authors were studied.   It is observed that India ranks in the 9th place with a global publication share of 3.87% and an annual average growth rate of 13.15% for the period 2003–2014. The citation impact of India’s contribution is 12.26 which decreased from 22.42 during 2003–2008 to 7.43 during 2009-2014. 31.93% of India’s total research output was published with international collaboration.

Keywords:Microbiology Research, Publication trend, Scientometrics, Citation impact, Collaboration, India.

Microbiology took its birth in 1674, when Antonie van Leeuwenhoek became the first person to glance microbial life in a drop of water through a glass lens, since then, this science dealing with the study of the invisible life has grown infinitely1. In the beginning, microbiology involved primarily the studies of fermentation and medicine, but as the miscellany characteristics and the role of these micro-organisms came to know, the scientific basis of this science expanded throughout the world2. In India, the field of microbiology focuses on two major facets, studying the ways through which microbes are the source of diseases, and endeavoring to harness the potential of these microbes for applications like fermentation, antibiotic production, biotechnological manipulations, bio-control agents, cloning vehicles, in bioremediation etc.3.In the twentieth century, microbiology in India further branched out into industrial microbiology, environmental microbiology, agricultural or soil microbiology, marine microbiology, clinical or medical microbiology, and food microbiology4.

India is a developing country and its enormous population is constantly fighting an ever increasing number of many dreadful diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, HIV infection and cholera5. Researchers in India are presently investigating the process by which organisms acquire this drug resistance. Secondly, as India is an agrarian economy, major research has been diverted to the microbial research in this area. This involves studies related to nitrogen fixation, rhizosphere, anaerobic decomposition in biogas production, soil enzymes etc.6. Thirdly, industrialization is emerging in India tremendously its resulted in the release of enormous toxic pollutants into the environment that is posturing as health hazards. In this background, microbes have been extensive studies in laboratories across the country on the strategies for the waste management of such pollutants7. Microbial genetics has been a field which has endured massive development in the recent years and has emerged as a discrete discipline of molecular biology.

Review of Related Studies

There are numerous qualitative and quantitative studies on different branches of discipline evaluating India’s impact have been accomplished earlier. Gupta and Gupta8 examined the Indian contribution in Pneumonia disease research for the period 2004-2013 based on Scopus database. Gupta and Bala9 analyzed the Indian research output in bone marrow research during 2003-12 based on Scopus Citation Database with an emphasis on measuring the Indian input and recognizing the most prolific institutions. Rajagopal, Archunan, Surulinath and Ponmanickam10 examined the progress of pheromone biology research productivity in India based on the SCI of WoS database for the period 1978-2008. Sinha and Joshi11 observed the position of solar PV research in India during the 2000-2009. Gupta, Kshitij, and Verma12 undertook the study of Indian publication output in computer science during 1999-20008 based on SCOPUS database. Varaprasad and Ramesh13 analyzed the development of Indian chemical research published for the period of 1987- 2007 based on the SCOPUS database with a prominence on measuring the national contribution and recognizing the most productive organizations. Karpagam, Gopalakrishnan, Natarajan and Ramesh Babu14 discussed the growth of nanoscience and nanotechnology research in India during 1990–2009. The study retrieved data from SCOPUS database with an emphasis on national and international collaboration output, contribution and impact of Indian Institutions and impact of Indian journals. Gupta, Kaur, and Kshitig15 examined the Indian contribution in dementia study as revealed in SCOPUS during 2002 to 2011.

Gupta, Kaur, and Bala16 analyzed the diabetes research productivity of India during 1999-2008. The study concentrated on characteristics of highly cited papers and international collaboration. Kademani, Sagar, and Bhanumurthy17 studied an Indian materials science research evaluation for a period of 1999-2008 based on the SCOPUS database. The study revealed the progress of both national and international collaboration, highly prolific authors and organizations, and also most cited publications. Balasubramani and Murugan18 study analyzed and compared the Tapioca (Sago) research in India with a number of documents, journals and international collaboration from 1973 to 2010. The study used HistCite, the visualization technique developed by Garfield and colleagues, the historiography for India based on both local citation scores (LCS) and global citation scores have been constructed, and the key papers have been identified. The present study is intended to analyze the Indian status of Microbiology research during the period of 12 years from 2003-2014.  


    The main objective of this study is to analyze:

    •      To study the India’s global publication share in Microbiology

    •      To study the growth of Indian contribution in Microbiology

    •      To study the share of international collaborative papers and preferred partner countries

    •      To study the productivity of prolific authors and institutes


The data for the present study retrieved from the-the Science Citation Index of Web of Science database. The search was conducted during the period of 12 years from 2003–2014. The search tag SU=Microbiology and CU=India have been used to retrieve the data. Thus, a total of 19,195 publications contributed by Indian authors has been considered for the present study.


Share of top ten countries

The world publication share of the top ten countries in Microbiology research varies from 3.73% to 27.29% during the period 2003–2014 (Table 1). The top ten countries together produced 79% of world Microbiology research output. The USA tops the list with a share of 27.29% followed by the China with 9.32% and Germany with 7.68%. These top three countries together produced 44% of world publications. India ranked ninth among the top ten most productive countries with a world publication share of 3.87%.

Indian Publication Output and its Citation Impact

India contributed 19,915 papers to world microbiology research during the period 2003–2014 with an average number of papers per the year of 1660 (Table 2). Cumulative publications have increased from 6,418 in 2003–2008 to 13,497 in 2009–2014 with a growth rate of 269%. A total of 2,44,295 citations has been received by these papers from its time of publication up to April 5, 2015. Of 19,915 papers, 16,638 papers received one or more citations for their publication. Citations per paper were 12.26 during the period of the study, which has decreased from 22.42 in 2003–2008 to 7.43 in 2009–2014.

The total number of papers in microbiology research contributed by Indian scientists increased from 700 in 2003 to 2,562 in 2014. The coefficient of determination of publications is found to be R2 = 0.7393 which shows that the literature was growing at a significant growth rate (Fig. 1). The linear best fit was found to be y = 241.24X where y is a number of papers and x are the predicting year.

International Collaborative Papers

India published 31.93% of its total papers with international collaboration during the period 2003– 2014, which has increased from 28.9% in 2003–2008 to 33.37% in 2009–2014 (Table 3). Major international partner countries are listed in Table 4 and India collaborated with 132 countries during the study period. There were 6,359 international links and the internationalization index is 31.93 (=100x number of international links / total number of papers by India)19for microbiology research by Indian researchers and scientists.

Among the collaborative countries, the USA had maximum links with 1,311 publications. Six (G7) and Four (G5) countries are listed among major partner countries, which highlights that India has more persistent collaboration with scientists from both G7 and G5 countries.

Prolific Indian Authors in Microbiology Research (2003–2014)

Authors contributing more than 0.5% of the country’s output during 2003–2014 are considered prolific authors and listed in Table 5. Among the 13 most productive authors, 6 authors are from IIT’s and 2 from University of Delhi. Kumar, An of IIT Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh was the most prolific author of 353 papers (1.77%) followed by Kumar, S of IIT Roorkee, Uttarakhand, and Singh, S of AIIMS, Raipur. Pandey, An of NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram had the top CPP of 32.53 followed by Singh, An of BHU, Uttar Pradesh (14.64) and Kumar, R of University of Delhi (13.66). The prolific authors had h-index in the vary from 17 to 44. The author Pandey, A had the highest h-index value of 44 while Kumar, V had the lowest at 17.

 Prolific Indian Institutes in Microbiology Research (2003–2014)

Institutes contributing more than 1% of the country’s output during 2003-2014 are considered prolific institutes andlisted in table 6.  These 28 prolific institutes contributed 8,024 papers (40%) to the country’s output with a range of 203 and 765 papers. Papers contributed by these productiveorganizations received 1,21,403 citations (50%) from their time of publication of a total 2,44,295 citations. The leading five institutes (University of Delhi, New Delhi; Banaras Hindu University, Uttar Pradesh; Indian Institute Of Technology, New Delhi; Indian Institute Of Science IISc, Bengaluru; Institute of Microbial Technology India, Chandigarh) contributed 2,404 papers considered for 12% of the country’s output. The CPP of these productive institutes varies from 4.01 to 27.3. Among the prolific institutes, the National Institute Interdisciplinary Science Technology India, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala received the highest CPP 27.3 followed by IIT Kharagpur, West Bengal (24.96) and Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh (18.63). Among the prolific institutes Universities together produced 2916 (15% of the country’s output) papers and research institutes contributed 2820 (14% of the country’s research output) papers related to microbiology during 2003-2014 and these suggest that these are institutes with specialization in microbiology research in India. The highest h-index was attained by the University of Delhi, New Delhi (49), followed by IIT Delhi, New Delhi (43) and IIT Kharagpur, West Bengal (42), while the lowest is by the Vellore Institute of Technology, Tamil Nadu (14) among the prolific institutes.

Prolific Journals

The prolific journals, which issued more than 1% of the papers, contributed by Indian authors are listed in table 7. These top 24 journals together produced 9,346 papers contributed by Indian authors comprising 47% of the total Indian output. Only 3 journals originated from India (Journal of Pure and Applied Microbiology, Research Journal of Biotechnology and Indian Journal of Biotechnology) and the enduring journals originated from different countries. The situation specifies that Indian authors choose International Journals to publish their research papers more than in Indian journals. Bio resource Technology ranked top with both 1,263 papers and also in terms of CPP with 28.13. Process Biochemistry acknowledged the second highest CPP with 25.08 while it is graded 9th in terms of a number of publications. Biochemical Engineering Journal graded third in terms of CPP with 23.34 while it is graded 21st in the case of a number of papers.

Highly Cited Papers

The top 20 highly cited papers of Indian Microbiology research during the period 2003-2014 are presented in table 8. These top 20 papers were published in 14 different internationaljournals. Among the 20 papers, one paper is single authored while other papers have collaborators. These 20 papers share 9,323 cumulative citations accounting for 4% of all citations. Among the 20 papers seven papers have international collaboration while others have domestic collaboration. The highest cited paper is “Silver nanoparticles as a new generation of antimicrobials,” authored by Rai, Mahendra.,Yadav, Alka., & Gade, Aniket for Biotechnology Advances in the year 2009 it is a review paper. This paper has received 1,236 citations from its time of publication through April 10, 2015.


The present study analyses the microbiology research output in India during the period of 2003-2014 based on Web of Science database. Indian scientists published a total of 19,915 papers during the period of study which received 2,44,295 citations, with global publication share of 4.91% and with 6,359 (31.93%) papers produced by international collaborations.  Indian literature in microbiology has developed by 269% during 2003-2008 and 2009-2014, which indicates that research activities in microbiology subject are increasing. India stood 9th among the top ten highly productive countries of the world in microbiology research during 2003-2014. Though, India produced a small number of publications in comparison to the USA and the China, which contributed 10% or above to world publications. But, 31.93% of the India’s papers have collaborated papers and the USA were the most preferred country. The internalization index is 31.93 it indicates the integrating status of India in microbiology research. Productive institutes produced 40% of the country’s output, which shows that the number of institutes involved in microbiology research is less in number. Prolific authors contributed 12.74% to the country’s output, which specifies that Indian microbiology research is dispersed with many authors. The study finally concludes that the Indian contribution to world microbiology literature was escalating at a considerable growth rate. However, it is renowned that world microbiology research is currently headed by the USA, the China and the Germany based on the number of publications.

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