Nature India | Indigenus

Paper run

Here’s another contentious story of an Indian research group feeling left out in the ‘paper run’. A group of researchers from IIT, Madras Chennai has claimed that they lost precious time while trying to get their paper published — it was rejected a couple of times by prestigious publications before another one accepted it. In the meantime, another group of ‘first world scientists’ got a similar paper published by the very same publishers who had rejected the IIT group.

Now, we have heard such stories many times. We have also heard voices of protest and angst that follow such controversies.

While it would be improper to comment on the journal’s decision to reject the paper without weighing the merit of the original draft that was sent for publication, the feeling of ‘third world alienation’ in paper publication has been a seething topic in many developing countries. Researchers have reported similar ‘abandonment’ issues time and again.

I am curious to know if there are more stories like these in our labs. Is it really true that third world scientists do not get as much importance in the peer-review process as their first world cousins? Is there a method to address these issues impartially — a body of peers that investigates into the genuineness of these cries?


  1. Report this comment

    Biplab Das said:

    Dear Subhra,

    The IIT Madras story and your blog post raise a couple of pertinent questions. Is there any legitimate monitoring forum that scientists from developing countries can approach to stop such discrimination? At the same time, should India have more peer-reviewed world class journals to rub shoulders with the western world? Though I am not sure about the first question’s answer, but we should seriously try to address the second question. It is really high time that India should have world class journals to avoid such humiliation.

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    Anu said:

    Yes, this is true. Has once happened to us. I am a graduate student based in IITB. I also see similar things happening with my friends around here.

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    BBG said:

    It MAY be true in this case but as a whole I have different opinion after reading/reviewing many “great” papers by Indian scientists.

    It all depends on one’s perception about quality of research; question asked, its relevance, methods to get the answers and interpretation of the research result (if the mentioned data really allow the conclusion made in the paper). Majority of Indian students/scientists have the tendency to glorify their work depending on the techniques used, rather than quality of scientific questions asked, relevance of the methodology to answer the question and, most importantly, if the presented data support the conclusion mentioned in the manuscript. In most of the cases, as per my experience, there is hardly any correlation between data presented and conclusion, and quality of data and methodology is very, very poor (as compared to any reputed, international journal standard).

    Many times those Indian scientists and their students feel that resemblance of one or two figure/data in a paper with 10-20 figures/data is good enough to say “same paper” got published.

    If you send us the link of those two papers (by the Indian authors and by those from “developed” countries), we can have a look.

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    BBG said:

    Dear Subhra,

    I can not be of much help in this specific case, as I am a biologist and do not know much about the subject of those two papers and quality of the journals mentioned.

    The only thing I understand that the corresponding author of the ‘international’ paper is an Indian (or Indian origin), as his name suggests. The other paper is from IIT-M. It does indicate something but can not be proved without further information.

    It also can be a rare coincidence that two groups of people under took same project without having any connection whatsoever.

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    Subhra Priyadarshini said:


    I understand. Let us wait for other people to express their views on this matter. You might want your fellow scientists interested in this to comment. It could turn out to be an insightful analysis into the phenomenon so often cited by Indian scientists.


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    A D said:

    The 2nd link (science direct) does not work. Could you possibly update it with the right one?

    [Hi Aparna,

    The link works fine for me. Maybe refreshing your browser might help or just copy-paste the link into your browser.