Study on the relative number and cost of EMR schemes in major disciplines of science including engineering

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Study on the relative number and cost of EMR schemes in major disciplines of

science including engineering

Kanta Rani*, M Bharathi and Sukumar Mallick

HRD Group, CSIR Complex, Library Avenue, Pusa, New Delhi 110 012

Received: 10 October 2003; accepted: 09 December 2003

About 170 EMR schemes are selected every year in 6 major areas of science including engineering. Five years data show that there is a wide variation in number and percentage of schemes recommended in different disciplines. There is a strong correlation between the number of schemes funded by CSIR in the Physical sciences disciplines (including Engineering, Mathematical, Earth and Environmental sciences), Biological sciences, and Chemical sciences and proportion of post-graduates that complete their PhD in these areas. More centers of research are needed in the physical sciences in order to produce more of highly trained manpower in these areas.

Keywords: Human resource development, Extra mural research schemes, Market forces

Introduction

Amongst various activities of the Human Resource Development (HRD) group of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), an important activity is funding of research schemes with the scientific faculty of universities, Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), institutions recognized as deemed Universities for post-graduate education and public and private R & D laboratories registered with the Government of India. The extra mural research (EMR) schemes with small budget allocations play a vital role in the scientific endeavors of meritorious scientists and help them make contributions in their respective fields of specialization. Research grants of CSIR are intended mainly to supplement the research facilities available with the institution with which beneficiary scientists are associated.

Funds are provided for equipment and contin-

gencies, as per the essential requirements of the selected projects.

This method of funding is an important avenue of HRD by way of training of one or two junior or senior research fellows or research associates where stipends are also provided by CSIR. The research proposals suitable for funding are selected by committee of peers. Such committees also decide about the quantity of funding for the selected projects.

Research schemes of applied nature as well as those falling under basic sciences find CSIR support. The aim of present study was to investigate the relative number of research proposals received, found suitable for funding and approved budget estimates for the projects selected for funding in various disciplines such as, Life Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Animal Sciences, Plant Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Medical Sciences, Earth and Environmental and Engineering Sciences. The analysis provides an idea of relative growth of new knowledge and growth of human resources in the various disciplines being pursued in the country

Data Collection and Analysis

(a) The data that were about all the proposals received and those accepted for funding for the period 1998-2002 have been called from the files of the group.

(b) The data about the outturn of postgraduates in sciences (M Sc) and engineering (M Tech) disciplines were taken from the work published earlier1-3.

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(1) Subject-wise Distribution of Proposals Received and Funded

It can be seen from the Table 1 and Figure 1 that during 1998 to 2002, a total of 1645 research grant proposals had been received, processed and placed with the area wise peer committees for their evaluation and recommendation. In all, 847 proposals or 52 per cent of the total received were recommended by the committee for funding. The subject areas can be arranged in the following

Table 1— Number of scheme/project proposals received and accepted for funding during the period of 1998 to 2002

Area of Number of proposals received and funded during the year Total Percentage of

sciences 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 proposals a (b) a (b) a (b) a (b) a (b) a (b) recommended Life 130 (59) 151 (61) 161 (71) 116 (45) 130 (50) 688 (286) 42 sciences Chemical 109 (65) 100 (52) 99 (74) 93 (60) 123 (80) 524 (331) 63 sciences Physical 34 (10) 48 (20) 28 (16) 41 (25) 43 (28) 194 (99) 51 sciences Mathematical 9 (7) 12 (6) 8 (6) 12 (9) 13 (9) 54 (37) 69 sciences Engineering 16 (12) 39 (20) 20 (13) 22 (12) 29 (14) 126 (71) 56 sciences

Earth and Env 11 (6) 13 (4) 7 (2) 8 (4) 20 (7) 59 (23) 39

sciences

Grand Total 309 (159) 363 (163) 323 (182) 292 (155) 358 (188) 1645 (847) 51

(a) Schemes received, (b) Schemes funded

(b) The data about the outturn of postgraduates in sciences (M Sc) and engineering (M Tech) disciplines was taken from the work published earlier1-3 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160

Life Sc Chemistry Physics Maths Engg Sc Earth Sc

Discipline A v e ra g e N o o f S c h e m e s

Average No of Schemes Considered/Year Average No of Schemes Recommended/Year

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ascending order in terms of the proposal received: Mathematical sciences (54)<Earth and Environmental sciences (59)<Engineering sciences (126)<Physical sciences (194)<Chemical sciences (524)<Life Sciences (688). The arrangement in terms of per cent proposals accepted was Mathematical sciences (69 per cent)>Chemical sciences (63 per cent)> Engineering sciences (56 per cent)> Physical sciences (51 per cent)> Life sciences (42 per cent)> Earth and Environmental sciences (39 per cent).

(2) Subject-wise Outturn of Postgraduate and Doctorate

Degree Holders

The annual rates of outturn of postgraduates during 1990-1995 (Table 2) differed widely subject-wise. Of the total of 47400 postgraduates outturned annually, about one-third, 16000 (33.8 per cent) are in the field of Engineering sciences. The rates for the other disciplines are: Biological sciences 9200 (19.4 per cent), Mathematical sciences, 7800 (16.5 per cent), Chemical sciences, 6200 (13.0 per cent), Physical

sciences, 4400 (9.3 per cent) and others including Earth and Environmental sciences, 3800 (8.0 per cent). The annual rate of outturn of PhD degree holders during 1995 to 2000 (Table 2) was 1800 in Biological sciences (41.3 per cent), 1140 in chemical sciences (26.2 per cent), 520 in Physical sciences (12.0 per cent), 355 in Engineering sciences (8.1 per cent), 320 in Mathematical sciences (7.4 per cent) and 220 in Earth and Environment sciences (5.1 per cent).

Post-graduate degree (MSc and MTech ) and doctorate degree (PhD) holders get associated with CSIR funded schemes as research fellows and associates, respectively. In the schemes that came in operation between 1998 and 2002 the concerned research associates and fellows would have obtained their PhD or post-graduate degrees before 2002.Many of the research associates attached to the CSIR research projects during1998 to 2002 had obtained their PhD degree between 1995 and 2000.These candidates would have obtained their graduate degrees before 1995, say 1990 to 1995.Therefore, we have tried to relate the outturn rates of post-graduates and doctorates of the above mentioned periods with the parameters of the CSIR funded research schemes.

Table 2—Annual average outturn of postgraduate (M Sc and M Tech) and doctorate (PhD) degree holders and number of research projects in six major disciplines

Discipline Average annual outturn of Post- Average number.of M Sc/ M Tech Number of EMR schemes/year graduates during 1990-95 completing PhD per year during 1995-2000 during 1998-2002 (Table1) Outturn (a) Per cent total Number (b) Per cent outturn (b/a) Number (c) Per cent (c/b)

Biological** 9200 19.4 1800 19.6 57 3.2 sciences Chemical 6200 13.0 1140 18.4 66 5.8 sciences Physical 4400 9.3 520 11.8 20 3.8 sciences Mathematical 7800 16.5 320 4.1 7 2.2 sciences Engineering 16000 33.8 355 2.2 14 3.9 sciences Others* 3800 8.0 220 5.8 5 2.3 Total 47400 100 4355 62.0 169 21.2 Mean 7900 16.7 726 10.3 27 3.5

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Table 2 shows that there was considerable variation in the number of subject-wise postgraduates of the 1990-1995 period who completed their PhD in 1990-1995-2000.The subject areas could be placed in the following descending order in terms of the per cent Postgraduate outturns who completed PhD : Biological sciences (19.6 per cent) > Chemical sciences (18.4 per cent) > Physical sciences (11.8 per cent) > Earth and Environmental sciences (5.8 per cent) > Mathematical sciences (4.1 per cent) > Engineering sciences (2.2 per cent).

It can be further observed from Table 2 that average number of PhD outturned between the period 1998 to 2002 in association with the CSIR funded schemes and PhD who got associated with CSIR

funded schemes for their postdoctoral work was less varied. On average basis about 3.5 per cent of PhD outturnees or post doctorates were associated with CSIR schemes. The subject area wise variation in this respect was as follows. Chemical sciences (5.8 per cent)> Engineering sciences (3.9 per cent)> Physical sciences (3.8 per cent) > Biological sciences (2.8 per cent)>Mathematical (2.2 per cent) and Earth and Environmental sciences (2.3 per cent).

Cost Per Scheme

All schemes recommended may not actually take off and complete their full tenure, normally of 3 to 4 y. Table 3 summarizes data on actual number of schemes which completed their tenure in the years 2000 and 2003 and average cost of these schemes. About 5 per cent of drop was observed in the number of schemes completed after 3 y of their start, as compared to the number initially sanctioned.

It can be noted from the Table 3 that the mean cost of schemes had increased by 22 per cent over 2000 to 2003 period. The schemes in the areas of Earth and Environmental, Life and Chemical sciences had higher cost on account of larger manpower, equipment and consumable grants associated to them (Table 4).

Discussion

The general idea behind this work was to find out how the CSIR research schemes through which small grants are made to the scientific R & D community of the country help in the human resource development.

Table 3—Number of schemes that terminated after completion of their three year tenure in the years 2000 and 2003 and the average expenditure per scheme

Subject area Schemes completed in 2000 Schemes completed in 2003 Mean of schemes

Number Cost* Number Cost* completed in 2000 & 2003

(Rs in lakhs) per scheme Number Cost*

per scheme (Rs in lakhs) per scheme

Life sciences 44 6.08 57 7.62 50 6.85 Chemical sciences 36 5.02 49 6.83 42 5.92 Physical sciences 14 4.39 18 4.23 16 4.31 Engineering and Environmental sciences 13 4.2220 5.8116 5.01 Earth sciences 3 7.17 7 8.005 7.58 Mathematical sciences 4 2.63 4 3.49 4 3.06 Total 114 29.51 155 35.98 133 32.73 Mean 19 4.92 26 5.99 22 5.45

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This study has allowed several important observations on the pattern of human resource development in the scientific disciplines being pursued in the country.

Significantly one-third of the total post- graduates are in the area of Engineering sciences. Moreover, only 2.2 per cent among them pursued doctoral studies. This may be related to the relative deficiency in emphasis on research in this area as CSIR received during the 1998-2002 period only 7.6 per cent of the proposals in this area and this area accounted for only 8.4 per cent of the funded schemes. This feature is also common to Mathematical and Earth and Environmental sciences in some measure.

The research in Biological and Chemical sciences is growing in the country since about 20 per cent of the post-graduates take up PhD studies in these areas. Together these fields accounted for over 70 per cent of the research proposals received and funded by CSIR over 1998-2002 period. The Physical sciences fall somewhere in between the Engineering and Mathematical sciences on one hand and Biological and Chemical science on the other hand. Apparently, in order to promote highly trained human resources in Physical sciences (including Engineering, Earth and Environment and Mathematical sciences), there is need for establishment of new research centers in the academic institutions of the country in these areas.

The selection and budget of EMR Schemes are recommended by Expert Subject Committees. Analysis of last 5 y data with 1645 projects received and 847 recommended has produced some interesting data In EMR schemes there is no restriction on number of projects sanctioned and ceiling (within limit) on budget in particular discipline. All disciplines are treated at par so far as selection procedures are concerned. The Expert Committees which considers these schemes are also not bound by any number restrictions with respect to project recommended. With this open system in operation the present study indicates that some “R & D Market Related Forces” are working which are related to these numbers. Quality of the projects is the main driving

Table 4— Funding patterns of the schemes in Earth, Life and Mathematical sciences

Discipline Scheme No. Equipment grant* Contingency grant* Staff grant* Total grant*

Earth sciences 1 400 243 389 1032 2 280 260 199 739 3 100 688 492 1280 4 450 170 150 770 5 350 225 319 894 6 370 240 88 698 Total 6 1950 1826 1637 5413 Mathematical 1 Nil 127 67 194 sciences 2 100 91 25 216 3 280 116 67 463 4 50 60 176 286 5 Nil 116 187 303 6 75 117 179 371 Total 6 505 627 701 1833 Biological sciences** 1 100 319 208 627 2 250 122 143 515 3 Nil 513 189 702 4 100 739 329 1168 5 150 375 212 737 6 100 34 215 349 Total 6 700 2102 1296 4098 *Rupees in thousands

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force. For example the out-turn in Mathematical Sciences (Table 2) at MSc level is quite high compared to Physical sciences but number of PhDs and also number of research schemes sanctioned are lower in Mathematics. It is possible that more and more mathematicians are drifting to professional areas like IT rather than coming to R & D because of economic reasons. However percentage of recommended schemes (Table 1) is highest in case of Mathematical Sciences indicating perhaps a better quality. Similarly, the percentage of PhDs in Biological Sciences is quite high (19.56 per cent) but percentage of research schemes recommended is low (2.83 per cent) thereby revealing that though maximum projects are received in this discipline only, yet quality of the projects is not compromised. Are meritorious biologists going somewhere else, (including foreign countries) after doing PhD rather than joining the University R & D Centers? Chemists are better off in terms of more PhDs and research projects. Inter comparing the percentage of research project vis-à-vis the number of PhDs per year, chemists are getting a big share of 5.80 per cent.

In view of the present study, we propose a hypothesis that there is a co-relation between the various parameters and market force acting on the system. With no restriction in numbers, the demand-supply market forces would play a role and they will be reflected in some form of data which can be generated by different types of analysis. Further research is suggested with respect to this hypothesis, to find out an empirical relationship.

Acknowledgement

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Khilnani, Scientist, HRD Group for giving her valuable suggestions

References

1 Kumar Sushil, Sehgal Y P, Khilnani Sushila, Pal A K & Goel A K, An approach for the development of human resources in the field

of science and technology in India,

J Sci Ind Res, 56 (August 1997) pp 460-472.

2 Sen Nirupa, Slow pace of engineering education reforms,. Curr Sci,, 84 ( 9) (10 May 2003).

3 Annual technical manpower review (Published by Indian Institute of Applied Manpower Research, New Delhi) 2003.

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