3 key recommendations from the World Bank and Elsevier on research collaboration in South Asia

Report details the most beneficial types of collaboration and the research performance of individual countries

World Bank Elsevier report
The World Bank and Elsevier just released their report Challenges and benefits of research collaboration in a diverse region. You can download it below.

Collaboration will be key to tackling development priorities in South Asian countries, according to a new report undertaken by Elsevier and the World Bank.

Key findings

The report highlights that when research institutions in South Asia collaborate with each other, they are better placed to tackle the unique challenges South Asian countries face than when they work alone. Meanwhile, collaborations with institutions outside South Asia increase scholarly impact.

  1. Research collaboration across South Asian countries could be key to tackling local challenges, while extraregional collaboration with countries outside of South Asia boosts scholarly impact. However, South Asia lacks a unifi ed collaboration framework, with each country using different, independent systems to establish academic and scientific partnerships. Consequently, South Asian countries are scattered across the global international collaboration network.
  2. Over a 5-year period between 2012 and 2016, researchers in South Asia published 679,571 papers, accounting for 5.3 percent of the world’s scholarly output — increasing the region’s share of global scholarly output by 1.7 percentage points over the study period.
  3. While researchers in India produce the most scholarly papers in the region (88 percent of South Asia’s publications) – with India and Sri Lanka publishing more papers per researcher than the world average – research from several smaller countries achieves greater citation impact than the global average; their relatively modest output is boosted by impactful large-scale international research projects.

Key recommendations

Among the recommendations made by the report are to:

  • Expand the network of intra and extra-regional collaboration to generate substantial gains across South Asia. Increasing this network could enable South Asian countries to maximize the value of their relatively modest research bases and augment limited domestic resources. This is particularly relevant for research collaborations supported by multilateral financial institutions, promoting extra-regional and intraregional initiatives.
  • Establish financial and administrative incentives to boost the production of high quality research in priority areas, which could be measured by number of publications, their citation impact, and number of patents applications.
  • Build the capacity of researchers to develop high quality proposals, expand competitive funding mechanisms, and raise the standards of peer review processes.

Released  earlier this week, the report stemmed from a collaboration between Elsevier and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/the World Bank. It measures scholarly output between 2012 and 2016 in terms of the total number of peer-reviewed scholarly publications (including research papers, systematic reviews and conference proceedings) compiled in the Scopus database. Scholarly output for each country is defined as the number of published papers with at least one author from that country.

Download report



Written by

Sarah Huggett

Written by

Sarah Huggett

Sarah Huggett is Head of Analytical Services APAC at Elsevier, based in Singapore. She leads a group providing consultative services to government agencies, funding bodies, policymakers and research institutions planning for the future. Her team analyzes research performance to offer insights and recommendations to research leaders.

Sarah’s first job at Elsevier, in Research & Academic Relations in Oxford, UK, gave her expertise in using data to inform strategic planning. She has a particular interest in new developments in research evaluation, such as measures of attention and engagement. After completing a bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Grenoble, France, Sarah moved to the UK to teach French at the University of Oxford, prior to joining Elsevier in 2006.

Written by

Ian Evans

Written by

Ian Evans

Ian Evans is Content Director for Global Communications at Elsevier. Previously, he was Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier’s Global Communications Newsroom. Based in Oxford, he joined Elsevier six years ago from a small trade publisher specializing in popular science and literary fiction.


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