(Long mail) Methodology

T.V.Gopal gopal at ANNAUNIV.EDU
Wed Jan 3 01:59:20 EST 2001

On Tue, 2 Jan 2001, Gretchen Whitney wrote:

> Greetings and Happy New Year to everyone!

I join Dr. Whitney in wishing all the members of the list a very happy
new year.

> If you have specific comments for the researcher, please forward them
> directly.

I am sending a separate mail to the researcher.

> We may, however, use this as an opportunity to have a generic discussion
> of the "best" ways to assess national S&T activities with an eye towards
> national policy development.

I am in the process of writing a paper on "Metrics for Sustainable
Development". I am using this oppurtunity to share the major aspects of
the paper with the members on this list.

The major aspects of the paper in the making are mentioned below the
signature. The part I is based on mails sent to Dr. Eugene Garfield.

I look forward to further discussions. Sorry for a long mail.


Gopal T V

                                Dr. T V Gopal
                              Assistant Professor
                  School of Computer Science and Engineering
Anna University                                 Ph : (Off)+91-44-2351723
Chennai - 600 025, INDIA                                       Extn 3340
e-mail : gopal at annauniv.edu                          (Res)+91-44-4454753
Home Page : http://annauniv.edu/staff/gopal

PART 1  : Problems with the present 'Metrics Methodology'

++++ The Current Methodology ++++

* The present 'scientometrics' such as citation index and impact factors
  are applicable to 'science communication only'. Rightly so because they
  were developed for that context.
* Having 'global metrics' clearly establishes a sense of oneness amongst
  scientists and also gives a global ranking of their contributions.

++++ CONCERNS +++++

* The scientists are torn between the 'global competitive standing' and
  the local needs. The recognition/funding policies
  (national/international) being such, a typical scientist (today)
  is not meeting the local needs at all.

  This can produce internationally renowned scientists but
  robs off the vital scientific leadership imperative to
  solve local problems that are no where near the internatioanl
  frontiers of research in that field.

  (I acknowledge that this concern is being aired with immense

* The economics of paper production and the enormous time
  taken for reviewing and final publicaition in reputed journals
  puts unfair pressures on researchers and emerging fields.

  Very often, young researchers opt for the easy way of trucking
  with established researchers.

* The current metrics enable one to migrate to a good place but
  to make his own place good is becoming unacceptably difficult.

* IMHO, these metrics are grossly inadequate for the WWW context
  of reaching out information to people at large.

* The present 'scientometrics' lead to a proliferation of
  super-specialisations (fields of research. journals, conferences ..)
  as this is the way to improve citation indexes and impact factors.
  There is thus less scope for inter-disciplinary activities.

PART 2  : The Evolving Societal Frameworks

For one of my books "The Origin of Thought" (currently under review), I
made this analysis of the three forms of the societies.

a) Agricultural Society

+ Primitive Economy
+ Trading in closed circles
+ Low degree of refinement and awareness
+ The half-life period of any knowledge acquired/skill is
  substantially large

General Mindset : I belong to (/a family/a place/caste/group/party..)
                  therefore I am capable

b) Industrialised Society

+ The economy is product centered
+ The systems are well thought out and organised
+ 'Survival for the fittest' is the governing maxim almost replacing
   the maxim of natural creation 'balance'
+ The focus is almost entirely on 'Development' that requires (<20%)
  intellectual inputs.
+ Activities that require (>80%) intellectual inputs (visionaries)
  are put through enormous stress
+ This phenomenon is called 'Urbanisation'.

General Mind set : I have (House/Car/Money..) therefore I am capable

c) Knowledge-based Society

+ The focus must shift to 'People and Ideas'
+ Enables the grooming of a large percentage of visionaries
  (Both oriental and western wisdom is vital in achieving this)
+ The seeds of discovery that are always floating around need to
  be incubated in a larger percentage of receptive minds
+ Rapid change in the skills required to succeed

Ideal Mind set : I know (to do/to get things done..) therefore I
                 am capable.

Our goal is to reach (c) with Informnatics (IMO, the science of placing
a value on Information) and Technology as primary tools.

So the metrics methodolgy should have different parameters.

PART III : Aiming at Sustainable Development

The basic spirit of industrialised society has been to profess that it
is both tasteful and attractive to ocnsume resources in abundance and that
to provide the oppurtunities for such consumption to all the people is to
do them justice.

This is the basis for the notion of 'development'. It is being extended to
Informatics and Technology too.

I think we need a major paradigm shift in defining the notion of
'development' in the Information age.

Development in the industrial paradigm revolves around numbers. If we are
not satisfied with what we have achieved then simply increase the numbers.

I think a society with abundance of wisdom would do better even with
shortage of things. For the sustenance of development, there must be ample
learning oppurtunities that lead to building of infrastructure to
facilitate wealth generation. Thus mere provision of information is not
sufficient. We need to examine the 'economics of information'. We have to
have some sort of a 'social subjectivity index' tagged onto the mertrics
for Informatics and Technology.

PART IV : Competence of researchers is judged based on originality of
          Idea and methodology.

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