While Western and Northern European authors have made substantial gains, the representation of authors based in low-income countries remains extremely low -- an order of magnitude lower than the weight of their countries or regions in the global economy. Developing country representation has risen fastest at journals rated 100th or lower, while it has barely increased in journals rated 25th or higher. Fields such as international or development where global diversification may have been expected have not experienced much increase in developing country authorship. These results are consistent with a general increase in the relative supply of research in the rest of the world. But they also indicate authors from developing countries remain excluded from the profession's top-rated journals.
Some graphics. Change in distribution between 1986-2000 and 2001-16 based on publication in journals categorised on ratings.
Change in distribution during the same period across different regions, by field of study.
An interesting graphic comparing the shares of frontier economic research with global economic output.
In this context, I'm reminded of an idea which I had written up sometime back and iterated with a friend, but not followed-up. It's about what Indian-origin academicians and researchers based in the US and Europe can do to improve the quality of research in India.
I'm inclined to argue that they can contribute more meaningfully to their native country by staying with their core-competence of research, instead of pursuing the more glamorous path of offering policy advice to governments. In other words, the spirit of giving back may be best served by mentoring young local researchers, collaborating with local researchers and institutions, publishing in local journals, and finally by occasionally teaching in local universities. Accordingly, here is a list of ways in which foreign-based researchers in Ivy League universities can help academic research in India:
1. Enlist as principal investigators (PIs) local researchers in field work, just as is being done with foreign PI collaborators. The former, besides boosting their confidence will be a great learning experience for local researchers, and also enhance the credibility of their universities. The latter is only furthering individual careers. In simple terms, while the former generates significant positive externalities in nurturing local talent, the latter generates private gains.