A controversial proposal to grade the performance of CSIR scientists is expected to be soon cleared by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is also the president of The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which is India’s largest chain of publicly-funded research laboratories.

Details of the new appraisal system
The new appraisal system will reduce the importance to research publications and gives greater weight to developing products as also scientists who have successfully collaborated with industry and been part of teams to develop marketable products.

The new system proposes to encapsulate a scientist’s performance into a single equation and is a departure from the existing format of having scientists internally evaluated by their peers.

What is the need for new system?
The 75-year-old CSIR has a large network of 38 laboratories spread across the country that are involved in a wide range of research from battery technology and genomics to glass-making.
Over the years, the Council has emerged as India’s biggest publisher of research papers as well as the largest patentee, though only a fraction of these have been become commercial products.

Criticism of new Appraisal System
Several scientists expressed apprehensions that reducing scientists’ performance to an equation was “irrational.”That was because different CSIR labs had different mandates: some were focussed at looking for drugs, some for testing if potential drugs were safe or could be made more efficient and still others were geared towards making low-cost products that weren’t necessarily marketable but had great societal impact.

All of these were equally important and reducing this complexity to a single equation or a single score is unfair. The new scheme is a departure from existing formats of peer-evaluation of scientists