Thursday, April 7, 2011

CfP:: esss – European Summer School for Scientometrics 2011

esss – European Summer School for Scientometrics

12-16 September 2011

Vienna, Austria

History: Scientometric procedures are increasingly used to analyse developments and trends in science and technology. Decisions to be taken often have severe implications. Consequently data handling, indicator construction and interpretation require competent expert knowledge, which is currently only available to a limited extent for all stakeholders in Central Europe not the least due to lacking training opportunities. Responding to the lack of a pertinent scientometrics education (especially in German speaking countries) and to the increasing demand (particularly of research quality managers), the University of Vienna (A), the Humboldt University of Berlin (D), the Institute for Research Information and Quality Assurance – iFQ - (D) and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (B) joined cooperatively to found the European Summer School for Scientometrics (esss) in 2010.

Mission: esss offers training covering major aspects of quantitative analysis of science and technology and is especially designed for the needs of science policy makers, research quality managers, scientists and information specialists & librarians. Attendees can expect a sound overview of state-of-the-art scientometric methods and the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the most commonly used data bases, to learn how to construct relevant indicators and how to interpret the data. Theoretically imparted knowledge will be consolidated in hands-on trainings whenever suitable in order to guarantee a sustainable learning experience. Participants will challenge themselves academically, gain crucial experience, advance their careers and experience knowledge sharing and exchange of ideas with esss staff, lecturers and other participants.

Programme Overview

September 11th, 2011 -- Pre-Programme: "Bibliometrics in a Nutshell": Crash Course for Newbies. This course gives a basic overview of how to work with bibliometric databases and is addressed to participants who are short on experience in the field.


September 12th, 2011

Conference day 1: Introduction to Scientometrics: Theoretical and Practical Aspects

September 13th, 2011

Conference day 2: Procedures and Indicators


September 14th Seminars day 1

- Journal Impact Measures

- h-index and Related Measures

September 15th Seminars day 2

- Cooperation, Co-authorship, Social Networks

- Mapping Science

September 16th Seminars day 3

Workshop: Research Evaluation in Practice


esss – European Summer School for Scientometrics 2011 starts with two conference days, which can be booked apart from the whole week event. The esss includes the conference and three days of seminars and hands-on trainings. Two conference-like introductory days addressing a broader audience are followed by three days with seminars, individual hands-on sessions and teamwork in small groups. Availability of seats for the whole esss week is limited to 50 participants (2 groups, each with 25 people). Availability of seats for this conference is limited to 100 participants. ESSS offers a reduced fee for students / Ph.D. students. Students need to mail us a valid student ID or a similar document for registration! Participants of the esss can register free of charge for the Pre-Programme: "Bibliometrics in a Nutshell, Crash Course for Newbies", on Sunday, September 11th, 2011 (2pm-4pm).

It's the right medicine: Recognising regulatory data protection will benefit India's pharma industry

It's the right medicine: Recognising regulatory data protection will benefit India's pharma industry

Ranjit Shahani Times of India April 6, 2011

As the end of a long road in reaching a free trade agreement (FTA) between the 27-nation European Union and India seems in sight, it's time to reflect on certain important issues. Much has been written about the pitfalls of opening up India's growing industries to global competition. From an analysis of other countries, it's clear the cornerstone of a developed economy - and a key to sustained competitiveness - is long-term commitment to research and development. Since 2000, nine of the top 10 global R&D spenders hail from the so-called "rich nations' club", the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

But an R&D-based economy needs a favourable environment. The government needs to implement a range of policies that encourage public and private sector R&D investment of direct benefit to the people of India. R&D is inherently expensive and risky - with prolonged timelines and uncertain outcomes. The government needs to provide specific protections that create an environment where trained scientific personnel enjoy space and freedom to design new products benefiting society. Else, no Indian company, big or small, will garner the wherewithal to deploy the massive investments required.

According to the Centre for the Study of Drug Development, Tufts University, the pharmaceuticals industry invests $1,318 million and 10-15 years on average to introduce a drug in the market. Of this, 60% is spent on data collection, reveals the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations. With such deep investments and protracted research periods, the innovative pharma industry has every right to expect a return on investment. The lack of returns in the absence of robust IPR protection will discourage further R&D and foreign investments. In fact, prior to adoption of patent protection in 2005, homegrown pharma companies had only negligible amounts in R&D. Now they have begun to invest significant amounts, but still have miles to go before they can introduce their first new medicine.

Some protectionists voice concerns that intellectual property impedes availability of cheap medicines in India and elsewhere. Yet evidence indicates that, contrary to concerns at the time, the introduction of the India Patent (Amendment) Act 2005 has had no negative impact on India's pharma industry. Indeed, the latter is going from strength to strength. Moreover, prices of medicines in India are among the world's lowest. Truth be told, the real barrier to access is lack of a proper health care financing system.

A contentious issue in the India-EU negotiations is regulatory data protection (RDP). Some claim RDP will hurt the Indian generics industry. This charge is unsubstantiated, as the industry is healthier than ever before. As per IMS Health, for the 12 months ending September 2009, global prescription sales growth of generic drugs rose by 7.7% (up from 3.6% in 2008) against 5.7% for global pharma drugs. Furthermore, generics accounted for 72% of the total US pharma market volume in 2009 - an all-time high in the world's biggest pharma market.

RDP provides an important complementary IP right to patents, which are already accepted in India. But patents are not always available to protect new medicines where much has been invested to generate the regulatory data necessary for authorisation and marketing. RDP is essential to protect this investment for a limited period only, regardless of patentability. Absence of RDP is the most glaring gap in India's R&D environment.

RDP is imperative to attract FDI in the pharma sector. Introducing it will end the unfairness of a situation where investment in knowledge of the originator can be appropriated by another company without protection or compensation. DE or RDP should not to be confused with patents. Both offer distinct and separate intellectual property protection. RDP accepts exclusivity and patentability of data submitted to regulatory authorities as part of product registration meant exclusively for this purpose, thereby protecting and incentivising substantial financial investment in drug discovery and development. RDP is especially significant when strong patent protection for a specific product is not available, where the patent period has been eroded by a long development phase, or where patent enforcement systems are inadequate.

With life-threatening ailments, it may be argued that to facilitate timely market access and prevent expensive, repetitive animal and human clinical trials, competitors should be permitted access to the original proprietary data filed with regulatory authorities. Although this seems fair, it should be permitted only after the expiry of a reasonable protection period. Without this period of protection, data would never be generated and new medicines would never reach the public.

As the conclusion of an FTA approaches, it's imperative IPR provisions fostering innovation in the EU and India are adopted to benefit both. These will encourage emergence of a robust R&D-based industry alongside generics, each strengthening the other. Without new medicines produced by the innovative pharma industry, the generics industry would soon have an empty pipeline of products to manufacture and sell.

The rising role of India's generics industry in meeting the needs of various regions should be acknowledged. While its biggest export markets continue to be the US and EU, its role as a provider of cheap life-saving drugs to developing countries should continue not just for now but well into the future. This view is supported by none other than EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht.

India is well poised to make the transition from a generics pharma powerhouse to an innovation giant. But to transform this dream into reality, it needs to put in place proper patent protection policies that enforce IPR laws in letter and spirit.

(The writer is president, Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India, Mumbai.) Source: ToI

SARDAR SAROVAR: Cooking the dam books

SARDAR SAROVAR: Cooking the dam books

by Himanshu Upadhyaya, CSSP, JNU 04 April 2011

In theory various rules govern the use of AIBP funds to execute projects. In practice, as the CAG reminds us, money is liberally diverted, and the States and the Centre both look away. Himanshu Upadhyaya reports.

04 April 2011 - S Jagdeesan, Managing Director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), told The Indian Express recently (link) that till December 31, 2010 Rs.32,645 crores have been spent on the Sardar Sarovar project, of which Rs.20,877.34 crores have been spent for the assets. So how much has been spent towards non-assets expenditure, such as interest on market borrowings and debt repayment?

A simple calculation says, Rs.11,767.66 crores. A figure that makes us stare attentively at the headline of the news item: "SSNNL chalks out Rs.10,500-crore plan to expedite project". So, while as high as 36 per cent of the total expenditure has been on interest and debt repayment, SSNNL is still scouting for more funds, now under the holy aim of 'expediting canal construction'.

Jagdeesan also claims that under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), the Centre has approved Rs.4500 crores as a grant for the canal work. While Jagdeesan might not speak on how much money SSNNL has got so far under AIBP funds and how has it spent them in the past, a recent performance audit of AIBP by Comptroller and Auditor General of India presents some disturbing facts.

The CAG's performance audit of AIBP impelemntation for the period 2003-2008 concludes that the programme has failed to achieve its objective despite release of nearly Rs.26,000 crores of central assistance from 1996 till 2008, of which Rs.5123 crores - i.e. 19.70 per cent - were released for just one project - Sardar Sarovar. The CAG notes that there were numerous deficiencies in planning and approval of AIBP projects and project execution was also deficient.

Cooking the books

Audit scrutiny also revealed large scale instances of diversion of AIBP funds for other purposes, grant of undue benefits, and other cases of irregular and unauthorized expenditure. Monitoring and evaluation systems, both at central and state levels, were also deficient.

On SSNNL's diversion of AIBP funds, the audit comment states, "Government of India released Rs.675.20 crores for extending irrigation benefit to Drought Prone Areas (DPA). Audit scrutiny revealed that ten branch canals - namely Narsinghpura, Maliya, Vallabhipur, Viramgam I and II, Kharaghoda, Jijanuwada, Goriya, Rajpura and Amanpura - were proposed to be developed under DPA. SSNNL provided utilisation certificates to GoI, certifying that the funds provided under DPA were spent on the branch canals. However, the branch canals covered under DPA had already been constructed or were under construction, when the DPA component under AIBP was introduced. This implied that SSNNL gave incorrect UCS to GoI, and the funds provided under DPA were used by it on works other than those covered under AIBP DPA."

Further, audit scrutiny revealed that during the period 2003-04 to 2004-05, against the actual expenditure of Rs 1702 crores incurred by SSNNL, the state government reported expenditure of Rs 2987 crore to GoI, thereby overstating expenditure incurred under AIBP by Rs 1158 crore. Being busy with such fraud, the SSP naturally performed abysmally, so much so that the CAG was prompted to note, "against the targeted irrigation potential of 14.40 lakh hectares, only 4.60 lakh hectares of irrigation potential was created, of which only 0.71 lakh hectares was utilised as of March 2008."


Six states garnered 75 to 85 per cent of grants released under AIBP during the period 2005 to 2008 - Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.


Centre too looks away

All these simply means is that even as programme guidelines offered safeguards against such financial irregularities and despite CAG audits pointing out diversion of AIBP funds twice in past, the Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) failed to act on repeated violations of norms.

AIBP guidelines specify that the second installment of Central Loan Assistance/grant was to be released by the GoI only after the submission of Utilisation Certificates in respect of the first installment. CAG notes that Gujarat and two other states - Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka - violated this norm. The guidelines also stipulate (1998-99 onwards) that the states must submit audited Statement of Expenditure on the projects within nine months. In 2006, this standard was raised to say that release of central assistance for the subsequent years would not be considered if the audited statement of expenditure were not furnished within nine months.

The CAG notes that there were 12 states, including Gujarat, do not meet this requirement. Yet, the Central government continued to release its funds, in clear violation of the guidelines.

Gujarat was also one of six states which garnered 75 to 85 per cent of grants released under AIBP during the period 2005 to 2008. In terms of share of AIBP funds received, the state ranked third, after Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The CAG also took note of the fact that all six states cornered a large part of AIBP funds without showing corresponding performance in terms of project completion.

Taking note of this phenomenon, CAG recommends: "Since AIBP is addition central assistance programme, GoI may ensure equitable distribution of AIBP funds to states based on predefined criteria i.e. population dependent agriculture, Ultimate Irrigation Potential yet to be fulfilled and also past performance in completion/ commissioning of projects and utilization of targeted Irrigation Potential under AIBP. CAG also makes a strongly worded recommendation to tackle the issue of diversion of funds stating, "GoI may recover the amounts diverted by the State Governments, if necessary, by making deductions from the next installment of plan assistance to the defaulting state governments."

However, not only has MoWR failed to act on this recommendation, by promising grants worth Rs 4500 crores to SSP in coming years, it has clearly showed total disregard for CAG and overwhelming love for status quo. While the draft of this performance audit was issued to the Secretary, MoWR in August 2009, no response was received from the ministry despite written reminders, nor could an exit conference to discuss these audit findings be scheduled. The Action Taken Note on the previous performance audit was submitted after a long delay in 2008-09. In that Action Taken Note, MoWR claimed that it had stepped up evaluation of AIBP, and that improved monitoring mechanisms were now in place. It also explained away cost escalation as due to reasons beyond the control of the project executing agency and the Central Government.

MoWR also referred back to the AIBP guidelines themselves, arguing that if a State Government failed to utilise central assistance along with the state share, no further Central Assistance would be released to the State Government. But, as noted above, this is clearly not enforced. Audit comments on the Narmada canal component in Rajasthan also proves that when MoWR fails to enforce these built-in safeguards in AIBP guidelines, it clearly ends up encouraging continued diversion of funds. In that state, the 'date of completion' for AIBP work was extended. Also, although the rules specified that in case of delay, funds would be converted from grants to loans, this rule was simply overlooked.

We haven't heard yet when MoWR plans to file its Action Taken Note on last year's performance audit report. Will the Ministry repeat the same old story, or will it finally take cognizance of the repeated violations and diversion of funds, and initiate action to recover these monies?

Himanshu Upadhyaya is a researcher working on Public Finance and Accountability issues. He is pursuing his doctoral studies at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, JNU.