Mapping Institutions, Research and Funders in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus Research Area in India


The challenges faced by the world in general and India, especially with respect of energy, water, and food sectors, are increasingly becoming inter-linked. Subsequently, strategies for tackling one or the other aspect of these integrated challenges would require consideration of critical aspects of managing demand and supply of energy, water, and food in a manner that ensures security in each of these.

There is an increasing trend towards measuring research quality and effectiveness through publication-based metrics and their effects on scholarly communication. Publication metrics exercise a strong influence on science communication, and directly affect the different actors of the process (mainly authors, readers, funding agencies, and institutions).


  • To identify leading research institutions and universities working on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus research areas based on their publication matrix
  • To identify leading and emerging researchers based on their publication output
  • To identify research priorities for Indian funders in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

WEF Nexus Research Areas

Sectors Research Areas
  • Eco-hydrological systems
  • Ground water
  • Surface water
  • Water governance
  • Water security
  • Water use efficiency
  • Battery storage
  • Bioenergy and biomass application
  • Energy demand and consumption
  • Energy efficient measures
  • Energy pricing and subsidies
  • Mini/off-grid renewable energy applications
  • Organic Rankine Cycle
  • Agricultural productivity
  • Food production and processing
  • Food security
  • Irrigation technologies
  • Nutritional value
  • Sustainable agriculture

The publication matrix was developed based on the weightage assigned to following indicators of research output:

  • Total Number of Papers by Researchers and Institutes: The volume of research papers produced by an individual or a research organisation is considered to be an indicator of research activity.
  • Citations of Papers: Citation counts are recognised as a measure of impact, which can be used to index the excellence of a research paper.
  • Journal (Publication) Standing: The databases that are used to index journal/research papers follow certain criteria to ensure the quality of research papers indexed. Parameters such as peer-review, impact factor, and timeliness of the publication are pointers to the publication quality.


In the publication matrix, a total of 848 Indian authors/researchers contributed 366 papers in different capacities (primary authors and co-authors), originating from 272 Indian institutions and several centres of consultative groups on International Agricultural Research located in India and overseas. An increasing trend had been noticed in the number of research papers since 2007, and this trend gained more momentum in 2013 during the 11th and 12th Five-Year Plans when the government started giving due priority to these areas.

The subject disciplines of Economics and Engineering and Technology together constitute for more than 50% of the total number of research papers.

Research Dispersion of Leading Researchers in WEF Nexus Areas

The research dispersion of the leading researchers shows a greater inclination towards research in topics related to agricultural productivity, water use efficiency, and water security. Some Nexus research areas, such as emerging efficient technologies, need more attention from the Indian research community to meet the challenges faced by the inter-linked components of the Nexus. In the Nexus areas, agriculture sector receives the most government funding, and dominates research and development as this sector plays a vital role in the Indian economy. Most of the research is focussed on interventions in the water and energy sectors to augment the food production and supply situation.

Sponsor: Research Council of UK, India

Duration: 3 months

Key Stakeholders: Seven UK research councils, Indian and UK policy makers, public and private companies, academicians and researchers working in the area of Energy-Water-Food Nexus.


The study maps the research publication outputs, from 2005 to 2014, of the critical interface of water, energy, and food, and their intertwined relationship in the Indian research scenario. The report also examines the research and development priorities of these areas for Indian funding organisations and the existing international collaborations. In the study, the leading institutions and researchers in the Nexus areas were identified based on the scientometric methodology of measuring and analysing research papers published in the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus research areas as given below.

Number of Papers Published during Study Period
Discipline-Wise Papers Published during Study Period

Future Relevance

Research in the Nexus areas of water, energy, and food sectors has been evolving in terms of its interdisciplinary nature. While a majority of the impactful research in the Nexus areas is being conducted in universities comprising agricultural and multidisciplinary universities, research institutions, IITs are also contributing immensely to the country’s research output. Within the Nexus areas, agriculture receives the highest government funding and, therefore, research and development in the Nexus areas revolves mostly around agriculture, irrigation, and allied activities.

Posted on: 8 September 2015  |   Project status: Completed