Research Culture in Sri Lanka

The creation and dissemination of knowledge through research has long been recognized as an essential requirement for a country’s healthy economy and living standard of its nation. A nation’s overall capacity may depend considerably on the outcome of its research. Research helps to bring the material improvements via novel and improved products and services thus identifying and solving practical issues. Further, it provides insights and new ideas that enrich human understanding of various social, economic, and cultural aspects. In general, universities are highly recognized as centers of knowledge, production, and transmission, and play a critical and vital role in knowledge creation, skill development and value creation, which are essential elements in achieving a sustainable future, and one major contribution amongst it all is conducting research as a part of knowledge creation and dissemination.

A country’s research capacity could be measured on the allocation of funds of gross domestic product spent on research, number of researchers, number of publications in refereed journals and number of patents (The World Bank Group, 2018). It is estimated that Sri Lanka allocated 0.11 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for research in 2013 whereas the world average is 2.23 percent (The World Bank Group, 2018).

The present Sri Lankan higher education framework is constituted by 16 state universities, 18 postgraduate and independent institutes, and hundreds of recognized higher educational institutes governed by the private sector (UGC, 2017), in addition lot of private institutions are currently operating in providing foreign degree programs. In the higher education system of Sri Lanka, many degree programs have been designed in such a way that undergraduates get the opportunity of exposing themselves to academic research under the full supervision of lecturers. The researching culture that gets started from this stage then gets continued with their next academic qualifications including the postgraduates and, even when they enter the corporate sector. The list of main Sri Lanka universities is given below and are governed by the University Grants Commission. They facilitate higher education in Science, Medicine, Engineering, Information Technology, Agriculture, Social & Humanities science, and other sectors. Each university could be seen stand for its unique degree program.

In 2021, the University of Colombo achieved the 496th rank in the Asian region and ranked to the 2509th position in the Webometrics Ranking of Universities which measures the number of academic papers published in high impact international journals. As of July 2020, the University of Colombo was announced as the top-ranking university in Sri Lanka by the MOHE of Sri Lanka ( In addition, the University of Peradeniya has been quoted as the Best researcher by Research Gate in 2010 and achieved the 1426th rank in University Rankings for Academic Performance (Sirimane, 2014).

According to a recent paper published in the journal PLoS Biology, Stanford University has ranked three academics from the University of Colombo among the top 2% of scientists globally. View here.

  • Emeritus Professor Kamini Mendis
  • Emeritus Professor W D Ratnasooriya
  • Professor Senaka Rajapakse

This study has classified the scientists based on their career-long citation impact until the end of 2019. The study has listed a total of 15 scientists from Sri Lanka.

Prof. Meththika Vithanage and Dr Anushka Rajapaksha, academics from the Faculty of Science, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura were listed in the global top 2% citation ranking list for the single-year impact for 2017 and 2019. Prof. Meththika Vithanage, a Professor in Natural Resources under the Office of the Dean/Faculty of Applied Sciences listed in top 2% for 2017 and 2019 while Dr Anushka Rajapaksha, a member of the Instrument Center staff, FAS, USJ is listed for 2019 single-year impact. View here.

Sri Lanka is well known for its high literacy rate and having a high literacy rate may be an added advantage in going for a much richer research culture in the future. Globally recognized achievements of the Sri Lankan researches can be heard from different parts of the world and those are related to many diverse fields, including new discoveries, new concepts and theory etc. Sri Lanka own a researching culture that get started from undergraduate level and then get continued with their next academic qualifications including the post graduates and, next to the corporate sector. However, as a country it is necessary to take serious efforts to take these researches and new discoveries to the world. Thus, the solid and prominent role of the today’s researcher will inspire the future researchers of the country.