Impact making research or scientific trash? Crossroads ahead

This blog intends to shed insights from two-way perspectives on few reforms; one of a Ph.D. student and other being faculty as well.

Go to the profile of Arjun R
Oct 10, 2019
1
0

There is a popular saying “When the going gets tough, tough gets going”. Such proverb has been gaining relevance in current and possible future scenarios of teaching and research. In the context of academic research, there is increased discussions and debates surrounding open access or subscriptions, peer-review procedure and other aspects of scientific publishing. In India, regulations earlier to 2010 concerning the award of M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees mandated different sets of rules. After current government regime, atleast some of unhealthy practices were curtailed from state universities and reputed institutions. One of revolutionary changes currently underway is merging of two major apex bodies regulating higher education; UGC (University Grants Council) and AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) both under Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India.

Background

Currently prospective PhD candidates must get admission to any research degree by qualifying in JRF (Junior Research Fellowship) through NET (National Eligibility Test) or GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering), both conducted at national level or else by clearing department/institute entrance exam. This is primary stage of filtering best talent, followed with recent introduction called mandatory comprehensive examination (written/oral) covering intended topic before proceeding to research work. The problem arises when many highly research potential candidates cannot fulfill these criteria due to trivial reasons. Also chances are there that the problem becomes severe in cases of experienced academics where age and professional/ family commitments required are more.


Image from Pixabay

It must be noted that language is a key enabler and also barrier in connecting people. The point is that, a rapid revamp in education system cannot happen overnight. Such attempts can leave political, regional disparities and controversies similarly seen after tabling of Draft National Education Policy 2019 inviting citizens and stakeholder feedback. Here one policy recommendation of compulsory 3 languages i.e. English, Hindi and one native language at pre-high schools met with strong repercussions since for many, learning another regional language apart from native mother tongue ultimately carry lesser benefits [1]. 

Inevitable Dilemma

The perspective of a faculty being a researcher has its own pros and cons. Research done in the area of interest gives a wide perspective and analytic thinking abilities for the person to talk about the specific topic/ subject. Even though, a published article in a quality journal gives a spirit of liveliness for the professional academic community, this also creates an individual pressure to get future work published in a quality journal.

Write, Notes, Paper Ball, Office, Paper, Note, Pen

Image from Pixabay

Hence, it’s very hard to find a right balance between the research activities and career priorities. Plagiarism is another serious issue recently reported even from the government research agencies. Regulatory bodies of AICTE, UGC has brought out clear guidelines on measures and plans aimed in research monitoring and recommending stricter actions both on faculty and students. For faculties, there is growing pressure to publish only articles that are peer-reviewed and listed in SCI (Science Citation Index), Web of Science or Scopus databases. Even seasoned researchers agrees upon fact of difficulty and delay in getting acceptance to these journals due to stringent high quality standards [2]. My sister, a faculty of engineering and PhD candidate has an experience of waiting for more than 2 years for an article to be accepted in reputed journal. These scenarios can be better reduced by journals providing faster review, more detailed feedback on submitted work for authors. Publons by Clarivate Analytics, e-scripts by EAI (European Alliance for Innovation) and Springer Nature have been pioneered excellent models to overcome these which more publishers should adopt. Similarly, Elsevier has created an open platform as ResearcherAcademy for budding scholars to improve and advance their research knowledge with excellent certified training courses while incurring zero cost.

  Courtesy: phdcomics

Current bottlenecks

Due to developments noted here, unimaginable amounts of predatory journals/conferences and fake publishing houses arisen, crippling the scientific literature. An example of personal experience is receiving unsolicited invitations from publishing houses, while background check revealed them as predatory!  It’s high time to identify and blacklist such publishing houses that degrade the genuine work of unaware researchers [3].

Further challenges exists such as requiring mandatory post-PhD experience for fresh faculty, tendency of inbreeding followed in premier institutes, red tapism in research project funding grants. Nevertheless, the future indeed seems bright as issues can be solved by discussions, inclusive and friendly ambience, healthy collaboration supported by competent authorities and ultimately rewarding meritorious work. An apt concluding remark for aspiring researcher be follow motto “Follow the road less taken, explore higher realms in world of research”! 


Acknowledgment:

I would like to thank my PhD supervisor Dr. Suprabha KR for providing research guidance, members of faculty of school of management, my sister Ms. Geethu RS for creative discussions on managing research with personal life and also fellow scholars of the institute for sharing their experiences.


Recommended References:                       

[1] Draft National Education Policy, UGC report 2019 retrieved from https://www.ugc.ac.in › pdfnews › 3563340_PPT-Draft-NEP-2019

[2] V. Gayathri., 2019. No paper, no PhD? India rethinks graduate student policy. Nature. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-01692-8   

[3] Patwardhan, B., 2019. Why India is striking back against predatory journals. Nature, 571(7763), p.7. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-02023-7 

Go to the profile of Arjun R

Arjun R

PhD scholar, National Institute of Technology Karnataka

I am a Ph.D. candidate at the National Institute of Technology Karnataka. Previously I have specialized in Information Systems and completed a Diploma in Management.

No comments yet.