Thiruvananthapuram: The quality of research in universities in the state has come under focus with UGC coming up with a study on the quality of research in the past decade.
Rather than creating new information, researchers have based their theses on some survey. Lack of research infrastructure and industry-academia partnership and allegations of plagiarism are other issues plaguing academic research in the state.
There were even cases in which noted academicians, even a former pro-vice-chancellor, being under the cloud for plagiarism.
Dr V. Bijukumar, Associate Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Deccan Chronicle that the lack of theoretical rigour and methodological inadequacies adversely affect the quality of the research.
In most cases, the researchers failed to ground their research on a theoretical framework, reducing tit to a mere narration or chronological account of events. In many universities and research centres, the research scholars are not trained in proper theory and methodology during the master level. Further, the lack of well-trained supervisors who can inspire and give proper guidance leads to poor quality of research, said Bijukumar.
Rajesh Raj S.N., associate professor of economics, Sikkim Central University, said that as per UGC norms, a fixed minimum API score is mandatory for teachers to be considered for promotion.
Teachers will no longer pursue research but will go for a doctorate for promotion to the next grade. The number of PhD a teacher produced under them was one of the other criteria for promotions, said Mr Raj.
There was a criterion that the PhD scholar should produce at least one publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. However, many predatory pay-and-publish academic journals were also available in the market.
Though the UGC has published a list of such journals, many universities do not bother to ensure that published article was in such a journal or not, said Mr Raj.
Then there is the issue of Plagiarism. There are software's useful in identifying plagiarism. However, many universities are yet to implement it. In case such software is introduced, each research thesis would have a certificate to show the percentage of content from other sources, said Mr Raj.
Former registrar of Kannur University Balachandran Keezhoth said, during his tenure, the university introduced plagiarism software. The percentage of content from other sources was being checked after the introduction of the software.
"It would limit the number of `cut and paste' PhDs. However, there was no mechanism to ascertain whether PhD theses in previous times were plagiarised or not," he said.
A PhD student with University College as a centre on condition of anonymity said that there were issues due to the delay in disbursing of stipends in time.
"There are various issues that led to such delays. They include the delay in sanctioning of funds by funding agencies, including the central government, technical snags in the software and even apathy of the officials," he said.
"People from financially backward families and weaker sections find it difficult to sustain their research due to it. They would have to take up part-time jobs to keep them going. We are afraid to speak about it in public. There are chances of victimisation in case we speak out openly, said the student."
The UGC had recently issued a circular asking the universities to follow the UGC-CARE (Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics) list of journals only with immediate effect while considering academic publications.
Research publications only from journals indexed in the UGC-CARE list should be used for all academic purposes; the UGC had asked the universities.
It found over 3,000 Indian journals unsuitable for academic publication. However, universities included journals without proper check resulting in the entry of dubious journals in their list.
The inclusion of predatory journals in the list had maligned Indian research institutions globally....