The National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted by the University Grants Commission ensures minimum standards of the entrants in the teaching profession and research.

We had discussed in these columns some of the pertinent aspects of research and its potential for offering a career. What are the paths that would lead us to the world of research? What are the entry qualifications? What are the main avenues? Which are the important institutions that provide facilities for research in each area of specialisation? These and many other questions have to be answered for enlightening ourselves on the opportunities for research. An important path to research is through the UGC NET.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) conducts National Eligibility Test (NET) to determine eligibility of Indian nationals for two purposes:

Lectureship

Award of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) to pursue research in the subject of post-graduation or in a related subject.

The test aims at ensuring minimum standards of the entrants in the teaching profession and for research. The test covers various subjects in humanities including languages, and social sciences. It also includes certain science subjects: forensic science, environmental sciences, computer science and applications, and electronic science.

For all other science subjects the NET is conducted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with the UGC, the test is usually known as the UGC-CSIR NET. This test covers life sciences, physical sciences, chemical sciences, mathematical sciences and Earth atmospheric ocean and planetary sciences. The concerned notifications are issued separately by CSIR.

The tests are conducted twice in a year, usually in June and December at various centres in the country. The related notifications are published in March and September respectively in ‘Employment News', an official weekly journal of the central government. It may be remembered that the eligibility gained through the test does not take you to JRF or the position as a lecturer. You have to apply for the positions as and when vacancies are available and face selection procedure as required. The universities, IITs, or other institutions would select candidates for JRF for whole time research work in accordance with the procedure prescribed by them. The award of JRF will depend on the performance of the candidate in all three papers of NET.

The validity period of the offer is two years from the date of issue of JRF Award Letter. But in the case of candidates who have already joined M. Phil / Ph.D., the date of commencement of fellowship shall be from the date of declaration of NET result or date of their joining, whichever is later.

Candidates who have secured at least 55 per cent marks in Master's degree or equivalent examination are eligible for this test. The minimum marks required for candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe communities, and those who are physically /visually challenged is 50 per cent. Candidates who will be appearing for the qualifying Master's degree examination may also apply for this test.

For JRF, the applicants should not be above 28 years of age. The age-limit for candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, OBC, is 33 years. This is applicable for women candidates and also for persons who are physically/ visually challenged. Three years' relaxation in age may be given to candidates possessing the L.L.M. degree. There is no age restriction for lectureship.

The test comprises three papers:

Paper I, total marks: 100, duration: one hour and fifteen minutes

Paper II, total marks: 100, duration: one hour and fifteen minutes

Paper III, total marks: 200, duration: two-and-a-half hours

Paper- I is of general nature. It assesses teaching / research aptitude of the candidate. It also tests reasoning ability, comprehension, divergent thinking and general awareness. Sixty (60) multiple-choice questions of two marks each will be given, out of which the candidate would be required to answer any fifty (50).

Paper- II consists of questions based on the subject selected by the candidate. 50 compulsory objective type questions of two marks each.

Paper- III consists of descriptive questions from the subject selected by the candidate.

The candidate will be required to attempt questions in the space provided in the test booklet. This paper has four sections:

Essay writing: Two questions with internal choice on general themes — contemporary/ theoretical/ disciplinary relevance. Candidates may have to write up to 500 words each for two questions. If the questions are from electives, there would be questions from each elective.

There will be three extended answer based questions to test the analytical ability of the candidate. No internal choice is available. Candidates may have to write up to 300 words each question.

There will be nine questions from the syllabus. Candidates may have to write up to 50 words each.

The candidate should answer questions on a given text 200 -300 words from the works of a known author / thinker. These questions would test critical thinking, ability to comprehend, and apply knowledge one possesses. Paper-III will be valued only for those candidates who secure the prescribed minimum qualifying marks in paper-I and paper-II.

Subjects

Adult education/ continuing education/ andragogy / non-formal education, anthropology, Arab culture and Islamic studies, Arabic, archaeology, Assamese, Bengali, Buddhist / Jaina / Gandhian / peace studies, Chinese, commerce , comparative literature, comparative study of religions, computer science and applications, criminology, defence and strategic studies, Dogri, economics, education, electronic science, English, environmental sciences, folk literature, forensic science, French, geography, German, Gujarati, Hindi, history, home science, human rights and duties, Indian culture, international and area studies, Japanese, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, labour welfare/ personnel management/ industrial relations/ labour and social welfare/ human resource management, law, library and information science, linguistics, Maithili, Malayalam, management, Manipuri, Marathi, mass communication and journalism, museology and conservation, music, Nepali, Oriya, Pali, performing arts — dance / drama/ theatre, Persian, philosophy, physical education, political science, population studies, Prakrit, psychology, public administration, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Russian, Sanskrit traditional subjects (including Jyotisha/ Sidhanta Jyotisha/ Navya Vyakarna/ Vyakarna/ Mimamsa/ Navya Nyaya/ Sankhya Yoga/ Tulanatmaka Darsana/ Shukla Yajurveda/ Madhva Vedanta/ Dharma Sastra/ Sahitya/ Purana-itihasa/Agama/Advaita Vedanta), social medicine and community health, social work, sociology, Spanish, Tamil, Telugu, tourism administration and management, tribal and regional language/ literature, Urdu, visual arts (including drawing and painting/ sculpture/ graphics/ applied art/History of Art), women studies.

Candidates with Master's degree in geography (with specialisation in population studies) or mathematics / statistics are also eligible to appear in the subject population studies.

The syllabi for all NET subjects are available in the UGC web site www.ugc.ac.in.