There is no uniformity in the submission and evaluation norms
Indian colleges and Universities are getting reduced to the status of mere ‘teaching shops’ and attempt must to improve the quality of teaching and research on the campuses by setting up a Board of Research Standards (BRS) on the lines of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), existing for ISI certification of manufactured products. Efforts should be made by this Board to fix ideal proportions for allocation of facilities and time of the faculty between teaching and research.
There is an urgent need to ensure quality of Indian research publications for improving the ratings of Indian research and scientists. The Board may be entrusted with the following tasks: Approval of theses submitted by the scholars for the award of M.Phil./Ph.D. There is no uniformity in the submission and evaluation norms for the award of research degrees, nor in the criteria for the award of the Degrees, in terms of language, number of adjudicators, course work, dissertation, etc.
The UGC has promulgated Minimum Standards for the award of Research Degrees, but one has to go a long way in implementing this rule. These are only minimum standards. There must be an attempt to lay down ideal standards also, so that there will be a continuous effort to improve upon the quality.
Other effort can be listing of journals subject-wise in the order of their rating/ standing to enable faculty to aim for higher standards. Sorting out the issues relating to copyright, helping in the process of patenting, and all this can be done better by creating a separate ‘cell’ for this purpose.
There is not much awareness about patenting among Higher Education Institutions, as also faculty. Maintaining a Bank of Theses/ Research publications for the guidance of current and future research, ranking/grading of theses on the basis of their quality may also be a good idea. For this purpose, the Board needs to develop a pool of experts in each of the disciplines.
Developing benchmarks for evaluating the performance of an HEI, the system of compiling manuals/models will be of great help. Conducting awareness/ orientation programmes for developing quality consciousness among the faculty and research scholars, acting as an agency for monitoring and evaluating the progress of research scholars/teachers receiving fellowships of the Government of India, can be part of the Board’s duties.
Facilitating/ regulating the flow of international students/scholars for encouraging international collaboration among Indian institutions is needed. Entire world converging as a single village, it becomes imminent to observe the highest standards of quality to be able to take part as an effective partner in the process. ‘Publish or perish’ becomes increasingly the order of the day.
The Darwinian philosophy of ‘survival of the fittest’ has boiled down to the notion of sustainable quality standards. If one does not keep track of the developments to sail along, he would soon fall and misses the golden opportunities. It is in this context, the Indian HEIs shall aim at regaining the post glory, if not excel in their own right.
The discussions at the National Seminar being held as part of 87th Annual meeting of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) must concentrate on this research aspect. Ancient India had great names to fall upon in the fields of Astronomy, Mathematics and Medicine. Great personalities like Aryabhatta, Varahamihara, Patanjali and Charaka made India proud with their profound contributions.
Even modern India has the names of persons such as J.C. Bose, S.N. Bose, Ramanujam and C.V. Raman.
Getting recognition from Nobel Foundation is not the only reflection of the contribution of scientists to knowledge, but we are far short of such and other recognitions.
The Indian brains are not considered inferior to others in the globe, but recognition among the peers and scientific world is disheartening. As per the present reckoning, India is not able to maintain its distinction achieved at the beginning of the 20th century.
With about 20-25 per cent of share in the Scientific publications and Ph.Ds, India was a leader in the scientific expedition. The balance has now completely tilted towards developed countries like USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, etc., including China.
The startling revelation is that only one Institute (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore) could find a place in the top 100 Universities of the world in 2010, as per the surveys conducted by the QS world University Rankings. In 2011, no Indian University (including IITs and IIMs) could make it to the top 200; while China could make it to the top 50.
This kind of dismal performance was ascribed to a variety of factors including lack of funding, large classes, paucity of innovations, poor quality of teaching–learning process, negligible interest in international competition and projection; leading to very few citations per faculty.
The alarming situation is that the ‘youth of the country’ are not attracted towards science. Special drives such as ‘Inspire of DST’ and Basic Science Research (BSR) of UGC were required to be imagined to attract young talent towards science. Scientific papers published from India have grown at a rate of 14.3 per cent annually in the past five years, catapulting it into the elite list of countries like the US, the UK and Japan, but most of the publicised research in India is emanating from research institutes as opposed to Universities, which typically account for a country’s growth in research.
Only one University – University of Hyderabad – features in the list of top institutes that contributed towards India’s research output in 2008 and 2009.
Fixation of Quality Standards
The first step in the way to achieving quality standards in the research activity is to encourage every Higher Education Institute to fix certain quality standards of their own to serve as ‘Benchmarks’. They could be: Publication of specified number of research papers in peer reviewed reputed journals in a year (say at least two per year); Publication of Monographs/Books (at least one in three years); Publication of Book Reviews (at least one in 6 months); Attending national seminars/conferences/workshops (at least one in 6 months); Organization of seminars/conferences/workshops by the Department (at least one in a year).
In this regard, the norms specified by UGC for awarding Research Degrees and promotions under CAS to different cadres need to be reviewed. The existing quality standards of UGC are only encouraging laziness among College and University teachers and the norms are so low that there is no pressure, nor satisfaction in achieving them. Mere service has become the yardstick to move in the hierarchy.
It was considered that having ISSN is an indicator for the quality of publication. But now almost every publisher is able to get this number. Perhaps, there is a need to review the process of allotting ISSN and re-fix quality standards.
K. Viyyanna Rao
(The author is Vice-Chancellor of Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur) He can be contacted over e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Encourage every Higher Education Institute to fix certain quality standards of their own to serve as ‘Benchmarks’