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Portal of research

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The University of Kerala is launching a research portal.G. MAHADEVAN has the details.

Some days ago, A. Jayakrishnan, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kerala, was interviewing a candidate for a job in the university.

When he found out that the candidate had not yet obtained her doctoral degree, he asked her when she had submitted her thesis.

She said, “More than a year ago.”

From November 1, research scholars of the University of Kerala may get liberated from such administrative quagmire.

The university has tentatively scheduled the launch of its research portal for Kerala Formation Day.

The Syndicate had approved the portal in November 2011.

The portal, Dr. Jayakrishnan says, will be a one-stop shop for all the research needs of scholars, their guides and the university administration. Once it becomes functional, the portal will handle every research-related function from submission of the application by a candidate to the open defence.

All these with minimum or no human intervention. The software which makes all this possible was developed at the university computer centre by its Director, Vinod Chandra.

Right now the university is collecting data from the research guides to give each of them a “page” in the portal. Next will be the turn of research scholars.

By January, the first of the fresh applications for research in the university will be accepted by the portal online.

Once an application is cleared, the system will forward it to the doctoral committee.

The approval or otherwise of the application will be e-mailed to the candidate.

Fellowship

“For the existing scholars, a major relief is on the way in the form of an online fellowship disbursal system. Now, for a variety of academic and/or administrative reasons, scholars face delays in getting their monthly dues. Once the portal is up and running, all that a guide needs to do is to submit online the attendance details of his scholars. Once this is cleared by the finance section, the stipend will be electronically transferred to the scholar’s bank account every month,” V. Prasannakumar, Research Director of the university, told The Hindu- EducationPlus .

These days, a crucial part of a research scholar’s life in the university centres on the doctoral coursework — set of examinations that each researcher has to pass to continue to do research in the university.

“The applications for these examinations, their hall tickets, notifications… the portal can handle all this seamlessly,” Dr. Prasannakumar said.

“The only non-online component will be the actual coursework examination.”

University rules say that a candidate should clear the coursework examinations within two years of beginning research work.

If this is not done, the system will automatically generate a message to the candidate about the cancellation of the candidature.

Likewise, if a full-time scholar does not submit the thesis in five years or a part-time scholar in eight years, the system will generate a “registration cancelled” message.

Detecting plagiarism

A major feature of the portal will be its anti-plagiarism software.

Once a thesis is completed, the scholar will have the opportunity to run the work past this software so that any plagiarism — unintended or otherwise — can be detected.

At that stage, the university will take no penal action. However, if the university subsequently finds plagiarised portions in a thesis, stringent action leading to the cancellation of candidature will be initiated against a scholar.

Data analysis

That is not all. The portal is expected to host licensed versions of software, which can be used for data analysis across a range of disciplines. The portal is expected to host a facility to let candidates know previous research work done in their area of activity or in an allied discipline.

Once a scholar submits his thesis, its movement to the examiners and back can be tracked online by the scholar, the guide and authorised persons in the university administration.

Everything except the identity of the examiners can be known by the candidate.

“The portal will have the facility to provide the ‘soft’ copy of a thesis to an examiner. We will post the thesis in a password protected compartment of the portal and send the password to the examiner. We, however, will not insist now that evaluation be done online. That will depend on the preference of the examiner,” Dr. Prasannakumar says.

Degree verification

Last week, the university rolled out an online degree verification system using technology developed by a company incubated by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. This allows an employer to authenticate a degree certificate or mark list submitted by a job-seeker.

The University of Calicut already has such a system in place.


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