Varsities shun Shodhganga; quality goes for a toss

R. Ravikanth Reddy
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Reflecting the utter lack of seriousness shown by the authorities to ensure quality research in varsities, not a single State university figures in the Shodhganga project where Ph.D theses are submitted by universities across the country to share knowledge and root out plagiarism.

Shodhganga is a portal hosted by the Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET), an autonomous body promoted by the University Grants Commission (UGC). More than 100 universities have already joined the project, a national repository of the Electronic Theses Dissertations (ETD).

The only universities from the State that have signed MoUs with Shodhganga are the University of Hyderabad, which is a Central university, and JNTU Hyderabad, a technological university. None of the conventional universities in the State has shown the desire to join the project and improve research quality. “Universities are least bothered about quality, and top officials are more concerned about day-to-day affairs without realising that it is the research output that determines quality,” said a senior professor.

Interestingly, UGC norms issued in 2009 for award of Ph.D degrees make it mandatory for universities to submit electronic versions of theses within a month after degrees are awarded. Osmania University officials maintained that they were on the verge of signing an MoU with Shodhganga. “The modalities are being worked out, and soon we will be part of it,” an official said.

On the disinterest shown by State varsities, AP State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE) Chairman P. Jayaprakash Rao said the UGC also had to take the blame as it did not create the required awareness. Information is not passed on to Central agencies such as APSCHE, but it goes to the university directly, thus getting lost in the melee. Ph.D admissions and the output in most State universities are more in the news for controversies than accomplishments. In some universities the number of Ph.D students is more than that of postgraduate students. Varsities like Dravidian University ‘outsourced’ Ph.D admissions, increasing the intake to more than 3,000. The method was followed by a few others, leading to controversies and legal issues.

The advantages of Shodhganga make it an interesting proposition. Universities that sign the MoU get anti-plagiarism software, which keeps students and supervisors in check. Plagiarism is reported to be rampant in universities, and supervisors let it go thanks to pressure from above. JNTUH is perhaps the only university in the State that has embedded anti-plagiarism software into its system, and copied research thesis is rejected outright, with the software effectively detecting the source of reproduction. Uploading on Shodhganga helps in Indian varsities’ research output accessed by the academic world outside and retrieval of content by research scholars for their theses.

Except JNTUH, no State university figures in Shodhganga project where the Ph.D theses are submitted by universities to root out plagiarism



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