Focus On PhD Quality, Not Publications

Source: The post is based on an article Focus On PhD Quality, Not Publications” published in The Times of India on 19th October 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Social Justice

Relevance: problems associated with the UGC guidelines

News: University Grants Commission (UGC) came with PhD regulations in 2016. It prescribed that PhD scholars must publish at least one research paper in a refereed journal before submitting the thesis.

This mandatory publication condition was introduced by UGC because the doctoral thesis screening is not strict enough. However, this mandatory provision has led to the publishing of low quality of journals.

What does the report say?

According to a recent study conducted by UGC for three years (2017-19), only 19% published more than one journal paper. Whereas nearly 75% of the students were forced to publish in journals that are not Scopus-indexed.

There have been instances that humanities students have published less Scopus-indexed journals when compared to other stream. This highlights the problems faced by the students of humanities stream.

Further, the primary aim of PhD work is to make unique contributions to a chosen discipline by creating new knowledge. Publication of a research paper is a complementary effort.

Therefore, primary focus should be on maintaining the quality of the journal.

How quality of PhD can be maintained or improved?

First, there should be proper mentoring of the students by the supervisors. The supervisor should advise the student to take appropriate courses and train in research methodology, teamwork and communication skills.

Second, there is a need for the members of the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) to play an active role as the student gets feedback from the committee on maintaining the quality of research work.

Third, there is a need that the external examiners should send their feedback suggesting minor or significant corrections to the thesis.

Moreover, there are efforts also required from the universities.

What are efforts required by the universities in PhD field?

First, universities should strengthen the monitoring process of PhD work at various levels. It will lead to high-quality publications and a well-trained researcher.

Second, universities should train and encourage PhD students to publish, present at conferences and apply for patents.

Moreover, publishing of journal is time consuming. Therefore, making it mandatory to publish a research paper before the submission of the thesis can put extreme pressure on students and force them to publish in low quality journals.

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