How UGC’s move will ease peer pressure on research scholars

Teachers from different universities have appreciated the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) decision that it will no more be mandatory for PhD students to publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals. It is a good step as it will ease pressure on the scholars, especially social science students, they said, adding that the regulation had resulted in the growth of predatory journals.
A section of teachers, however, feels changing the regulation may dilute the academic standard. Till now, PhD scholars were required to publish at least one research paper in a peer-reviewed journal and make two paper presentations at conferences/seminars prior to the submission.
DK Lobiyal, professor at JNU’s School of Computer and Computer Sciences, highlighted that the condition was introduced only in 2010. “Before 2010, no such regulation was there. It also didn’t mean that publishing research papers would improve the quality. Quality has to be ensured by the supervisor,” he emphasised.
Lobiyal pointed out that while there was no peer-reviewed journal for social sciences and humanities within the Indian system, science scholars had been publishing in journals even before 2010. “The removal of this regulation will have an impact on the students from the social science background as they find it difficult to publish due to lack of proper journals,” he added.
Manoj Sinha, political science teacher and principal of Delhi University‘s Aryabhtta College, pointed out that the regulation had resulted in the growth of several “predatory journals”. “These days, there is a huge rush towards publishing journals. Through this criterion, one was making it more and more complicated and difficult for scholars who could not afford to pay for many of these journals. Since 2017, as UGC started reducing the number of journals, this process got even more complicated and it was no way adding to the quality of a research paper,” said Sinha.
Anil Aneja, head of the English department at DU, also called it a “very positive step”. “Research should be voluntary and the researcher should be self-motivated to complete it. Removal of such a regulation will facilitate the work of the scholars,” said Aneja.
However, Moushumi Basu, professor at JNU’s School of International Studies, said “while the UGC chairman in this case had said ‘one size fits all does not work’, the masters admission has not yet taken place only because he wants to do one size fits all with a centralised test system. He is a man full of contradictions and it is strange how higher education is being held to ransom by diluting the standards”.

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