Controversy Surrounding UGC’s New Rules On Ph.D.: The University Grants Commission or UGC has decided that there is no need to publish research papers in journals and present them in seminars before completing a Ph.D. They have canceled these two current conditions (Controversy on UGC’s new rules on Ph.D.).
Controversy has started in the education circles around this move of the highest regulatory body in the country’s higher education. Academics are divided on this question.
The UGC has recently issued Minimum Standards and Procedure Regulations 2022 for Ph.D. Degree. It repealed many of the provisions of the earlier rules.
Earlier, the regulations issued in 2016 stated that a Ph.D. scholar must publish the research paper in at least one statutory, internationally recognized journal and present two papers in a seminar or conference. Completion of these two phases was mandatory before submission of the research paper thesis. These two steps have been removed from the new provision. In 2018, UGC’s Consortium for Academics and Research Ethics Committee decided which type of journal the research paper can be published in.
The decision to withdraw the conditions for the publication of research papers in journals, presentations in seminars, etc. has caused controversy in academic circles. According to former Mumbai University Vice-Chancellor Ranjan Welukar, this is a wrong decision. In his words, ‘My understanding and experience are that the condition of publishing research papers in journals improves the quality of research. Because, if the research is of low quality, no recognized journal will agree to print it.
A teacher at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University also felt that it was not right to withdraw the condition of publication in the journal. He also added that there was a lack of monitoring in this case.
He wants to say that there are many low-quality journals on the list. which do not have a mechanism for sifting research papers. As a result, low-quality research papers are published there. Research scholars take advantage of them. Even so, the teacher thinks, before deciding to withdraw the condition of publication of the research paper, the matter should have been given more thought and opinion.
A teacher at Calcutta University said that there have been incidents in the past where journal authorities have identified various loopholes in research papers. Similarly, the question and answer session of a seminar or conference shows how deep the research scholar is on the subject.
But in these two cases, the understanding and evasion that was going on, the teacher also obeyed. A senior professor at Jadavpur University has the same opinion. He thinks that strict conditions should be imposed to stop loopholes and evasion. But it is not right to withdraw the conditions of publication in the journal, and presentation in the seminar.
Incidentally, a committee headed by Padmanabhan Balaram, former director of the UGC Indian Institute of Sciences, was formed in 2019 to look into the current system of completing a Ph.D. The committee recommended abolishing the two steps of publication in journals and presentation in seminars.
In Padmanabhar’s words, ‘The journals in which research papers are being published are of very poor quality. They have no place in the international arena.’ He said, ‘The responsibility of the supervisor is to ensure the quality of the student’s work. Besides, the university can also verify the quality of the research during the pre-PhD examination.’
On the other hand, according to Ranjan Wellukar, it is not a rational decision to withdraw the condition of publication in the journal because of irregularities. It is not correct to make a general conclusion that all journals are of poor quality.
He said, ‘I think the EGC should have tried to collect the actual data of the last five years of research publications and then take an academic decision based on research on the matter.
Retired Vice-Chairman of UGC Bhushan Patwardhan has opened his mouth in this regard. He was a member of the journal selection committee. According to him, the best way to improve the quality of research is to encourage the pursuit of high-quality practices rather than mandating them. He explains, ‘When a law is made mandatory, people resort to various tricks to get compliance. In order to increase the quality of research, it is necessary to improve the system of educational practice, a favorable environment.