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Improving Research standards: A Long way to Go

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By: Bisma Farooq Sheikh

Research is one of the chief pillars in academic growth and national development. However, research culture in developing countries is not at par with the world standards; even though there have been considerable improvements. One of the major reasons behind the lack of research acumen among research scholars is that research has become a compulsion rather than a goal. There are many scholars who register themselves in PhD just to earn a doctoral degree and to make themselves fit for fulfilling eligibility criteria of assistant professor and other gazetted grades. They don’t have any interest to pursue research but are compelled by the demand of the job market. Another major reason behind poor research standards is the faulty selection system.

Admission in doctoral programmes is provided on the basis of qualifying Net/Set/JRF rather than on the basis of research aptitude and we all know qualifying Net/set is no guarantee of being best fit for research. There are many non Net/set students who desperately want to do research and have high research acumen but fail to get admission due to this baseline. Authorities need to give a serious thought to it and set a strong line of demarcation between research and other academic degrees. It is too easy to produce a bunch of doctorates’ but too difficult to raise even a handful of competent researchers.

Besides a Pre-PhD course work component is not done the way it should be. Since PhD is altogether different from other academic PG programmes; Pre PhD course work should acquaint scholars with ABC’s of research. From how to select a problem to how to do literature survey to how to do data collection, analysis and interpretation; everything should be imparted to scholars via hands on approach. Being a research scholar, I can relate well to the frustration, chaos and stagnation that scholars face especially in ist year. I remember how I used to spent hours in front of laptop or books trying to read but failing to understand how and from where to start. At the end of the day I used to ask myself am I fooling myself or others that I am doing research. Sense of stagnation was at peak.

Now coming to the positive side; authorities are doing much for improving research standards. Different departments in university of Kashmir keep conducting refresher courses, FDPs and workshops on research methodology for scholars and faculty. Last year “Department of psychology”, conducted three workshops on research methodology. One on Quantitative data analysis, other on Qualitative data analysis and last for training field surveyors for data collection. The third was held specifically for field surveyors working under the project “Women and Mental Health”.

Same way, Department of statistics university of Kashmir conducted a wonderful “Three Days Workshop on Data Analytics using SPSS and R(Quantitative and Qualitative Data Analysis)”from 26th September to 28th September 2022. The main aim of the write up is to congratulate and express deepest gratitude to the Patron of the workshop “Prof Anwar Hassan (Dean SPMS & Head Department of statistics) ; the whole organising team and resource persons for this fruitful learning opportunity. Prof Anwar sir has managed to get the best resource persons including; Prof S.N.Dwivedi, Biostatiscian , AIIMS Delhi  who deliberated upon understanding of data; confounding and modifier effect. He cautioned the participants about disastrous effects that inefficient and careless data analysis can cause. He sensitized audience about the misuse of statistical software packages by amateur researchers and highlighted the need to have an in-depth understanding of statistical techniques; their assumptions and applications. He emphasized on psychological flexibility and open-mindedness in research; Besides Prof Dwivedi highlighted the role of biostatiscians and encouraged researchers from diverse arenas to consult statisticians before and after data collection so that they can come up with quality and reliable research with sound implications.

Prof S.K .Sharma (Dept of statistics ; university of Chandigarh) known as “Man of SPSS” in India due to his expertise, was invited for extending hands-on-training on SPSS to participants. He immensely benefitted us by his expertise and teaching skills.  He gave training on correlation analysis, regression analysis, graphs and plots; hypothesis testing and missing data analysis using SPSS. Besides he added to the fragrance of the workshop by his poetry and inspirational messages.

Prof Athar Ali; (Department of statistics, AMU, Aligarh) was another eminent resource person; a man with rich legacy and expertise in R software. He gave theoretical and practical overview on R package its applications; His lectures were food for thought especially for research scholars from statistical and physical sciences.

Take Away: The three-day workshop organised by Department of statistics under the Patronship of Prof Anwar Hassan was a wonderful learning opportunity and, as the Vice Chancellor of our university rightly said, the Department of statistics should work in collaboration with other departments especially social sciences and organise more such workshops so as to boost research acumen and standards of budding research scholars.  I request the organising team to kindly conduct another workshop with some experts from social science and on themes like (Mediation, Moderation, AMOS, EFA and CFA). Above all I request our esteemed VC and other authorities to provide funding and other needed support to all the departments so that they come up with more such activities and workshops with longer duration.

(From the Author: The article is dedicated to humble and proficient patron of the workshop Prof Anwar Hassan Sir)

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