UGC: No obligation to publish in journals before the final doctoral thesis

IN NEW regulations for doctoral programs notified on Monday, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has removed the requirement to publish research articles in peer-reviewed journals before final submission of a doctoral thesis (PhD in philosophy).

Until now, it was mandatory for M.Phil (Master of Philosophy) scholarship holders to present at least one research paper at a conference or seminar, while PhD students had to publish at least one research paper in a peer-reviewed journal and make two paper presentations at conferences. or seminars before submitting their thesis for evaluation.

When contacted, Professor M Jagadesh Kumar, President of UGC, said that by removing the mandatory publication requirement, the higher education regulator has recognized that the “one size fits all” approach n is not desirable. Elaborating on the need to avoid a common approach to evaluating all disciplines, he pointed out that many computer science PhD students prefer to present their papers at conferences rather than publish in journals.

But that doesn’t mean doctoral students should stop publishing research papers in peer-reviewed journals, he said. “Focusing on high quality research will lead to publications in good journals, although it is not mandatory. This will add value when they apply for employment or post-doctoral opportunities,” he said. The Indian Express.

According to the latest available report of the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), the number of doctoral enrollments increased from 126,451 to 202,550 (0.5% of total tertiary enrollment) between 2015-16 and 2019- 20.

In 2018, The Indian Express published a series of investigative reports on how India has become one of the biggest markets for substandard research journals many doctoral students have their papers published for a fee.

Following this, a four-member UGC committee chaired by P Balram, former director of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, had recommended that the publication of research material in “predatory” journals or presentations in conferences organized by their publishers is not considered. academic credit in any form.

In a draft regulation presented in March this year, the UGC had proposed that universities be allowed to develop their own guidelines in this area. He also sought public comment on replacing the term mandatory with “desirable”, but this clause has now been completely removed under the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedures for the Award of a Doctorate) Final Regulations, 2022, notified on Monday.

The commission also dropped plans to have universities and colleges reserve at least 60% of their annual doctoral intake for qualified NET or JRF students, under revised doctoral regulations. In the draft regulations presented in March, the UGC had proposed that 60% of the total number of vacant seats in an academic year at a higher education institution be chosen from qualified NET/JRF students.

The draft regulations also provided for a common entrance test for admission to the doctorate. This also finds no mention in the final version of the guidelines, which means that universities and colleges will remain free to admit students via NET/JRF as well as entrance exams without having to meet a cap for admission. either of the two online categories. with the standards in force.

In cases where the selection of applicants is through entries made by individual universities, a weighting of 70% will be given to performance in the written test and 30% in the interview.

The final settlement, however, retains the part-time doctoral offer which is primarily aimed at working professionals aspiring to obtain a doctoral degree. IITs already allow such programs. “The relevant higher education institution shall obtain a certificate of no objection through the applicant for a part-time doctoral program from the competent authority of the organization where the applicant is employed…”, state the rules.

Under the revised regulations, those joining doctoral programs after a four-year UG program can do so after a one-year master’s degree, while graduates of conventional three-year UG degrees must have completed a two-year master’s degree. .

Applicants who have completed the M.Phil programs with at least 55% overall marks are also included in the eligibility criteria. Although the M.Phil program will be phased out with notification of the new rules, it will not affect M.Phil degree programs that have already started.

To ensure the quality of their results, researchers previously had to appear before a research advisory board once every six months and present the progress of their work for further assessment and advice. They will now have to do it every semester.

“I urge universities to ensure that the process for evaluating doctorates is strengthened and that researchers are trained to publish in peer-reviewed journals, present at conferences and apply for patents where possible,” said Professor Jagadesh Kumar.

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