Pune Varsity gives policy push to responsible, ethical research
Times of India
Research publication by faculty and students under the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) will now be sub jected to more strin gent scrutiny in terms of quality, impact, outcome and ethics.
The university has come out with a comprehensive policy on research publications, primarily to curb the growing tendency to publish papers in dubious and predatory journals, which, in turn, lowers the quality of research and affects the reputation of an institution.
Papers published in private in-house journals, workshops, seminars, refresher or orientation courses will no longer be considered research publications. Independent committees of renowned experts will draft faculty-wise list of quality journals and reputed publishers for each subject.
“This list will be used in matters of recognition as research guides, PhDMPhil submissions, selection, increment and career advancement,“ SPPU vice-chancellor Wasudeo N Gade said on Tuesday .
“Only those papers which get published in journals or publications mentioned in the list, will be considered as research publications,“ said Gade. “The whole exercise is aimed at curbing the commercially driven activity of publications for merely meeting performance norms or for meeting career advancement criteria,“ he said.
The policy , finalized by a seven-member panel chaired by head of SPPU's school of interdisciplinary health sciences Bhushan Patwardhan, contains several other recommendations and comes in the wake of calls by leading international journals and publishers to check spurious and commercially driven publications.The TOI is in exclusive possession of the final report submit ted recently by the panel to the VC.
“We have accepted the panel's report and will soon publish a notification regarding the new policy and the ways for affiliated colleges, postgraduate departments and institutions to implement it,“ said Gade. The policy will also be tabled before the faculty members and the academic council of the university for wider circulation and awareness.
Patwardhan said, “We have taken every care in the new policy to see that there is open, transparent, objective and unbiased evaluation of research papers and that the same are based on globally recognized publication ethics and best practices.“
“As of now, an increasing number of publications in most Indian universities are coming out of compulsion. It is important that the universities change the present system of number-driven assessment and give more emphasis on quality of papers than mere quantity of papers,“ he added.Among other things, the panel has dealt with issues like what should be considered as “research publication“, the difference between reputed, recognized and reference material and plagiarism.
Patwardhan cited the Beall's list of predatory publishers and journals to point out that the number of such publications has grown in size from a mere 18 in 2011 to 7,000 in 2015. “Several reputed journals like Science, Nature, The Royal Society of Journal of Medicine and Current Science have appealed to the academic community to take stringent and immediate measures to curb academic pollution created by bogus, predatory journals,“ he said.
“Bogus authorship which involves tendency to include every member of laboratory as an author in papers without identifying specific contribution by each author, is another problem,“ he said. “Similarly , many book publishers and bogus conference organizers have mushroomed and they are being used to increase API score,“ he said.
“The University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines have not explained what constitutes a “peer reviewed“ journal and puts an emphasis on the eight-digit international standard serial number (ISSN) or the 13-digit international standard book number (ISBN), which are merely codes for identification purpose and are no true reflection on the content,“ he said. Subjective terms like “recognized“ and “reputed“ often lead to issues of interpretation. Also, there are issues about the impact factor of research.The committee dealt with all these issues in detail prior to finalizing its report. Heads of various university departments including D D Dhavale (Chemistry), Sujata Bhargava (Botany), Rajeshwari Deshpande (Politics), Aniket Jaaware (English), Saroj Ghaskabdi (Zoology) and Mahendra More (Physics) were part of the Patwardhan panel, which also consulted senior faculty members and some eminent national academicians from the IISER, the Indian National Science Academy , and Current Science, Bangalore..
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