UGC May Discontinue Paper Publication Prior to PhD Thesis Submission
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Discontinuation of Paper Publication Prior to PhD Thesis Submission

It will no longer be mandatory for a PhD student in India to publish a paper in any reputed journal before he/she is awarded the PhD degree – if the recommendation forwarded to University Grants Commission (UGC) by a four-membered committee headed by Prof. P. Balaram is approved.

As per current UGC regulations, it is essential for a PhD student to publish at least one paper in any peer-reviewed journal before thesis submission – before the PhD degree is awarded.

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Head of the committee Prof. Balaram said that – his team has recommended to UGC that the mandatory rule of the need for paper publication for getting a PhD degree should be discontinued. The idea behind this recommendation is to ensure that institutions should have and implement internal standards & should be responsible for the quality of thesis produced.

He further added that – the Quality of a thesis from a PhD student should be collaboratively analyzed and improvised by the supervisors, examiners and the institutions. “If they are not bothered then how can any regulation improve quality? Can a circular from Delhi applicable to all institutions improve the quality of work?”

As per Prof. Balaram – Currently, In India, supervisors & institutions altogether have outsourced the responsibility to journals to maintain & improvise on the quality of doctoral work published, which is not acceptable.

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Since the time UGC implemented the rule of mandatory paper publication prior to thesis submission, the number of raptorial journals in India has drastically increased since 2011. The number of research papers published in these low-quality journals by PhD students has increased at an exponential rate.

In a mail to The Hindu, Prof. K. VijayRaghavan – Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt of India said that offered an alternative solution to UGC’s mandatory publication rule in a peer-reviewed journal.

As per Prof. K. VijayRaghavan, In Today’s World, there is no need to follow the old school method of paper publication prior to PhD. Scientific publishing field has undergone revolutionary changes since the past few years, so we must also strategize on how a work leading to a PhD degree should be communicated.

He suggested that instead, we should have the thesis chapters submitted to preprint servers like arXiv or bioarXiv. Postdoc funding programs should use these preprints submissions for evaluation and not value them any less than paper publications.

Prof. VijayRaghavan assures that following the way of Preprints instead of the current UGC norms will have several advantages. Streams like Engineering, humanities etc each have their own timelines, but when it comes to the natural sciences and life sciences stream-they are not on the fast track. It takes a long time for a PhD student comparatively to get a paper published in natural sciences and life sciences.

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Allowing PhD students to publish their articles to preprint servers will have a favorable effect on obtaining the training element completed with speedily and proceed to another step. This strategy has the value in which you assess the research work compiled rather than where it’s published. It will finally get published and peer-reviewed, but that process has no Effect on your PhD or postdoc degree.

The proposed draft is yet to be reviewed and a final decision is awaited. While this recommendation of Discontinuation of Paper Publication- if approved, will definitely bring a sigh of relief to all the PhD students. It will not only ease up the burden of the paper publication they carry, but it will also make sure the PhD degrees are awarded on time.

The above news has been adapted from work published at The Hindu.

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  1. This is actually good. Quality of the thesis and research methodology in solving the problem is more important than merely publishing papers. Nowadays, many humbug journals have emerged. PhD has lost its value due to publications in humbug journals by students. Well, I am not a PhD student and I don’t mean to offend any current PhD students or doctorates who have slogged all the way in their 4-5 years of doctoral study. I leave it up to you guys for discussion.

  2. This is good. Quality of research methodology and results are important. Predatory journals are rising in India. We need to do proper science rather than simply publish some gibberish in some humbug journal. This is why PhD is losing its value. I leave it to you guys for discussion.

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