UGC: It is not mandatory to publish in journals before the final PhD thesis

IN NEW regulations for doctoral programs notified on Monday, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has scrapped the mandatory requirement to publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals before the final submission of a doctoral thesis (Doctor of Philosophy).

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

When contacted, Prof M. Jagadesh Kumar, Chairman, UGC, said that by scrapping the requirement of compulsory publication, the higher education regulator has recognized that the ‘one size fits all’ approach is not desirable . Elaborating on the need to avoid a common approach to the assessment of all disciplines, he noted that many computer science PhDs prefer to present their work at conferences rather than publish it 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, even if it is not mandatory. It will add value when they apply for job or postdoctoral opportunities,” he told The Indian Express.

According to the latest available report from the Indian Survey of Higher Education (AISHE), enrollment at the PhD level increased from 1,26,451 to 2,02,550 (0.5 percent of the total enrollment in higher education) between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

In 2018, The Indian Express had published a series of research reports on how India has become one of the largest markets for junior research journals with many PhD students publishing their work for a fee.

Following this, a four-member UGC committee chaired by P Balram, former director of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, had recommended that publication of research material in “predatory” journals or presentations at conferences organized by its editors will not be considered for academic credit in any form.

In the draft regulation released in March this year, the UGC had proposed that universities could draw up their own guidelines in this area. It also sought public comments on the replacement of the term mandatory with “desirable”, but this clause has been deleted entirely under the UGC Final Regulations (Minimum Standards and Procedures for the Award of Doctoral Degree), 2022, notified on Monday.

The commission has also dropped its plan to make universities and colleges reserve at least 60 percent of their annual intake of PhD candidates for NET or JRF qualified students, according to the revised PhD regulations. In the draft regulations released in March, the UGC had proposed that 60% of the total vacant seats in an academic year in an institution of higher education should be for NET/JRF qualified students.

The draft regulation had also provided for a common entrance test for access to the doctorate. This is also not mentioned in the final version of the guidelines, which means that universities and colleges will continue to be free to admit students through NET/JRF as well as entrance tests without having to meet no limit for either online category. with the current rules.

In cases where the selection of candidates is made through entries made by individual universities, a weightage of 70 percent will be given to the performance of the written test and 30 percent to the interview.

The final regulations, however, maintain the offer of part-time doctorates that are mainly aimed at working professionals who aspire to obtain the doctorate degree. IITs already allow such programs. “The higher education institution concerned shall obtain a no-objection certificate through the candidate for a part-time doctoral program from the competent authority of the organization where the candidate works…”, the regulations state.

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

Candidates who have completed M.Phil programs with at least 55 percent marks in aggregate are also listed in the eligibility criteria. Although the M.Phil program will be phased out with the notification of the new rules, it will have no relation with the degree programs that have already started.

To ensure the quality of their output, researchers were previously required to appear before a Research Advisory Committee once every six months and present the progress of their work for further evaluation and guidance. Now they will have to do it every semester.

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

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