UGC to Ease Peer Pressure on Research Scholars

research scholars

Relevance : Although at first instance news does not catch the attention, but from examination perspective it’s very important for the main exam as the question related to this have been asked twice in the mains in 2014 and 2015 in GS paper-3 and GS paper-2 respectively.

Questions asked in the UPSC:

2014(GS Mains Paper-3)– Scientific research in Indian universities is declining, because a career in science is not as attractive as our business operations, engineering or administration, and the universities are becoming consumer oriented. Critically comment.

2015(GS Mains Paper-2)-The quality of higher education in India requires major improvements to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational institutions would help improve the quality of higher and technical education in the country? Discuss.
Thus it is expected to seek the opinion of students on this move of the UGC.
Theme: It will no more be mandatory for PhD students to publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Why it has been done?
It is being said that the step will ease pressure on scholars, especially social science students they find it difficult to publish due to lack of proper journals. The mandatory requirement of getting research papers published in peer-reviewed journals before submitting a PhD thesis had resulted in the growth of predatory journals. It also didn’t mean that publishing research papers would improve the quality. Quality has to be ensured by the supervisor.


This condition was introduced only in 2010. ‘Before 2010, no such regulation was there. While there was no peer-reviewed journal for social sciences and humanities within the Indian system, science scholars had been publishing in journals even before 2010.


• It is a bid to stem the unhealthy practice of many scholars paying substandard, predatory journals to publish their papers without sufficient review, which has weakened the quality of India’s doctoral education.
• Studies have shown that a majority of doctoral students publish in such journals, rather than go through the more time-consuming process of submitting their drafts to reputed journals, awaiting review and revising.
• Given the insufficiency of scholarships and stipends, many students are also in a hurry to complete their doctoral degrees rather than taking the time needed for quality research.
• It is being hoped that by removing the mandatory requirement, it can help create a more conducive atmosphere for self-motivated research by students and universities, as is found in the IITs which do not have such a requirement.
• Removing the mandatory requirement will allow for more innovation.

Global Trends:

• The removal of a compulsory requirement is also in line with global regulatory standards.
• Although, paper publication is not mandatory in most countries but it is certainly considered essential for any top researcher.

UGC’s Suggestion:
• The UGC has emphasised that it would be advisable for scholars to publish papers in high-quality journals for their own sake, as it would add value to their PhD for any post-doctoral opportunities.


• It may result in a further dilution of quality, as the worth of a researcher and a university is judged on the basis of papers published and cited, with funding also dependent on such benchmarks.
• To encourage students to publish in reputed journals even without a mandatory requirement from now puts the onus on university research advisory councils and doctoral supervisors to up their game.

Looking forward:
• Students rush to publish is the need to quickly complete their PhDs due to financial constraints, higher levels of funding are urgently needed to ensure that the UGC’s move does not backfire.

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