In Pakistan, academic research in nearly all disciplines has no credibility as for as genuine contribution to existing knowledge is concerned. However, my observations are particularly related to the social sciences research in Pakistan. Pakistan is one among those countries that has limited number of higher education institutions especially those awarding doctoral degrees in social sciences. However, the real problem does not refer to the availability of institutions but actually the issue is more complex that is ‘non-contributing’ contribution in academic research.
Leaving away the question that how many books on social sciences are published yearly from Pakistan, my concern is PhD dissertations and those research articles published in social sciences research Journals all away in my beloved country. Are they really contributing to the actual literature? Do they really fulfill standards of such higher level? Is their publication on merit based and unbiased? Let me start with a real issue. While searching some good scholarly literature on some international relations subject, I got shocked to find huge ‘intellectual corruption’ by leading research journals. It was their quality compromise format. Excessive use of un-reliable internet sources without re-confirming statements by authentic sources provide evidence for non-serious academic research standards. Even, the most un-reliable source ‘Wikipedia’ is used in citation of a well reputed highest category journal. But if somebody has influence and personal relations with publishing authority or he/she is a part of that authority, it is not a big issue in Pakistan. This face of ‘Intellectual corruption’ is more horrible.
Many research articles published not due to their academic standers but because of ‘authority of author’. A research journal that is published biannually or once in a year has always limited space for articles and reviews etc. Fresh scholars usually use co-author technique to provide safeguards to their research paper. On the other hand co-author (usually influential person) considers it a free ball with a boundary score in his account.
One can find several research papers as well as PhD dissertations with substandard theoretical approach and methodology issues. Many published articles in different social research journals in Pakistan has journalistic and newspaper story approach. For example, one can write such research paper by collecting some history of an issue from internet by dividing it into two or three phases or parts with little explanation. Calculating the number of pages or after counting words he or she may come to conclusions portion. Referencing is the last but simple issue for this ‘non-contributing’ paper that can also be resolved through internet help. I hope it is not tough.
Finally, a valuable part of this problem is linked with writing research papers to earn a PhD degree and not to contribute into actual knowledge. This intellectual dilemma is fueling non-productive and non-serious research behaviour in our academia particularly in social sciences.
Usually in academic world questioning is considered as a positive and basic element of proceeding further. Unfortunately we remained unsuccessful in promoting this culture in our institutions. As a matter of fact, we need serious attention to resolve these issues at this very stage. Awarding PhD degrees or publishing non-contributing so called research articlesin Journals by using personal influence does not guarantees ones intellectual and research expertise. Actual contribution to the knowledge demands justice with social research.
There are few suggestions to be considered by respectable academic authorities as well as government authorities as this issue has political dimensions as well. Firstly, a PhD scholar should be given a special status and handsome amount with a probation period. A person with economic issues and stressful brain cannot produce valuable and fair research knowledge. Secondly, senior researchers especially serving academic researchers for example Assistant Professors, Associate Professors and Professors or equivalent professionals should be given separate platforms for research input. Finally, new mechanism to ensure quality of a research papers and PhD dissertations should be established by relevant authority. This authority may also re-visit existing published articles and PhD dissertations and de notify non-contributing writings published in different journals including sub-standard PhD dissertations in last few decades.
— The writer is a PhD candidate at NDU Islamabad and a free lance columnist.