Although different universities used to have different faculty recruitment rules, the University Grants Commission has recently released a faculty recruitment guideline for public universities.
To apply for the lecturer position in most disciplines, candidates must have a four-year undergraduate and a postgraduate degree in the revised guidelines. Additionally, candidates must have peer-reviewed research publications and other academic and experience-related requirements to apply for the upper professorial positions.
A specific number of research articles must be published in the indexed journals with impact factors in some cases.
It is a welcome move to emphasise quality research in tertiary education across the country.
However, faculty members in the country frequently face challenges that hinder research activities. Without addressing these issues, the new UGC guideline is tantamount to sending a soldier to the battlefield without arms. Let's take a look at these challenges:
Access to academic journal papers is needed
While conducting cutting-edge research, researchers have to be updated with contemporary literature.
The only way is to read journal papers. Therefore, access to academic journal papers is needed.
Accessing published articles helps generate ideas and defend the research work in a peer-review process.
For example, Elsevier and Springer are the giant companies that mainly commercially produce academic journals.
Universities and other institutions across the world have to pay for accessing these published papers.
Unfortunately, most universities in Bangladesh do not get to directly access the most recent published articles from their journals.
As faculties and students constantly struggle to download an article, they are likely to lose their enthusiasm to accomplish the project.
Therefore, it is urgent to provide a direct subscription to these journals.
Data is one of the essential components to conduct a study
Researchers usually defend their claims or hypotheses using the evidence analysed from data.
Therefore, access to high-quality and reliable data is needed.
Most faculty members, especially in the business and social sciences, claim that universities do not offer reliable secondary data from national or international sources like DataStream and Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).
Only researchers know the difficulty of collecting data even from the national agencies.
Also, UGC or inter-university research grants are insufficient to collect primary data from a representative number sample.
The lengthy UGC research grant-related procedures are also not convenient to conduct a fundamental research study.
Similarly, science and engineering disciplines do not have enough laboratory facilities to conduct cutting-edge research.
Many statistical software packages like Stata and Matlab are employed to analyse the data.
Most of these user-friendly software packages require a commercial license to use them.
To our knowledge, most public universities do not have access to them.
Therefore, faculty members frequently struggle to analyse the data empirically, and they sometimes have to use pirated software packages for the research work.
Such a dishonest experience is embarrassing for faculty members when they have to teach ethical and moral practices to the next generations.
To achieve the academic goals, a university must have a genuine educational leader
Therefore, the vice-chancellor should be appointed based on the most recent academic excellence.
Similarly, deans of faculties should be selected, followed by their research credentials.
Finally, professors of each department should have a minimum yearly requirement to engage with research activities.
This initiative would encourage and guide young faculty members for research collaboration and learning together.
Given the circumstances mentioned here, it can be said that requiring quality research within the university's existing logistic infrastructure is like sending a soldier to the battlefield without arms and ammunition.
Research is a systematic and creative inquiry that involves gathering and analysing data to propose a feasible solution to society's fundamental problems.
As the government aims to improve the research activities through universities, it is essential to offer logistic support for a research-friendly environment.
Also, financial incentives always welcome more quality work.
Research work is usually recognised by a journal publication, which also requires other economic costs for journal submission and sometimes for language editing fees.
A good journal article is not a personal property for the faculty members.
Instead, a published article carries weight for the university ranking globally and fosters the faculty and student's learning environment.
We hope that the UGC will address the challenges to ensure quality higher education with quality research.
Dr Md Abdur Rahman Forhad is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Dhaka University of Engineering and Technology (DUET), Gazipur
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.