Problems of University Researchers : Prof.Abdul Shakoor Shah

Knowledge, innovation and research are considered to be the core of a vibrating society. The world’s progress is revolving around research productivity. The research in Humanities has become part and parcel in South Asian perspective particularly in Pakistan on personal, organizational and national level. The researchers in Humanities come across a lot of obstacles while venturing for some productive project in developing countries.

The researchers on both students and faculty level are bound to face almost similar hurdles in completion of their projects. Some of the major problems can be enlisted as old methodologies of research, managerial issues in data collection, data authenticity and validation and interpreting the data. The scarcity of recent and relevant publications, unavailability of updated works and funded based research projects. I have personally observed the heartening sight of research papers sold out in waste stuffed in sacks. It is proof that we are compelling our university students to fulfill the formality for the piece of degree which is going to whirl him in the practical field for a job. There are hardly few theses which get cited by others and most of them are done either by faculty members or by Ph.D scholars. The rest of the research theses are destined to be wasted. Another reason for substandard research in humanities is the lack of time frame given to the student for some research project. It is the irony of the situation that the supervisors are over burdened by the universities.

 I remember when I was doing my thesis more than thirty students were being supervised by a single supervisor and I am sure the same or almost the same is still happening in most of the universities.  Another problem is the faculty members who supervise M. A or M.Phil research are not Ph.D. They are only one level higher than their students. The students are left on their own by the universities. The universities and the faculty do not provide any technical support to students. The theoretical complexities compel the students to course work rather than theses. If they decide to go for some research project, they have to do it on their own. Mostly, the supervisors do not entertain students either because of overwork or excess of students or for some other reason.  Some students are advised to research on some specific projects and later on when it is near to finish it is canceled by the supervisor on some pretext. The very research is published by the supervisor by his own name in the coming years. The students are forced to restart research on some new project. Most of the universities do not practice the research base project before the final semester. In the final semester, when the students suddenly and off handedly come across research projects they get puzzled.

They only try to fulfill the formality and get their degree and the same is supposed to be thought on the part of supervisors. The accessibility and application of knowledge in the developing society can be linked via research to the masses. The approach of most of the faculty members and supervisors is superficial and on surface level. The university exam pattern mostly revolves around theory based questions. The university prescribed syllabus is never taught or discussed thoroughly. Only selected chapters are overviewed. Most of the students resort to notes or past papers. The main end of university education is not the acquisition of skill but scrapes of degrees. Students are not well informed about the vitality and significance of their research work in future.   The HEC has cut a sorry figure in examining what is going on at universities. It seems both the universities and HEC are working on the mutual share interest bases to accumulate money and stuff the market with raw material.

The researchers are not equipped with skills and concepts rather they are trained how to complete their theses for attaining a degree. Most of the supervisors introduce and advise short cut methods for getting rid of pilgrims. Now the market is overcrowded with hired researchers and most of the university students and faculty members get their research projects after paying the hired researchers a handsome amount. The criteria system for viva is also no more than a formality. The viva committee or panel does not give heed to research and also does not check whether the student has done the project on his own or he has got his project completed by someone else by paying him.   The lack of a proper and systematic check and balance system on university level and by HEC, the researchers are getting numerous problems and our country is lagging behind in the field of research especially in Social Sciences. The researchers also face the problems after getting information about its validity and authenticity. Most of the researchers limit themselves to traditional internet level research. They do not have finance to access recommended and verified content. They are unable to purchase online published books or standardized publications. Most of our university libraries could not cope with the problems of information availability. Hardly few researchers ransack the libraries for their research projects. Most of the research remains ambiguous or has the problem of conceptual clarity.  The acquisition of knowledge and information from foreign sources makes it hard to adjust it in their local and regional prospective. The absence of a professional approach is the result of scarcity of recent research techniques. Most of the time the supervisors themselves have never got published on an international level and their inability to deal the international level research and they can never train their students for productive research.

(The writer is Prof. in English and Freelance Columnist :