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Academic Research Methodology Uncategorized

Developing a Research Orientation

Through countless sit-ins on student presentations, the one thing that is clearly apparent, and that is an absence of research orientation amongst most students. While students score well in their technical papers, their unease in writing their dissertations at the bachelor’s level and master’s level is clearly visible. This results in an inability to produce a critical mass of researchers that can make a mark.

“Unfortunately, research at universities in India does not measure up to world standards. We do not have the critical mass of researchers to script technology revolutions or to exploit them fast.”

The author goes on to say:-

“I find our productive researchers are 17 times fewer than in the United States and seven times fewer than in China. We rank 12th in research productivity, whereas America ranks first and China second. It is hard to point out a world-changing science/technology idea that has emerged from India in the last 60 years.”

Aggarwal, V. (2018, April 30). Research-innovation in technology: Where does India stand in a winner-takes-all market? Retrieved May 21, 2022, from Scroll.in: https://scroll.in/article/874907/research-innovation-in-technology-where-does-india-stand-in-a-winner-takes-all-market

Despite the inclusion of dissertation requirement in Masters’ and Bachelors’ courses, the quality of most of these theses’ are suspect. It is no wonder that New Education Policy released in 2020 flagged the issue of “lesser emphasis on research at most universities and colleges, and lack of competitive peer reviewed research funding across disciplines”

Going back to my graduation and post-graduation years, our course syllabii did not incorporate a Research Methodology course at the Master’s level in Economics. Statistics and Econometrics was taught only through a textbook way with no practical orientation. Teaching of research methodology even in M.Phil courses was fairly sub-optimal. There were no computer labs and absolutely no access to statistical software. There was only minimal access to some physical journals. As a result, we faced a much higher learning curve to learn and apply research methodology.

In the last 2 decades, things have drastically changed. Most decent size institutions will have access to labs, but the access to licensed statistical software, electronic databases is still limited. The focus on research methods has no-doubt increased but that may have not have translated into quality not withstanding the increase in quantity of dissertations. There are of course far more publishing opportunities for students to showcase their research, but far more investment in the overall research aptitude, analytical abilities and communication skills is needed for them to disseminate their research findings.

What is required is a good research ecosystem which requires not only research methodology capacitation but also investment in research oriented mentoring, collaborations, technology, and infrastructure. Most of all it needs proclivity of time and interest by the researcher.