From next academic year, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) will have a new method to rank works of researchers. The university expects that with the introduction of the new method researchers will concentrate more on local issues than merely getting their works published in international journals.
At present, institutions rank researchers based on the impact factor of their works which is calculated by the reputation of the journal where a research work is published as well as the number of citations their works receive later. While this continues to be an important measure of measuring research projects, many academics have been saying that depending solely on this method has several shortcomings.
For one, most of the reputed journals are published from the US and Europe. They have the advantage of being ‘peer reviewed’ where expert scientists are supposed to review the works before they consider it for publication which makes them credible. At the same time, as these are mostly international journals, studies which are generally confined to a small locality may not be interest to them and leaves such works without the recognition they deserve.
According to the new process, apart from the impact factor, an expert committee will evaluate the research work which are not published and their results and give suitable weightage. If implemented, this might be the first such initiative in the country. These ideas are largely based on what is called the ‘San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment’ which came out after a deliberation of editors and publishers of scholarly journals in San Francisco in December 2012. “A study about the soil or farm conditions of a remote area in our state might not interest an international journal. But they are important and require much effort, than many of the usual works done,” said TNAU vice-chancellor K Ramasamy.
An expert committee will evaluate these projects to encourage such projects and consider them for career advancement. Aspects such as the sample size, the scope and content of the study as well as their results will be evaluated. Giving such works their due recognition would encourage more of such projects, he said.
Many academics said that such measures are needed in academic environment. “There are several local problems like pollution or water scarcity in many places which have specific causes. Instead of studying such issues, our researchers concentrate on those subject areas which will get their articles published in the subject journals. This will help address such issues,” said former Anna University vice-chancellor (VC) E Balagurusamy. A Abdul Kareem, a former VC of TNAU, supported the view. “The immediate results of the project should also be considered for assessing the success of the work,” he said. “Moreover, many of the journals which have to be paid for publishing articles are not reliable also,” he added.
At the same, even while welcoming such moves there are academics who say this should be used for only those projects which have high quality. “Research projects of local issues need such an approach,” said MP Chandrasekharan, dean of Amrita School of Engineering. Publishing in a subject journal has the benefit of passing through a ‘peer review’ which includes subject experts. This provides the credibility factor for articles published in journals. So this method should be used only as an additional measure and not substitute the existing method, he said.
When asked about such issues, Ramasamy said they would try this new method and study its results. “It is better to try a new method. We will see how it works,” he said.
Source: Education News