Dr. Pabitra Kumar Mishra
For the last few years the academic world, especially in India, is reeling under the circumstances created by the phenomenon of “publish or perish”. It is strange indeed that the educational policy makers suddenly felt the need for pushing teachers towards publishing more and more in an effort to ensure quality in higher education. The thrust on research and publication was not in itself unwanted; what made the academic atmosphere wayward was its supposed conviction in excellence and quality in higher education through compulsory research and publication. This can be best proved by the trends in patents and intellectual property rights generated by the educational institutes in India. In extreme cases of dishonesty and/or ignorance, in order to justify the authenticity of their works, researchers don’t even hesitate to use fake Impact Factors issued by fake organizations. This unethical practice is directly related to another unholy phenomenon, the rise of predatory journals in India and abroad. Unfortunately enough, the predatory practices have recently been given legitimacy through creation of journal list in India.
Fundamentally speaking, India lacks proper culture for research and publication in the context of 21st century. With the intervention of digital technology in the field of communication and dissemination of knowledge, it has failed to formulate proper Open Access policies and promote Open Source software. A proper policy could have utilized the possibilities by combining the tools and ideas from the two movements. In India, the online journals use poor and outdated technology, compared with the best journal software platforms in the international context, and replicate the functionalities of print journals without being able to exploit the technological possibilities relating to automatic data generation. Had there been a thrust for Open Source, there could have been a journal platform that would truly address both the issues of international standards and multilingual Indian needs.
In another respect, we are lagging behind the international standards is our lack of professionalism. This is found with all the parties concerned with the process of publication. Just as authors want immediate publication, reviewers take too much time in reviewing an article. Journals follow standard methodology and unfortunately the methodology is not part of any syllabus or training programme. We have noticed a great amount of lethargy among teachers who would act as peer reviewers. Once assigned the task of reviewing, they feel themselves in superior position without knowing their job professionally. The result is that large number of articles goes to publication without proper review. In the rush to gather the required API scores, we forget that a journal is not a place to publish anything and secure promotion or appointment; a journal is a place for publishing original research and communicating with the scholarly community. The academic emergency created by the need for gathering API scores cannot produce true researchers because true research cannot be measured by API score nor can it be achieved in rush-hour mode. Research needs to be linked with productivity, originality and, of course, creativity, and publishing should be concerned with quality and not with quantity.
Our journal was launched as an experiment with the new technology inspired by the principles of Open Access. But we are no longer in such experimental stage and we need to introduce technical innovations and implement strict scholarly standards in various fields. We need new brand of reviewers and editors who would approach the job with professionalism and not with traditional academic apathy. We will publish open documents for training for all the parties concerned as the journal urgently needs real participation of true scholars. We do not want to continue the platform just as a platform for facilitating promotion and appointment.