After a 2010 UGC decision made research compulsory for teachers to rise up the hierarchy, the practice of getting unscholarly works published in fake journals for a lowly sum of money has become widespread.
Predatory publishing is getting mainstream with more and more fake journals sprouting up around the world. Now, these journals or magazines may not hold any scholarly value, but they work as the carriers of corruption and add to an illicit industry that plays the underhand for academic publishing.
Moreover, the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. It is not very hard to imagine why and how corrupt practices take place in a system, but in India, a country which dreams of becoming the teacher of the world again, predatory publishing not just tarnishes the image of the country but also doesn’t add any value to the ever-burgeoning knowledge base.
The human resource involvement in any form of practice makes India a rather unavoidable or unignorable player. So it’s not entirely surprising that when it comes to even Predatory Publishing, India holds the poll position. In Academic publishing, scholarly works are quite rare to find. And when you compare these numbers with the number of higher institutions in India, the picture becomes all the more tragic.
There are 903 universities, 39,050 colleges and 10,011 stand-alone institutions in India. And none of them feature in any list of top universities anywhere.
Let that sink in for a moment.
An acute lack of high quality and genuine, research papers published in scholarly journals by the faculty members, and a sense of growing political dread towards intelligentsia are some of the main reasons for Predatory Publishing to continue to take hold in India.
A Double Whammy
In 2010, India’s higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission (UGC), made it compulsory for the educators in higher institutions to do the relevant research and write scholarly papers for career advancement. Rather than stressing upon the scholarly value and overall growth indicators of the individuals, this decision only helped in creating an echo of substandard re-representation of the same content and adversely affected the originality and in turn the quality.
To make something compulsory the system needs to make sure that the way to go about it is foolproof, or atleast gives the idea of it.
A Big Vaccum
And to put the onus of producing ground breaking research papers solely on the teachers would also be unfair. A system that only dictates, and not aids, is a system that is bound to produce corruption. Then how does one expect from the teachers of Indian institutions to produce the world-class research papers without the world-class facilities and infrastructure? Given this was too big an ask from the UGC, no wonder the individuals are taking the easy way out.
Though the picture ain’t as tainted as it looks, for the more number of predatory journals emanating from India can easily be down to the more number of Indians in the world. And the studies are often accused of presenting a microscopic view.
But the voices are coming from the industry itself. Just talk to any prestigious academic publishing representative and they’ll tell you how much money they get offered by individuals, just to get their names associated with them.
It is heartening to see UGC taking strides towards mapping and streamlining the process of the academic performance assessment, but without plugging the holes that drain out their intent with malpractices, such as Predatory Publishing, the efforts are even having an adverse effect.