By: Atiqullah Rahimi
University Asst. Professor
In few simple words, we can define research as a “creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new application”.(1) It simply involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information to increase our understanding of a topic or an issue. Generally, research starts with posing a question, collecting relevant data to answer the question and finally present an answer to the proposed question. (2) Reliable researches are tremendously important as they add to our existent knowledge, improves practices, and provides valuable information to the decision makers. Well organized and reliable researches can prove theories, increase public awareness, aid business success, expand areas of focus for new opportunities and/or initiatives.
There are millions of students and hundreds of thousands of academics in numerous fields and levels of studies around the world today who are completing their research papers sometimes referred to as; project, monograph, and/or the thesis. These researches are mostly done either for the sole purpose of meeting the requirements of the program by the students or published in numerous journals by the academics to gain more recognition and academic credits. These types of researches are mostly accepted by the educational institutions and publishing journals with a very easy-going screening processes instead of a proper evaluation mechanism in place to really determine the validity, reliability, and acceptance of the research papers based on proper pre-determined research standards. If all these researches are being done in a proper way with a standard evaluation process in place with zero and/or a very limited chances of duplications or plagiarism, we will definitely see a totally new prospective of researches where millions of new ideas will be flourished, thousands of new theories will be tested, our existing knowledge enhanced, and most of today’s problems / complications in different walks of life will be resolved, but unfortunately this is still not the case in so many countries of the world. Researches are only being done for the sake of program requirements where sometimes even one research paper is being circulated a hundred times among the students in different programs of the same university and/or with different universities with few modifications in terms of format and name changes. Students are selecting topics for which they have a completely ready made research paper in hand where they make few adjustments in a matter of few hours and then start submitting them either partially or fully to the assigned supervisors who are part of the research supervising committees but overwhelmingly busy with their own duties and responsibilities for whom supervision of the students’ research papers and contributing to the committee is just an extra headache. Both the students and supervisors are in a mutual self-deceptive mindset where students clearly understand that; their research papers worth nothing while the supervisors don’t bother to deeply involve themselves in each individual research paper to accurately check the validity and reliability of the research, to make sure it adds something to the existing knowledge, and it is plagiarism free. Assigning thesis supervisory task to each and every individual faculty member is a total mistake as; (1) all may not be specialized in the field of research in an advance level, (2) may not be interested at the same level to supervise the students, (3) may not be incentivized on the number of researches supervised, (4) and finally supervision may not be their only sole responsibility to perform. So, the bottom-line is to shift our focus, break the status quo of traditional method of research processes at the university levels, set the rules and standards high, increase restrictions, give it the real importance, mobilize human and financial resources, establish organized committees fully manned with research professionals committed in a full-time manner, create a sophisticated data base with a zero-defect tracking system whereas ministry of higher education and/or any relevant regulatory body should also have a unified strong database to track all the research papers. Students must register their research topics both with the university and the governing regulatory body respectively to avoid duplications, plagiarism, academic thefts. This may sound strange but this is the only way where you can have a strong research mechanism that will be capable of producing thousands of reliable researches, pave the ground for more creativity and innovation, add to the success of businesses, propose new theories, solve more problems, enhance students’ research capabilities, create more opportunities to explore new things, and to propose ideas, strategies, recommendations in several areas of interest to the people of the society otherwise, they can only be called searches and or re-researches but not a research in an actual sense.