Need for Quality research in Pakistan’s research institutes: Highlighting hidden facts
University Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology
PMAS Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi
Research is essential in addressing the problems faced by our country. Key factors promoting research in any country include adequate funding, qualified research staff, academic freedom, fully equipped research labs, and many other reasons. This blog post highlights the importance of research, challenges faced by institutions in research on a large scale, the state of research at universities, the role of the higher education commission, and initiatives to boost the research capacities of the universities of Pakistan.
Background of Research culture
With the establishment of Punjab University Lahore in the 1880s, the debate was going on whether universities played a role as research or teaching institutions. Muslim Scholars and intellectuals were of viewpoint to create an atmosphere to conduct research. Research has been the mission of other universities established in the 1950s and 1960s, which includes Karachi University and Quaid-e-Azam University. Over time, the research culture has declined, and as a result, none of the Pakistani universities is at the top of the world universities ranking.
Significance of Research
Research gives solutions to our everyday problems. It gives rise to a critical state of mind of an individual who can express and discuss innovative ideas. Research is necessary for human and social development, good governance, the economy, Agriculture, the health sector, climate change, and industrial growth. Quality Research in Pakistan is essential for addressing challenges faced by the country. It can develop innovative solutions and explore new technologies.
C.R Kothari in his book, Research Methodology: Methods and Techniques states:
“Research in common parlance refers to a search for knowledge”
Zora Neale Hurston (Folklorist, Anthropologist) said:
“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose”
Problems faced by Research institutes and universities
- Discouraging environment
The major problem Pakistani researchers and intellectuals face is the freedom to open up challenges universities/institutes face in conducting research .Unfortunately, our educational system does not encourage critical thinking, innovative ideas, and creativity in research.
“Pakistan’s low level of scientific research is due to a culture that discourages independent and critical thinking”, says N.A.Jafarey
- Inadequate funding
Statistical analysis showed 90% of Pakistanis universities have no environment for conducting quality research. Research labs are not well equipped. Lack of research funding creates hurdles for scholars. They left the country due to poor research facilities and inadequate funding and never returned to produce high-quality research and promote research culture in their own country.
- Lack of originality in Research
Original and authentic research plays a pivotal role in the progress of research institutes. Our institutions are lacking in generating research based on creativity. Ineffective thesis techniques, which include paraphrasing, copying the results and data of other scientists, and paid thesis write-up are prevalent in the institutes. These dishonest practices drag a researcher into incompetency in world-class universities.
- Promotion Criteria and Pressure to a Researcher
Higher education in Pakistan set criteria for the promotion of professors in universities. In this current state, the Quality of research is neglected. A Ph.D. scholar with fewer unique and authentic publications with hundreds of citations is left behind, while a scholar with more publications will get a promotion. A publication game creates a stressful environment, and everyone is in the hassle of publishing papers. The impact of these publishing papers in our daily life is zero having no practical applications.
- Low %GDP in Research and Development
Pakistan has a low level of expenditure on research institutes among Asian countries. Major entities are the Pakistan Agriculture and Research Council (PARC), Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), National Engineering and scientific commission, and many others. In 2021, India spent $96 billion on RD, 0.7 % of its GDP, according to World intellectual property organization. Iran spent $ 5.9 billion, accounting for 0.43% of its GDP. Pakistan spent $ 496 million, the lowest on Research and development, which is 0.28% of its GDP.
The way forward: Strategies to enhance quality research
Based on the analysis of the above-highlighted problems Government, higher education commission, and universities should work together with the vision for establishing a knowledge and research-based society. Adequate funds are mandatory for conducting research in any institute. Quality research in all areas of education, the health sector, technology, industries, and societal issues is equally important. Academic freedom and critical thinking need encouragement, so the student should know how to devise a research question and conduct authentic research. Universities should create a link with industries to produce graduates competent enough to understand the technology and its practical applications in society. Innovative ideas with their implication and benefit to humanity are the success of a scientist and researcher in any field. There is a time to focus on quality work without targeting increased publications. Few publications with originality in research are far better than hundreds of publications creating no impact on society.
A nation’s development and work ethic are supported by four pillars: science, education, research, and innovation. Without improving education at all levels, a scientific mindset cannot develop.