The University Grants Commission (UGC) e-released a guidance document titled, ‘Guidance Document – Good Academic Research Practices’ (GARP) to promote an ethical framework of good research practices across institutions in India. The document also calls for setting up an Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in every academic institution to make sure that all the guidelines are followed. Vice-Chairman Bhushan Patwardhan and other academicians at the UGC are trying to improve the research standards of Indian universities, and these guidelines are a step in that direction of improvement.
‘Guidance Document – Good Academic Research Practices’ (GARP)
GARP by UGC is published in partnership with Clarivate’s Web of Science that indexes over 34,000 journals including the world’s most scholarly literature across all disciplines. These 56-pages documents are aimed at providing the right mentorship to the researchers and help them get the right journals for publication. “Each institution is different and may use this framework as it best applies to its own context,” the document said, allowing flexible usage of the guidelines.
What do the guidelines say?
The guidelines include that researchers should have a clear idea of the question they are raising in their research and plan how they want to go about it. It reads, “While translation of research comes at a later stage, researchers should proactively think about the downstream impact. Does the project potentially have positive outcomes for society, industry, country, or the ecosystem in general?”
Secure storage of data is of utmost importance as the guideline says, “A researcher needs to ensure — clear data ownership and accountability; data integrity by using a copy of the original data; careful and reliable data collection, storage, and retrieval among other things.” Data should be stored such that the owner has access to it completely as it is not easy to reproduce.
The guidelines covered the important aspects of copying or infringing information in the research paper, and explained the difference between ‘fabrication’ – making up data on your own – and ‘plagiarism‘ – using another person’s ideals, work, statistics or words without giving them credit – and ‘falsification’ – manipulating research data such that the result is inaccurately presented.
The guidelines also strictly demanded original work and asked the researchers to refrain from such practices. It also laid importance on choosing topics that focus on global advancement and have a positive impact on human life, at large. Details of different journals and what can be appropriate for a researcher were also included.
The e-release of this document
During the e-release of the document, K Vijay Raghavan, the principal scientific adviser of Government of India said, “As the number of researches conducted in the domain of science, technology, humanities and social science grows in India every year; the country should take measures to ensure that good ethical practices are in place. This document will help create a strong foundation for research culture and integrity. UGC Vice-chairman Bhushan Patwardhan said, “At the UGC, we felt that there was a need for a document outlining good academic research practices with focus on potential threats. GARP will help bring in integrity in academic research in the country.
Suggestions by The Policy Times
- The UGC has been working towards quality research work in the country and GARP is an important step to include the researchers such that they know what quality work actually is.
- Integrity and knowledge are core to any research work and GARP reasserts its importance in the academic sector.
- It is upon the institutions to implement the guidelines properly because it will bring out better research work and help the institution elevate its standards.