88 Per Cent UGC Approved Journals Are 'Low Quality': Study

The University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi has published an 'approved list of journals', which has been criticized due to inclusion of many substandard journals.

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88 Per Cent UGC Approved Journals Are 'Low Quality': Study

34.5% of the 1009 journals were disqualified under non-availability of essential information


New Delhi:  A new study done by a group of researchers said that over 88% of the non-indexed journals in the university source component of the UGC-approved list, included on the basis of suggestions from different universities, could be of low quality. The University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi has published an 'approved list of journals', which has been criticized due to inclusion of many substandard journals.

Last year, UGC had approved over 35,000 journals and the research work published in them would be considered for the purpose of promotion and direct recruitment of varsity teachers. The UGC released the list of the approved journals, and the research work published only in them would be considered for the purpose of Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) and recruitment of teachers and other academic staff, an official had told PTI then.

The study, "A critical analysis of the UGC-approved list of journals" by Bhushan Patwardhan and others published in Current Science, have developed a protocol with objective criteria for identifying journals that do not follow good publication practices.

The researchers studied 1336 journals randomly selected from 5699 in the university source component of the 'UGC-approved list' and analysed 1009 journals after excluding 327 indexed in Scopus/Web of Science.

"About 34.5% of the 1009 journals were disqualified under the basic criteria because of incorrect or non-availability of essential information such as address, website details and names of editors; another 52.3% of them provided false information such as incorrect ISSN, false claims about impact factor, claimed indexing in dubious indexing databases or had poor credentials of editors," said the study.

"Our results suggest that over 88% of the non-indexed journals in the university source component of the UGC-approved list, included on the basis of suggestions from different universities, could be of low quality," the study said.

The study said that publication in predatory or dubious or sub-standard journals has assumed alarming proportion in India and it mentioned two primary factors which catalysed the expansion this practice.

First, according to the study, the UGC guidelines of 2010 introduced the academic performance indicator (API) for evaluation of teachers, which laid considerable emphasis on the number of research publications (‘publish or perish’).

Second, the UGC regulations, as modified in 2013, mandated publication of at least two papers prior to submission of a doctoral thesis.

The student observed that a significant component of the contemporary research publishing industry seems to be moving from an immoral to illegal domain. 

During this exercise, the study identified several dubious publishers and journals that are involved in various types of unethical practices.

In view of these results, the study said that the current UGC-approved list of journals needs serious re-consideration.

"New regulations to curtail unethical practices in scientific publishing along with organization of awareness programmes about publication ethics at Indian universities and research institutes are urgently needed," it said.

Listed journals are indexed in Web of Science, Scopus and Indian Citation Index. Journals covered in a selected indexing and abstracting services have been also added to the approved list.

The UGC list is broadly categorised into three streams -Science, Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities.

The direct recruitment of teachers and other academic staff is carried out under the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) (4th Amendment), Regulations, 2016.

Researchers included Bhushan Patwardhan, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences of Savitribai Phule Pune University, Shubhada Nagarkar, Department of Library and Information Science of Savitribai Phule Pune University, Shridhar R. Gadre, Interdisciplinary School of Scientific Computing of Savitribai Phule Pune University, Subhash C. Lakhotia, Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University, Vishwa Mohan Katoch, Rajasthan University of Health Sciences, and David Moher, Centre for Journalology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada.

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