Education & Training News

Why PhD scholars need dexterity in scientific writing








Producing slightly over 24,000 doctoral graduates annually, India ranks fourth globally, reveals a recent report by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). While the quantity of research work being done here is commendable, concerns are raised over the quality. Research guides say that a common hiccup faced by a majority of Indian scholars is their discomfort in compiling their research work in English. The reason is the lack of Hindi journals and minimal training in scientific writing.

Issues being faced
Ruchi Kher Jaggi, dean of the PhD programme in Media and Communication, Symbiosis International University, Pune, says, “In school, students are taught to look at coursework objectively, which adversely affects their writing abilities. During graduation, students who take up Honours courses in certain subjects are still trained slightly in this art, but a majority are left in the lurch. Further, in both Social Science and Science subjects, the current focus of scholars is on collecting data, which makes them disregard the importance of acquiring good writing skills.”

Scholars from a regional language background face an issue with compiling their research work in English, adds Anuradha Majumdar, research guide in Pharmacy, University of Mumbai. “While Russians, Germans and Chinese scholars have the advantage of access to scientific journals in their native languages, there are no journals in Hindi yet,” she says.

Even if a scholar is comfortable with English, scientific writing skills are limited, adds Majumdar. “Just compiling your research work is not enough. Since reproducing data in your thesis work is now regarded as plagiarism, scholars must have the ability to depict all data in a creative and unique format that includes illustrations and designing, an ability that is missing in the majority of scholars,” she adds.

Padma Rani, director, Manipal Institute of Communication, who is a research guide in Communication and Media Studies, says that scholars’ inability to take critique is also impacting their writing quality. “Rejection, rewriting, and redrafting are basic ingredients of a good research paper, which our scholars need to accept,” she says.

Bringing a change
Developing critical thinking in researchers should be a major focus point for research scholars, says Rani. “Schools form the basis of our learning formats, where rote learning was a norm. It is only recently that live projects that require students to question all that is being taught have been introduced,” she says. With this new system in place, there is already a slight improvement in around 30% of scholars, adds Rani.

Liberal Arts programmes at the graduation level are bringing a change in this phenomenon, says Jaggi. “The Master’s programme that a scholar chooses affects his/her critical reading and writing skills. Even the compulsory PhD coursework now offers various writing courses that have helped. It may be a slow journey, but we have started witnessing a change,” she says.

Majumdar suggests few actions that can help scholars. “The compulsory PhD coursework should offer modules on scientific writing. Few institutions might be offering them even today, but they can be mandated for all scholars. Further, all institutes should have journal clubs, where scholars should be able to critique and appreciate currently published papers. This will familiarise them with various writing styles and offer them insights into creating their own forte.”





Source link