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Nurturing nascent researchers at national universities


As researchers, we can never know the people working in our domain if we do not publish our research. Publication enables us to truly disseminate to our peers the efforts we are making to discover a truth. It is the most prestigious and productive means of spreading the results of the research. Publication embellishes our resume and increases the opportunities for professional growth. The research paper we publish is considered an evidence of our inquisitive and mental abilities. Global competition for making more publications by scientific communities has been integral to professional recognition of the respective researchers in the fields of their specialisation. Phenomenal publication profile of research organisations affirms their prestigious professional stature among counterparts.

Unfortunately, most of our nascent researchers mislay the opportunity of publishing their research in earlier years of their career for want of skilful scientific writing which is normally acquired by them many years later. This lapse of time with little or no knack in writing, leading to no publication of research, indirectly comes out as an enormous national economic loss because the young researchers fail to contribute towards institutional professional upsurge and its scientific outlook. The author has personally come across a number of researchers holding PhDs with no or a single article published by them in an extended length of time.
Archiving M.Phil. and PhD research directed in all disciplines in Pakistani public and private sector universities and higher education institutions has been perilous as every bit of research at any level entails huge intellectual and financial investment which indeed goes out of the window if it is not published in scientific journals at national and international levels. So the question remains why does it happen? Lack of skillfulness to build a good scientific manuscript by the growing researchers is the simple answer to this question. The author presents a precise and effective system to be executed at an institutional level to enable relatively weaker researchers to get their research published, through a holistic and integrative approach called Help Peer Publish (HPP). This involves constructing small groups of researchers at the departmental level with expertise and capacity coupled with extensive research and publication experience. These senior researchers may be requested to voluntarily act as Research Publishing Counselors (RPCs) for the young researchers in their respective departments helping them learn the intricacies and techniques involved in the publication of papers.
This would utterly be an altruistic service rendered by senior faculty/frequent publishers to the community and the institution. Under HPP, the activity would entail one exclusive meeting of the RPC with young faculty once in a month in the ORIC meeting room/ faculty lounges/ research offices or elsewhere for a length of time mutually agreed upon between RPC and the learners through emails etc. This would not only technically develop a writing skill amongst young researchers but they will also take inspirations from their RPCs. This will further augment an environment of social interaction to mitigate grievances among their selves if any. We can find many faculty members in our universities who do not publish a single paper on their own as the first or corresponding author in several years despite the fact they intend to do it.
Such faculty members need support and encouragement for publishing papers from RPCs. Universities/ ORICs may establish a database of RPCs and can execute this model effectively and efficiently. This model seems to be novel as we witness no such approach in place with any university in Pakistan to promote research publication profile of the faculty and the institution. Provided this model is implemented in letter and spirit in Pakistani universities, I believe our research output in terms of research publications will be magnified manifold.
The author is the Director of the Institute of Food Science & Nutrition Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and is a known researcher with a specialization in Food Safety and Nutrition. He has also been working as Director, Office of Research Innovation and Commercialization. He may be reached at saeedakhtar@bzu.edu.pk.

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