Methodological frauds and rise in plagiarism continue to remain existential challenges to academic scholarship in India, distinguished anthropologist Professor Vinay Kumar Srivastava of Delhi University, said on Friday, December 11, 2015.

Prof. Srivastava was delivering a lecture at the research methodology for communication studies and social sciences  conducted by the Centre for Culture, Media and Governance (CCMG), Jamia Millia Islamia. The workshop that entered its third day Friday is supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).

Prof. Srivastava 3“What we today see is that there has been a rise in academic frauds and plagiarism continues to be a major challenge to the scholarship,” he told a gathering of doctoral candidates from different parts of the country who are attending the 10-day workshop.

In the light of this observation, he questioned the existing norm of selection of Ph.D. topics in Indian universities, arguing that the topics are primarily determined by the influence of supervisors and not scholars themselves. This, he hinted, was a curse to the scholarship where scholars are not given freedom to choose their own domains of enquiry.

Prof. Srivastava, who has held various positions including principal of Hindu College, focused his presentation on the meaning, nature and types of research methodologies and illustrated basic distinctions between research terms like research design and research proposals which are otherwise so often taken as synonymous.

Speaking on the tenets of qualitative and quantitative research methodology, he pointed out the need for a research problem to be ‘funneled down’ to bring nuance and quality in work.

Research, he said, has to move beyond what is seen and that it primarily begins with questions. Prof. Srivastava also illustrated at length the various types of research methods, the techniques within those methods and explained their merits and demerits in the broad research framework.

He shared anecdotes and real stories from different parts of the world with scholars and drew from them academic inferences and noted how these events entered into academic realms and slowly began to be seriously studied by scholars from various disciplines.

Dr. Goenka 2Following Prof. Srivastava, Dr. Shaifalika Goenka of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) delivered a lecture on research methods. She presented her work based primarily on medical research and encouraged scholars to write papers and connect with journals. She also engaged with scholars and discussed with them their research topics and scope for improvements, both methodological and conceptual.

With a focus on medical research, Dr. Goenka also shared her insights on research design. Her Ph.D. thesis was an ethnography of private general practitioners in Delh and has also worked on patients with diabetes.