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Malaises of academics with special reference to scientific training and education

Cheap popularity, malaises of academics, plagiarism

Human resource development is essential to survival of any branch of knowledge, so it is with science. Development of human resources is achieved by educating and training young pupils at the hands of those who are experts of the field. It is necessary for the trainers and teachers to have a nurturing nature, i.e. they must be dedicated to the cause of knowledge, and benefit of their disciples. When it so happens that a student with raw talent comes in the laboratory of a nurturing stalwart, almost always the result is appearance of another stalwart (who was an unpolished diamond at the onset). But unfortunately things do not always go that way in science education. Many candidates with high potential are ruined at the hands of dirty political practices adopted by their superiors or colleagues. This article focuses on such unfair practices which are malaises of the scientific world.

First such malaise is the rat race for publications. Due to wide acceptance of the ‘publish or perish’ theory researchers are under constant pressure to generate as many publications as possible. Added to this, there is an undue high importance attached with ‘impact factor’ of the journals. It is only the misfortune of true science that the old truth suggesting- good science remains independent of the journal in which it appears- has been forgotten. This situation makes quite a good number of scientists to practice the most sinful act in science or academics – plagiarism. Desire to have more and more number of publications makes the mentor to publish his/her student’s work in his/her own name. Similar theft of data of a person by his/her colleague is also possible.

Another malaise ruining academics is the desire of cheap popularity among science professors. This desire simply makes the professors to sacrifice discipline (which is essential to maintaining high standards in education or research) at the hands of popularity among their students. In order to be good in face of their students, often professors allow lowering of standards, which makes a blow at the very heart of ‘good scientific practice’. This popularity syndrome creates problems for those who believe only in fair practices. When professional rivalry, jealousy, and intradepartmental politics are added to the malaise of cheap popularity, situation becomes only worse and non-conducive to ‘good science’.

Many other minor malpractices such as theft of protocols or methods developed by others and claiming credit over them, generating hurdles to slowdown other people’s research, filing false complaints of plagiarism, etc. are also not uncommon in the scientific world. These malpractices have found ground owing to the efforts by some of the scientists to build their empires within their institute or field. In conclusion, it is the call of ‘good science’ or ‘true science’ for its faithful disciples to fight and eradicate any such malaises which are threat to the very essence of science – pursuit of knowledge and nurture of talent for the benefit of mankind.
Published: 2009-07-16
Author: Vijay Kothari

About the author or the publisher
I am a microbiologist, acting as an Assistant Professor in Science with Nirma University. My current research is focused on natural products.

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