The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recently released the guidance document titled ‘Good Academic Research Practice’ (GARP) to foster an ecosystem where academic ethics and research integrity count foremost. “Authoritative guidance for good practices is common in Good Clinical Practices (GCP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) etc. Historically, documents on good practices have emerged during crises especially when the problem reached its peak,” says UGC vice-chairman Bhushan Patwardhan.
“Currently, with the world in the grips of a pandemic, the academic world is facing a major epidemic of academic misconduct and predatory publishing. India is no exception, in fact here its intensity and complexity is much bigger. At the UGC, we realised the need for a guidance document to address the growing incidence of academic misconduct and research malpractices,” he adds.
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The document has been prepared as part of the quality mandate of the UGC and contains the necessary precautions that any researcher should follow to avoid misconduct at any stage of the research cycle. “The aim is to instil values in every researcher’s work ethics and lay the foundations for a strong research culture. The guidance document can also be a good resource for pre-PhD students to sensitise them about the potential risks and ethics in research before they embark on their doctorate or research career,” Patwardhan tells Education Times.
The GARP, according to him, has come at a timely juncture when the National Education Policy 2020 highlights the need for academic integrity and even the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor has issued a ‘National Policy on Academic Ethics’. “To support these policy and regulatory efforts it was necessary to prepare a guidance document to help the academic community and the institutions strengthen their academic ethics and research integrity. Both these aspects are vital for scholarship and science to thrive.”
The document provides a general framework for enhancing research integrity, besides focussing on potential threats and illustrating good practices at each stage in the research cycle including ideation, research planning, design, conduct, dissemination, management and training, adds Patwardhan.
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Checking for plagiarism
The GARP also indicates how to check for plagiarism, fabrication and misrepresentation, besides choosing the right journal for publication. The aim is to mentor the next generation of researchers since predatory journals tend to misguide them. “The UGC has in the past issued various regulations and guidelines with regard to the promotion of academic integrity, prevention of plagiarism, and publication ethics. The Consortium for Academic Research Ethics (CARE) set up in 2019 maintains a reference list of quality journals and creates awareness regarding predatory journals to ensure researchers do not veer from the right path,” Patwardhan adds.
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