Woes of Research Students and an Effort to Cater to their Needs

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Rauf Parekh

An oft-repeated lament these days is that the standard of research is falling. Academics and research supervisors at the universities often complain that most of the students applying for admission to MPhil/Ph.D programmes are not capable of carrying out research since they are lacking in some prerequisite knowledge. They say that a large number of such students cannot get through the entry test that expects them to answer questions based on the subject matter taught at master’s level.

Even the students who clear this test, academics say, have a little grasp of the subject matter of the discipline they intend to research. Also, the students are more interested in getting a doctoral degree than researching and exploring new horizons. One can vouch for that since several students have asked one on different occasions to point out some “easy topic” and “an easy way” to a Ph.D degree. The short answer, albeit not sweet, is that research is never easy and there is no easy way to get a doctorate without burning the proverbial midnight oil.

I am sorry to report that students say, rightly, that the erudite professors and scholars who were respected for their in-depth knowledge and insight are no more. The sincere academics who renounced worldly gains and relinquished material possessions for the sake of knowledge, say the students, are part of history now and the teachers these days are more busy with some part-time occupation or manoeuvring for their promotions rather than furthering their knowledge and doing new research. Well, one has to admit that the so-called teachers who invest their time in establishing contacts with higher-ups or strengthening political affiliations for securing lucrative posts and perks cannot do justice with teaching or students, let alone with research.

An aspect of the problem that needs to be addressed is the unavailability of the research material, especially for the students wishing to pursue Urdu literature and language as their topic of higher education and research. Now the HEC has made arrangements to display research dissertations on its website but the research material needed sometimes consists of basic information about research methodology, citation styles and research techniques. Such material is not ample in Urdu and then it is not easy to find it. Research students become easily dispirited when they do not find material on research in libraries. While there are a number of articles written on the issues related to typology, epistemology and methodology of research and Urdu research, they are mostly buried in the back numbers of magazines and research journals, a domain virtually unknown to new entrants in the field of research and especially students.

Some scholars have been discussing this issue among themselves for quite some time and suggesting the publication of a kind of manual for students and scholars. Dr Abdul Haq, professor, Delhi University, once remarked that even in India such a book is needed. He ultimately persuaded Prof Dr Javed Iqbal to compile such a book. The good news is that Dr Javed Iqbal has come up with what he had promised. Published by Karachi’s Idara-e-Yadgar-e-Ghalib, the book is titled Tehqeeq: Fikri-o-Fanni Mabahis, Masail-o-Imkanaat.

The book, a thick volume consisting of 424 pages, is divided into six portions: principles of research, research methodology, styles of citations, modus operandi of research, researching the erroneous attribution of old texts and problems of research. Though these articles have been published in different journals and books, collecting them in a volume has brought between the covers a virtual treasure trove of knowledge on issues related to research and Urdu research. Articles by some real big names of Urdu research — such as Hafiz Mahmood Sherani, Dr Abdus Sattar Siddiqi, Dr Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Dr Nazeer Ahmed (of Aligarh University), Dr Najm-ul-Islam, Dr Khaleeq Anjum, Dr Ata-Ur-Raheem, Dr Rafiuddin Hashmi, Dr Abdul Haq (of Delhi University), Dr Moinuddin Aqeel, Dr Atash Durrani, Dr Ata Khursheed and many more — have been included in the book.

Since it covers different practical aspects of research and discusses some issues related to Urdu, the book is a must-read for students and teachers alike.

Dr Iqbal, the compiler of the work under review, has been associated with the Department of Urdu, University of Sindh, Jamshoro. Presently working as the dean of faculty of Arts, Dr Iqbal has also served as the head of the Urdu department for quite long. The department’s research journal Tehqeeq has made its mark and is regarded as a prestigious research publication accredited by the HEC. Dr Iqbal has been editing it since the time founder editor and renowned scholar Dr Najm-ul-Islam passed away. In fact, maintaining the standard and goodwill of the research journal created by Dr Najm-ul-Islam is a great feat in itself. Dr Iqbal has been supervising and evaluating research dissertations for quite long. In a nutshell, research and its related issues are an area which the compiler is well-acquainted with.

Sindh University has been working for the promotion of Urdu for a long time but it got a real boost when Allama I.I. Qazi became its vice chancellor in 1951. A renowned scholar and lover of languages and literatures, I.I. Qazi was instrumental in establishing the Urdu department there. At the outset, he promptly asked Dr Ghulam Mustafa Khan to join the university as professor and head its Urdu department. The book has been dedicated to Allama I.I. Qazi, quite thoughtfully and aptly, one must say.

Rauf Parekh, “Literary notes: Woes of research students and an effort to cater to their needs,” in Dawn, August 19, 2014. Accessed on March 1, 2015, at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1126174/literary-notes-woes-of-research-students-and-an-effort-to-cater-to-their-needs

The item above written by Rauf Parekh and published in Dawn on August 19, 2014, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on March 1, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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