doi:10.1038/nindia.2018.69 Published online 29 May 2018
Alarmed by the rise of predatory journals1 and the lack of uniform guidelines for assessment of research output in India, the premier peer body Indian National Science Academy (INSA) has come down heavily on the ‘publish or perish’ policy that majorly governs evaluation of scientific merit in the country.
In a policy statement titled "Dissemination and Evaluation of Research Output”2, INSA says research output and assessment in India has been "seriously vitiated" by the rise of predatory journals and predatory conferences and due to "inappropriate guidelines" used by different agencies and institutions.
INSA has also makes a strong statement against rules that make publishing mandatory for faculty appointments and promotions. "This has been exploited by unscrupulous business interests resulting in mushrooming of predatory journals and predatory conferences," INSA says in the report compiled after “extensive deliberations” involving all its elected Fellows.
INSA notes that funding agencies should advise investigators to refrain from publication or participation in predatory and substandard journals and conferences and that these activities must not be counted as a measure of research output.
According to INSA, the increasing use of scientometric parameters such as journal 'impact factors' for assessing research contribution is "leading to unhealthy competition". "The impact factor of a journal must not be used as the primary indicator. Articles placed on established pre-print archives, which provide perpetual free access to all, should be encouraged."
The Academy's document says scientific agencies should focus on quality rather than quantity. "Instead of assessing on number of papers published by an individual, assessors should find out if the research output was only confirmatory in nature or led to incremental or path-breaking advances."
INSA is hoping that its recommendations will be adopted and implemented by agencies and regulatory bodies in India.
1. Priyadarshini, S. India tops submissions in predatory journals. Nature India (2017) doi: 10.1038/nindia.2017.115
2. Chaddah, P. & Lakhotia, S. C. A Policy Statement on dissemination and evaluation of research output in India by the Indian National Science Academy. Proc. Indian Natn. Sci. Acad. 84, 319-329 (2018) doi: 10.16943/ptinsa/2018/49415