Since the start of the pandemic, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has extended the deadline for submitting theses for MPhil and PhD students. While the Commission claims that this is a measure taken to help students with their PhD and MPhil courses and to take stress off their shoulders, scientists and researchers argue otherwise.
Indian National Young Academy of Sciences (INYAS) claims in its recent report that the main concerns lingering in the minds of research scientists are the discontinuity of the laboratory work, the disruption of the fellowship and the pending experimental work for the manuscripts. Due to the pandemic, researchers had no or limited access to labs for the longest time.
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Experiments critical to addressing all the objectives of their dissertation or the revisions requested by the reviewers are all subject to delays. Few researchers have also submitted a dissertation without finishing their work. According to the report, the majority of students believe that the pandemic has affected their postgraduate plans.
While extensions can help, a large majority of research scientists believe that it is, in fact, the money shortage that has caused the most problems for researchers, with 42.8 percent of researchers seeing that money shortage as the main problem. Of those who received money, 14.6 percent received partial money, and 28.2 percent claimed they received no money at all during the pandemic, according to the report.
Vickey, a research scientist at IIT-Delhi, told News18.com that the biggest loss to research scientists was lack of exposure. “Students used to travel to other countries for international conferences and research before covid/pandemic. Interaction with foreign researchers on the same topic was highly beneficial to the study. That part is missing due to the pandemic. I hope that will happen shortly.”
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Even if the pandemic caused delays, requiring a researcher more time to complete his or her PhD, the scientists will receive funds or grants for a five-year term of office, as before. However, after the pandemic, the government should consider extending the fellowship. That will no doubt help scientists conduct research without stress, he said.
As the current deadline, the universities and higher education institutions may again grant an extension of up to six months after June 30, on a case-by-case basis, for the submission of M.Phil or doctoral theses after assessment of a student’s work by the Research Advisory Committee and on the recommendation of the supervisor and the head of department.
The first extension was granted in June and was further extended every six months due to the current COVID-19 situation.
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