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 Table of Contents    
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 50  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 144-146
 

“Teaching experience and research publications” - quantity matters and quality suffers, a medical teacher perspective


Associate Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, SBKS MI and RC, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth-An Institution Deemed to be University, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

Date of Submission19-Jun-2018
Date of Acceptance09-Jul-2018
Date of Web Publication16-Aug-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sunil M Doshi
Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, SBKS MI and RC, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth-An Institution Deemed to be University, Vadodara, Gujarat
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijp.IJP_167_18

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How to cite this article:
Doshi SM. “Teaching experience and research publications” - quantity matters and quality suffers, a medical teacher perspective. Indian J Pharmacol 2018;50:144-6

How to cite this URL:
Doshi SM. “Teaching experience and research publications” - quantity matters and quality suffers, a medical teacher perspective. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2018 [cited 2020 Jul 5];50:144-6. Available from: http://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2018/50/3/144/239055




Sir,

The Medical Council of India (MCI) (further will be cited as “MCI”) was established with the main objective of maintaining uniform standards of medical education in India. Since inception, several times, MCI has occupied the space of newspapers either on the front page or in the headline under the caption of good and bad deeds. It is not unknown that medical field remains the career of choice for young aspirants because of its lucrative and dignifying nature. The herculean task of converting a naïve adolescent into a responsible doctor ultimately remains on the shoulders of medical teachers serving in medical institutes. A medical teacher, being an architect and a builder of students' behavior, plays a pivotal role in shaping the future medicos.[1]

Medical education in India has witnessed many irregularities either in the form of shortage of medical teachers or in the form of ghost faculties. Numerous amendments in regard to appointment and promotion of a medical teacher have been declared under “Minimum Qualifications for Teachers in Medical Institutions Regulations, 1998” to its last version of “amendments up to June 8, 2017” encompassing (only) two criteria to be taken into account, first is teaching experience and second is research publications.[2]

If a definition of “teaching experience” needs to be framed in line with ground level reality, it will be “numbers of years spent on certain post.” There is no way, either not created or prevented to be created, to verify whether the teacher actually teaches in line with what he is supposed to teach? The MCI inspection is also limited to counting heads and beds as well as rooms and equipment. Instead of focusing on quality of teaching, the system makes the medical teachers think about only numbers either in the form of years of (so-called) teaching experience or in the form of publications. Moreover, there are certain ambiguities and discrepancies in the promotion and/or appointment policies of private institutes, society run institutes, state government colleges as well as centrally run institutes in relation to teaching experience. Many times, a good teacher finds himself stuck in the matrix created because of such discrepancies. However, neither MCI nor the governments take the issues suo motu and ultimately its the teacher who suffers.

A second criterion is the research publication during the tenure of said posts required for the promotion to higher posts. Till date, several amendments were prescribed in regard to authorship criteria, desired numbers of publication, etc. According to a circular of 2015, a candidate must possess certain requirements in regard to his publication either as a first or second author (later amended to corresponding author) within the journals that are indexed in (only) six indexing agencies (though not included “IndMed” produced under Indian Council of Medical Research).[3] In a recent meeting of the postgraduate committee at MCI, the committee observed and resolved that the MCI is indirectly promoting business interest of the journals because of the mandatory requirements of publications.[4] Further, it was resolved that a committee of three experts in each subject will draw a list of standard journals by name and not by indexing status or impact factor of the journal. Only these journals will be considered for promotion. Said committee of the experts may possess the power of inclusion and exclusion of any journal from the list. However, will it serve the actual purpose of upgrading the researches? On the other hand, indexing status of the journal and its impact factor plays a vital role in deciding the quality of the journal. If indexing of the journal and its impact factor are going to be excluded from the list of factors deciding standardization of the journal, it may create further deterioration of the quality in question. India, though possesses a large number of medical institutes and biodiversity of the population, is short of quality research publications.[5] Many of the journals, nowadays, though considered themselves as peer reviewed and international standards actually follow nothing from the list they are showing under the heading of “Article processing” except for obtaining publication and/or processing charges. Some of these journals publish papers in a day or two, quoting under the concept of “fast-track publication” with an extra amount to be paid for. Flood of predatory and substandard journals make the identification of standard journals difficult for the authors and many times valued researches gone wasted because of unawareness of the authors. Chances are not negligible for such journals to make themselves listed under consideration for the purpose of promotion if their indexing status and impact factors are going to be ignored.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has also prescribed “approved list of journals” which needs to be considered for recruitment, promotion, and career advancement in the universities and colleges. Recently, the Standing Committee on the notification on journals removed 4305 poor quality/predatory/questionable journals from the list after screening and reevaluating all the journals recommended by universities and also those listed in the Indian citation index.[6] In addition to the aforementioned criteria, academic recognition to the teachers for their contribution toward teaching needs to be provided.[7] The UGC considers “Academic performance indicators” (API scores) of the teachers to justify overall quality for promotion and appointments. The API scores include teaching hours, examination duties, innovations introduce in teaching, feedback from the students, research work, etc. However, this tool is not at all applied for appointment and promotion of a medical teacher. Why not the MCI modify their promotion and appointment-related regulations in line with the system already existing for other fraternities. The eligibility criteria for teachers are stringent and do not give any weightage to aptitude for teaching.[8] Sometimes, actual job of teaching is compromised by excessive engagement in conducting research. A good researcher at a cost of a compromised teacher may also contribute toward down gradation of medical education.

The MCI is striving and putting efforts to streamline the medical education as well as to fill the loopholes in the system itself. However, it is not hyperbole if it is said that the MCI somehow succeed in maintaining standards by quantitative means but failed in justifying the qualitative aspects of medical teaching.


  Recommendation by the Author Top


  • Apart from teaching experience and research publication, a tool to assess the quality of a medical teacher needs to be developed and taken into account for career advancement
  • The regulatory bodies should consider API scoring system in medical education as well
  • The appointment and promotion policies of the different bodies should work collaterally to avoid discrepancies and to prevent unwarranted occurrences toward medical teachers
  • Indexing status and the impact factor of the journals must be taken in to account for the purpose of consideration of the journals for promotion.


Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Bhuiyan PS, Rege NN. Evolution of medical education technology unit in India. J Postgrad Med 2001;47:42-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
2.
Medical Council of India. Minimum Qualifications for Teachers in Medical Institutions Regulations; 1998. Available from: https://www.mciindia.org/CMS/rules-regulations/teachers-eligibility-qualifications-1998 [Last accessed on 2018 Mar 05].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Medical Council of India. Clarification with Regard to Research Publications in the Matter of Promotion for Teaching Faculty. Available from: https://www.mciindia.org/CMS/teq. [Last accessed on 2018 Mar 06].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Medical Council of India. Minutes of the Meeting of the Postgraduate Medical Education Committee. Available from: https://www.mciindia.org/CMS/meetings. [Last accessed on 2018 Mar 07].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Sukhlecha A. Research publications: Should they be mandatory for promotions of medical teachers? J Pharmacol Pharmacother 2011;2:221-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
6.
University Grants Commission. An update on UGC – List of Journals. Available from: https://www.ugc.ac.in/journallist/. [Last accessed on 2018 Jun 09].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Sood R, Adkoli BV. Medical education in India – Problems and prospects. J Indian Acad Clin Med 2000;1:210-2.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Ananthakrishnan N. Acute shortage of teachers in medical colleges: Existing problems and possible solutions. Natl Med J India 2007;20:25-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
    




 

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