Monday August 08, 2022

HEC’s approval of 181 pre-2006 research journals may be matter of concern

June 03, 2022

KARACHI: The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) has this week approved a list of 181 research journals, in which faculty members of varsities and degree-awarding institutes had produced papers before June 30, 2005.

As the HEC has only been recognising research papers published since 2006, the status of the research papers published pre-2006 was undecided. This was problematic for those teachers who had published papers in that era as they could not claim promotions based on those ‘undecided’ papers.

To address this issue, the HEC had earlier allowed the universities to consider such papers for the purposes of appointments and promotions provided that they were first reviewed by committees of international experts from advanced countries. However, in the recent notification, the HEC has approved the entire list of 181 journals, which means that each and every research paper published in them would be considered HEC-recognised and teachers could get appointments and promotions on their basis.

“[The] HEC has been pleased to approve the list of 181 journals as HEC-recognised journals. Articles published in such journals would be considered as HEC-recognised, and there will be no need for peer review process by the respective university as per previous practice,” the notification reads. It adds that the papers published before June 30, 2005, would also be acceptable for the selection of vice chancellors.

Matter of concern: Some academics have expressed concerns over the HEC’s decision saying that the list includes a number of local and international journals which have no active websites and many of them have been discontinued since long. The News also found some predatory journals on the list, which makes it very likely that the papers published in them did not follow good standards.

The new HEC decision also contradicts the 2020 policy of the commission, which introduced strict standards for the recognition of journals. Under that policy, many journals were de-recognised by the HEC. Now, the HEC has recognised many discontinued and dubious journals, which is not in line with its 2020 policy. By recognising the list of 181 journals without any review process, the HEC seems to have helped out those academics who were involved in the malpractice of publishing papers in predatory journals before 2006. This is tantamount to legitimise the wrongdoings by some faculty members in the past.

Instead of giving authenticity to dubious journals, the commission had the option to check the profiles of faculty members to see if their performance had improved. If they had not improved their research skills over the years, they did not deserve promotions.