In my previous article ‘What is Research?: Role of Parents and Schools in Child’s Research Attitude’ I tried to explain qualities required in researcher and how it can be groomed in researcher from childhood. It can also be concluded that research is no sudden process and it requires proper planning. In this article I try to explain what institute should do to develop itself as research friendly.
Research Tools and Supplements
What makes researcher competitive in field? Current research is mainly dominated by numerical simulation. It has two advantages over experimental research. First, due to global recession there is shortage of research funding, especially in experiments. Second, industry want to have preliminary opinion with minimum cost using simulation on how experiment will go. Considering these limitations of experiments in mind it is recommended that researcher should be aware of programming language. Other thing is researcher need to publish his work for knowledge of community. If he write paper in .doc or other document format then he will end up with spending time in typesetting which is not his duty. I recommend researcher should be aware with professional writing language like LaTex.
- Research environment: Foundation of Institution as A Research System
A system as whole should be supportive to researcher. Researchers are basically two types. Those who are senior e.g. faculties and post doctorals and those who are junior or subordinate to first one e.g. students. A system should be well structured to support researchers. System should be flexible, transparent and vibrant. If researchers have to run days and weeks behind PO, chemicals, marksheets etc then they will end up in spending time in useless activity rather than research. Researcher should have freedom to do research. There should not be restriction on researcher on when to come or leave the laboratory. Collaborative research is also desired.
I want to quote my classmate Pambhar Rajnikant’s (BE (mech, VVP, Rajkot) 2000-04) words
“There is no doubt he is best manager if a company function well in presence of him. But true manager is one whose company function well in his absence.”
95% of the people don’t know they are part of system. Common man fall in this category. 4% of people understand system but don’t want to enter in it. 1% of people run the system. Govt bureaucrats and officers belong to this category. There are few people(can be count on finger tip) who understand system, establish the system, and design it to live longer. Gautam Buddh, Mahavir Swami, Vatican, Prophet Muhammad, Jamsedji Tata, etc are such examples. It is dream of every leader to make his system immortal. Following are the fundamentals of system.
System should be self correcting.
System should be independent and self propagating.
System should be self energetic and self sustainable.
Right person at right place is key to above three key features.
Before going further let us understand fundamental of governance because system runs on some governing rules.
An organisation is a system and it must have foundation principal/rules/regulation on which the building(system) will stand. They are
Let me explain one by one.
The core philosophy of the organisation lies in its objective. System will collapse if it divert from its objective. For example consider system of marriage. It stand on objectives of faith, support, care etc. If these objectives are forgotten then there is chance marriage may fail. Similarly if it is decided that a institute should be devoted to research then it has to be always keep in mind. Consider example of universities in West Bengal. Due to Naxalite/Communist movement in WB youth attracted towards politics and result is collapse of academic progress. On other side, IISc was apolitical even in struggleful time of freedom movement.
Any constitution has 3 pillars: Legislature, Judiciary, and Executive.
Legislature creates law and usually a committee is made as its head e.g. parliament.
Judiciary protects rights of members e.g. legal system in India.
Executive is like hand and feet of constitution and they perform completion of tasks suggested by institution e.g. civil servants.
In research there are only two components; research and researcher, unlike giver and taker in other analogy. This means in research faculty and student both are at same level and both are learning only. According to me institute activities are mainly of two types namely academic and extra academic activities. Any institute has two bodies; Administration body and Student body. Student power is like nuclear energy. It will be boon if you know how to use it with proper control otherwise it may cause destruction. Environment for the activities should be in such a way that students should be allowed to do the activities of their interest but with provision of crosscheck/monitoring by institute administration.
Extra academics will require to organize events and will build leadership quality in student. Let students organize their events and let them manage themselves. Leaders are needed in everywhere irrespective of field. To publish 5 paper is different issue and to guide 2 PhD student is different issue. Former requires dedication and will help researcher personally. Later requires leadership quality and affects entire community.
If I talk about asset then I mean courses offered, laboratories, libraries, departments. There are three possible cases for university/system.
- Assets > Liabilities, in this case university will prosper.
- Assets = Liabilities, in this case university will sustain.
- Assets < Liabilities, in this case it is difficult for university to prosper.
It is always desirable university administration know how to utilize, manage her resources.
Let us proceed further to understand system fundamentals.
4.1 How to make system self correcting?
The first problem you will notice in govt offices is there is no one to answer. Why so? They fear none because they have job security. It is difficult to expel govt employee once he is recruited. Similarly, no one can ask him. If you complain about him it will go to internal assessment and end up with no punishment. To make system self correcting first of all system should know there is some problem, followed by analysis and solution technique. The solution to this problem is to have some kind of feedback structure which imposes answerability and complain/problem addressal mechanism in system. A strong feedback structure will identify problem for system. For that there should be proper communication between various components of system. The problem should be analysed and since system is non living it has to be done by governors of system.
In this regards I want to give example of IISc. I am not saying it is the best but I think it is the best amongst the systems which I have seen till now. There are two types of components in IISc: External Structure and Internal Structure. At external level, there is IISc Court and IISc Council. MPs and various other govt officers are members of IISc Court and it is headed by President of India. While in IISc Council, eminent scientists from various scientific organizations are members of it along with IISc director and registrar as ex-officio members. It is headed by person appointed by TATA trust. At institute level there are two bodies namely institute administration and researchers. There is provision to address their individual and common problems. The IISc Senate is the highest level meeting inside IISc where communication between faculties happen. Then comes CoD meeting where students has representation. There is library Senate which you can say intermediate between these two (as a IISc students’ general secretary, we fought for student representation in it and we successfully got there). There other bodies are Council of Warden, Amenities Committee where students have representation and are allowed to raise their voice. So, as par communication concerns both researchers, faculties and students, are allowed to raise their problems in Senate and CoD meetings respectively. The problems are analysed/discussed in the meeting and solved. This is how IISc has been addressing her issues and has become stronger day by day after eliminating hurdles. It is good example of self correcting mechanism.
4.2 How to make system self energizing and self sustaining?
Energy comes from food we eat and in analogy of institute it is knowledge and ideas. Knowledge will come from library. Larger the library, greater availability of knowledge. Consider example of IISc library. Patent registration is now available online but in 1910 patent register was available at limited locations in India and IISc library was one of them. IISc has patent registers from its first edition. Apart from these, IISc has availability of scientific journals published from 1818 AD. Some of the classic books available in IISc library I did not find elsewhere. Library is heart of any institute. Books will guide them and journal papers will update them with current research. This is why library is asset of any institute. Another thing which gives energy to university is laboratories. Laboratories will update researchers with knowledge. Entire institute fund mostly allotted in 3 parts; Infrastructure, maintenance and library. Laboratory, department setup will come in infrastructure. Maintaining student hostels, buildings, stores, units, purchase, etc comes in maintenance. I believe almost 40-45% budget should be alloted to library.
I give you example of Library of Congress, Washington DC. Established through legislature passed by president of USA John Adams, with funding of $5000, on 24th April 1800, It is largest library in the world by shelf size and number of volumes. It possesses some of the books on Indology which you may find it difficult to available even in India. The benefit is many “renowned” scholars like Wendy misinterpret it. Library is kind of system which will be helpful to generations in refining their knowledge and ideas. It should be well equipped. Academic administration has to play important role in set up of strong library.
4.3 How to make system independent/free and self propagating?
System has many components and independence given to each of them means independence given to system. System should be flexible to give freedom to researchers. Components are researchers, namely faculties and students. IISc gave faculties/dept so much independent that it did not have formal convocation and degrees used to be awarded by departments independently. Students were given freedom to utilize institute resources like seminar halls, auditorium free of cost. Different cultural, regional, ideological student groups were allowed to flourished and mutual respecting environment was created. Research is not at all about always reading. You require mental and physical relaxation also. A dedicated student body should be formed which will look after student activities. Sports facilities, auditorium, conference hall, lecture hall etc provides environment to the students to develop their sports skill, leadership skills through organising events. Environment for the activities should be in such a way that students should be allowed to do the activities of their interest freely but with provision of crosscheck/monitoring by institute administration.
4.4 Right Person at Right Position
I have already explained this in my previous article on Donald Trump’s VP choice. I want to give example of my good experience with IISc administrator. It was in 2009 and I got admitted as PhD student in IISc. I had to take signature from Mr. Paneer Selvam who was Dy. Registrar (Academic) of IISc. I caught him on the corridor and asked his signature. He did not have pen and saw one in my pocket (I have habit of keeping pen with me since UG days). He immediately picked my pen and signed. This shows how system administrators make system flexible.