ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Quality of Teaching and Research

On the set of articles commenting on the review of the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) (EPW, 13 August 2011), I agree fully with the report on the Delhi centric-functioning of the ICSSR. There is definitely patronage practised in many of our institutions, ICSSR being no exception. But what I want to say is not so much about ICSSR but the problem of poor quality research in social sciences in general. I would place the blame on the poor quality of teaching at BA and MA in our universities where no originality is encouraged nor a sound understanding of research as such. The methodology courses tend to focus on technicalities rather than problem formulation. Many institutions do not prescribe course work for candidates before they embark on their PhD.

It is our teaching that has to improve if we are to produce capable researchers. A practice I found useful was in the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, when I was chair and professor of the Women and Development programme. The candidate had to fulfil course requirements after which her research proposal was vetted by several faculty members as well as fellow students. The latter had to also compulsorily take two general courses on development theories. This was done in workshop style because many candidates had no economics background.

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