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Dhaka Tribune

DU teachers falling behind in international publications

Update : 28 Mar 2014, 09:39 PM

Teachers at the Dhaka University have reportedly been lagging in getting adequate number of articles published in international academic journals in recent years, compared to the large number of teachers currently working at the university.

The number of international publications is considered as a key indicator in measuring the depth of knowledge of university teachers.

According to Dhaka University’s annual report, 150 articles from 24 departments were published in international journals during the 2009-10 session; 234 articles from 22 departments were published during the 2010-11 session; while 187 articles from 34 departments were published during the 2011-12 session. 

According to the DU registrar’s office, 1,938 teachers are currently working at the university under 73 departments. Of them, 712 are professors, 300 associate professors, 501 assistant professors, and 425 lecturers.

The last three annual reports of the university showed that no one from the fine arts or the law faculties succeeded in publishing any article on international academic journals, while only a handful of teachers from the faculties of arts, social sciences, and business studies managed to publish articles on international journals.

However, the number of publications was comparatively better among teachers from the faculties of science, biological science, earth and environmental science, and engineering.

Traditionally, publishing articles on international journals is considered as an “honourable achievement” for the teachers, while it also helps the teachers to be promoted.

As per the existing provisions of the university, DU teachers need articles published in “recognised journals” to get promotions. However, as there was no clear description about the standard of a “recognised journal,” a large number of DU teachers allegedly bag promotions by showing write-ups published in local journals or the journals published from the teachers’ concerned faculties or departments. 

DU Public Relations Officer Ashraf Ali Khan told the Dhaka Tribune that every year the departmental chairpersons are requested to submit their departments’ annual activities including academic work done by the teachers.

“Heads of the departments forward the details including teachers’ achievements. We publish the annual report after getting feedback from the departments,” added Ashraf.

Arshad Momen, a professor of theoretical physics, said the quality of the journals was defined by the “impact factor,” a measure reflecting the average of citations on recent articles published in the journal. Until now, no Bangladeshi journal has been listed as a good impact factor journal.

“Foreign university teachers are always competing to publish their scholarly articles on famous international journals. But Dhaka University teachers hardly give effort to publish articles on the international journals, as they do not have any obligation,” Momen said.

According to the 2010-11 year’s annual report of the DU, the applied chemistry and chemical engineering department published a maximum 48 articles in international journals. Publications from other departments included one article from genetic engineering; two from international relations; three from English; four each from information science and library management, soil, water and environment, and applied physics; five from zoology; six from psychology; 10 each from mathematics, chemistry, microbiology and botany; 11 from clinical pharmacy and pharmacology; 13 each from applied chemistry and geography; 15 from computer science and engineering; 20 each from physics and pharmaceutical chemistry; and 25 from medicine technology.

In the 2011-12 session, the department of pharmaceutical chemistry published the most – 31 articles – in international journals. One each was published from the departments of Urdu, drama, journalism, public administration, soil, water and environment, education and counselling psychology, geography, chemistry, Islamic history and culture; two each from English, Farsi language and history,  linguistics, population science, applied physics, electronics and electrical engineering; three from psychology, genetic engineering and physics; four from physics, and biomedical physics and technology; five each from international relations, accounting, applied chemistry and molecular biology; seven from botany and microbiology; 10 from medicine technology; 11 from zoology; 13 from information science and library management; 13 from geology; 15 from applied chemistry; and 25 from clinical pharmacy and pharmacology.

Most of the articles from science-related departments were jointly written by several teachers.

Social science faculty’s Dean Professor Farid Uddin Ahmed said international journals took too much time to publish an article after it was submitted, while it was much easier to publish articles in local journals.

Yousuf Ali Mulla, dean of the science faculty, admitted that the number of articles published by DU teachers on international journals was low compared to the total number of teachers.

“Usually, a teacher writes a good scholarly article based on research finding where fund is a big challenge for conducting research. Our university teachers get little money to do research work,” he said.

DU Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Nasrin Ahmad also said: “It is true that the number of teachers having publications in international journals is small. However, we have a good number of teachers who are doing excellent work. Most of them cannot publish their articles on standard international journals because of fund crisis,” she said. 

University Grants Commission Chairman AK Azad Chowdhury said: “Write-ups in good journals indicate how active teachers are in research. Teachers must be lacking devotion and excellence as they are failing to publish their articles in such journals.

“The nation expects more effective and intellectual work from DU teachers,” he added.

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