Let’s stop promoting corruption in Pakistan’s universities

Published: January 4, 2013
The writer is a retired professor of physics from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

The writer is a retired professor of physics from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

Imagine the following experiment aimed at improving Karachi’s police force: suppose that policemen are offered cash prizes for every criminal they kill in a police muqabala, given public recognition and told that promotions to higher posts hinge on their kill count. The outcome can be readily anticipated: judgment, caution and conscience will go to the wind. A few bad guys might indeed die but the city’s morgues would overflow with innocents. The decent cop would be left behind, while the unscrupulous one would climb to the top. Although police terror would become ubiquitous, the city’s streets would be left no safer.

Thankfully, no such experiment has actually been performed in the police department. But in Pakistan’s higher education sector, something closely similar has been in progress since 2002-2003 under a ‘revolutionary’ policy conceived by Dr Attaur Rahman, and implemented by the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology as well as the Higher Education Commission (HEC). Pay and promotion for professors became contingent on the numbers of research papers published and the numbers of PhD and MPhil students supervised. Only the ‘kill count’ mattered. Soon it became clear that university teachers had roughly the same moral and ethical standards possessed by our policemen, politicians, generals and shopkeepers.

With no change in the quality of the actual researchers, Pakistan’s universities started to produce a bumper crop of  ‘research articles’ year after year. The HEC trumpeted its success as professors ratcheted up publications and PhD and MPhil students. This was only possible because many university teachers engaged in wholesale plagiarism, faked data and produced research that no one seems to have any use for. As academic ethics went into free fall, university administrators and the HEC turned a blind eye. The new policy — which required learning how to play the numbers game — had the effect of turning many professors into crooks and thieves.

Take the case of Dr X, a professor of biological sciences at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU), who had been caught red-handed forging the confidential external thesis evaluations of the PhD students he had been supervising. The forged evaluations were then passed off as written by scholars from Canadian and American universities. The subterfuge even included sending the fake student evaluations through Canadian postal mail via an acquaintance. Despite his admission of guilt, X was not terminated. The QAU administration simply shrugged it off. X took early retirement and moved to become dean at another university. Currently, he is vice chancellor of a university in Wah.

Dr Y followed a similar trajectory. A professor at Punjab University (PU), he became renowned for producing a research paper every couple of weeks and soon clocked up a few hundred publications. It turned out that all these articles were reproductions of papers already existing on the internet. When the scandal eventually broke, the PU did not dismiss him. Taking early retirement, Y moved on and became dean at another university. There, he spent his time putting together a book with chapters stolen from great scientists of the 20th century. Once this wholesale plagiarism was exposed, a second early retirement quickly followed. But, wonder of wonders, Y is now vice chancellor of a university in Lahore!

If these were isolated examples of academic dishonesty, they could be easily dismissed. But the cancer of corruption has metastasised and spread to almost every department of every university. Social taboos on plagiarism and fake research do not exist; while a man can easily get beaten into pulp for inadvertent minor offences, stealing the work of others excites no passions and only cursory interest.

An intrepid researcher, Dr Isa Daudpota, has documented many more cases of outright fraud than is possible for me to comment upon here. Patiently tracking down fly-by-night journals, both national and international, he finds that any  ‘research’ can be published — for a price. One professor — let us call him Dr Z — recently received the Pride of Performance Award from the Government of Pakistan. Sarcastically referred to by Daudpota as ‘Pakistan’s Euler’, he has been publishing one mathematics paper every week, year after year. A mass of evidence exists that Z is a cheat. Daudpota has demanded that the authorities investigate but his complaint will be just more water splashing off a duck’s back.

As the X, Y, Z cases indicate, the current assessment and incentive scheme is thoroughly rotten. It will surely impact upon the hundreds of fresh PhDs — many of whom have just returned from abroad — as they begin their university careers. Some are very bright, have done excellent dissertations and are not yet tainted by the sleazy practices around them. But they will be at a serious career disadvantage unless they join the rat race for fake publications and supervision of junk theses. This will be a generational loss for Pakistan.

How can this be avoided? A first step is to put an end to the nonsensical policy of paying hard cash for research papers and to stop awarding promotions and honours based upon paper count. Equally important is to discourage the mass production of PhD and MPhil degrees. Academics cannot be fairly rated or rewarded by some automatic one-size-fits-all formula. Only their peers — meaning those experts belonging to a particular field (or perhaps sub-field) — are potentially accurate judges. But in Pakistan, where the number of genuine experts in a given field is usually very small, this is not easily doable. Moreover, it is difficult to keep out considerations of ethnicity and language, religious attitudes or personal likes and dislikes. Therefore, in my opinion, it is far better not to judge rather than to judge badly.

Let us be honest about the situation of our universities and our society. We need to focus on supporting the few quality researchers that we have, especially in the younger generation, and focus graduate education on those precious few with real gifts for research. The goal should be to foster academic institutions and a culture that values scholarly achievement and the virtues of honesty, rigour, correctness, originality and cooperation.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (77)

  • ahmad
    Jan 4, 2013 - 10:18PM

    A thought provoking article as usual……


  • Nadir
    Jan 4, 2013 - 10:24PM

    Very well said, but unfortunately Dr Ata is loved by the burgeoning middle class for his authoritarian technocratic views. The HEC dishing out thousands of dollars is just fine as what people demand is not an education but a list of certificates that they can place on their CV or up their value on the rishta market.


  • amer
    Jan 4, 2013 - 10:28PM

    Dr Y is Ijaz Durrani, the VC of University of South Asia.


  • Rahim Malik
    Jan 4, 2013 - 10:42PM

    Rightly pointed so but unfortunately Now even i am pessimistic about Pakistani people And sorry to say but most of us are liars and cheaters especially our professors. Recently i was invited to a conference on Vehicular ad hoc networks ( VANETs) by IEEE and i was shocked to see my own work presented by my professor and he claimed that it is his own work and when in the past i submitted this research then he rejected it citing it as outdated work. Anyway then i left my country the land of the pure for good and now i worked in Europe where no thiefs exist like our country have in abundance.


  • sabi
    Jan 4, 2013 - 10:42PM

    What a come back! kudos and well come back.excellant article.Pls.don’t stop your jihad against hypocrites.


  • Shamsher Awan
    Jan 4, 2013 - 10:54PM

    Last paragraph where Professor Hoodbhoy mentioned that Ethnicity and Religious Bias does play a role as well in assessment is very very true. In Quaide Azam university I dont want to name my Professor but he is a Pukhtoon Nationalist or i would say he is a Racist Superamist and In my department Pukhtoons can even use printers for free and for every conference they are told first and then the rest but the worst part is that Everyone knows that He is racist and rude to Punjabi And Urdu speakers especially If you are a Hindko Speaker like most of my family members are then you are a Traitor in his eyes but we cannot do anything and especially delayed tactics in revising our papers is a norm for him. So I think it is very very true that Ethnicity does play a major role in Pakistan and it is very very sad.Recommend

  • Jan 4, 2013 - 11:03PM

    “Publish or Perish” is the mantra for university professors in the United States. Such incentives have helped push genuine research along with some junk. But the Americans have not thrown the baby out with the bath water, nor should Pakistan.

    Pakistan should implement its ambitious plan to increase its science budget to 1 and 2 per cent of annual gross domestic product spending by 2015 and 2020 respectively, from 0.6 per cent now.



  • Yoghurt lover
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:06PM

    Dear professor is worried about corruption in Universities.

    Which is perfectly right.

    But I think the country is looking in another direction and asking “if it is our war?”, “who is a gud taliban and who is bad?”…


  • unicorn
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:16PM

    It is sad that despite there are so many media channels these days we have never witnessed any single one of them debating about science and the prospect of education it’s quality in our country. Sick and tired of these political talk shows every day.

    Sir you can take the initiative in this direction.It will definitely create a big impact.


  • Arifq
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:17PM

    There is something very wrong with us Pakistanis! We cry foul at others yet have no qualms in cheating for personal gain, steal electricity not pay our bills and then burn tires if there is shortage! None of us want to take responsibility of our actions or ownership of our problems.


  • Syed Ali Raza
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:25PM

    So glad that the weekly dose of sanity for the country is back.


  • White Russian
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:38PM

    Excellent! It is heartning that PHB cannot be silenced by smear campaigns. The universities established during last decade are a huge scandal. I have seen academic departments which lack basic teaching labs, yet professors there are publishing faster than weekly columnists of this newspaper. Teaching of science in classrooms has become an obsolete practice with the disastrous results that freshly produced PhDs in Pak universities lack in basic concepts of their field, needless to mention the “research” they are publishing in phony journals. For a researcher of decent quality it is mandatory that she reads at least 50/100 journal articles in her field every month, yet there are universities which do no spend a single penny on the subscription of reputable journals in any field. I have no idea how the so called researchers in these universities keep with the research communities outside Pak. The research projects run with HEC money are at best paper exercises, and I have seen upto 8 million being spent without having a single experiment conducted in three years, while annual reports with fake data were approved through phony peer reviews. Even the honest and talented young researchers are forced into corrupt practices by corrupt and semi-literate administrations of universities. Vice Chancellors of some universities force young teachers to bring money from HEC just to be kept in PLS accounts by corrupt treasurers to earn hefty interests, while foolish researchers are stuck in red tap to utilize their own research money, and end up writing fake journal articles in order to survive.


  • Falcon
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:55PM

    A very informative article. However, I think it would have been even better if the writer had proposed some solutions. This is a known challenge in management science of using key performance indicators that any quantitative goal seeking distorts the system by skewing incentive structure. The solution is usually not to give up on quantitative measurement but to fine-tune it by expanding the metric base to cover multiple dimensions.


  • Halal Pork
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:58PM

    @Riaz Haq: Seriously dude, you still publish your idiotic blog?


  • Noor Nabi
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:14AM

    Welcome back O learned sage. Your columns were sorely missed. Please keep writing.

    Insofar as the examples of bogus research and plagiarism that you have cited there is pretty little that can be done to save a people who are committed to betraying themselves. The ills of this practice pervade every segment of Pakistani society.


  • Abid Masood
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:14AM

    Thanks very much Dr Hoodbhoy for writing this great piece. You have very rightly diagnosed the issues ailing our higher education. People at the helm of affairs must act to stop the malpractices in our universities.


  • Janjua
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:18AM

    @ Shamsher Awan. This is a big problem amongst them. Always has been. They love themselves too much. And they’ve never really contributed that much to the world. Lets be honest.


  • indian1
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:37AM

    y doesn’t hoodhbhoy settle in india we need him here


  • Bewildered
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:39AM

    Plagiarism is certainly immoral activity, but at least it is better than doing nothing at all. You can learn at least some new ideas in the process, and who knows, someday you produce your own.


  • Fahad R. Golra
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:59AM

    Goods and bads go together. No policy on earth can be absolutely right. Considering the outcomes of the policy, I am afraid, I have to say that HEC did a marvelous job of pushing the research culture and spreading its awareness to common people. But policies need to be updated with time and that is what is required right now. Our young researchers are coming back to serve their nation, and as Dr. Hoodbhoy said, lets not corrupt their minds with these evil practices. HEC seriously needs to take some corrective actions in order to meet the expectations they have created with their outstanding results.


  • Uza Syed
    Jan 5, 2013 - 1:13AM


  • zubair
    Jan 5, 2013 - 1:15AM

    The solution proposed here is to stop awarding promotions and honours based upon paper count. However, all over the world the promotion criteria for university professors includes research publications. So the logical solution is to implement strict anti-plagiarism practices through HEC. By the way, HEC has already implemented a sufficiently strict plagiarism policy. We cannot blame the whole department just for the doings some old professors of pre-HEC generation (like PH). I hope that our new graduates and fresh faculty are well aware of quality issues.

    Read details about HEC Plagiarism Policy here :http://www.hec.gov.pk/InsideHEC/Divisions/QALI/QADivision/Pages/Plagiarism.aspx


  • Iffat
    Jan 5, 2013 - 1:21AM

    well written, in our country policies are for the benefit of individuals not for improving the quality of services, educational development. Always very ambitious in imposing policies without considering contextual realities. One can not produce research papers without teaching/working honestly, developing one real research work requires sufficient time, resources and work experience ( at least 2-3 years). it is amazing and I know number of people who producing more then one research papers within a year just to get promotion/job. the situation is more alarming in Social Science particularly in education ( check record number of PHDs & Mphils per year).


  • John B
    Jan 5, 2013 - 1:35AM

    @Riaz Haq:
    Yes, but it is merely a catch phrase and not the practice. In a typical university in the US, the faculty peers select, appoint, and give promotions/tenure and not the university board. Salary is based on performance and performance is judged by competitive outside funding and success of obtaining funding depends on quality of research reviewed by peers selected nationally and every accusation of plagiarism is seriously investigated by the university faculty peers and not by the administrative board.

    Tenure in a university is no guarantee for life long appointment and it is not the quantity but the quality of the seminal work that brings in funding is judged. In the US, Nobel prize winning does not guarantee a continued funding for that professor for his work. His work is equally judged among other competitive applications in all fairness. Only less than 3% of research applications received by NIH in every funding cycle is funded based on peer reviewed scoring and is highly competitive. Couple of my Nobelist friends are yet to receive NIH funding even after 9 years and they are functioning in endowment funding.

    The university research funding in the US is very different from what is being practiced in Europe and you can not justify PAK situation that any crap /plagiarized publication is good enough to be a yard stick.

    Any researcher knows that it takes at least three years for an original research to be drafted for publication and a well functioning research laboratory with adequate graduate students can only publish one or two papers in a year.


  • Jabbar
    Jan 5, 2013 - 1:38AM

    But I think the situation has totally changed. Now everybody has to follow the guideline given by HEC. According to them only those papers that are published in SSCI/ISI-Web of knowledge will be considered as international publications. And we all know that journals that are listed in SSCI/SCI are considered prestigious journals across the world. Getting published in these journals are not a joke, which needs lot energy and true contrition. Therefore, in my view, HB’s view is outdated.


  • Rao Amjad Ali
    Jan 5, 2013 - 1:51AM

    Thanks for the revelations, the frame for which had already been created by the “peerless” scientists of great prominence in Pakistan, who insisted until the very last drop that dried-up in it that we at last had an epic invention on our hands, the Water Kit!

    As for the mushrooming of the shady private universities and their unfortunate postgraduate degree holders, in a less tolerant society, the likes of Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman, who hung with the coattails of a defunct army general long enough as if to defy the law of gravity, did the institutions of this country untold harm and would have been in a “dumpster” a long time ago for squandering billions of rupees on blindly setting up fly-by-night PhD producing assembly lines.

    Such a callous joke could only have been played with the nations most strategic development program under a dictator, Gen. Musharraf and the good Doctor arrived at the crossroads of history in tandem and we will pay for their combined sins against the spread of literacy in Pakistan for many years to come – anyone remember what happened to Musharraf’s Medressah Conversion hoax?

    Shocking that policy framers at the time did not take time to study Pakistan’s educational value chain at both the national and sub-national levels, instead with criminal neglect they went on to create an inverted educational pyramid.

    Pakistan needs trained school teachers, a critical thinking based national curriculum, and technology that will launch our students into the 21st century. That’s the kind of painstaking work that is needed to be put into place at the elementary, middle and high school level before we can think of creating a serious, if not ambitious, university level programs which will meet international standards of accreditation. Doing quality education anywhere in the world takes time, Pakistan is no exception!


  • Student@LUMS
    Jan 5, 2013 - 1:55AM

    Every one can write about problems but no one can raise voice against this system. Pervez Hoodbhoy was part of LUMS where most of the instructors (except very few) have never taught with their own views, resources, problems, solutions or case studies. They make slides, class handouts and exams by ruthlessly copying or plagiarizing the resources of other universities. Sometimes, they even forget to change the name and date of original past paper. It is certainly a disappointed situation but hopefully it is corrected in the near future.


  • Obaid
    Jan 5, 2013 - 2:09AM

    Rewards and promotions based on number of publications is not a flawed criterion. This practice is being used in very reputable universities around the world. What needs to be monitored is quality of the journals published in.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jan 5, 2013 - 2:13AM

    This is the reason our “Naliaq” doctors and engineers cannot get jobs in their fields and choose to drive cabs in Canada and America.


  • Mirza
    Jan 5, 2013 - 2:23AM

    A very thought provoking and pragmatic Op Ed by a famous scholar, thanks ET for that. The last para summarizes the solution to the problem. We can continue to waste our precious resources on few elite or pay attention on basic education. Once the foundation is sound the building would be safe and sound. Primary education includes building of character as well. There is more emphasis on degree a piece of paper but not knowledge. It is not surprising that most of the world does not recognize our degrees. The need is not to waste huge foreign exchange on boarding and lodging of few elites but to spend the same money on many many poor students for basic education.


  • Dr Khalid Butt
    Jan 5, 2013 - 2:33AM

    Dr.Adil Najim VC LUMS-Lahore has recreantly made public the performance of Pervez Hoodbhoy (PH) during his 24 month stay. It’s worth reading this 360 degree evaluation report. http://lums.edu.pk/sse/physics/content/faculty-erph
    In this country only LUMS showed the courage… and ousted one famous professor on same charges, which author mentioned in his article


  • imran bhatt
    Jan 5, 2013 - 3:49AM

    Very true sir. An intelligent leader can do wonders even when he/she has mediocre workforce. But you have failures after failures when you have a mediocre at the helm.


  • Tch tch
    Jan 5, 2013 - 4:47AM

    @Dr Khalid Butt:
    The link isnt working, alternative?


  • Jan 5, 2013 - 5:56AM

    @Joh B:

    It’s not just the United States (or Pakistan) where research quality sometimes suffers from pressure to publish . The UK has the same problem as well as detailed by The Guardian newspaper: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/sep/05/publish-perish-peer-review-science


  • jugnoo
    Jan 5, 2013 - 6:21AM

    I agree with HB re the dismal standard of most of the scientists in Pak. I had first-hand experiance of a scientific place where all the incompetent scientists from lahore or the ones who had connections were favoured. Even now have a look at all the heads of departments, directors and chairmen of various scientific bodies. In pak, Heads and directors put pressure on all scientists to include their names in publications even if the subject is completely different to their own.Nepotism and corruption is rife in science in Pak. You just have to look at the scietific records of past and present VCs, chairmen, heads of PARC, PCSIR, Universities etc etc. I remember, one American professor after looking at all posters in an international conferance in pak came to me and asked who is this genius whose name is in every poster ranging from physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and agriculture. I replied he is the Director.


  • mes
    Jan 5, 2013 - 9:25AM

    every one knew this would be the outcome, many patriotic people -are already high on delusions- started claiming that their country now is among the highest publisher of research papers, but the informed and the knowledgeable raised the question about the quality of those published papers and the research done before publishing it.

    if the quality of the education and the professors is investigated properly, none of the Pakistan’s universities will be among the top 500 universities of the world, but then again, this is Pakistan, if a metallurgical engineer can become a nuclear scientist and father of nuclear bomb, i don’t expect any thing different form other the people here.Recommend

  • Jan 5, 2013 - 9:57AM

    In peshawar university the faculty of Arts have many who have personal likes and dislikes and using the student assigned theses in their article, even one in history department have punished his student on the charge of English translation for his required Phd theses, also an other student at the same department were punished by one who was lecturer in his wife college and his wife do not want to be more qualified than her.but no one can asked these monopolist?


  • Asma Humayun
    Jan 5, 2013 - 11:27AM

    Thank you for highlighting the corruption in higher education. The situation is equally abysmal in our medical institutions. The research culture is non-existent. Most research is undertaken for two kinds ‘requirements’. First, a research dissertation for the fellowship of College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSP) which enables a doctor to apply for a teaching position. Second, for promotions of the teaching faculty in the respective federal or provincial health departments. Unfortunately, corruption is widespread for both kinds of research activity. Four months back, a fellow of CPSP advertised his charged services to help with FCPS
    Dissertation (~Rs 5000 for synopsis and Rs 25,000 for the dissertation). This matter was reported to the Dean of the respective faculty who was ‘deeply shocked’ and reported the matter to the President of CPSP. To my knowledge, no further action was taken. Our healthcare system lacks accountability for unethical practices both in clinical work and training/research and there is complete apathy to address it.


  • Ah_ho Zaree
    Jan 5, 2013 - 11:53AM

    Here Hoodbhoy is making sense. Many a doctorate is awarded on such theses which are based on reinventing the wheel or rediscovering forgotten discoveries, and the culprits are rarely discovered. Even if they are, they are let off without due punishment. PU and QAU are not the only erring universities. There are others too, even in largest metropolitan areas. When teachers who are supposed to be models of integrity become corrupt, then how can the nation produce honest leadership?


  • Osman
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:50PM

    @Dr Khalid Butt:
    The link does not open past the physics/faculty page.
    Kindly paste the article or guide me how to access it past the “Faculty” page.


  • Osman
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:55PM

    Dr Hoodbhoy does not enjoy much of a reputation amongst his peers. Many claim that he has not produced a single PhD in his 40+ years educational career in Pakistan.
    Others say that he has not contributed positively to the development of physics in the country.
    While his comments about plagiarised research are very true, but teh system of promoting research through publications is not inappropriate.
    It is the pseudo-scientists of Pakistan, who have misused the system for their own growth and benefit. But it is the same all over the country.


  • Malik Butta
    Jan 5, 2013 - 2:12PM


    Are your serious? The fundamentals of ethics seem to have escaped you. If your logic were true then every misdeed could be justified in light of a possible good in the future. How about killing someone to dissect him or her so that you can become a good surgeon some day?


  • pk
    Jan 5, 2013 - 2:26PM

    I hope somebody looks at the condition of a university in KHI which is being run in shabby condition. Its main facility in ISB is completely a different picture. This entity earns out of KHI based facility and doesn’t spend a dime over its maintenance or expansion only due to ethnocentric or provincialism biased mentality. I hope HEC contributes towards intellectually in improving the condition of KHI campus. Its close to national stadium. A 500 capacity infrastructure building facility houses staggering more then 3000 students. I feel sorry for this faculty. So raise the standard via eradicating corruption in faculties.


  • Saleem
    Jan 5, 2013 - 3:10PM

    It is very easy to point out issues but quite difficult to give a solution. In your long tirade you went into minute detail of the issue however a learned person is required to provide a solution as well. Otherwise its just a barber shop talk. The shop is full of current affairs experts and if you ask … “okay , how do we solve the current problems and whats the way forward”. The unanimous response is ‘hang the top layer of the society , all of them are crooks” !!!
    You did not address any solution to basic question of “how to judge the performance of universities and the professors year on year” ??? The appraisal systems are flawed in US , the university ranking systems in UK have been criticized many times on ways about how ‘the system can be played’ however an objective SYSTEM is better than no system. People will learn to play by the system and it can be adjusted accordingly but advocating no system is just a barber shop solution.


  • Shahid Pirzada
    Jan 5, 2013 - 3:18PM

    Giving incentives to professors contingent on the numbers of research papers published and the numbers of PhD students supervised is not a bad idea. If this is being misused in Pakistan (like almost any other program or incentive), then there is a need to add checks and balances in this program. For example several constraints could be added to keep the quality of publications. One such constraint could be relating publications to only specific reputed journals in the world for each field. Reputed journals have quite strict review policy. Pakistan is really lacking research work which is the key for the development. Every penny spent for scientific research will pay back. Giving incentives to professors and researchers for their research publications and patents is not a bad idea. Just need to fix its misuse.


  • Jan 5, 2013 - 3:55PM

    completely agree with it .. i have seen the worst form of corruption at my university


  • Haris
    Jan 5, 2013 - 3:57PM

    I second Shahid Pirzada, Many renowned research labs and universities incentivise publications. This is not in itself problematic as Hoodboy is making it out to be. A simple way to ensure quality is make a list of high quality conferences and journals for each field and only credit researchers for publications in those venues.


  • Baba Ji
    Jan 5, 2013 - 5:11PM

    Pakistan Zindabaad !!!


  • imran rashid
    Jan 5, 2013 - 6:59PM

    Nice article that points out the attitude of researchers in Pakistan. For the stake of promotion, they are becoming cheaters. In my view these so called researchers were already cheaters, what ever the system in Pakistan, the cheaters find their way. Mr Atta has done an excellent job to promote the research culture but it is sustainable by honest researchers. Unfortunately the author just criticised the system but he does not know the solution or there is no solution when there is prevailed cheating behaviour.


  • Ayesha
    Jan 5, 2013 - 7:50PM

    Excellent article! Time to replace Dr Sohail Naqvi, ED of HEC who has been serving since 2002.Recommend

  • Eddie the Eagle
    Jan 5, 2013 - 7:59PM

    “A simple way to ensure quality is make a list of high quality conferences and journals for each field and only credit researchers for publications in those venues.”

    Perhaps, but who are to judge which journals are good enough? There are some pretty solid IEEE journals for example, in which most papers are of good quality, but which also accept quite a few junk papers. But I don’t know the extent of plagiarism in Pakistani universities. Is it really that bad? Obviously no real scientific journal will accept pure plagiarism. Articles in non-recognized journals should obviously not count.

    If such a strong meritocratic system is needed (western countries do not use it, so it is not needed if society is sufficiently egalitarian) then I think you need to use a whip in addition to the carrot. There must be a TRANSPARENT system for reporting plagiarism, involving the worldwide research community. Any professor involved in plagiarism must be sacked, and any student involved in plagiarism must be kicked out of school and banned from higher education. Obviously, there must exist SAFE channels for whistleblowing.


  • Bewildered
    Jan 5, 2013 - 8:47PM

    @Malik Butta:

    “If your logic were true then every misdeed could be justified in light of a possible good in the future.”

    If you reread my comment, I myself called plagiarism immoral. However, we should not forget what Japanese were famous for in the past, and what Chinese are, or were, known for more recently.


  • Bewildered
    Jan 5, 2013 - 8:48PM

    @Malik Butta:

    “If your logic were true then every misdeed could be justified in light of a possible good in the future.”

    If you reread my comment, I myself called plagiarism immoral. However, we should not forget what Japanese were famous for in the past, and what Chinese are, or were, known for more recently.


  • Jan 5, 2013 - 11:02PM

    As I write I probably write for most of the fresh PhDs. I have completed PhD in end 2011 and have been serving in a University for about 1 year now. First of all I totally agree with the problem bit of the article, however there is no concrete solution recommended. I believe that similar to many developed countries the promotion/benefits/salary should be based on the number of citations of your work not just the quantity of work that you publish. Also self citation should be completely banned. A good way to measure it could be by the “H-Index”. Promotions should be given on better H index rating and not on the basis of number of publications. Like if some one has published a very good article every year it will be cited more and his H index will go up, meaning he can have a raise in pay etc. But If someone is publishing garbage, then no one is citing his work and his H index is not increasing so there should be no benefits. Thank you for reading!


  • Tribal Mento
    Jan 6, 2013 - 3:53AM

    Excellent Sir! Every time you write, you write your heart out. you are always out on a limb in the land of the pure. After reading your this article, I’m feeling sorry for the good doctor who always toot his own horn in every article he writes.


  • jugnoo
    Jan 6, 2013 - 4:05AM

    I did MSc from a Pak Uni whose Chairman always employed incompetent people.Recommend

  • Chulbul Pandey
    Jan 6, 2013 - 9:35AM

    Plagiarism is certainly immoral activity, but at least it is better than doing nothing at all. You can learn at least some new ideas in the process, and who knows, someday you produce your own.
    You mean like water car? Come on now. What happened to one of the basic things we learn in schools and our society – “Stealing is bad”?


  • khazima
    Jan 6, 2013 - 10:11AM

    t is a very thought provoking article and precisely hints at the so called research culture prevalent in Pakistani universities. It is a high time that we should address this issue and strive for building of an environment which encourages the growth of scholarly bent of mind. In this way we can come up with system of education where research means contribution to knowledge, solution to problems and value to humanity in its true essence.


  • Rustam
    Jan 6, 2013 - 1:17PM

    Some people come out with the argument that PH himself has not published much or hasnt churned out PhDs himself. His contribution to Physics in the country is rather much larger than that. He has been an excellent teacher over the last three decades or so. And hi strength is making some of the most difficult themes in physics look simple and approachable. This is no mean feat and much more important than having a high impact factor which is just a number.


  • Rustam
    Jan 6, 2013 - 1:20PM

    @Dr Khalid Butt:
    While its (LUMS) continuing to have some very average faculty members. That’s some feat. May be some people dont work for making their ‘evaluations’ look nice.


  • Abid P. Khan
    Jan 6, 2013 - 10:07PM

    “…Many claim that he has not produced a single PhD in his 40+ years educational career in Pakistan.
    Others say that he has not contributed positively to the development of physics in the country….”

    Instead of quoting others’ opinions, it would be more honest, if you read some material on PH then form your opinion. Not the best but Wikipedia can be a good source to start with.


  • Dr. Ishfaq Khan
    Jan 6, 2013 - 11:39PM

    I think in all over the world the research work quality is judged by the peers i.e. through publications in that field. Now it is the duty of the state/university or selection committee to identify if the researcher is stealing the other’s research or its genuine (his own)…e.g. if a person is caught in plagiarism then he should be punished and there must be laws in Pakistan…the person must be demoted or fined…e.g. German defence minister a year ago dropped his Dr. title just on account of some plagiarism accusations. So, my point is very simple: the promotion methodology adopted by HEC is correct up to some extent, so if Dr. Hood bhai has better ideas for promotions in universities then he must write and give suggestion to universities directly or indirectly through news papers etc. Infact this is the old habit of Dr. Hood bhai to criticize HEC’s policies without giving any good suggestions for its remedial measures. Thanks.. Sorry to those who don’t agree.


  • anticorruption
    Jan 7, 2013 - 1:40AM

    Plagiarism and senior professors forcing junior faculty to include their name on their publications is a serious problem in Pakistan. The writer is also correct in pointing out that a system that only counts the number of papers is bound to produce corruption. The HEC policy of awarding cash for every publication or supervision of a phd therefore needs to be revisited.

    There should be cash awards and incentives for good quality papers but not for every single publication. Likewise, there can be awards for the supervision of good quality phds but dishing out money for every single student only creates a perverse incentive. Good quality here can be determined by things like the number of citations by papers in top impact factor journals for instance. This way, professors will have an incentive for focusing on quality rather than raw quantity. Also, to assess someone’s overall quality of work, something like the h-index is a better indicator than the raw number of papers or citations (though of course, all such indicators do have their limitations and should be used wisely).

    Some commentators above have argued that even the worlds top universities evaluate a professors worth based on the amount of research. This is true but the evaluation is done by established peers on the basis of the quality of research and not just on raw numbers. Moreover, there is no cash for every paper or graduate student. As a result, when a graduate student asks a faculty member to supervise their phd, the professor does not see the student merely as having a cash value as is currently the case in Pakistan. Instead, the Professor generally regards it as an opportunity to get a helping hand in his research and mentor someone in the process. Most awards are given on the basis of specific papers that are recognized to be major contributions to the field or the overall service by a researcher over an extended period of time. Of course, no system works perfectly, and there can be reasoned critiques of the publish or perish system too, but what has been introduced in Pakistan is a badly distorted version of the system at the top universities in the world.


  • jugno
    Jan 7, 2013 - 3:17AM

    @Dr Khalid Butt
    He teaches theoretical physics at MIT (the 2nd best Uni in the world), therefore LUMS report is not valid.


  • AH
    Jan 7, 2013 - 7:54AM

    @ Abid P Khan
    listen to what is being said rather than who is saying it!Recommend

  • Abid P. Khan
    Jan 7, 2013 - 2:23PM

    “@ Abid P Khan
    listen to what is being said rather than who is saying it!”

    That’s why, what you say has to be ignored.


  • salaar
    Jan 8, 2013 - 5:25AM

    Nowadays, it is quite easy to catch ‘plagiarism’ as there are many tools available which on a single click of computer can confirm how much part of the paper is plagiarized. I’m aware such tools are being used in Pakistani universities as well.

    Coming to the argument about getting published, these conferences and journals are actually being rated as well based upon different factors and what HEC can do is to encourage scholars and professors to aim for high ranking conferences and journals which have robust process for acceptance. In this way not only the ranking of institutions will improve but also the credibility of the authors.

    Getting published is highly encouraged in universities all over the world!


  • Jan 9, 2013 - 10:24AM

    Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy is making sense here. The HEC is playing the number game for too many years. It is better to disband it. The HEC can very well make out what should be done if it wants to correct itself. We need to spend more on basic education rather than producing so called MS and Phd on a phenomenal rate. The people are being awarded Phd and MS on projects of MBBS and philosophy. I have personal experience of favorism/disliking in a NUST institution. I have to leave my MS partially because of unfair grading. Others I will not identify. I wonder at the standard of Phds that institute is producing. The number of publications should not be a metric. Rather it should be the original research. People usually have one area and they publish essentially the same thing with false claims by twisting the title and some data. There is no methodology for checking the claims which are made in projects/theses. The demonstration phase is virtually non existent. Now HEC has linked the ranking of the institutes to the publications. Faculty is being asked to produce papers rather than about instructional duties. The primary aim of the institutes should be to produce good quality graduates that should be acceptable and useful in industry. I was shocked to learn about Pakistan’s Euler. HEC will never admit its fault. I personally know of one Army man whose honesty was questioned by a student for unfair grading by forging the result. He is now heading the Engineering Department in Wah. Pakistan and its education system needs a revolution not the number game. God save Pakistan.


  • Umar Suleman
    Jan 9, 2013 - 10:34AM

    How about, as a first step, putting an end to the nonsensical policy of paying hard cash for writing (nation bashing) articles in newspapers which look like nation building articles at the first glance. It seems to me that the number game takes its toll on everybody, including the author. The pressure of staying at the ‘top’ requires masala (bashing et al) and frequency (regular contributor). What worth would an author (in terms of hard cash) be if he had as convincing a solution as his/her diagnosis. For it will have no masala, no life-long repititions.

    It’s a well written article. For that I thank you sir. But solution? Anybody?


  • Jan 9, 2013 - 10:57AM

    @Rahim Malik: No Academic theft exists in Europe? First, you are living far away from reality which is filled with self-loathing, and second you are definitely not living in an English speaking country (based on your above post).


  • Saleem Khan
    Jan 9, 2013 - 2:31PM

    Glad to see you back after a long time. Welcome and please keep writing the best. Thank you.


  • sara
    Jan 10, 2013 - 12:26AM

    @Rahim Malik:

    Dr Kashif ur rehman..from iqra university has also done the same thing with me and he is the Dr Z..om above mentioned case,, This is the ethics of our so call professors.. I have also left the country because of this unethical acts and curruption in institutions.


  • jugno
    Jan 10, 2013 - 3:25AM

    From jamiet-e-Talba.


  • Patriot Pakistani
    Jan 10, 2013 - 9:56PM

    Pervaiz Hoodbhoy is an honest hardworking physicist and educationist of Pakistan.He is not recognised in government circles for 2 reasons-honesty and integrity and belonging to Sindh.Same has happened to many Sindhi’s and is still happening as we are told we are not a Marshal race.Ata ur Rehman is a ladla of establishment and illiterate ministers from the majority province.PHB has singularly voiced concerns about Nuclear weapons of Pakistan and it is burgeoning spends on armed forces.We all know that countries do not prosper and progress with having large armies but they do when they have got large contingent of honest, hardworking and qualified teacher that is why the saying that pen is mightier than sword.PHB is the only Professor who has consistently refused official awards from micro brained ministers.He is an intellect with integrity and he is a misfit in the land of pure.For God sake we must listen what he is telling us before we sink too low in the quagmire of illiteracy and despondency.We donot want Engineers who cannot build,teachers who cannot teach,accountants who cannot count,bankers who cannot calculate and doctors who cannot diagnose and treat correctly.PHB’s might be a last call to wake up otherwise be damned.


  • Qayum Mangi
    Jan 10, 2013 - 10:56PM

    I fully endorse the contention extended by Dr HB. Now adays university and college professors prefer to get pension during service thats why corruption in education sector has reached top and even surpassed the other most corrupt sectors of society. We need a inclement operation of this vital and indispensable sector otherwise within few years our society would crumble. The so called HEC has cruely plundered the wealth of Nation and blatantly violated the quota for smaller provinces under the pretext of MERIT. The present government and their policy of concialiation is unable to redress their policy of murdering quota. Is their any athority who can check malpractise in education sector.


  • Majboor
    Jan 12, 2013 - 7:04PM

    Totally agree with Dr.Houdbhoy. From a year and a half of teaching in a public university i am baffled by the rates of publications and research that my colleagues have managed to produce. obviously, over time i would lag behind from most of them who were appointed along me, as most of them with in this short period have published 2-5 research papers in ‘international’ journals. these so called international journals- are internet based shoddy journals who would charge up to 100- 200 USD per publication and ridiculously this amount is paid from the university exchequer.
    This has to stop. and most of these snotty PHD’s hardly know the basics of their so called field of expertise.


  • KHAN
    Jan 12, 2013 - 10:05PM

    As an engineering student, I failed a basic PHYSICS course 5 times at the hands of the same professor who didnt like me, no joke, he didnt like me for I didnt come to class on time in my first semester! Who is responsible for that? Who is responsible for the extra two semesters I had to take just because of that one subject? Who is responsible for the time that got wasted there? Coming from a middle class family, money is a problem, who is responsible for the money I had to pay over and over again? This is not just me, many students faced similar problems at the university I was in Islamabad! This is a crime and the professor should be charged for that! However, when I raised my voice against it I was relegated, and sent into an evening session degree LOL Recommend

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