By Ashfaq Ahmad Shah
Current Covid-19 Pandemic has placed the whole humanity in chaos and confusion. Recently the second wave forced the administrations to impose lockdown again to contain the spread of virus. The shutdown of educational institutions due to this pandemic has adversely impacted the entire education system of India. Closure of higher educational institutions because of that has wreaked havoc on the process of Research. It has displaced the academic researchers from their work. Research scholars had bound to leave their institutional campus and adopt the work from home method. Due to this, researchers are facing different type of personal and academic challenges and it seems that their research and the whole Ph.D. degrees are stuck midway. Research is very crucial for the development of a society. In India more than 40,813 students were awarded Ph. D degree in the year 2018 (All India Survey on Higher Education). There is a need to highlight the challenges and issues faced by the research scholars amid the pandemic. Some serious issues and problems faced by them are-
Lack of communication with research guide and other expertise:
Frequent interaction with guides and subject expert is very much necessary while conducting research. But due to this pandemic, researchers are unable to reach their guide for asking doubts or for seeking guidance. Although they can contact phone or by email but face to face interaction, discussion is of utmost necessity.
Problem of data collection:
Data collection is an important process of research where relevant information is gathered from various sources. Due to lockdown researchers are unable to visit their targeted places or fields for collecting data. Difficulties in going to the field have disrupted scholar’s research. Although some of the researchers relying on online data collection such as conducting online interview or sending questionnaire by email, but the response rate is very low.
The most crucial problem faced by the researchers is the irregularity and uncertainty about receiving financial assistance for supporting their research work. Fellowships are not disbursing on time due to which researchers are facing financial crisis which adversely affected their academic work as well as mental health. Suspension of their work as well as lack of proper funding due to lockdown is a major concern among the researchers about completing their research projects or Ph.D. programs.
Lack of appropriate environment:
A research environment is very much necessary for research productivity. It includes communication among colleagues, frequent interaction with guide, adequate resources like people, library, internet facilities, access to different type of journals, etc. But due to the pandemic researchers have now leaved for their home therefore they are unable to avail all these facilities. Those who are from very remote areas where internet connectivity is not smooth are facing a lot of problems in progressing their research work because they are unable to access different online resources and are also becoming isolated from the academic world.
Mental health problems:
Isolation from the co-researchers and guide, lack of adequate environment for work, financial crisis, uncertainty about future, less productivity etc. creates a lot of stress and anxiety among the researchers. Delay of work as well as overwhelmed work burden etc. creates frustration and sadness among the researchers which negatively impacts their research work as well as their overall mental health. Most of research scholars are on antidepressants to maintain their mental health.
Delay in jobs:
Due to lock down many universities have to postpone Ph.D. viva or Ph.D. defense of research scholars. Although some of the universities organized these in online mode but most of the universities are unable to organize these due to lack of resources or for some other issues. Thus, it creates delay in getting the degree of the researcher which in turn affected getting a job on time.
Apart from the issues faced by researchers due to Covid-19, there have some positive impact of Covid-19 too. During the time of lockdown many researchers contributed their time in writing research articles of their previous work, attending webinars and online conferences etc. but working online only do not qualify them for degrees.
Ashfaq Ahmad Shah, Research scholar Microbiology, Graphic Era University, clement town Dehradun, UK, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org