HEC needs to review its policy related to publication in international journals

Higher education system (HEC) in Pakistan requires comprehensive modification to make sure the production of authentic research for publication in national and international journals.

HEC needs to review its policy related to publication in international journalsHowever, Pakistani academics face both procedural as well as substantive challenges with regard for conducting and publishing research.

HEC has a list of ‘recognized journals’ for publishing research papers for faculty promotions and awards of other financial and non-financial rewards. The list is divided into international journals and local journals. Among all international journals, only those journals are recognized by the HEC that have an impact factor and are included in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) of Clarivate Analytics, also called Web of Science Group”.

Generally it is relatively easy to publish papers in these journals when it comes to natural sciences as they have had well established and mature journals over the centuries. However, it is relatively very difficult to publish impact factor journals in other disciplines such as Social Sciences; especially in a large quantity to meet the requirements of HEC. For example, in order for a promotion from an assistant to associate professor, the HEC requires a publication of at least 10 papers in aforementioned international journals over the span of five years. Publishing in these journals is not only competitive but equally time consuming due to rigorous peer review processes and high chances of rejection.

Renowned Pakistani academic and political analyst Dr. Ejaz Hussain explained that “the submission and publication fee, for many international journals creates further problems for Pakistani scholars; these fees are mostly equivalent to the one month salary of a Pakistani lecturer, which is mostly paid from their own pocket. In addition, publishing papers based on Pakistani data is really difficult in these journals as Pakistani universities do not have access to international databases such as World Scope, Compustat and DataStream etc. Time and again, faculty members from all over Pakistan have raised concerns over the HEC policy that recognizes the indexation of only a single agency  the ISI Master list of Thomas Reuters”.

Dr. Ejaz Hussain proposed some reforms to the HEC. He advised to put a permanent end to discrimination of International Journals of Social Sciences, the Commission must adopt the following three categories: one, SSCI journals (based on, but not limited to, Web of Science); two, ESCI and non-ESCI list that consists of indices and publishers based, for example, in Singapore , i.e. World Scientific, and/or China since the number of Pakistani scholars and students who are publishing in Chinese journals is increasing.

He further suggests that the “Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index (CSSCI) can also be adopted. Our national journals must be pushed to get indexed accordingly. Such a policy, if implemented in letter and spirit, would put an end to proliferation of third-rate local journals with their poor content. It would also provide equal opportunities to researchers from across the disciplines. Lastly, articles published in impact factor journals (SSCI/SCI) be counted accordingly while making appointments/promotions. It is hoped that the HEC chairman, who has a social sciences background, not only feels our sentiments but also addresses the problem on a priority basis”.

The HEC is expected to look into suggestions being offered by the academics to ensure meritocracy, development and production of international standard research in the field of social science.