IV Contd: Replicative Research; Discrimination and Assimilation ; What has to be done

Home | Indexing | About us | Why Mens Sana? | Conceptual Foundations of MSM | Contact Us



Replicative Research:

Having said this, however, let some points be clarified. Replicative research, though lacking originality, is a legitimate part of scientific research all over the world. In Science, as elsewhere, one of the major  problems to contain is an unbridled search for newer entities in research. Most creative energies are siphoned off in tracing out only that which can become trend - setting. In this, hypotheses that appear novel and likely to radically change perspectives are eagerly put forward, and as eagerly imbibed. Scientific progress no doubt does involve the production of certain false leads : this is a professional hazard of being a scientist, as well as a legitimate fall out of the branch itself. But most scientific researchers have to beware that not more than the bare minimum of creative energies are utilised in such vain pursuits. At the same time, most researchers are seized of the need to replicate an experiment and verify the results of the original research team. This is precisely because reaffirmation or denial, or any further subtle nuances of a process studied, are laid bare only by these means. They are also the means of refining methodological errors in the original experimenter, which is another major scientific exercise that leads to its progress. Further, to prove that a certain phenomenon is universal, it needs to be studied at different centres and at different times. This is the crux of scientific research and its constant concern - the search for universal phenomena eschewing personal idiosyncrasy, subjectivity, demagogy or blind faith. This is what has lead to the rationale for collaborative research centres or projects at different places the world over, with one of which one of us was associated for some time.

To be sure, one would expect the lead in most such projects to come from the developed part of our globe. This is a reality none can deny. But this need not take away the credit from corroborative research done elsewhere. Though greater finesse and expertise may help bring larger number of leads in scientific research from elsewhere, it is in their confirmation and their universal relevance, or denial, that centres in the developing countries can help. And let us not forget that often corroboration is the bedrock on which many a fancied scientific hypothesis or theory stands, or falls. It is only when replication is attempted that most scientific hypotheses or theories, or even proofs, stand the test of objectivity, and therefore remain acceptable, or get discarded.

Discrimination and Assimilation

What we therefore need to condemn is not replicative research as such. (And we can use the words duplicative and replicative synonymously here, for sans its pejorative connotation, what is duplicative work if not replicative?). It has its legitimate place. What we need to condemn is a blind duplication, and a total involvement purely with this type of work. This can be a manifestation of servility that the Indian psyche has to rid itself of. In a country where for everything innovative, superior or trend-setting, the people have learnt to look to the West, is it any surprise that the scientist isn’t any different ? This is a pity, true, but it is a fact as well, a fact that cannot be wished away by chanting pious patriotic slogans. The war, if at all, has to be fought at a totally different level. For this, firstly, we will have to develop the power of discrimination which must guide every assimilation. As of today, the order is reversed. It is senseless assimilation that has dulled any discriminatory capacities. Reversing this trend would mean reversing the colonial mentality, wiping out our historical blemishes, disciplining a whole mass of people. It must ultimately involve giving up on our ‘underdeveloped’ status as a nation. When so put, we immediately realise the enormity of the task. After all, the quality of the scientific work, as of any work, cannot but be directly proportional to the calibre of the collective cerebral pool of a society. And its social values, its collective priorities, and particularly, the personality strengths of its stalwarts and its torchbearers.

What has to be done

Once we realise this, we can see that just blaming or pointing out what ails Indian Science is not adequate at all. What will have to be done is to adopt concrete steps to achieve and reward academic excellence and originality, to encourage genuine research potential and further commitment to fundamental research. For this of course a firm grounding in scientific methodology and temper is a must, and that too from the very beginning of education. But also equally important is a truly professional commitment of a dedicated band of researchers who have the backing of an enlightened bureaucracy. In this, therefore, research amateurishness is out, as is maybe the inability in today’s setup to make a comfortable living as a researcher. Along side this is involved the need to remodel educational policies to further the creative potential as opposed to rote learning, to encourage students to deal with  concepts rather than with information alone, to hone their critical - analytical apparatus and learn to sift and sieve rather than uncritically accept. This will involve a massive effort to restructure the Indian psyche. And will be reflected in the quality of its cerebral pool, its personality strengths, social values and priorities we talked of earlier.

Mens Sana Monographs [MSM]: A Mens Sana Research Foundation Publication



Enter content here

Enter supporting content here