Let’s imagine that you get sick, what will you do? You will definitely go to a doctor and get the necessary medicines required to cure the problem. But have you ever wondered how we get this medicine and who was behind the creation of such a thing? Well, it was a “Scientist” behind its creation/discovery. Scientists are trained and experienced professionals that devote their time for research, (a process of discovering/ modifying/ of making something new) to ultimately benefit the society at large. Their work is based on a set of strict guidelines known as “Scientific methods” to support their work. They work on facts and not just merely assumptions.
Research and its Need
Research is an organized and systematic work that is undertaken to discover something new, understand the society and the surrounding processes, and to contribute towards the existing knowledge. Research is required because –
To help solve mysteries of the past (like the discovery of a cure for poliovirus)
A way to support the existing knowledge
A tool to trust the validity of hypotheses
Contributing and sharing of knowledge to the society
To improve clinical trials and existing methodologies
To find facts that can contribute towards the sustainability of the society at large
Helps to compare different theories, ideas, and practices and help us chose the most suitable method
It is also concerned with increasing our understanding of the subject matter
Any person who is an expert in his/her subject matter can conduct research. Research is considered recognized and applicable when it is published in a Scientific Journal, where it goes through a rigorous review process.Sometimes it also involves risks, like in clinical trials, the medicine developed whether good or bad needs to be checked on a person or animal. Sometimes such research involves the risk of death, as scientists are constantly exposed to toxic chemicals and radiation.
One such example was the famous Marie Curie (who was also the first and only woman to win a Nobel prize in 2 scientific areas), she was the lady who worked on radioactivity and died due to aplastic anemia due to her long term exposure to radiations. She also served during world war one as a radiologist and was exposed to X-rays. Also, in an experiment with isotopes, she carried them in her pockets due to which she was exposed to harmful ionizing radiation. (till date her book is highly radioactive and if anyone needs to take reference, they must wear protective gear)
Problems Associated with Scientists and Research
Scientists are working tirelessly to contribute towards the development and improvement of society, but often these scientists have to go through a phase filled with stress and disappointments.
When a scientist has drafted the perfect idea, he/she faces the issue of guidance and support. Often, there is no one to help. Sometimes if the Scientist is able to formulate a good and useful hypothesis for his/her research, the idea gets either copied or the credits for it is taken by the mentors. Moreover, many institutions lack the proper scientific technology that is required for conducting research. Collecting funds for a study is another big problem that scientists face in the modern world.
If somehow a scientist can complete his/her work and send it to a journal, they face the problem of a broken peer-reviewing system (a system where people from the journal, experts in the subject matter go through the research to make sure it is written and made correctly). The broken system means that either the reviewer misses out key points or gives unnecessary corrections to the author of the research, which makes the publication of research available to the public a very long process.
Another major issue in the peer-reviewing system is that the research is sometimes judged based on gender, this is a major issue in science and a lot of criticism has been received. (click here to find out more). Also, the peer-review system is very slow and expensive, to get the research published for the public the scientists have to face the issue of bearing large publication costs. Even after that, the peer-review slows down the entire process. There have also been reports that there was a misuse of the peer-review system to steal ideas.(see more)
The whole purpose of the peer-review system was to remove bad scientific research and promote a quality research environment. According to Vox, the peer-review system hasn’t been the same and is just a mere pretense of a good review system. (find out why)
Young aspiring and passionate scientists often face the issue of lack of proper guidance or a very low paid job, due to which the dreams of many are crushed at the initial stage itself.
The Research Landscape of India
According to an article by the DWIH New-Delhi, a large youth force is currently contributing to the research and development sector of India. Many Public-Private sectors and the Global in-house centers of companies have also emerged out to provide the quality infrastructure for research and innovations. Top-ranked universities and institutions have also created opportunities for researchers by providing the required infrastructure with skilled staff.
Companies like TCL, HCL, Wipro, and other sectors are estimated to $15-17 billion and research and development and contribute about 55% of the total market of India. According to the World Social science report by UNESCO, India ranks 13th in the social science producing country and the only south-Asian country to have published research works internationally. The Central, State, and private universities established under theCouncil of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), are also working towards large research and development projects. Many private institutions are also contributing to research at a commercial scale and opening opportunities to international collaborations for research interests. (read more). India’s backbone to research lies in areas of chemistry/pharmacy, life sciences, engineering, and information and communication technology that are contributing to the development of the nation.
But research requires a large amount of capital, so is it worth it? Well, when new research is initiated and new technology or product is made it opens a new source of revenue for the nation and that revenue helps build the nation's economy. Before we dive into the key areas of interest we must first understand the types of research. They are –
Basic Research – this type of research mainly includes the theoretical or experimental work that is aimed to gain knowledge and to gain an understanding of a particular phenomenon. For example, conducting research to confirm an existing method and explaining it in a broader sense.
Applied Research – it is similar to basic research but here a more practical sense is applied, in a broader sense, it aims to conduct a new finding by having an objective set in the mind. For example, developing new medicine for better resistance to a particular disease.
Development Research – this type of research takes into consideration existing knowledge and is administered to develop a product or service and bring it for the use in society. For example, developing a prototype of new medical equipment.
To promote the creativity of the youth in the R & D sector, an initiative by our honorable prime minister Shri Narendra Modi was started by the name of “Make in India”. Under this scheme, youth were given opportunities to initiate their own startup for the contribution of the nation. The 25 key sectors covered under this scheme were mainly from Automobiles, Aviation, Biotechnology, Chemicals, Defense, Pharmaceuticals, Thermal Power, etc.
Conducting research and contributing towards society is indeed a matter of prestige, but lack of acknowledgment towards the work the scientists contribute, improper guidance, and the issue of ethics (the idea being copied) often break the dreams of many. Moreover, nowadays research is based on quantity and not quality and is just a symbol to gain publicity. The true meaning is lost somewhere in the crowd. Society is not aware of research and the work of scientists due to which many studies never come to light. This is a very serious issue that is faced by the scientific community which needs to be stopped and the true purpose of the research is to be established among the society once again. A scientific temperament needs to be encouraged and youth must be exposed to the growing potential of research and development.
Many key sectors in India have emerged out of R & D but still, the full potential to these sectors will not be able to be harnessed until and unless people are made aware of the potential and importance of R & D in India.