The Federal Government on Wednesday expressed concern over the poor quality of PhD researches being churned out by Nigerian universities and huge copyright infringement, attributing them to some avoidable factors.
The government also expressed disappointment in what it described “meddlesome interlopers” in disciplines which they were not competent thereby making PhD students “victims of interminable doctoral programmes” and frustration.
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, represented by the Deputy ES (Academics), Dr. Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, stated these in his keynote address delivered during the inauguration of the Doctoral Academy of Nigeria and training workshop on PhD research supervision with the theme: “Enhancing the capacities of doctoral supervisors for research supervision”, organised by the Committee of Provosts and Dean’s of Postgraduate Colleges and Schools in Nigerian Universities.
According to him, being a Professor does not mean that the person can supervise very well.
He said, “A litany of problems have been identified, ranging from poor quality of doctoral thesis occasioned by the fact that a lot of the PhD thesis were sponsored by staff who themselves are underpaid. We wonder how somebody who is not well paid will use part of his salary while his wife watches him to go and do PhD research.
“That was found as one of the major problems. One big elephant in the room is the issue of supervisors. In Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, there is an assumption which has proven to be wrong – Because somebody is a Professor does not mean that he can supervise very well. We have issues of people who may be described as meddlesome interlopers in fields they are not competent to supervise. So, when you find such supervisors, students are victims of interminable doctoral programmes. You spend one year searching for a topic because the Professor is not grounded in the field and is not humble enough to say he does not understand the methodology because he doesn’t have time to read it before.
“So all of these problems lead to frustration and at the end, the product or quality of the school is not what it should be. And of course, if you put this against the backdrop of the critical role which doctoral research is expected to play in terms of innovation, creating new relevant knowledge by generating knowledge that is marketable for goods and services converted to goods and services, all of these have an effect in terms of establishing of nexus between doctoral training and national development as a whole.
“Of course, we are in the Committee of Vice Chancellors, which is leading in terms of dealing with the issue of plagiarism. So, most of the theses these days, if you check, there is a huge problem of copyright infringement.
“We are very hopeful that with this committee in place, we expect better output in terms of postgraduate and post-doctoral thesis, greater output in terms of quality of relevant research findings that are good entrepreneurs and impact on national development.
“I am delighted to hear that the academy would not just be training postgraduate students because the supervisors themselves require continuing training. I am aware that a very robust programme exist in at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa where they have acknowledged that you can be a Professor and published in this area ten years ago, your knowledge is definitely outdated.
“To avoid this transfer of obsolescence and outdated ideas, both the teachers and the students will continue to engage in constantly moving the frontiers of knowledge.
“It is on this note that we want to wish you well and to assure the NUC is solidly behind you in terms of taking this initiative forward and we are looking forward to a very tangible output.”
Delivering her goodwill message, the President of Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Ekanem Braide, said although the Nigerian government has declared many times that it was working to diversify the economy and move away from over-dependence on oil, “what is yet to be seen is our effort at increasing our research capacity as an unavoidable requirement for achieving such diversification.”