India has 541 medical colleges but the quality of research in most of these colleges is dismal. India urgently need to foster positive research culture in the medical colleges and institutes.
Even from leading medical institutes, though there are many research publications, 90% of them have less than 25 citations. Most publications have been follow-ups of some research work going on in the US or Europe.
India is lagging in the field of medical research and more work should be done. It is important to promote an environment of research in major medical institutes and emphasise its national importance.
Participation in research is important in producing doctors with an understanding of evidence-based medicine. Though a mandatory part in post-graduation medical course, research has largely been invisible from the under graduation medical course in medical colleges. Very few opportunities are available at under graduate level.
The reason behind this is lack of encouragement, lack of basic infrastructure, facilities and structured mentorship programs, no extra incentives to researchers and the long journey to get academic acclaim.
Another additional aspect is of lack of writing skills for biomedical publication.
There is a lack of communication and collaboration between clinical and basic scientists over doing good research. This results in a lot of meaningless research.
Most medical centres in India lack a definitive systematic inventory of medical records and data that could be easily retrieved by researchers for their studies. However, in medical colleges, promotion to a higher grade requires the faculty to produce a particular number of papers.
Lack of a systematic honest database along with the pressure of producing papers could be a possible driving force to manipulate data and produce any kind of research with no assurance of the quality and conclusions.
Inclination towards science, technology and innovation is in the DNA of our youth and we need to inculcate a habit of original thinking and innovation in our youngsters and to support them with full strength. We, thus, need to consider how to promote good quality research.
Training in research methodology is important; it is somewhat lacking at present in medical institutes. As a result, residents and even faculty members are unable to analyse the research work. The residents should be encouraged to do research projects and produce a good publication and they should be counted for selection to faculty positions as an incentive for research promotion.
It is time to promote and create attractive incentives for good medical research. That is the only way to generate interest in the younger generation for pursuing research activities. The research contribution of a doctor – scientist should be an important criterion for faculty jobs in medical colleges.
(Dr Naresh Purohit is Executive Member, Federation of Hospital Administrator. He is also advisor to the National Communicable Disease Control Programme. Dr. Purohit is also Advisor to six other National Health Programmes. He is visiting Professor in five Medical Universities of Southern India including Thrissur based Kerala University of Health Sciences)
(The views and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author)