Ethical Education – The Policy Review

Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India has come out with Draft National Policy on “Academic Ethics” and solicited inputs on the same. The document is available at http://psa.gov.in/sites/default/files/pdf/Draft_National_Policy_on_Academic_Ethics.pdf

The following are the views on Adamas University on the same. The same could not be uploaded on the MHRD designated link, as it is restricting the comments to only 200 characters. So the same is being published as a blog.

The following are summary feedbacks.

On Teaching and research

 

  • Documentation and publication of a policy for the same by every institution is a must. It should be displayed in public spaces. This needs to be incorporated in the policy.
  • The document is silent on the recommended actions on the policy violations. Without that it is only in recommendation stage. This is specifically relevant when an institution or a faculty or an official is in the violation.
  • We need to ensure that individual moral and ethical standards are not propagated in the class


    On Purity of data

     

  • The document does not talk of data privacy, safety, access, or areas like collecting only what is needed.
  •  It also does not talk of IP violations. These need be included.

    On Publications

     

  • Predatory journals – the document ideally should talk of making a black list of them, and publishing the same.
  • Also, it need to clearly state the onus of authors if one publish in predatory journal. A guideline on how one may recognize the same will be helpful.
    The document is silent on the plagiarism on course content created by the faculties, as well the student submissions. In fact anti plagiarism should be made mandatory as a first step for all evaluations.
  • Need to anti plagiarism software being mandatory not mentioned. Rather it downplays the value of this. It needs to be looked into.

    On Safety and Environment

  • Safety guidelines should be mentioned in the document.
  • All safety compliance records should be available on request of the stakeholders – background checks of staff members, fire audit NOC, Standard Operating Procedures etc.
  •  All institutions should publicly display their affiliations (aided, unaided, deemed, CBSE etc.) and status (minority etc.). It should also state the Rights and Duties of all stakeholders through prominent communications.

    On Bias and discrimination

  • The document does not talk of need for audit for finding biases which creeps into content, delivery, evaluation etc. at times unknowingly.
  • It does note talk about the adoption of Vishakha guidelines not mentioned.
  •  It does note talk about the adoption of POSOCO guidelines not mentioned.
  •  Call out Women as a group, but with the evolution of the society we also need to call out “Others” in particular. The same is true for the LGBTQ community.

    On Public interaction and outreach

  • Responsibility of creating inclusive forums not mentioned in the document.

    On Science administration

  •  There should be benchmarks at every stage, ideally not global benchmarks, to understand where one stands at any point of time. They are not mentioned.
  •  Need to baseline oneself through peer reviews, wherever possible, not mentioned in the document.
  •  The document also does not mention the need for independent audits.

    On Role of whistleblowers

  •  The document does not talk of protection when whistleblowing is done in good faith but accusation don’t stand. This is fundamental to protection against victimization when someone acts in good faith.
  •  It is also silent about the long term protection of whistleblowers.

    On Regulatory Norms

  •  Publication and display of all the relevant documents in wherever appropriate is a necessity. This needs to be articulated.

    Overall the draft is a good attempt to bring a structure on a very vast and difficult area. It is hoped over the period, based on experience and deliberations it will be fine-tuned for desired outcomes.

    If anyone wants to share individual views, the same can be posted here:
    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSclwTqhcrEopuYjpdkifNZiWbWj35VOiOxrXATeXxPPOevMsA/viewform?usp=sf_link