Pro­mot­ing qual­ity aca­demic re­search in sci­ences

China Daily (Canada) - - VIEWS -

Are­cent na­tional pol­icy al­low­ing re­searchers in the sci­ences and col­lege teach­ers to take up part-time jobs in a “mod­est way” ac­cord­ing to the laws and reg­u­la­tions has raised pub­lic con­cern.

Howto have a part-time job in a “mod­est way” that does not in­flu­ence the aca­demic work of teach­ers and re­searchers is cru­cial for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this new pol­icy. To en­sure the new­pol­icy pro­motes bet­ter use of knowl­edge, there is need for an ef­fec­tive sup­port mech­a­nism and re­form of the ex­ist­ing mod­ern school and re­search sys­tems. Man­age­ment and eval­u­a­tion of re­searchers and col­lege teach­ers should be fo­cused on aca­demic work. It should not be dom­i­nated by ad­min­is­tra­tive and other fac­tors, be­cause that could un­der­mine the value of knowl­edge.

The most im­por­tant thing is to es­tab­lish a sci­en­tific ex­am­i­na­tion and eval­u­a­tion sys­tem for re­searchers and col­lege teach­ers. To be el­i­gi­ble to have a part-time job, re­searchers and col­lege teach­ers have to be good at their aca­demic work.

In re­cent years, Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties have en­hanced the stan­dard of ex­am­i­na­tions for teach­ers and re­searchers. Still, the ad­min­is­tra­tion-ori­ented ex­am­i­na­tion­method has some prob­lems. For ex­am­ple, some col­lege teach­ers con­tinue to hold their posts and even get paid de­spite not ful­fill­ing their aca­demic du­ties. Un­der such cir­cum­stances, en­cour­ag­ing col­lege teach­ers and re­searchers to have a part-time job could af­fect their work be­cause they­may put in more en­ergy and time to earn ex­tra money.

Only when uni­ver­si­ties es­tab­lish a sound ed­u­ca­tion and academy-ori­ented ex­am­i­na­tion and eval­u­a­tion sys­tem can a sit­u­a­tion be cre­ated for teach­ers and re­searchers to take up part-time jobs in a “mod­est way”.

Eval­u­a­tion is also im­por­tant for part-time re­searchers and col­lege teach­ers. In re­cent years, many Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties have hired quite a few­part-time univer­sity teach­ers. Some col­leges ex­pect them to teach and guide stu­dents to­ward aca­demic re­search, but the oth­ers are only in­ter­ested in the aca­demic re­sources at their dis­posal and the weight their posts carry in the aca­demic eval­u­a­tion. Many part-time col­lege teach­ers have no aca­demic or re­search as­sign­ments de­spite be­ing paid well, which is not con­ducive to rais­ing the level of ed­u­ca­tion or re­search.

The new­pol­icy says uni­ver­si­ties should sign agree­ments with part­time re­searchers and teach­ers to en­sure the lat­ter don’t end up be­ing free­loaders and are com­pelled to ful­fill their du­ties.

More im­por­tantly, uni­ver­si­ties and re­search in­sti­tu­tions should take steps to im­prove their man­age­ment sys­tem, in or­der to pre­vent part-time teach­ers and re­searchers from tak­ing ad­van­tage of the ar­range­ment.

Many for­eign uni­ver­si­ties al­low teach­ers and re­searchers to seek part-time jobs, but they have a mech­a­nism in place to pre­vent them from mis­us­ing the ar­range­ment to seek per­sonal gains. More im­por­tantly, the uni­ver­si­ties make sure the part-time jobs do not af­fect the aca­demic work of the re­searchers and teach­ers. Some for­eign uni­ver­si­ties even have reg­u­la­tions that give teach­ers and re­searchers the choice of ei­ther quit­ting their part-time jobs or leav­ing the in­sti­tu­tion within two years.

In fact, the best­way to max­i­mize the use of the knowl­edge that re­searchers and col­lege teach­ers have is to raise their salaries and wel­fare ben­e­fits to al­low them to en­joy and ex­cel in their aca­demic. Univer­sity teach­ers and re­searchers should get enough salaries to live a de­cent life and have ac­cess to suf­fi­cient re­sources to carry on their work. This will en­able them to raise the lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion and re­search. But to raise the level of re­search, and to pro­mote in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity, in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion also have to cre­ate a good en­vi­ron­ment for re­searchers and teach­ers. Plus, uni­ver­si­ties should have in place a peer-re­viewsys­tem for aca­demic re­search to pre­vent pla­gia­rism and raise the level of aca­demic re­search.

The au­thor is deputy direc­tor of the 21st Cen­tury Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search In­sti­tute.

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