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MOOCs: The new generation learning

Digital Learning | | Archana Thakur | Opinion |


MOOCs provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale, writes Archana Thakur, Joint Secretary, University Grants Commission (UGC), how MOOCs is helping students in their learning for Elets News Network (ENN). Gone are the years when whatever we learnt in school or colleges used to get stuck with  us throughout our working life.  The rapid pace of technological advancement has turned constant learning as the most pressing need of the day and for this the massivee open online courses (MOOCs) have been adequately equipped to address and help in it. MOOCs have been one of the most hotly-debated topics in the education circles over the past few years. Opinions have been extremely polarising, with some people heralding it as the greatest leap for education since the invention of the printing press, and some dismissing it as another fad. MOOC is an online course which aims unlimited participation and open access via the web. The first MOOCs emerged from the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. The term MOOC was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island in response to a course called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (also known as CCK08). CCK08, which was led by George Siemens of Athabasca University and Stephen Downes of the National Research Council, consisted  25 tuition-paying students in Extended Education at the University of Manitoba, as well as over 2,200 online students from the general public who were studying free of cost.

This provides interactive user forums to support community interactions among students, professors, and teaching assistants. MOOCs are widely researched development in distance education introduced in the US in 2006 for the first time. It emerged as a popular mode of learning in 2012. According to The New York Times, 2012 became “The Year MOOC”. MOOCs did not rely on posted resources, learning management systems, and video lectures. Instead it uses structures that mixed the learning management system with more open web resources. MOOCs are of two distinct types: one of them emphasises the connectivist philosophy and other resembles to more traditional courses. Stephen Downes proposed the terms “cMOOC” and “xMOOC” to distinguish in between them. The principle on which cMOOCs are based is of connectivist pedagogy indicating that material should be aggregated rather than pre-selected, remixable, re-purposable and feeding forward. It tries to connect learners to each other to answer questions emphasising collaborative development of the MOOC. MOOCs have a much more traditional course structure typically with a clearly specified syllabus of recorded lectures and self-test problems. The instructor is the expert provider of knowledge, and student interactions are usually limited to asking for assistance and advising each other on difficult points. MOOCs are becoming popular as they offer university-level courses without the need to complete an entire programme of studies. Students get the opportunity to study high quality courses online with prestigious universities, often free of cost. Users can select courses from any institution offering them independently. Video-based study offer interaction either through peer review and group collaboration or automated feedback through objective, online assessments. EdX is a non-for-profit provider, created by Harvard and MIT universities. Now extended to the Australian National University, TU Delft (theNetherlands), and Rice, Berkeley and Georgetown universities in the US.  Around the world, other MOOC providers include EduKart in India, ALISON in Ireland, and Aprentica in Latin America.

The reasons behind considering MOOC are:

         i.            Quality courses with low cost,

       ii.            Can be studied in combination with other work and

      iii.            Study resources are easily accessed from any computer at any location through web.

MOOCs can generate affective learning through four pathways or mechanisms:

  1. Sharing instructor enthusiasm.
  2. Discussion on controversial topics.
  • Exposure to diversity.
  1. Experiencing innovative teaching approaches.

The disadvantages are that while most courses are free, some are fee-paying and videos are normally short, drop-out rates are high – up to 90%. These rates are marginally lower for paid-for courses. A reasonable degree of computer literacy is needed. Many of the MOOC users are graduates seeking to top up their skills and competences. MOOCs do not feed into a degree or other qualification but are self-contained. Only a few students complete the courses. Content of MOOC offered by other country may not match the culture and condition of the home country of the student accessing the course.

 Advantages of MOOCs over physical colleges and universities are-

  • Scaling up the course batch size is a few clicks away.
  • Thousands of young minds can be guided by an emeritus tutor.
  • Self-paced study enables student to study and learn at their own leisurely rate.
  • Online courses can help mitigate and remove all systemic barriers, thus truly making education a universally available resource.

Three of the most pressing critiques of an open learning system are (a) lack of an effective system to measure and validate the progress of the learners, (b) how to integrate the course credits into the present system so that it counts towards a degree from a college, and (c) how to ensure personalised guidance and mentorship. However, all these are resolvable as having certain multiple choices questions at the end of each session to evaluate the understanding of the learner and a few universities have started launching their full-fledged courses online or allowing certain validated MOOCs to contribute credits to their physical courses. In India, SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) was launched on 15 August 2016 which is an information technology platform. It aims at providing high quality education on various subjects from school level (class IX-XII) to under graduate and post graduate students, covering all disciplines is a new portal for MOOC. SWAYAM is a programme designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality.

The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged. SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy. To ensure best quality content are produced and delivered, seven National Coordinators have been appointed. They are NPTEL for engineering,  UGC for post-graduation education, CEC for under-graduate education, NCERT & NIOS for school education, IGNOU for out of the school students and IIMB for management studies. SWAYAM platform is indigenously developed by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) with the help of Microsoft and would be ultimately capable of hosting 2000 courses and 80,000 hours of learning: covering school, under-graduate, post-graduate, engineering, law and other professional courses. It is thus anticipated that MOOCs impact is going to be felt strongly on the education system in India not only in improving standards and availability of quality education in all fields, on the click of a button but also granting affordability of learning science for students from rural background or colleges in remote areas with paucity of competent science instructors.


UGC to revise NET syllabus for first time in 10 years, may reduce test frequency

Hindustan Times | Neelam Pandey| 14 November 2017 | New Delhi |

Officials said the exam’s curriculum will be tweaked to reflect changes in what is being taught in colleges across the country. The curriculum of NET, a countrywide examination mandatory for people eyeing teaching jobs in colleges and universities in India, will be revised for the first time in a decade, officials of the University Grants Commission have told Hindustan Times. The UGC, India’s apex education regulator, has set up committees to revise the syllabus of each of the subjects to reflect changes in what is being taught in higher education institutions across the country, according to senior officials. “The syllabus for the exam has stayed the same though most universities have changed their curriculum over a period of time. We need to reflect those changes… The committees will prepare the draft syllabus and submit it for approval. Once approved a decision will be taken on when to implement it,” said a senior UGC official, requesting anonymity since the information was privileged.

Securing a qualifying score in the National Eligibility Test is must for those applying to be assistant professors – the first rung in college teaching — and for junior research fellows. The test is held twice a year, first in July and later in December.   For now, 25 committees have been drawn up for separate subjects. NET is held for 90 subjects and officials said more committees will be set up to cover all subjects.  According to the source, the panels include people actively engaged in teaching and research. This is “to ensure the syllabus is more dynamic and is able to meet the current requirement”, the official said. There is also a plan to turn hold the test only once a year. A senior Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry official said the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has said that it is difficult to carry out the examination twice. Sources said poor response to the test — 6.5 lakh students register on an average and approximately 1.5 lakh take it, with a pass percentage of only 3.9% — is being seen as a factor behind the proposal to reduce the frequency. This year, the summer NET exam was delayed and held on November 5. – Courtesy

‘When it comes to grants, Govt discriminates against private educational institutes’

Business line on Campus |   Garima Singh | 13 November 2017 | Opinion |

Manipal Global chief Mohandas Pai speaks on the challenges and future of education

TV Mohandas Pai

Technology has become an integral part of our everyday life and its impact can also be seen in education. In the age of smartphones, smart classroom and online exams, the vision of future is Education 4.0 or personalised education, TV Mohandas Pai, Chair-FICCI Skills Committee and Chairman of Manipal Global Education, told BusinessLine in an interview. Excerpts:

What do you mean by the term Education 4.0?

In the earlier times, education was a repository for a few, then it became available for many. As time passed, knowledge became available freely on the Web and now the ultimate outcome of all this that the student has flexibility to learn what she wants to learn, in a manner that she wants to learn and need not pay an outrageous fee. So, Education 4.0 is about personalisation of the educational experience for a student. The students will look at all the courses and will opt for those online or otherwise.

What is the policy roadmap and other challenges in higher education?

The biggest issue in higher education is autonomy. My suggestion to the government is to look at all the mandatory regulations of the University Grants Commission and make it voluntarily and not recommendatory for the top 100 universities. The 100 universities that are best, get them away from UGC, AICTE regulations and give them full freedom. Another issue is public funding for research. The government needs to create a kitty of Rs. 5,000 crore a year and ask all the universities to bid for research. The Indian government discriminates against private institutes, they do not want private universities to come and bid for educational grants. A total of 65 per cent of India’s students are educated by the private sector, but the government does not give them the same money that they give to public institutions. Everything is not IIT and IIM.

Many students from India go abroad for higher studies, but when it comes to foreign students, only a few choose India?

When Indian students go overseas, they go to a country that gives them good education and jobs. Around 3, 67,000 Indians are studying outside the country. On the other side, only 40,000 students come here and that too mostly from the neighbouring countries. The reason for less number of oversees students coming to India is because we are not in the top 100. We do not market our universities, our pedagogy is old and we have rigid course structures. Apart from IITs and IIMs, the degrees that students get from Indian universities are not recognised in the world. Also, we need to focus on better infrastructure, since students from advanced countries are used to a better quality of life.

How is higher education going to contribute to the country’s GDP?

Higher education creates people who can think, who are problem solvers, who are skilled and naturally a part of the knowledge economy. We need more and more human capital that is very knowledgeable, which understands, which can work. So, it’s obvious that higher education is the key to development. Today, the US is greatest superpower, innovator and economy in the world because of its universities. In universities, research happens, you train people, they innovate and come out with a new product and create new economies. Somehow our academia thinks that more the number of students, the lesser will be the quality. This notion is rubbish. For a country like India, which has 29 States, there are only 25 IITs. India should have 100 IITs. The government says there is a less faculty. But faculty will come, get them from abroad. Thousands of Indians are doing PhDs in America. Now is the time to bring them back. Give them grants and they will come back. –  Courtesy

National Testing Agency (NTA) to Conduct JEE Main, NEET UG, CTET, UGC NET etc.

News 18 |  Contributor Content |  November 11, 2017 |

The National Testing Agency will act as a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860. The central government has already funded ₹25 Crores to NTA to initiate its operations in its first year of existence.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) will now be responsible for conducting various National Level Entrance Examinations going forward, thus relieving educational bodies like CBSE, AICTE, etc from their current responsibilities of carrying out highly competitive and sought-after national level entrance exams like JEE Main, NEET UG, UGC NET, etc. The development comes in the light of Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley’s hint in the 2017-18 Budget speech wherein the FinMin had stated that a National body will be constituted for conducting the entrance examinations for higher education in India. The vision behind setting up the National Test Agency is to ensure one standardized test across the nation.
What will change with NTA?
1. The National Testing Agency aims to conduct these entrance exams twice a year as compared to the current scenario where JEE Main, NEET UG, UGC NET are conducted just once a year. It will relieve the mounting pressure on students to either clear the exams or wait for another year to get admission.

2. NTA is set up to curb allegations of variation in difficulty levels amongst different sets of papers. There have been petitions in the recent year related to such conflicts where Supreme Court had to intervene and resolve things. NTA aims to ensure a standardized difficulty level in these competitive entrance exams and run a smooth admissions process.
Who will constitute NTA?
The National Testing Agency will act as a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860. The central government has already funded ₹25 Crores to NTA to initiate its operations in its first year of existence. The government is hopeful that NTA will become self-sustainable from its second year. The National Testing agency will work as an autonomous body. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) will appoint an educationist as the chairperson of NTA and a board of governors will be formed which will represent the NTA member institutions. – Courtesy

Block Indian websites offering ‘contract cheating’, UK Universities told

Hindustan Times | Prasun Sonwalkar |  London Oct 09, 2017  |

“Contract cheating” happens when a third party completes work for a student who then submits it to an education provider as their own.

Representational Image

Over 100 websites and internet forums offering assignments to university students in Britain for a fee – many based in India – are to be blocked on campus computers and WiFi systems to prevent “contract cheating” — selling assignments for a fee. Academics told Hindustan Times that thousands of students at British universities have been using Indian expertise in IT as part of “contract cheating”, whereby course assignments are contracted online for a fee, endangering the quality of degrees awarded. The phenomenon – first reported in academic circles in 2008 by Thomas Lancaster and Robert Clarke at Birmingham City University – has become more sophisticated over the years, making it difficult to detect through usual plagiarism detection software. “Contract cheating” happens when a third party completes work for a student who then submits it to an education provider as their own, where such input is not permitted. A student contracts the third party to provide the assessment, usually a company or individual using a website to promote themselves and receive orders.

Such companies have become known as “essay mills”, even though they supply more than just essays. The common approach is for the work to be outsourced once again by the mills to individual writers, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), an independent body tasked with safeguarding standards and improving the quality of higher education, said. New guidance to be published on Monday by the QAA says that the “advertising activity of essay mills has increased in recent years”. It confirmed the existence of more than 100 such websites, with prices depending on the complexity of assignments and tightness of deadlines. They can range from £200 for one essay to as high as £6,750 for a PhD dissertation.  The guidance includes blocking access to “essay mills” on campuses. It says: “Attempts to access essay mill sites would be met with a message that access is prohibited…This will not prevent a student from accessing sites from their own devices. “However, if they do try to use providers’ systems, the block message will signal that the provider is aware of the sites and reinforce the importance of academic integrity. Where providers do not block sites, and students are able to access essay mills from their systems, the opposite impression may be given.”

Lancaster, now at Staffordshire University, told HT: “We’ve observed a lot of people from India bidding to complete academic work for students. They make offers that are very appealing to students from the UK, they’ll do the assignment for what is a low price for a UK student, but a good living wage for the worker in India. “As part of my contract cheating work, I’m seeing a lot of advertising for essay mills around university campuses in the UK. Companies are handing out business cards and they’re advertising to students on social media. A lot of this advertising is targeted at international students, including those from India.” Universities have plagiarism detection software, but several websites offer “plagiarism-free guarantees”, or essays and assignments tested against such detection software, making it difficult for academics to confirm the authenticity of a student’s work. Universities minister Jo Johnson said: “This form of cheating is unacceptable and pernicious. It not only undermines standards in our world-class universities, but devalues the hard-earned qualifications of those who don’t cheat and can even, when it leads to graduates practising with inadequate professional skills, endanger the lives of others.” – Courtesy

Fresh funding for educational institutes could be linked to NIRF rankings

Moneycontrol News | M Saraswathy | 10 October 2017 |

Sources said that this will not only ensure higher participation of institutions but will also play a role in improving their physical infrastucture and academic output.

From 2018, fresh funding for educational institutions by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) could be on the basis of their ranking in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). Sources said that this will not only ensure higher participation of institutions but will also play a role in improving their physical infrastucture and academic output. In the India Rankings 2017 based on NIRF, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore topped the overall list of institutes. “Global rankings take certain parameters which are not relevant in the Indian context. Linking funding to the rankings will promote healthy competition ” an official said.

There are several leading educational institutes like Presidency University of Kolkata and St Stephen’s College, Delhi  that have not participated in these rankings. Once grants/funds are linked to NIRF rankings, it will be necessary for them to participate to ensure a healthy flow of funds to the institutions. If they don’t, MHRD may also seek the reasons for opting out. NIRF was approved by the MHRD and launched in September 29, 2015. In the second year of the ranking. In 2017, general degree colleges have also been made part of the ranking. Apart from the overall ranks, categories like engineering, management, pharmacy, universities and colleges have been classified in various buckets. In 2017, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad bagged the top slot among management institutes while Indian Institute of Technology, Madras secured the top rank among engineering institutes. Indian educational institutes have been a part of global rankings like QS World University Rankings. However, only a handful of institutes like IISc Bangalore and IIT Delhi (2017) have featured among the top 200 institutes in the world. None of them have been able to break into the top 50 among the world. Almost 70-80 percent of educational institutions are partly or fully funded by the government and require financial support to manage the physical infrastructure, salary bills as well as to subsidise student education. – Courtesy

‘Muslim’ from AMU, ‘Hindu’ from BHU should be dropped, says UGC

India Today | New Delhi, October 9, 2017 |

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended to drop words such as ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ in names of universities–Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University.

Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University

In a major announcement, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended to drop words such as ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ in names of universities–Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University. The UGC panel suggested that these words do not reflect their secular character.

Reasons behind recommendation:

As reported by PTI, the panel was formed to probe the alleged irregularities in 10 central universities and the recommendations have been made in the audit report of AMU.

Here’s what the panel said:

While speaking on the condition of anonymity, one of the panel members said centrally funded universities are secular institutions but such words related to religion in their names do not reflect that character.

Besides AMU and BHU, other universities that were audited by the panel are the following:

  • Pondicherry University
  • Allahabad University
  • Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand
  • Central University of Jharkhand
  • Central University of Rajasthan
  • Central University of Jammu
  • Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Wardha
  • University of Tripura
  • Hari Singh Gour University in Madhya Pradesh

Furthermore, panel said, the universities can be simply called Aligarh University and Banaras University or be renamed after their founders. – Courtesy

NETAP looks to give apprentices exposure to higher education

Money control | Sep 26, 2017 | M Saraswathy |

Apprenticeship is an agreement between a person (an apprentice) who wants to learn a skill and an employer who needs a skilled worker.

National Employability Through Apprenticeship Program (NETAP) is looking to get the apprentices involved in higher education. Sumit Kumar, Vice President- NETAP, TeamLease Services explained that they are in talks to enable these apprentices to get some sort of a certification for the programme. “Self-learning and some sort of a certification apart from the apprenticeship programme will be helpful for individuals,” he said. They are looking to churn out around 500,000 apprentices in the next 3 years and Kumar said that sectors like retail, manufacturing and financial services are offering a good opportunity. NETAP is a Public Private Partnership of TeamLease Skills University, CII, and NSDC under the National Employability Enhancement Mission of the Ministry of HRD (AICTE). It aims to help unemployed youth to build skills through learning by doing and learning while earning along with providing them with access to practical skills.

A NETAP apprenticeship qualifies for credit towards certificates/diplomas/degrees offered online by Teamlease Skills University (TLSU).  Kumar said that the response for the programme has been positive and they have been able to get a good absorption rate for the apprentices. He explained that 23 percent of the apprentices are absorbed in the same company while 56 percent are absorbed in the industry. NETAP proposes to appoint 2,00,000 apprentices every year for the next 10 years. It is estimated that India has around 3,00,000 apprentices. Kumar said that while the Apprentice Act of 1961 mandates that every employer appoint apprentices but it is rigid, unevenly implemented, and ineffective. India has about 25,000 employers appointing apprentices. The UK has about 200,000 employers while one state of Australia (Queensland) has 26,000. The NETAP programme offers 200 hours of cloud training on soft skills, english language and computer skills. Further, there is an apprenticeship with a client for a duration of anywhere from 3 months to 24 months to provide the requisite training. Apprenticeship refers to a way of learning a craft or trade under a master craftsman to be better equipped for a job. Apprenticeship is an agreement between a person (an apprentice) who wants to learn a skill and an employer who needs a skilled worker. – Courtesy   /   Take a Look at  http://www.netap.in/

Oldest recorded zero in Indian text is centuries older than initially thought

Hindustan Times, London | Sep 14, 2017 | Prasun Sonwalkar |

The surprising results of the first ever radiocarbon dating on the Bakhshali manuscript, which contains hundreds of zeroes, reveals that it dates from as early as the third or fourth century, some five centuries older than previously believed.

The 70 leaves of birch bark that make up the Bakhshali manuscript are housed in this specially designed book at the Bodleian Libraries’ Weston Library, Oxford.(Image courtesy: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

The idea of ‘zero’ – crucial to mathematics and all calculations – is widely believed to have originated in India, but carbon dating at the University of Oxford has now proved that an Indian text mentioned it as early as the third or fourth century – much earlier than thought. Considered the oldest recorded origin of ‘zero’, its mention in the Bakhshali manuscript dates it to a period hundreds of years than previously thought. It was found in 1881 in a field in Bakhshali village near Peshawar, and has been in the Bodleian Library of Oxford since 1902. The library said on Thursday that the surprising results of the first ever radiocarbon dating on the Bakhshali manuscript which contains hundreds of zeroes reveals that it dates from as early as the third or fourth century – approximately five centuries older than scholars had previously believed. This means that the manuscript in fact predates a ninth century inscription of zero on the wall of a temple in Gwalior, which was previously considered to be the oldest recorded example of a zero used as a placeholder in India. The findings are highly significant for the study of the early history of mathematics, it said.

“The zero symbol that we use today evolved from a dot that was used in ancient India and can be seen throughout the Bakhshali manuscript. The dot was originally used as a ‘placeholder’, meaning it was used to indicate orders of magnitude in a number system – for example, denoting 10s, 100s and 1000s”, the library said. While the use of zero as a placeholder was seen in several different ancient cultures, such as among the ancient Mayans and Babylonians, the symbol in the Bakhshali manuscript is considered particularly significant for two reasons. First, it is this dot that evolved to have a hollow centre and became the symbol that we use as zero today. Secondly, it was only in India that this zero developed into a number in its own right, hence creating the concept and the number zero that we understand today. This happened in 628 AD, just a few centuries after the Bakhshali manuscript was produced, when the Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta wrote a text called Brahmasphuta siddhanta, which is the first document to discuss zero as a number.The document will be displayed in the ‘Illuminating India: 5000 Years of Science’ exhibition at the Science Museum in London from October 4. It is part of a season of exhibitions and events that celebrates India’s contribution to science, technology and mathematics.

One of the pages of the Bakhshali manuscript, which was found in 1881 in a field in Bakhshali village near Peshawar. (Image courtesy: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford)

Although the Bakhshali manuscript is widely acknowledged as the oldest Indian mathematical text, the exact age of the manuscript has long been the subject of academic debate. The most authoritative academic study on the manuscript, conducted by Japanese scholar Hayashi Takao, asserted that it probably dated from between the eighth and the 12th century, based on factors such as the style of writing and the literary and mathematical content. The new carbon dating reveals that the reason why it was previously so difficult for scholars to pinpoint the Bakhshali manuscript’s date is because the manuscript, which consists of 70 fragile leaves of birch bark, is in fact composed of material from at least three different periods. Marcus du Sautoy, professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, said: “Today we take it for granted that the concept of zero is used across the globe and is a key building block of the digital world. But the creation of zero as a number in its own right, which evolved from the placeholder dot symbol found in the Bakhshali manuscript, was one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics”. “We now know that it was as early as the third century that mathematicians in India planted the seed of the idea that would later become so fundamental to the modern world. The findings show how vibrant mathematics have been in the Indian subcontinent for centuries.” – Courtesy

UGC’s approved journal list has 111 more predatory journals

The Hindu | Srinivasan Ramani |  R. Prasad  |  Chennai, September 14 |

Directory of Open Access Journals flags them “for suspected editorial misconduct”

Representational Image

The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) approved list of journals or white list appears more grey than white. In June this year, the UGC released a revised list of 33,112 approved journals in which university/college faculty and students may publish papers. It has now come to light that UGC’s revised list contains 111 potential predatory or fraudulent journals. Last week, The Hindu reported that the revised list contains 84 predatory journals that are found in librarian Jeffrey Beall’s (University of Colorado, Denver) list of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory journals, bringing the total to 195. The journals from the UGC white list (45,925, including inactive journals at ugc.ac.in) were “web-scraped” and individually “string-matched” with the list of journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) flagged as “suspected editorial misconduct by publisher”.

Earlier, the same list was compared with Mr. Beall’s list. An exact string match between the names of journals in the lists was taken as the criteria to flag the journal as predatory. Of the 586 journals that the DOAJ had recently removed from its directory on grounds of “suspected editorial misconduct by publisher”, the UGC list contains 114. Three of the 114 journals have an overlap with Mr. Beall’s list. By all accounts, the probability of the revised list containing more predatory journals cannot be ruled out. For instance, the UGC list has included some journals, which have all the tell-tale signs of predatory journals. They are neither found in Mr. Beall’s list nor are they among the DOAJ’s rejected journals.

 Malpractices aplenty

A few of the predatory journals that have been removed from the DOAJ database want the authors to assign copyright to the journals, which goes against the grain of open access, while a few others offer an e-certificate to authors of published papers and a hard copy of the certificate for a fee. One journal also offers authors a unique payment option — by paying a registration fee of ₹3,000, authors will be allowed to publish multiple articles without paying any article processing charge. Most journals have fake impact factors (an indicator of importance of the journal in the field). In a sting operation in late 2012, a “mundane paper with grave errors” was sent to 167 journals included in the DOAJ database and 121 from Mr. Beall’s list. While 82% publishers in Mr. Beall’s list accepted the questionable paper, nearly 45% of DOAJ publishers did not reject the paper. About six months after the results of the sting operation were published in October 2013 in the journal Science, the DOAJ began its mammoth exercise of removing the bad apples. The DOAJ has cleaned up its database by removing nearly 3,800 journals. Following the introduction of new criteria for listing in March 2014, DOAJ has received 1,600 applications from Open Access journal publishers in India, which is the “highest number” in the world. But of the 1,600, only 4% (74) were from genuine journal publishers and accepted for inclusion in the DOAJ directory. – Courtesy