Social science research should be aimed at social and political change rather than making it a mere tool for getting published and for seeking promotion. Research studies conducted in Bangladesh have largely failed to contribute to bringing change in society, especially because they are rudimentary, motivated by special interests, often agency-driven, and not demand-oriented. These observations came at a public lecture on "Demystifying Social Science Research" jointly organized by Reading Club Trust and Gyantapas Abdur Razzaq Foundation, at Muzaffar Ahmed Chowdhury Auditorium of Dhaka University Social Science Faculty building on Thursday.
Dr. Syed Saad Andaleeb, a noted educationist, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University and former Vice-Chancellor of Brac University, was the keynote speaker. Prof. Mustafizur Rahman, an eminent economist and Distinguished Fellow at Center for Policy Dialogue, presided over the session.
In his lecture, Dr. Andaleeb said that the crisis of research in Bangladesh is that we couldn't create a thriving research community or a strong research culture. He attributed this dismal situation to inadequate opportunity, lack of training on research methodology among the faculty, no incentives for doing good research, poor industry-university-government relationship, the poor state of libraries, and apathy among the faculty members. He added that political pressures often make it difficult for researchers to share their findings which, thus, does not impact policy-making.
The editor of a reputed area studies journal, the Journal of Bangladesh Studies, Dr. Andaleeb said many researchers lack basic research skills, hence their papers do not find a place in international journals; the quality of the papers also does not have any impact on policy. Moreover, there is very little information on who is doing what research on various social science issues. To address this situation, he prescribed that there should be a National Research Council to direct, fund, monitor, organize and archive the research work conducted by various bodies. He also proposed the need to establish at least two research universities, one for the sciences and another for social science, with strong graduate programs and research programs addressing national needs.
Prof. Mustafizur Rahman said that rigorous methodology is important for research but its purpose must be clear. It ought to be done properly, but then followed up to bring positive change in society and guide the nation towards just and equitable development.