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A chance encounter with a “professional researcher”

This is a story from city X. It is a medium sized semi modern city but if you talk to the old timers they would unanimously praise its education system. The story is about an ex-colleague and a friend of mine, whom I happened to meet on the road after a very long gap. After the usual pleasantries I asked him,” So, how come you are here Raman.”

It is difficult to study at home, so I come here in the morning and sit here till the evening”

“That’s good, same with me I find it impossible to study at home so I go to a friend’s house which is empty the whole day and becomes my den” I quipped, “You are also doing your PhD na?”

“Didn’t you read the newspaper?”

“No, what happened?” I asked thinking he must have completed but do the newspapers publish the names of the people who complete their PhD.

“He said I topped the written exam, you remember I had told you.” “yes”.

“Well later on I found the marks of the written exam have no weightage in the interview, final selection is only on the basis of interview, I got 3 out of 20………. I have filed an RTI also….but don’t really expect much….At the time it happened it was in news also, that many politicians relatives have got admission in PHD and deserving people like me…..but I am preparing for first grade vacancy…this is my last chance…lets see what happens….After what happened I don’t feel like doing a PhD also, whats the point Richa….It would just be a waste of time”

“ya, it is only helpful if you get job based on that”

“Ya, and there is no point in getting a job in a B.Ed. college, they don’t pay you well….” after a pause, “14 thousand….it is not that you actually get that also….they make you sign on 14 thousand….actually they pay even less. I would rather work in a school, but I wish I get a government job.”

“Ok, so you basically want to go back to school teaching”

“Actually now I am a ‘professional researcher’. So, I would continue that also”

I was wondering what was he heading to. May be he wants to work with some research organization, but before I could say anything he said, “You know in last one year I did 15 M.Ed and 5 PhDs”

“What!!

“yes, I do everything for them”

“So, how much do you charge?”

“twenty thousand”

“And how much time is needed in this”

“See, synopsis they have to write on their own then chapter 2, I sit on the net and write it, I also make the tools. Then they give me the data, I do the analysis and prepare a report. It takes around 10 days.”

“And see here…it has been two years and I am still doing data collection”

“But why are you taking so long”

I smiled not knowing what to say….

“Raman, this is a very interesting business model but tell me if there is a case of plagiarism then who will get caught?”

“Why would it be? I take very good care…”

“But assume it is”

I would not be responsible…my name is no where…This is not my fault…people come to me…but you only tell me what are they supposed to do, they are unable to learn research in a year. And what to say, I would name them but there are faculty members also who have asked me to do their research…they had been struggling for a long time and they then asked me to do it.”

By now I had two or three times laughed out pretty loudly and I was concerned what would the other people on the road think. Behaving in a more composed way, I said “Raman, then you don’t need a job, you have your tuition centre and this thriving business going, no private job will pay you as well”

“You are right, I have made money, that’s why I am able to leave everything and study now. But sometimes I feel I am doing something unethical. But then I also feel that those faculty members who are getting their PhD done by me, what do they teach their M.Ed students.”

To cheer him up I said, “but this is nice you told me about a new business model”

Come on!! This is not new..this is a very old business model, I am new to it. City Y is the headquarters, there you give 50,000 and they will do everything for you…meet them after two years…and take everything”

“But the scholar will have to give their viva right?”

“yes, but they would get a powerpoint presentation prepared for it too.”

“So, how do you get your clients?”

“Just like that, students talk amongst each other and I get call on mobile phone”

“Thank god, you did not say the faculty suggests them”

“No, no. but its not that they are not aware of it. Sometimes, I consult directly with the faculty member, we just remove the intermediary.”

I had to laugh at this….

He said, the irony is that I could not do my own PhD.

The pervasiveness of this as indicated by Raman (name changed)hit me pretty hard. What do you have to say about this “one man research factory”?

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