Pakistan needs more post doc to promote research culture

POST DOCTORATE (post doc) is a research position after completion of PhD, in which researcher work independently on scientific/technical problem. During PhD, the researchers have to work under any competent supervisor to complete his/her research project but in post doc either he work independently or under any principal investigator (PI). Pakistan is a country with close to 200 million population and with over 160 public and private universities. There are also number of research institutes in Pakistan ranging from agricultural sciences to energy and other emerging technologies.

Currently there are over 60,000 researchers in Pakistan with around 11,000 researchers having PhD degree. The number of PhDs is growing in Pakistan, especially after the establishment of Higher Education Commission (HEC), which has boosted up the number of institutes, universities and also number of PhDs. But still we could not develop good research culture in the country and one of the major lacking factors is lack of Post Doc researchers. During BS (hons) and M.Phil, a researcher mainly learns the research techniques, literature review and writing of articles and thesis; in PhD, researcher work on a problem and try to find out novel solution/solutions of the problem in specific time and he also had to go through course work, comprehensive exam etc. After completion of PhD, the researcher join as an assistant professor (AP) in Pakistan where he has to teach classes in most of the institutes, conduct lab sessions and also have to supervise BS, MS and PhD students. So, he/she is not mostly involved in direct research work.

So here it is a gap which can be filled by post doc researchers as post doc is totally a research based program, in which researcher work on a scientific problem and also help and guide other researchers in the lab. It does not include any course work or exams as in PhD and unlike assistant professor he/she do not have to teach classes or supervise students. Post Doc focus on a scientific problem and come up with solutions.

I asked about number of post docs in different institutes of Pakistan and came up with the answer that the number is negligible. There are so many universities and research institutes which even do not offer any post doc position. In developed countries the number of PhDs or post docs in any university is almost same. In most of developed countries, the professor helps and guides the researchers and also writes grants, it is post doc who actually drives the lab work. So in order to promote research and research culture in Pakistan, it is necessary that HEC should develop policies to increase the number of post docs in Pakistan. The researchers should have good stipend so they could focus on their research and also could be attracted to join as post doc fellow (Current stipend for post doc in research institutes is less and it should be increased). In addition, the number of PhDs is rapidly increasing in Pakistan but we do not have that much universities and research institutes to offer them jobs as APs. So in order to engage them immediately after their PhD degree, they should be given an option of post doc research, in Pakistan.

In addition, there are some researchers who do not like administration or teaching and they love to work in the lab, post doc position can be ideal for them. They work in the lab day and night and produce very good results. Initially, we can have local Post Doc and with the success of program, we can attract foreign Post Doc fellows in Pakistan. Pakistan also loses many good researchers (brain drain) as they left Pakistan immediately after PhD and work in developed countries. It mainly happens when they do not get any good position in Pakistan. The post doc program in Pakistan can put a halt on brain drain and we can even have brain gain by attracting foreign researchers in Pakistan.

I think, HEC, PCST, PSF and other policy making institutes should work on this issue immediately so proper scientific job could be provided to PhD researchers and also to promote research culture in Pakistan. This will also greatly increase the scientific output of Pakistan and will be a step towards knowledge based economy.

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