An Appraisal of the Utilization of Postgraduate Students’ Research Reports for National Development

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Published on International Journal of Social, Politics & Humanities
Publication Date: March 18, 2019

Walter, Idada; Icheme, Monday Ojochide & Ezenwa, Samuel Chinenyeze
Department Of Public Administration, Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, Edo State
Business Management Department, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria
Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Maitama Abuja, Nigeria

Journal Full Text PDF: An Appraisal of the Utilization of Postgraduate Students’ Research Reports for National Development (Study in Nigeria).

This study, ‘An Appraisal of the Utilization of Postgraduate Students’ Research Reports for National Development in Nigeria’, evaluated the constraints to the utilization of university research reports in national development. The study was based on the premise that university research outputs have been found to be in great supply in Nigerian universities; yet, most if not all of them are seldom utilized for developmental purposes. It examined the mitigating factors in university research efforts in other to ascertain how they have affected making university research findings relevant and qualitative enough for industry use and planning for national development. The study exposed the fact that the Nigerian university research orientation needs an urgent review, to make room for a better collaboration among stakeholders. Materials for this study were sourced from existing literature on the subject. At the end of the study, contending key issues emerged as it concerns university-industry collaboration, raising significant questions on the relevance and quality of some of the research reports emanating from the universities. This will be resolved through improved participation among stakeholders from the level of the conception of the study, through to presentation, defence and or industry adaptation of the research findings. The study thus makes a case for a linkage between the town and gown to ensure qualitative reports and effective utilization of university research findings for national development.

Keywords: Appraisal, Utilization, Postgraduate Students, Research Reports, National Development.

The world over, the university is recognized as the citadel of learning, parading in its cycle of academics the largest catchment of a society’s crop of the intelligentsia. Banji (2010), identified the university as a centre for knowledge accumulation and transfer; an agent for national development. This is borne out of the traditional role of universities from conception; of teaching, research and community development. Universities in the discharge of her traditional roles have a responsibility to the larger society to advance the frontiers of knowledge through research, which outputs both in manpower and knowledge-based resources will provide the needed ingredients for national growth and development. Hence national development in Todaro and Smith (2006), is a multidimensional process that involves the sustained elevation of the entire society and social system towards a better quality of life. In concordance with the above position, Omoyibo and Agbonzeke (2010), quoting a document issued by the former UN Secretary General, Boutrous B. Gali, in 1994 categorized national development into five component dimensions of social, environment, economy, peace and democracy. National development thus permeates all aspects of societal life, not limited only to economic exercise but to include socio-economic and political issues.
Postgraduate students from Nigerian universities churn out volumes of research reports every year as required in their various academic programs. These research reports are generally perceived as a mere cycle in academic activity, devoid of the requisite contribution to national development (Bogoro, 2015). This is because most of these reports are seldom used as inputs to solving societies’ problems beyond academic exercises and career progressions of individual researchers. They are just required for the ritual of academic defence, “in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of degrees” states Duze, (2011), after which most of the reports, if not all, end up on the shelves of the university libraries and sometimes in the obscure closets/ lockers of the researchers or research supervisors (Belo et al, 2015). This is in spite of some revealing findings and new knowledge that some of these research reports were able to come up with and the enormous resources in human and material terms, invested in the study.
Unarguably, research reports from universities are designated “as required for academic purposes”. However, the quality of some of these research endeavours in terms of context and content can be considered as good resource materials to roadmap national development. An assessment of the many volumes of research reports emanating from the various faculties and departments of the universities would reveal a good number of very apt research topics. Incidentally, it is an open secret that neither the researcher nor the study organization(s) has any formal commitment to each other (Guimon, 2013). Each is ignorant of the activities of the other and therefore does not have any forum or platform for communicating the outcome of such studies. It is on this premise that the research findings in the universities have been somewhat misappropriated (Banji, 2010). This is in the light of the fact that the academic communities have failed to look inwards to harness the outcome of these research efforts for their intrinsic values, but have rather concentrated on their face values in academics and career requirements.
The question that would readily come to mind is who is to be blamed for this state of affairs? How are research interest and topics arrived at in Nigerian universities? Who are involved and at what stage and what are the levels of commitment of each research stakeholder? These and many more are the pertinent unresolved issues emanating from this study. Ordinarily, a research report path would identify three core interests or stakeholders, including the researchers, the report and the end users. Among the researchers are the students on the one hand and the members of the academic community on the other, each having varied research interests. The student may only be interested in research studies just to fulfil requisite academic requirements, reflective of how his curriculum is tailored. While the lecturers and members of the academic community, research publications are required of them as bases for progression in their career. “Publish or perish”, is, therefore, the order of the day, thus displacing “felt needs” and personal drive as motivations for research and publications. While the end users; including industries, government and its agencies are practically absent from the role of university research stakeholders.
This study focuses on research in Nigerian Universities in relation to national development. Especially, the study is designed to: Assess how relevant research topics by postgraduate students are to National Development, Ascertain the level of collaboration between stakeholders in university research studies and to evaluate the extent to which university research reports have contributed to national development.

2.1 Conceptual Issues in University Research and National Development.
Bako (2005) defines research as a systematic search and investigation for increasing the sum of knowledge; and research applied to development as the search and application of this knowledge for the development of new and improved products, services and industrial processes, which are factors essential for national development. That is why research is “felt-difficulty” driven, a generally uncomfortable state of affairs, an indeterminate situation, uncertain, unsettled and disturbed, (Desai 2008). The research aims at identifying existing and foreseeable problems in all areas of human existence, studying the problem with a view to proffering solutions. It implies a careful examination of an object or situation for effecting development or improvement, (Odia and Omofonmwan 2013).
Asika (2012), listed five steps to research including; identification of the problem, problem definition and delineation, analysis of the problem, a deduction based on the analysis including the recommendation of the solution to the problem and implementation of recommended solution(s). He defined research as any organized (scientific) inquiry that aims at providing information for solving identified problems (Asika 2012). In other words, all research effort be it academic driven or industry driven derives from a ‘felt need’, geared towards the supply of the needed requirements, both in material and manpower, for solving society’s problems.

2.2 National Development
The term “development” in Agbo (2001) implies a condition of well-being for society as a whole. For a nation to be in a phase of development and advancement there must be some prerequisites; which include sociopolitical and economic stability, (Tolu and Abe 2011). In this regard, development as a concept derives from a multidimensional perspective, as it entails the totality of all aspects of human existence, including the economic, social, political and cultural life of the individual or society. To ensure that this condition is attained, nations take responsibility for the provision and protection of the needs and aspirations of citizens by keeping track of what these needs are.

2.3 Research and National Development
The development of any nation does not happen by chance. It is brought about by the deliberate effort of citizens to contribute towards identifying and proffering solutions to the problems of society, and this is achieved through research. The evidence is abounded in nations of the world hosting research centres established with the view of evolving needed initiatives/ strategies that will help mitigate development challenges (Odia and Omofonmwan 2013). Banji (2010) citing a World Bank report (2001) underscores the importance of research to national development when he affirmed that the ability of society to produce, select, adapt, and use knowledge is critical for sustained economic growth. Concurring, Ukwoma et al (2013) noted that the quality and quantity of research and development results are recognized as pivotal in re-energizing national development and economic well being.
Nations all over the world are fraught with diverse shades of problems that require different solutions, all with the aim of ensuring improved living conditions for citizens. The search for solutions to these problems makes research imperative to national development,- as the underpinning essence of research embraces all the indicators of national development. In concordance, Odia and Omofonmwan (2013) affirm that research gives rise to the growth in science and technology, which in turn leads to industrialization, the creation of job opportunities; transcending all spheres of human endeavour, be it social, economic, cultural, political, educational or science and technology. For a nation, therefore, to be in the league of development, which of course is the desire of every nation, its investment in research and development must take priority.