Monday, 24 January, 2022
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OPINION

Need To Strengthen Media Studies



Harsha Man Maharjan

 

The colleges and departments offering courses in media studies in Nepal need to make extra efforts to boost the discipline. Many colleges have been running courses in journalism and mass communication, media technology, and media and communication.  Enhancing the quality of research done inside and create platforms to share and publish theses is one of the major initiatives to be taken by these academic institutions. These academic entities have to focus on the three main components as explained below.

Academic components
Theses are the first components to be considered. Students who are studying in BA, MA, MPhil and PhD levels under this discipline need to work on theses and dissertations. These materials are sources of new knowledge that drive the discipline as students examine new issues and problems and they build their research on previous studies.

However, as a study conducted by Devraj Humagain, Komal Bhatta and Krishna Adhikari  through analysing 80 MA theses about media submitted to different departments such as media studies, sociology, economics, Nepali, management, and public administration shows weaknesses in many of them. For example, students were found including unnecessary details in the introduction section to make the theses bulky. Some students were also seen copying literature reviews from previous studies and failed to justify the research. If we look into some theses, we may also find that students have problems with writing a good literature review. Instead, they have offered a long list of previous studies. This clearly indicates that in literature review, they don't evaluate the previous studies critically. They use different methods without being aware of what they are going to get from those methods.

Conferences are the second constituent. There is no doubt that conferences are the best platforms to present the findings of theses or studies. In such platforms, students can also receive good feedback on their research papers so they could revise them. These are the places to share ideas and learn what is happening in the discipline.

However, the problem is that there is no regular conference that focuses on the issues on media studies in Nepal. If we look into the paper presented in the Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and Himalaya, and the Sociology Conference, we can find that some papers on media are included in these programmes.  This is good, but their focus is not on the media.
Journals are equally important. In journals, academic discussions take place. Refined research is published for others to read and engage in journals.

Some departments have been publishing such journals. The Department of Languages and Mass Communication and School of Arts at Kathmandu University has published seven volumes of Bodhi, a journal focused on communication, media and journalism. It is interesting that though the first issue of the journal was published in 2007, only seven issues have been published till 2019. Similarly, Kantipur City College, School of Humanities and Social Science, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism has published KCC Media Journal since 2015. Its next issue was brought out in 2018. Since then, no new issue has been published. 

Way forward
To improve the quality of their theses, the students could do different activities. It is clear that many students don't know the nuts and bolts of writing and they also don't have ideas about academic writing. So these entities can start courses in writing and academic writing. They should be taught about sentences, paragraphs as well as arguments.  It is not that some of these colleges are not organising extra classes especially on thesis writing, but these classes are not regular and adequate. These colleges can introduce academic writing courses in the syllabi while revising them.  But I am not aware that there are writing centres in universities in Nepal. Had there been such centres, students would have learned much about writing, thinking and analysis. The departments and colleges can organise media conferences regularly. It would be better if join such conferences. Such conferences could be vital platforms which would bring scholars interested in different aspects of media, communications and technology together.

The organisations that are involved in publishing journals should do so regularly. They are often published when there is a need for having publications for promotion or other academic requirements. One of the problems that should be overcome is to get adequate submission of materials for journals. If these departments and colleges encourage students and faculty members to publish their research in journals, the submission will not be an issue.
(Maharjan is a senior researcher at an academic NGO Martin Chautari and writes on issues related to media and technology. harsha.maharjan@gmail.com)