BRBD: A unique platform for young researchers
Md. Monirul Islam and Kazi Naeem Riaz, June 27 2021
Research work is a difficult and challenging part for young researchers. Due to a lack of necessary resources and guidelines, they cannot concentrate on research work properly. Many students lose interest in research due to various reasons, including lack of cooperation of experts, ignorance about necessary tools, complexities in research publication, and insufficient funds. As a result, a country is able to produce enough quality researchers.
A platform called ‘Be Research BD’ has emerged as a beacon for young and promising researchers in such a situation. Overcoming the fear of research, the path of creating a research-friendly environment BRBD began with this open platform for teaching research. The platform is now showing the way of research to the researchers across the world.
The story of the beginning
Every so often, a unique word teaches us to think about life anew. It inspires us to survive in the battle of life; sometimes it inspires us to burn in the depths of the mind. A young researcher was impressed by the words of Dr Md. Abdul Wazed, a former professor of CUET. “University is the place to create and distribute new knowledge.” Are universities able to play a role in creating new knowledge? The young researcher Md. Sabir Hossain started thinking!
Nevertheless,why are universities failing to achieve this primary objective? Only this thought in his mind. In the meantime, he was assigned to run the 2nd year Algorithm on Design and Analysis Lab course at CUET’s CSE department. He inspires his students to complete research and projects on algorithms. He organized a poster presentation to showcase the work at the end of the semester. He also arranged rewarding students at his own expense to encourage good deeds. Later, under his inspiration and supervision, two research papers were published in the same year. Later, more than ten research articles were published in various international conferences and journals due to his efforts. The publication of research papers by a second-year student is rare in Bangladesh and all over the world. When the issue was published in electronic and print media, there was a massive response among the research fans of various higher educational institutions.
Md. Sabir Hossain started this platform to spread his efforts all over the world, including Bangladesh. Getting started on the platform was not an easy. Many have tried to thwart this initiative in various ways. After overcoming all obstacles, the path of the “BRBD” platform started on June 23, 2020. Md. Rashidul Islam, a PhD researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a senior lecturer at Green University, has been cooperating in all activities, starting with the planning of the platform. Later many have worked on the platform, including Md. Nurul Amin (Assistant Professor, Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology), Salman Fazle Rabbi (Lecturer, Sylhet Engineering College), Md. Ujjwal Talukder (Lecturer, Khulna University), Rubel Hossain (Lecturer, Chittagong University) Md. Rabiul Islam (Head of Department, Department of EEE, Bangladesh Army University of Engineering and Technology), Md. Omar Farooq Jahangir (Teaching Assistant, Sylhet International University), Md. Mahmudul Hasan Moon (Haji Danesh University of Science and Technology) are notable.
Goals and Objectives
Bangladesh ranks 112th out of 137 countries in the Global Knowledge Index. Bangladesh lags behind in research and innovation, where the score is only 16.4. We know that a country’s sustainable development and prosperity largely depends on research and innovation. The main objective of this platform is to increase research activities in higher education institutions keeping in view the sustainable development of Bangladesh. The platform is working in various ways to achieve its goal of creating a research-friendly environment, preparing experienced researchers, increasing collaboration between researchers and students, inspiring higher education (Masters and PhD).
The platform is working relentlessly on the advice of world-renowned researchers to create a research-friendly environment in higher education institutions. Among them, consultants are Saidur Rahman, a professor at Sunway University in Malaysia; Saifur Rahman, a professor at Virginia Tech in the United States; Mohammad Shamsul Arefin, a professor at CUET, Bangladesh; and Faisal Islam Chowdhury, an associate professor, Chittagong University. Professor Saidur Rahman is constantly lecturing in various webinars/seminars and advising for the continuous development of the platform. The prime functions of the platform include conducting free training courses, organizing seminars and webinars on various contemporary topics, sharing research materials such as books, research papers, websites etc.
1st online training in Bengali titled ‘How to become a researcher?
The free training was organized in July 2020, and 45 students from 22 higher education institutions to help a newcomer in research. The central planner of the course was Md. Sabir Hossain. Md. Rashidul Islam and Md. Nurul Amin assisted in this work, including conducting the class. The course aroused a broad response among those interested in research. When the recorded lectures were uploaded on YouTube, they received more than 31,000 views in just six months since the last video was uploaded. Bangla speaking students living abroad are also benefited from the series. The lecture series (https://tinyurl.com/researchlectures) is also a beacon of hope for school-college students across university boundaries. The names of those who have completed the course, participated in more than 100 quizzes, and submitted research proposals are displayed on the website (https://www.beresearcherbd.com/news).
Research Guide Line Series
It is not possible to do research just by knowing the basics of research. It is essential to know the exact guidelines for how to do research. The research guideline series ranges from basic research knowledge to topic selection, research paper reading & paper download techniques, techniques to find good research papers, recognizing fake journals, writing a review paper, and publishing in impactful research journals. Professors Dr Saidur Rahman and Dr Nowshad Amin (National at the University) have easily presented the basics of research in this series. They have given clear guidelines for doing good research.
Research Idea Series
New researchers often do not have the necessary knowledge in their field, the necessary tools, publications and trending research ideas – which is an obstacle to becoming a good researcher. Considering the issue, the platform has been organizing a regular research idea series. Experienced researchers shared essential knowledge about their field, necessary tools, publications and trending ideas in this series. In this series, experienced researchers share essential information such as their field trending research ideas, necessary skills and tools, publication tips, speaker’s current and past research projects and collaboration tips. The series, which started on March 19, 2021, has already provided lectures by nine renowned researchers from home and abroad (link: https://tinyurl.com/ResearchIdeaSeries). Speakers are Dr Rabiul Islam, University of Wollongong, Australia, Dr Md. Abdul Alim, University of Western Sydney, Australia; Dr Mokbir Hossain, DUET, Dr Mollah Hasan, Alfred University; Dr Ashraf Dewan, Curtin University, Australia, Dr Mo Imran Khan, Jessore University of Science and Technology, Dr Abdullah Al Imran, University of Sydney; Dr Mohammad Shamsul Arefin, CUET and Dr Saifur Rahman, Virginia Tech, USA.
The online free course titled ‘Python for Research’ (Multi-Disciplinary)
A large part of the research success depends on data processing, analysis and visualization. Python is very popular for these research works. It is helpful in almost all research fields. After analyzing the topics, a free course called Python for Research (Multidiscipline) was organized for research enthusiasts. The course covers five modules, ranging from the primary use of Python to hands-on research. The mentor of the course is Md. Sabir Hossain and the instructor is Mahmudul Hasan Moon. The course, which started on April 9, 2021, has classes running. From about 1200 primary applicants, 85 students have been given the opportunity through examinations. Recorded classes are being uploaded regularly on YouTube for live classes students as well as other interested students. (Link: https://tinyurl.com/Pythonforresearchlectureseries).
Higher Education Guideline Series
Higher education at home and abroad plays a significant role in doing good work in research. Prof. Dr Saidur Rahman presented the complex issues for those interested in higher education from his acquired knowledge. Divided into two parts, this good line lecture (link: https://tinyurl.com/higherstudyseries) highlights the goals of higher education, types of degrees, research topics, and funding.
Research Q&A series
Research is not an easy task for new researchers. Being young, they face various problems at all times. Many questions arise in their minds while doing research. Many times they are afraid or hesitant to ask questions from any researcher or supervisor. To solve this problem, the platform started the ‘Research Q&A’ series.
Necessary resource sharing
BRBD platform regularly shares the necessary research resources: research papers, books, videos, web addresses, tools. Experienced researchers share various resources for new researchers from their acquired knowledge as well as straightforwardly present them.
Recruitment of Research Campus Ambassador for the first time
For the first time, a Campus Research Ambassador has been appointed to expand research activities in universities. In the first phase, 74 research ambassadors have been selected from 42 higher education institutions in the country and abroad. In the second phase, recruitment of research ambassadors from 130 more institutions is in progress.
The impact and achievement of the platform
Beyond the borders of Bangladesh, the platform’s impact has been spread to 34 countries, including America, England, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Germany and Canada. Bengali speaking students in all these countries, as well as others, are benefiting from its activities. Ashraful Islam wrote on Facebook praising that he has recently completed his MPH degree from the American University of Buffalo with guidelines from their activities. In addition to starting research by watching the lectures, many are being supported to publish in famous journals following the guidelines. Among them is Md. Shahriar Ahmed of Haji Danesh University of Science and Technology, Md. Kamrul Hasan of Maulana Bhasani University of Science and Technology, Ananya Haque of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical College. Moreover, from the comments of the lectures uploaded on YouTube, its effect can be guessed at least a little bit. Khandaker Riyazul said, ‘Your writing and advice is very effective and informative. If newcomers follow it thoroughly, they will benefit and easily reach their goals. Good luck to you.’ Md. Abu Taher Khan commented, ‘Your initiative is undoubtedly commendable.’ Nematullah Abu Nabil said,‘ I am overwhelmed to hear your inspirational remarks. I’m really inspired. ‘ The most hopeful message is that university teachers are also encouraging students interested in research to follow the lectures of the platform. Md. Mechbah Uddin, a teacher of Bangladesh Agricultural University, posted on his Facebook timeline highlighting the activities of this platform. The platform hosts webinars on contemporary issues. On the occasion of the 1st anniversary of BRBD, a discussion was organized on June 23 2021, entitled ‘Current Status of Research in BD Higher Educational Institutions and Possible pathways to Ascension’. Professor Mohammad Shamsul Arefin (CUET) presented the discussion as the keynote speaker. The panellists were Prof. Md. Saifuddin Shah (Vice-Chancellor, Feni University, Bangladesh), Prof. Saifur Rahman (Virginia Tech, USA), Prof. Saidur Rahman (Sunway University, Malaysia) and Prof. Md. Atiqur Rahman Ahad (Osaka University, Japan). Md. Sabir Hossain moderated the discussion. Through the discussion, some critical issues came up that will enable Bangladesh’s higher education institutions to move ahead in research successfully and effectively.
Recognition of the platform and its initiators
The platform is recognized for its outstanding contribution to the creation of a research-friendly environment. A book titled ‘The Story of 100 Young People Who Don’t Give Up’ was published at the 2021 Book Fair, which highlighted the efforts of Md. Sabir Hossain, the founder of the platform, and his team. Various initiatives, starting stories, challenges, successes, achievements of Sabir Hossain have been skillfully presented in the book. Prof. Celia Shahnaz of BUET also mentioned Md. Sabir Hossain in a program organized by the IEEE Bangladesh section. “CUET’ Sabir Hossain is working tirelessly to increase youth participation in research,” she said. Md. Sabir Hossain has already been selected as the National Mentor of the ‘Unibator’ program run by the Government of Bangladesh (Hi-Tech Park Authority) OIEB, Dhaka Center. Twenty mentors from all the universities have been hired to take care of the finalized ideas in the Unibator program until they are launched in the business venture.
Renowned researcher Professor Saidur Rahman expressed his views about Sabir Hossain through social media.
“Md. Sabir Hossain, a young, highly self-motivated, shining star and innovative academician and researcher has taken initiative with his team (Md. Rasidul Islam, Md. Nurul Amin, Robel Ahmed, Md. Umor Faruk Jahangir) to train and motivate Bangladeshi young researchers/prospective students who intend to pursue higher studies locally and internationally. He and his team have genuine intention to train young researchers. I also have same intention to serve the young researchers/research community. Since I have some unique experience in research and publications, I am working with him to develop high quality contents on publications, higher study related contents. For the benefit of research community, we are sharing our experience free of charge in Youtube, Facebook and LinkedIn.”
Being asked why he is engaged in such research, Md. Sabir Hossain said, “I eagerly want every university in Bangladesh become a place for creating and distributing new knowledge.”
We emphasise what students of any year can do research, not just final. For this, it is necessary to increase other facilities including payment of research article registration fee in the conference. Once a student’s research skills are at the undergraduate level, it will be easier for him to become a good researcher in the next step (Masters and PAED). A good researcher can play a role in the sustainable development of the country. Hopefully, this small effort will inspire students and teachers of other universities in research and universities that will become centres of knowledge-science practice. ‘The platform will provide some more free training after the completion of the ongoing Python for Research course, like SPSS for Data Analysis and MATLab for Research. The platform also plans to arrange research internships for those interested in research and facilitate collaboration between researchers and students.
Data Collection and Writing –
Md. Monirul Islam, Librarian, Army Medical College Chattogram
Kazi Naeem Riaz, BRBD Research Ambassador
4th year, Department of Physics, Haji Danesh University of Science and Technology, Dinajpur, Bangladesh.