Golden opportunity for science students

The world we see today is shaped by science. Every aspect of our lives is directly or indirectly driven by science as we can’t imagine life without the Internet, an office without a computer and hands without a smart phone.

Golden opportunity for science students

The world we see today is shaped by science. Every aspect of our lives is directly or indirectly driven by science as we can’t imagine life without the Internet, an office without a computer and hands without a smart phone. Science is valued by society because the application of scientific knowledge helps us satisfy many basic human needs, improve living standards and give a push to economic growth.

Finding a cure for cancer and a clean form of energy are just two topical examples. From the discovery of fire till today, progressive application of scientific knowledge has made our lives easy. Every corner of our house has a device helping us in our daily chores. Apart from material advantages, the study of science also develops our thought (scientific temper) and helps us understand the events happening around us. And this is the basic requirement for any society to flourish. 

Scientific temper is a way of life and attitude which involves the application of logic. To make it a norm in society, we need young scientists with inquisitive minds. To promote cutting edge research and development knowledge base in diverse science and technology areas in India, we have the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). To achieve its mission, the CSIR selects students for research and teaching and conducts a national-level test (CSIR-UGC NET) twice a year for science graduates and postgraduates. 

The test is conducted to determine the eligibility for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and for Lectureship/Assistant Professor in Indian universities and colleges. The CSIR has entrusted the National Testing Agency (NTA) with the responsibility of conducting the exam in CBT (computer based test) mode. 

Educational qualifications

Candidates should have an MSc or equivalent degree/integrated BS-MS/BS-4 years/BE/BTech/BPharma/MBBS with at least 55 per cent marks for general (UR) and OBC candidates and 50 per cent for SC/ST, persons with disability (PwD) candidates. 

Candidates enrolled for MSc or having completed 10+2+3 years of the above qualifying examination as on the closing date of online submission of application form, are also eligible to apply in the above subject under the result awaited (RA) category. They will, however, have to  complete the qualifying degree with the requisite percentage of marks within the validity period of two years to avail the fellowship from the effective date of award. 

Such candidates will have to submit the attestation form duly certified by the head of the department/ institute from where the candidate is appearing or has appeared.

Age limit

For JRF, maximum age limit is 28 years {relaxable up to five years in case of SC/ST/Persons with Disability(PwD)/women applicants and three years in case of OBC (Non-Creamy Layer) applicants}, and there is no age bar for lecturership/ Assistant Professorship.

Exam pattern

The CSIR conducts the exam in five subjects — chemical sciences, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physical sciences and earth, atmospheric, ocean and planetary sciences.

The test is divided into three parts and all of these consist of multiple choice questions. However, the total number of questions and number of questions in each part vary from subject to subject. Total marks for all subjects are 200.

The students need not attempt all questions as they have a choice. For example: In chemical sciences, there are 120 questions (20 in Part A, 40 in Part B and 60 in Part C) and the candidate has to attempt only 75 questions (15 from Part A, 35 from Part B and 25 from Part C). If a candidate attempts more than the required number of questions, only the first set of required questions are considered for scoring. 

Another word of caution for the candidates is that there is a penalty (0.25 per cent) for every wrong answer. So one must be very careful while choosing the right question to attempt and must avoid any guess work.

Display of answer key

The NTA will display provisional answer key on its website to provide an opportunity to the candidates to challenge any answer. This is done to give the candidates an opportunity to make a challenge online if they think there is some wrong answer in the provisional answer key. A candidate has to pay Rs 1,000 for every question challenged as processing charges. However, there is no provision of revaluation/rechecking of the result.

JRF stipend

The stipend of a JRF selected through CSIR-NET is Rs 31,000 per month for the first two years. In addition, contingency grant of Rs 20,000 is provided per Fellow by the university/institution. 

On the completion of two years as JRF and if the Fellow is registered for PhD, the Fellowship is upgraded to SRF (Senior Research Fellowship) and stipend is hiked to Rs 35,000 for the third and subsequent years on the basis of assessment of his/her research progress.

Is it just an eligibility test?

Thousands of aspirants take the CSIR exam every year (it is conducted twice in a year) and it is undoubtedly amongst the tough national eligibility tests to check your candidature for taking research scholarships or lectureships at Indian universities. 

Many candidates consider this exam just as an eligibility test to perform research. However, one can enjoy many perks and benefits after qualifying this exam.

  • Getting placed as Assistant Professor in any of the prestigious Indian colleges/universities
  • Can get direct access to public sector jobs through CSIR NET Score Card
  • Can get an opportunity to perform research from well established CSIR research laboratories
  • The organisation also honours Fellows with CSIR Young Scientist Award for excellence in science and technology

With so many advantages in its armour, this all-India exam is a good opening for all science stream students. 

They must start preparing the day they take admission in MSc and the humble beginning can be made by reviewing the syllabus and listing up all topics on paper. A study schedule is must through out the two-year postgraduation along with a sincere approach to excel. All the best!


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