Urgent need to tackle Covid-19 impact on academic research in India.

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The government of India imposed a strict nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020, to arrest the spread of Covid-19 (1). Abiding by the government regulations, several educational institutions including those in healthcare, postponed or cancelled several academic activities to curb the spread of the virus (2). Considering the high risk of infection transmission, several academic research projects involving human participants were paused. This has posed serious challenges in managing academic tasks such as teaching and learning activities related to research, participant examination and follow-up, field work for data collection, face-to-face discussion with colleagues, students and supervisors. Many academic healthcare research activities involve human subjects as research participants; but because of the lockdown, final year post-graduate students may not be able to complete their research projects within the stipulated time frame. Healthcare students are in a vulnerable situation because of the pressure to submit their research projects for the successful completion of the courses. Given this situation, it is probable that students may resort to unethical or fraudulent research activities such as data manipulation or fabrication to complete their research projects before the existing deadline. Such research, if published in the future, can damage the credibility and validity of the scientific evidence..

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Authors: Umesh Wadgave, Mahesh Khairnar