Oct 23, 2012

Vietnam - Pundits explain Vietnam’s dive in world research rankings

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Many experts have offered their explanations for the fact that Vietnam is falling far behind on the world scientific ladder following the recent release of a global ranking of the research performance of higher education institutions and research-focused organizations.

According to the SIR World Report 2012, recently published by Spain-based research organization SCImago Research Group, Vietnam contributed four institutions – which are among the country’s most prominent – and all of them ranked in the bottom third of the total 3,290 listed participants.

In particular, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology ranked 2,058th, while the Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City was 716 notches below that.

The Vietnam National University – Hanoi and Hanoi University of Science and Technology were pushed near the bottom, at 3,155th and 3,160th, respectively.

Confirming that the report was prepared by an internationally accredited organization, Dr. Nguyen Van Tuan, with Australia’s New South Wales University, compared Vietnam to its neighbor Thailand to show how far the former is falling behind.

Dr. Tuan pointed out that the neighbor now outperforms Vietnam in terms of research performance, adding that the former authors about 50 percent of quality scientific works, while the latter’s number is a mere 10 to 20 percent.

He recommended that Vietnam focus on building research facilities and completing a proper funding policy to improve its research activities.

Dr. Nguyen Huu Duc, deputy director of the Vietnam National University – Hanoi, the Southeast Asian country has so far failed to implement its policies for research activities.

“We have acknowledged that investing in research is investing for development,” Dr. Duc said. “But we are still unable to invest as we intend to.”

Pham Bich San, vice general secretary of the think tank Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, said he was not surprised at the report that measures many areas of the participating institutions’ research activities, including the quality and quantity of scientific papers.

San blamed these pessimistic rankings on education and macrocosmic organization.

He elaborated that research and education should not be separated, as is done in Vietnam, which steals good lecturers from universities as they often choose to work for institutes where money tends to flow in large amounts for research purposes.

In return, research institutes will have much less contact with college students who serve both as the inspiration and high-quality resource for future researches, San further explained.

Researchers are poorly compensated at the moment, he complained, protesting that their salaries are calculated by financial personnel who lack the necessary expertise to judge the value of scientific work.

“Intellectual labor is equated simply in this way,” the expert said. “As a result we do not really have science, but quasi-science instead.”


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