Oct 28, 2012

Vietnam - Vietnam education research behind regional standards

Vietnam’s education research is lagging far behind other regional countries, be it in quantity or quality, two experts said in a Thursday article written exclusively for Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Dr Pham Thi Ly, with VNU-HCM, among the country’s best university blocs, and Professor Nguyen Van Tuan, a researcher at Australia’s University of New South Wales, said that Vietnam published only 39 education research papers in international journals from 1996 to 2010.

They elaborated that a mere 13 of these were education studies in their true sense, as most dealt with medical training issues, and that only 7 papers were really ‘Vietnamese’, while the others were co-authored by international researchers.

That total number is far too modest when compared with other nations in East Asia in the same period, the duo complained.

The country consequently ranked 14th out of 21 East Asian countries and territories, they said, adding that its peers, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, stood at number 8 (399 papers), 9 (177), and 11 (111), respectively.

The academics said there is a vast distance between Vietnam and list toppers Taiwan and Hong Kong, as its number of research papers in education was one-thirty-seventh and one-thirtieth of theirs, respectively.

Few conduct education research professionally in Vietnam, whereas colleges pay more attention to teaching than researching, they observed.

Many local research papers may be of certain value, but only a fraction have been submitted to the international academic community for judgment, the two said.

Low quality

The quality of Vietnam’s education studies is still in question when citation frequency – among the popular benchmarks to judge research papers – is taken into account, the pundits said.

The country was second from the bottom, outdoing only Cambodia, against this criterion, they said, citing statistics collected during the same period.

Vietnam also yielded a weak performance when another standard was considered – the number of prolific and most cited authors, they said, pointing out that no Vietnamese author has ever released more than five education research studies in international publications during the last 15 years.

Seventy-one Singaporeans met this requirement, Dr Ly and Prof. Tuan said.

Total citations from Vietnamese works fell to the bottom of the list and remained a long distance away from the other East Asian countries throughout the same time frame, they noted.


Budget shortages and authors’ limited English proficiency and unwillingness to publish research papers in international publications have all contributed to the falling behind of the Vietnamese education research area, the experts remarked.

They added that research method deficiencies and the inability to access information should take the blame as well.

Policymakers could bear some responsibility as they have yet to realize the importance of using research findings to formulate new education policies, they concluded.


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