In­done­sian per­for­mance­based fund­ing ‘open to abuse’

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - el­lie.both­[email protected]­ere­d­u­ca­

In­done­sian aca­demics are call­ing for an over­haul of the coun­try’s re­search per­for­mance frame­work and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an “open re­search cul­ture”, claim­ing that loop­holes in the gov­ern­ment scheme al­low schol­ars to game the sys­tem.

The Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy In­dex (Sinta), which is run by the Min­istry of Re­search, Tech­nol­ogy and Higher Ed­u­ca­tion, ranks aca­demics based on their re­search pro­duc­tiv­ity and ci­ta­tion im­pact. Schol­ars are given 40 points for each pa­per in a jour­nal in­dexed in the Sco­pus data­base, and ad­di­tional points based on the num­ber of ci­ta­tions and their h-in­dex in Sco­pus and Google Scholar.

But Surya Darma Ha­mo­nan­gan, an in­ter­na­tional con­sul­tant at the Is­lamic Uni­ver­sity of North Su­mat­era, said that a group of some 20 re­searchers were be­ing re­warded for pub­lish­ing scores of papers in preda­tory jour­nals or in con­fer­ence pro­ceed­ings that did not un­dergo a peer-re­view process.

Some of these ques­tion­able pub­li­ca­tions ap­peared in El­se­vier’s Sco­pus data­base, while oth­ers that have been re­moved from the data­base were still in­cluded in the min­istry’s list of Sco­pus-in­dexed pub­li­ca­tions, he said. Mean­while, some con­fer­ence pro­ceed­ings were in­cor­rectly listed as jour­nals, which gives re­searchers more points in the frame­work, he added.

Dr Ha­mo­nan­gan, who is a mem­ber of the In­done­sian Open Sci­ence Team – a group ad­vo­cat­ing for an open sci­en­tific cul­ture in the coun­try – said that some re­searchers also cited their own work ex­ces­sively.

Re­searchers who achieve high scores in the in­dex are re­warded with awards, ad­di­tional fund­ing and pres­tige, said June­man Abra­ham, a mem­ber of the re­search and pub­li­ca­tion ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee at the In­done­sian Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Sinta data­base, the top-ranked au­thor re­ceived 1,064 ci­ta­tions through Google Scholar in 2018 and has pub­lished 93 papers this year, 42 of which were pub­lished in the same pub­li­ca­tion, which is some­times listed as a jour­nal and some­times ref­er­enced as a pro­ceed­ing. An­other au­thor pub­lished 50 papers in this pub­li­ca­tion and 79 over­all in 2018.

Rizqy Amelia Zein, an early ca­reer re­searcher in the Fac­ulty of Psy­chol­ogy at Air­langga Uni­ver­sity, who is also part of the In­done­sian Open Sci­ence Team, said that an “open re­search cul­ture”, in which re­searchers would be re­quired to make all their ma­te­rial and re­search find­ings pub­licly avail­able, would pro­vide an “an­ti­dote to this cor­rupted sys­tem”.

“We be­lieve that, if the In­done­sian gov­ern­ment would be will­ing to in­tro­duce a pol­icy that [re­quires] re­searchers to adopt open sci­en­tific prac­tice, re­searchers could be more at­ten­tive to im­prov­ing their re­search qual­ity,” she said, adding that the higher ed­u­ca­tion min­istry should “eval­u­ate their grant re­cip­i­ents” based on whether ap­pli­cants ad­here to open sci­en­tific prac­tice.

She also called for the min­istry to “re­duce its de­pen­dency on bib­lio­met­ric cri­te­ria” be­cause the prac­tice can “en­cour­age pub­li­ca­tion mis­con­duct”.

The Min­istry of Re­search, Tech­nol­ogy and Higher Ed­u­ca­tion did not re­spond to Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion’s re­quest for a com­ment.

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