The Jakarta Post
Despite their large numbers of students, Indonesian universities lag behind in scientific publications compared with other countries in Southeast Asia. Weak English-writing skills are identified as one of the causal factors of the poor quality of the country’s scientific publications.
Based on scientific journal citations by Google Scholar in 2015, the University of Gadjah Mada ranks first among Indonesian universities with the highest number of scientific publications, amounting to 16,809 citations.
The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and the University of Indonesia (UI) rank second and third with 13,651 and 10,612 citations respectively. However, these figures are still far behind other Southeast Asian universities.
Thailand's Chulalongkorn University and Mahidol University recorded 40,030 and 36,948 citations respectively. Two Malaysian universities, namely Universiti Sains Malaysia and the University of Malaya, recorded 89,405 and 67,971 citations respectively. Singapore ranks top, in which the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University recorded 419,702 and 198,105 citations respectively.
"We have always make an excuse for the situation, blaming a 'lack of English-writing ability' as the main reason. Actually, the problem is much more complicated. A lack of experience in publishing scientific journals is one of the problems," Indonesian Science Academy (AIPI) chairman Sangkot Marzuki told thejakartapost.com in a recent interview.
Marzuki further said English was important in writing scientific journals; however, students must make themselves accustomed to elaborating ideas and expressing them through writing.
“English-writing ability is not the biggest obstacle. Just take a look at the Thai people. Their English ability is about the same as ours but they can do better quality research work,” said Marzuki.
When he was asked whether Indonesia needed to create fully English-speaking postgraduate institutions such as in other Asian countries, Marzuki said the option was not viable.
"It might be a better option but it would likely clash with the issue of nationality. So, instead we need to focus our attention on making our students accustomed to publishing their work in scientific journals. Like in the Netherlands, you need to publish at least three or four papers in international journals before you can submit for a PhD defense," he said. (ebf)
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