SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS AS MEASURES OF SCHOLARSHIP AND UNIVERSITY RANKING
By Dr. Enrique G. Oracion, Director of Research
Aside from the published books and creative performances and exhibitions, there are three established measures of scholarships of faculty in terms of their journal publication: number of articles published, citations generated, and peer ratings earned. Using alone any one of the measures is not enough as compared when the three measures are combined. They also contribute to university ranking.
Desiring to immediately measure the impact of their published articles, researchers at present are publishing in on-line journals like those cited by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) of Thompson Scientific or SCOPUS of Elsevier, among others. These are refereed on-line journals that have met scholarship standards and, therefore, are given more credits compared to non-refereed journals.
But the proliferation now of low quality or fake journals and conferences offering published proceedings because of the shift from traditional to open access publication on the internet should alarm researchers. Perhaps several university administrators and researchers have already experienced a barrage of e-mail invitations to submit articles and to be on the editorial boards. These kind of open-access journals do not mention the required publication fee on their mails not until an article is submitted and accepted, and unless one reads their webpage.
The growing interest of university faculty abroad on publication particularly in often cited journals, if not yet in the Philippines, is primarily due to tenure requirement. A candidate cannot get tenure or regular status unless a required number of published articles in refereed journals are met. This explains why certain university abroad requires a segregation of the two kinds of journals in the credential notebook of the candidate: refereed and non-refereed. To some extent the citation index and peer ratings of the articles published are sought more because they determine level of scholarship. At Silliman University, publication is only a requirement for promotion and this needs re-examination if the goal is to move up in its rank as a research university.
But it is not that easy to promote research in any university whose tradition is in teaching or among older faculty who were not expected to pursue it when they first entered the academe rather than to teach. In this regard, two types of faculty are identified by their attitudes toward teaching and research. The first includes the traditionalists who want a university to only provide an excellent education primarily in undergraduate and professional fields. The other includes the progressivists who believe that a university must have mature accomplishments which cover research and publications beyond classroom instruction.
We have these types of faculty at Silliman University and as Research Director I started with the progressivists in order to convince the traditionalists that there is much to be gained in research as seen in the accomplishments of the former group. As sources of research funds, the University has also both the internal and external sources particularly for biology research and conservation, both terrestrial and marine. This is the bias of Silliman University because of the works of its pioneering natural scientists. But we are now moving towards integrative and collaborative research programs by encouraging more of social and health scientists to research and publish as well as to work with the natural scientists.
Silliman University has allocated since 2007 a modest annual research budget for projects of junior faculty researchers to hone their skills so they can eventually bring in external research funds as they improve their track records. In 2011, the University was designated by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as a research university and a member of the Philippine Higher Education Research Network (PHERNet). This is a welcome development because a budget of 10 million pesps annually for three years was promised for its research programs. But there is still more room for improvement in terms of the number of faculty getting involved and the quality of their research articles. And this is always a challenge.
In conclusion, faculty members who have internalized the culture of research and publication at Silliman University must have ably managed their time to produce scholarly articles, earned more and enjoyed other benefits from their research outputs. These added values of research include additional cash income from honoraria or credit loads, cash incentive for published articles, promotion in rank, attendance at conferences to present papers, professional growth, and additional knowledge to enhance teaching. But most importantly, as the engagement in research and publication of the faculty improves this actually contributes to the ranking of a university.