Discussion: Malaysian Universities pushing for rankings – right or wrong strategy?

Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dr Ghauth Jasmon has been pushing for publication increase in ISI-indexed journals to increase the ranking of UM. Is this a wise move?

Read the article by TheStar here.

Argument for:

And although this is a sore point for some, UM deputy vice-chancellor (Development) Prof Dr Kurunathan Ratnavelu (who carried out the analysis of UM’s staff productivity) says the new policies embrace meritocracy and it is the first time such a benchmarking style has been implemented.

Argument against:

A medical lecturer points out that academia is more than just publishing in journals.

“One’s ability in stimulating intellectual discussion and mentoring students should be taken into account, just as one’s expertise in the field as well as the quality of coaching,” he says..

“A doctor’s main concern is patient care, so we focus on clinical research that will benefit professionals in the treatment of patients.

“The gestation period for such research can easily be six years; how is it then possible to produce multiple high impact papers every year?” she says.

She adds that locally relevant research will fall by the wayside if the focus is “to pursue the goal of ISI journal publication alone”.

“For example, something that doctors really need now is measuring cancer prevalence in Malaysia and it takes a lot of time to do so.

“But at the end of it, this is not going to be published in an ISI journal because the information is only relevant for Malaysia,” she says.

What is your opinion? UM is still lagging behind Thai and Singaporean universities in terms of publication. Do you agree with Prof Ghauth Jasmon’s policy? Western universities are putting a lot of emphasis on publications. Will it work for Malaysian universities?

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4 thoughts on “Discussion: Malaysian Universities pushing for rankings – right or wrong strategy?”

  • Efforts to push uni’s ranking is appreciated, but it is implemented wrongly. Number of ISI-indexed publications does not equivalent to publication in high impact factor journal such as Science, Nature, Cancer Research. To increase publication, majority of the lecturers split their research findngs and publish in low impact factor ISI journal because it is easy to get published. But, nobody will notice the findings. So, number of publication increases, but citations remain low. Some even ‘collaborate’ that you put my name in your paper and I will put yours in my next paper….

  • While I agree that quantity is not quality, there should be a starting point. One of the things the medical lecturer said which did not sit right with me was that she is wrong in that there is no value about finding out cancer prevalence in Malaysia, and that the results obtained is only relevant in Malaysia. This view, to me, is highly myopic.

    The Asian population is known to be subtly different from Western ones. This translates to different cancer subtype etiology, drug metabolism, etc. Thus, to presume such limitations of the knowledge gleaned from conducting research in Malaysia is to commit an error and undervalue the benefits of knowledge.

  • But unfortunately most of the published ISI indexed articles are merely on quantity basis but not quality bases – “publish for publish” and “publish or perish”. To publish in a high impact journal, one’s research must be of highly impacted — highly impacted research require money – here comes problem of getting sufficient grant. I think Malaysia is till way of behind…