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A demand for Indonesian students to publish research

18 February 2012

All over Indonesia, university lecturers and professors are discussing a new requirement that was announced in January by the Directorate General of Higher Education (Dikti). It is known as memorandum No. 152/E/T/2012 (subject: Publikasi Karya Ilmiah). I heard about it last week and wrote an opinion column about the matter; it was published in today’s Jakarta Post (see it online). Here is my original text.

Update (Feb. 19): This other opinion column ran on the same day, directly below mine, in The Jakarta Post.

Update (Feb. 19): View the original document (PDF, 1 page; 1.1 MB) from Dikti.

Meanwhile, an Indonesian lecturer, Yohanes Sulaiman, wrote a similar opinion, which was published in the current (Feb. 13–19) English version of Tempo, a weekly news magazine here. He has posted a copy of his article on his blog.

Yohanes included some very interesting stats in his article, which I will quote:

…there are approximately 270,000 lecturers and professors in Indonesia, with about 24,000 of them holding doctorate degrees, not all of them are involved in publishing.

Yohanes also referred to the low pay of university professors in Indonesia:

In July 2011, during a Supreme Court hearing on a prospective judge, it was revealed that Doctor Dewi Kania Sugiharti, a law professor at Padjajaran University, one of Indonesia’s most respected state universities, received a monthly salary of 6.7 million rupiahs [about $740 U.S.], compelling her to take a second occupation …

Another opinion column about this matter was published in Kompas, in Bahasa Indonesia, on Feb. 9. The author is Franz Magnis-Suseno.

There are three related matters that I did not discuss directly in my opinion column.

First, to put the requirement for publication in scholarly journals on students is a poorly conceived strategy. Most scholarly research is published by scholars who have completed their education — in the Western countries, the authors of such research are typically people who have already completed a Ph.D. It is true that the better doctoral students in the Western universities will usually achieve publication in scholarly journals before their graduation — but only if they have had good training and a lot of mentoring from their professors.

Second, if you refer to the first quote above from Yohanes, you’ll see that the number of Ph.D.s who are teaching in Indonesia is very small: about 24,000, he says. (In the United States, we graduate 64,000 Ph.D.s each year, according to The Economist.) So, who is supposed to mentor and train the Ph.D. students here in Indonesia? Not many Indonesians are able to study abroad, and of those who do, not all are able to complete the Ph.D. The research facilities at the Indonesian universities are, understandably, not up to par with those in the Western universities. The resources too are not equivalent. A Ph.D. received from one university is not equivalent to a Ph.D. from another university.

Third, few Ph.D. students in Indonesia have access to the international scholarly journals. To subscribe to even one journal can cost hundreds of dollars per year, and the fact is that Western universities pay enormous sums to subscribe to entire databases of journals. When we begin our research, we log into the databases through our university library and conduct thorough searches for related previous research. We also train our master’s and doctoral students to do this. By reading the earlier studies concerning similar research questions, students learn how to shape and pursue their own original research agendas.

Lacking these resources — enough qualified professors and free access to all of the top international journals — the Indonesian students cannot be prepared adequately to meet the demand of memorandum No. 152/E/T/2012.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 26 May 2012 12:56 pm

    I don’t know how to say, but I think you’re true..
    It’s so hard for us. But we have to try.

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