While inner Vietnamese scientists have very few articles published on international scientific journals, overseas Vietnamese have many. How can this be explained?
Dr. Pham Bich San, Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technique Associations, has noted that Vietnam has the highest number of professors and PhDs, but no Vietnamese university is listed among the world’s top 500 universities, and the number of scientific articles published internationally of the country with 90 million people is just equal to that of a university in Thailand.
Meanwhile, a lot of scientists, both Vietnamese and foreign, believe that the number of scientific articles published on international prestigious journals like Nature or Science can show the development of the science and technology of a nation.
According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, Vietnam now has 24,300 PhDs and 101,000 masters, which means that the number of scientists has increased by 11.6 percent on average since 1996.
However, while home Vietnamese scientists have been criticized for the modest number of inventions, patents and scientific articles, overseas Vietnamese have had a lot of articles published on prestigious scientific journals. Why?
The answer, according to Dr. Tran Van Do from the Vietnam Forestry Science Institute, who is now working for the Japanese Institute for Forestry and Forestry Products under the postdoc program, lies in the working environment.
“When Vietnamese scientists work overseas, they have many valuable scientific research works published in prestigious journals in the world. A survey in 2011 showed that Vietnam ranked the 67th out of the 238 countries and territories in terms of the newspapers and books published annually.
If counting the number of articles per capita, Vietnam’s figure would be much lower than that of the US or Japan. However, Vietnam ranks above many other developing countries.
Also, the noteworthy thing is that most of the articles were written by the scientists who were working in other countries in the world. And after they returned to Vietnam, they did not have any more articles published on international journals.
Therefore, Do has every reason to believe that the working conditions play an important role in the achievements of scientists.
The environment in Vietnam is not good enough as the environments in developed countries, which explains why scientists cannot obtain good results in Vietnam to make public their achievements on international publications.
There is another reason that hinders the works of scientists that the limited budgets for scientific research projects. Meanwhile, the projects less focus on basic research, while this is the focus of the world’s prestigious journals.
Analysts have noted that the “Ask-and-grant” mechanism has been existing. This means that scientists, if wanting to carry out a research, would have to “go through different doors” and obtain a lot of signatures of competent agencies in order to be allocated budgets for the research.
It is very difficult to have articles published on the international journals. Meanwhile, scientists are not encouraged to do that. An article published on the international journals would be considered when deciding whether to grant the titles of professor or associate professor to someone.
Under the current regulations, an internationally published article is equal to two domestically published articles. Meanwhile, it takes scientists much more exertion and grey matter to write an article good enough to be published on international journals.
Also according to Do, in Japan, if a scientist has an article with the impact factor higher than 3, he would have a 10 day leave and an award which is 30 percent of the monthly salary. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, no award is given to such articles.