Category: philippine science

“…the Philippines without science cannot be saved.”

a new book Reforming Philippine Science by Dr. Raul Suarez and Dr. Flor Lacanilao, published by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC/AQD), has a graph on its cover that compares the number of scientific publications yearly of several Asian countries:

The Philippines sits at the bottom below Vietnam and Indonesia; all three are left in the dust by Thailand and Malaysia (in Chapter 3, readers can see the meteoric performance of Singapore and Taiwan).

… Lacanilao uses quantitative data to show that most Philippine universities fail to contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Readers learn that doing science properly involves publishing results in peer-reviewed journals, especially ones listed by the ISI-Web of Science. Publication in such international journals ensures that a mechanism of quality control has been applied and that verification of the results is possible.

Contrary to this internationally-accepted practice, many Filipino scientists do not publish their findings at all or publish them in journals that do not implement a process of expert peer review. Lacanilao explains that this is not the way to do proper science, that the absence of expert peer-review results in published work of questionable validity, that this wastes government funds while contributing nothing to national development. A culture has developed whereinsuch improper scientific practices are accepted as the norm: the Department of Science and Technology awards grants to non-publishing scientists and does not expect peer-reviewed publications from them; the National Academy of Science and Technology bestows honors upon unpublished or poorly-published scientists. Across the country, science faculty generally get hired, tenured and promoted on the basis of teaching, not research. Without significant track-records in research and proper publication, they train future scientists, are given professorial chairs and become science administrators. The authors point out that there are notable exceptions, individuals who have done world-class research despite adverse conditions or departments and institutes in which research and proper publication have become part of the cultural norm. Although they acknowledge that such individuals and institutions should be given proper recognition, to Suarez and Lacanilao, it is not a triumph but a tragedy that they are so few.

“Whereas science alone cannot save the Philippines, the Philippines without science cannot be saved.”