Vietnam's scientific research falls well behind regional peers: report

By Pham Huong   August 25, 2017 | 01:15 am PT
The country is 10 years behind Thailand and 15 years behind Singapore.

The number of Vietnamese scientific papers being recognized by a world-renowned scientific institution has been rising steadily over the past five years, but Vietnam is still lagging far behind the top countries in Southeast Asia.

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), part of Thomson Reuters, selected more than 15,000 Vietnamese scientific papers published by industry journals from 2011-2016, marking growth of 17 percent, according to data from Web of Science, an online subscription-based scientific citation indexing service produced by the ISI.

The country finished fourth in Southeast Asia behind Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

One of the main reasons for the improvement was said to be the National Foundation for Science and Technology Development, which was launched in 2008.

Offering roughly VND300 billion ($13.2 million) each year for researchers, the foundation has a condition that each funded study must produce at least two ISI-recognized papers.

Despite the improvement, Vietnam is still a long way behind the top three countries in the region.

Professor Nguyen Van Tuan, a lecturer at New South Wales University in Australia, said Vietnam is 10 ten years behind Thailand and 15 years behind Singapore in terms of ISI papers.

To put that into perspective, Vietnam's population is more than 17 times higher than Singapore, three times higher than Malaysia and 1.3 times higher than Thailand.

The quality of Vietnamese research is also beaten by its peers. The index shows that the number of times other researchers had cited Vietnamese research is low, even lower than the Philippines.

Another problem that scientists pointed out is a heavy dependence on outside resources. Around 80 percent of ISI-published studies from Vietnam share their name with foreign researchers or institutes.

Tuan said researchers should strive to have their studies published on international publications to see how far an individual, a school, an institute or a country has grown.

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