Tiếng Việt


Vietnamese Universities and International Publications: 2017-2018 Scopus Data

International academic research papers have attracted much attention in Vietnam recently. At the start of this year, for example, public discussion arosed over whether professorial titles should be awarded to  academics who have not yet  published any ISI or SCOPUS papers,  those who still do not understand the importance of international exposure.

This article is based on information extracted from the SCOPUS database for the following reasons, aimed at providing the readers with accurate, dependable, complete, and verifiable information on  international papers published in Vietnam from 2017 to mid-2018 (data were downloaded on June 30, 2018).

1) The authors chose to use SCOPUS data because it is currently one of the two most influential information indexing systems, the other being the ISI – Web of Science (WoS),
2) Most of the recent analyses use WoS as their source but few use SCOPUS.
3) the quantity of journals investigated and the types of publication are larger and more diverse in SCOPUS than WoS, offering the reader a broader picture.
4) Both THE and QS use SCOPUS to rank published research projects providing, participating schools with a better understanding of their ranking. 

Number of publications
SCOPUS lists many international publication types. Publications from Vietnam fall under the following types: (1) journal article (published or in press, article for short), (2) conference paper, (3) review article, (4) book chapter, (5) monograph, (6) editorial, (7) letter to the editor, (8) erratum, (9) short survey, (10) note, and even (11) retracted article. Table 1 below lists Vietnamese institutions by the total number of publications of the seven first types, for schools with at least twenty publications and at least ten journal articles.
Các tru?ng Ð?i h?c VN qua Công b? Qu?c t?: Nhìn t? D? li?u Scopus
 Các tru?ng Ð?i h?c VN qua Công b? Qu?c t?: Nhìn t? D? li?u Scopus 
International publications of Vietnamese universities and institutes with at least twenty publications and ten journal publications in the last year and a half (January 2017 to June 2018)

One immediately sees that the top ten consists of familiar names: the same ones leading recent analyses(2 4) based on Web of Science data. These ten schools are:
The two national universities (VNU) of Ho Chi Minh City (second) and Hanoi (fourth);
Three regional universities: Hue University (seventh), the University of Danang (eighth), and Thai Nguyen University (tenth);
Three other public schools: Ton Duc Thang University (first), Hanoi University of Science and Technology (HUST, fifth), and Can Tho University (ninth);
One research institute: the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST, third);
One private university: Duy Tan University (DTU, sixth)

Apart from this, the order of higher education institutions in the top ten changes considerably when taking only journal articles into account - which is the measure commonly used to assess an institution’s research capacity.

Figure 1 shows that, when doing so, VAST and DTU go up one position, while VNU Ho Chi Minh City and HUST go down one position. The University of Danang goes down most and drops out of the top ten to be replaced by the Hanoi University of Education. The other top ten schools do not change their positions. This shaking up shows that conference papers and other types of publication do influence rankings.
Các tru?ng Ð?i h?c VN qua Công b? Qu?c t?: Nhìn t? D? li?u Scopus 
Top twenty of higher education institutions with most articles

The shaking up is even bigger when considering member institutions of national and regional universities and research institutions separately. This way of analyzing makes real sense because member universities have independent organizational structures and activities. This makes the ranking fairer while making clear which member schools make the largest contributions to the national and regional universities and the research institutes.
Các tru?ng Ð?i h?c VN qua Công b? Qu?c t?: Nhìn t? D? li?u Scopus 
Top twenty of universities with most articles

Indeed, Figure 2 clearly shows the considerable shake-up when including member universities of national and regional universities and research institutes. The top twenty of schools with most journal articles contains the following institutions: the University of Science (fourth) and the University of Engineering and Technology (thirteenth) of VNU Hanoi; of VNU Ho Chi Minh City there are the University of Science (fifth), the University of Technology (sixth), and the International University (twelfth); of regional universities like the University of Danang there is the University of Technology (eighteenth). As a general picture, these are the top contributors pushing the national and regional universities to high international publication rankings in Vietnam year after year in the past and probably also in the future.

Ton Duc Thang University shows clear supremacy when it comes to publishing capacity, as it leads the ranking with almost double the article number of the school in second position. This should not come as a surprise, as it is widely known it has been implementing effective investment policies for scientific research for many years now. This has allowed Ton Duc Thang University to start overtaking well-established schools - something one may not have dared to dream of when the school was founded.

Furthermore, it would be an omission not to mention another young university also accomplishing to overtake many “senior” institutions to take second position: Duy Tan University (DTU). This is the only private university  to be found in the top twenty of scientific research achievements of Vietnamese universities for several years. As it has to pay taxes as if it were a business and as it does not enjoy state subsidies, one can say it is an outstanding effort from this university.

With these results, Ton Duc Thang University and Duy Tan University can be considered the two young educational institutions with most efficient scientific research in Vietnam at this moment, contributing to putting Vietnam on the map of scientific research, alongside well-established competitors. The difference may originate in orientation and approach rather than from seniority.

Corresponding authors

Analyzing number of publications only shows the productivity of higher education institutions. However, publishing a lot is not synonymous with large contributions to these publications. If a certain researcher at a certain institution is just co-author of most or all of their publications and does not provide the ideas or execute the main part of the work, it is difficult to say that this institution has made a considerable contribution to these papers. Usually, one author of an article will be corresponding author, which can be understood as heading the research endeavor. This means they are entirely responsible for academic issues related to the paper, both before and after publication. This is why the fraction of papers where a certain institution provided the corresponding author yields insight into that institution’s capacity of contributing to the papers where it is listed as affiliation.

In this (and later) analyses, the authors only considered five types of publication (from now on called article): (1) journal article, (2) conference paper, (3) review, (4) editorial, (5) letter to the editor.

The chart at the left of Figure 3 shows the number of articles of twenty Vietnamese universities, together with whether these were written as corresponding author or as co-author.  One sees that most schools provide co-authors much more often than corresponding authors. This can be easily understood, as most Vietnamese lecturers and researchers conduct their research in collaboration with people at other universities in Vietnam and, especially, abroad. 
Các tru?ng Ð?i h?c VN qua Công b? Qu?c t?: Nhìn t? D? li?u Scopus
Chart of the twenty universities with most articles (left), considering the number of articles where the author affiliated to that university was corresponding author or just co-author, in addition to a graph of the contribution index (right)

For a better view of the level of institutions’ contributions, the authors attempted to calculate the disparity in number of articles with corresponding authors versus articles with only co-authors for each school, compared to the total number of that school. We call this ratio the contribution index of the school.  It ranges from minus one to plus one. A value of minus one means all articles there were co-authored, while a value of plus one means that school provided the corresponding author to all its papers. A value of zero would mean both types come in equal numbers. This index, naturally, only makes sense if the total number of articles is nonzero - only if there is research being published.

The graph at the right of Figure 3 shows that most contribution indices are below zero, or that the Vietnamese universities’ ability to lead research is not commensurate to their number of articles. On the other hand, Ton Duc Thang University and the International University - VNU Ho Chi Minh City are the rare universities with many publications and positive contribution index.

Citation index
An article’s citation index shows how many other publications cite it, which reflects how well disseminated it is in the academic world. It may be necessary, however, to wait four to five years before this index can be objectively assessed for any paper.(6) Nonetheless, the data below can be considered a current snapshot, allowing to discover which higher education institutions are focusing on hot or promising research directions.

Table 2 summarizes the total number of incoming citations for all papers of twenty higher education institutions (left) and of twenty member institutions of higher education institutions (right). Citation indices are furthermore determined for both papers with corresponding authors and papers with co-authors. (Please note that, in this analysis, the total number of incoming citations of a higher educational institution or of a regional university is not just the aggregate of total citations received by all its members. This is due to overlap in number of papers and citations, which happens when researchers of different member institutions author one joint paper.)
Các tru?ng Ð?i h?c VN qua Công b? Qu?c t?: Nhìn t? D? li?u Scopus
Top twenty of Vietnamese higher education institutions (left) and top twenty of Vietnamese member institutions of national and regional universities and research institutions (right) by total number of incoming citations

A prominent phenomenon in both tables is that the total number of citations received by co-authored articles is higher than that of articles written as corresponding author for the majority of schools. If we consider the citation index as a measure reflecting the quality of a paper (based on the logic that good papers will attract many citations, which is however not always the case), then these data show somehow that the ability to lead their research and produce good quality papers is lacking at Vietnamese institutions.

Strong fields in international publications at Vietnamese higher education institutions
SCOPUS divides journals into 27 fields (see at the end of the article). Analyzing the number of papers in each field clearly shows where Vietnamese higher education institutions are investing most. This can sketch a picture of the research currently done at these institutions and help decision-makers at higher education institutions determine policy and select suitable research orientations.

 Các tru?ng Ð?i h?c VN qua Công b? Qu?c t?: Nhìn t? D? li?u Scopus
Chart of the distribution of articles by field of the twenty higher education institutions with most articles in the last year and a half. Dark shades show higher numbers; white means no articles.

Figure 4 shows that higher education institutions publish in many fields at once. In general, these institutions focus on the following fields: (1) agriculture and biology; (2) biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology; (3) chemical engineering; (4) chemistry; (5) computer science; (6) earth and planetary sciences; (7) general engineering; (8) environmental science; (9) materials science; (10) mathematics; (11) medicine; (12) physics. On the other hand, over half of the fields listed by SCOPUS are neglected by Vietnamese higher education institutions, leading to very few publications, such as (1) arts and humanities; (2) business, management, and accounting; (3) decision sciences; (4) dentistry; (5) economics, econometrics, and finance; (6) energy; (7) health care; (8) immunology and microbiology; (9) neurology; (10) nursing; (11) pharmacology, toxicology, and pharmaceutics; (12) psychology; (13) social sciences; (14) veterinary.
According to the subjective opinion of the authors, these fields provide a lot of space for developing research and to exploit Vietnamese characteristics few places in the world can offer. This is why a school wishing to make a difference in its research orientation should consider focusing research investment in these neglected fields. Such a school would certainly enjoy the advantage of the pioneer.

Research Informeta - DTU 

For the full article, see here

(Media Center)