Tue, Oct 28, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers call for index of Chinese research papers

GAINING RECOGNITION The index would address the problem of professors' work going unrecognized in the most commonly used indexes because it is in Chinese

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

In response to a furor over college rankings based on published research papers that some universities say discriminated against humanities and social sciences, legislators yesterday urged the Ministry of Education and the National Science Council to help establish a Taiwan Social Sciences Citation Index (TSSCI).

In the absence of an academic research database that identifies domestic researchers' studies written in Chinese in social sciences and humanities, many colleges focusing on the humanities fared poorly on the ministry's rankings, legislators said.

According to National Science Council Vice Chairman Liao Chun-chen (廖俊臣), the index might compensate for the fact that many professors in Taiwan write research papers only in Chinese, making it unlikely that their work will be published in the journals listed in the Social Sciences Citation Index, an internationally accredited database in social sciences.

"Actually the council has been working on the establishment of the TSSCI database for three years," said Liao. "However, we are still at the stage of reviewing and collecting eligible journals to be compiled into the TSSCI."

Liao said the council has so far approved 28 journals to be included in the database. Another 35 are still being considered.

Liao said, however, that the index was starved of funds and appealed to lawmakers for more money.

Liu Yi-chou (劉義周), a Chengchi University professor who has been involved in setting up the index from the beginning, said the database already influenced colleges' decisions on whether to promote or extend the contracts of their professors.

"But we want to stress that we should not rely on a single indicator when evaluating academic excellence," Liu said.

Liu's university was one of the most vocal in protesting the ministry's publication of the rankings, which placed the traditionally top-ranking Chengchi University 48th out of 154.

Many legislators also took the chance to criticize the ministry for compiling the rankings with what they said was problematic methodology.

"The evaluation that the ministry conducted underestimated local academic development and humanities," said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Tung-hao (李桐豪). "The evaluation indicators the ministry used were neither comprehensive nor tenable. It measured different disciplines with the same ruler, which is unprofessional."

The ministry evaluated colleges' academic performance based on research papers found in the Science Citation Index, the Social Sciences Citation Index and the Engineering Index for last year.

Vice Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) assured legislators that the ministry would be more careful when conducting such reports in the future.

"We will measure colleges' academic achievements by categorizing the fields first and taking the disparities into consideration," Fan said.

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