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Problems hinder VN medical sector from having publications in prestigious journals

Having scientific articles published in Nature and Science is a lifelong dream of many scientists, including countries with developed science sectors, according to Prof Ta Thanh Van, President of Hanoi Medical University.


Prof Ta Thanh Van


But having articles published in prestigious journals can be difficult for all academic fields, not only the medical sector.

According to Van, science journals are classified into different groups which have different prestige levels and scientific value. Many people try to set criteria to quantify the scientific value of journals. However, the criteria is not the same for all. There are some journals with extremely low scientific credibility.

According to Van, it is very difficult to publish scientific articles in the world’s most famous journals with the current resources (human, research facilities, financial capability) in Vietnam.

There are three barriers that prevent scientists from publishing articles in international prestigious journals.

The first is English skills. What will their articles be like if they don’t know how to express their ideas, even though their ideas are very good?

The second is ideas for research. This is the most important for scientists. The newer and more groundbreaking the ideas are, the higher the value and opportunities to publish in prestigious journals.

Research work which just follows or imitates ideas and methods of someone else won’t have high scientific value and will be rejected by journals as they cannot satisfy the requirements for ‘novelty’.

This is a big problem for Vietnamese scientists. In order to have ‘novelty’ and ‘breakthrough’, the country needs to have a very strong foundation of basic sciences, so scientists can ‘live on science and live for science’. They need to read a lot of books, and exchange information with international scientists via conferences, seminar and other channels.

The third is facilities and financial capability. Once scientists have ideas, they need necessary conditions to prove their ideas. Scientists need good facilities and financial capability to pay for research, experiments and workers. There should be a financial management mechanism that will help boost the development of science and technology, not just a mechanism aimed at preventing wrongdoing in scientific activities.

He said that the contingent of Vietnamese scientists has been growing rapidly over the last 10 years thanks to policies on strengthening training in both Vietnam and overseas.

“Vietnam now has many good scientists of an international stature, including ones trained in Vietnam and foreign countries, and VietKieu (overseas Vietnamese) who return to work. However, no matter what they are, if we don’t have these three above factors, we will forever lag behind,” he said.

As for solutions to the problems, Van said the most important is a reasonable policy that encourages the development of science.

“By that, I mean fairness. Scientists need to be paid based on their abilities,” he said.

“There should be a mechanism that ‘filters’ and ‘classifies’ scientists. They need to be nurtured, given favorable conditions to work, and get paid for their scientific capability,” he said.

“Scientific capability means the scientific products they create, or the training of ‘seeds’ who can offer products in the future. Uniformity and egalitarianism are obstacles to science development,” Van said.

Vietnam also needs to define the priority for every field of science and technology – at the national, ministerial and local levels. This will allow Vietnam to make reasonable investments based on the needs of society, and save resources.

It’s also necessary to associate research with training to save resources and strive for the ‘dual goal’ of improvement of training quality and vice versa. A modern and advanced training system creates talented scientists and valuable scientific products.

Around the world, the ‘cradle’ of inventions and big prizes like Nobel Price exists mostly at universities. The existence of research institutes that are separated from training activities is a waste of resources and is inefficient. 

Le Huyen

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