Sharing Science, Changing the Practice

Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Lavoisier, Mendel, Plato, and Aristotle are just some of the big names when we talk about the different fields in science. They are long dead, yet we still know them and recognize their contributions in various fields of study. Before they passed, they published papers about their studies. Their claims were tested and criticized by different scientists from different places and different generations. Their ideas still live today. These scientists are still recognized worldwide because of their unmatched findings.

For Filipino scientists to be recognized worldwide and for the Philippines to compete with the S&T performance of other countries, Filipino scientists have to publish their study results in international journals like what Dr. Flor Lacanilao keep on stressing in his articles.

Dr. Lacanilao, who is a retired professor of Marine Science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, defined scientists as researchers who have published their studies in international journals. In most dictionaries, scientists are defined as persons who are devoted to and are experts in science. How would we know that someone is an expert in science if the said person has not published his studies? How could s/he be recognized as a scientist if other scientists in other countries know nothing about his/her studies? Science is a body of collective knowledge. Scientists share their findings with their fellow scientists. They give their critiques or opinions about other scientists’ work. There is knowledge sharing among scientists and that results to the creation of better research findings. Scientists collaborate with each other to further improve their researches. Filipino scientists have to join that knowledge sharing and improve their researches by joining the international science community.

Yes, we have brilliant minds in the country like what Dr. Isagani Cruz said in his column Academic Research published at the Philippine Star in 2010. Most of the time, we Filipinos claim that Filipino scientists are the ones who first invented this and that. And we are always proud that we are Filipinos. But why are most Filipino scientists not recognized or why are they not credited for their inventions? Here comes the reason why publishing studies in international journals is important. However, we first have to do good research before publishing it. This is not an easy job.

Blame the practice not the lack of funds

Dr. Lacanilao said, “Funding is necessary but not sufficient precondition for research and development” in his article Public Understanding of Science. We always blame the lack of funds, but it is actually the misallocation of funds. As suggested by Dr. Lacanilao, incentives should be given to those scientists who can publish their work in international journals not to the persons who have only published what Dr. Lacanilao called the gray literature or the published papers that are not adequately peer reviewed, not accessible, not verifiable, and not taken seriously.

The common practice as discussed by Dr. Lacanilao is that graduate students stop the research process after their theses are bound. Well in fact the proper publication of their study is also part of the process. Another wrong practice is that our policy makers support and base their policies on the research findings that are not actually published internationally.The government also give awards for gray literature.

We do not have to bribe Filipino researchers for them to do better research and publish it in international journals. But we have to give them incentives or forms of reinforcement so they will be more inspired to do better research. People react on rewards.

As proposed by Dr. Lacanilao, publications in international journals should be a requirement in granting of higher degree in science, appointing members of graduate faculty and journal editorial boards, giving research grants, promotions, and awards, and in appointing research managers and science administrators.

Funds have to be properly allocated and used productively.

Need for real scientists not sayangtists

Sayangtists are scientists who do not make the most out of his/her resources. Therefore s/he is not really a scientist. I believe that scientists have the most creative and complex minds, but their creativity does not end in their minds. They share their ideas with their fellow scientists for it to be challenged or verified. Then they share their findings with the general public including the lawmakers who are to use or apply those findings in making decisions for the development of communities.

Research is fundamental in development. FlorLacanilao presented the relationship between R&D and S&T, which he illustrated as follows: RESEARCH to SCIENCE to TECHNOLOGY to DEVELOPMENT.

In addition, Caesar B. Cororaton said, “Economic growth is determined by how well a country mobilizes its resources to improve productivity in order to increase production of goods and services. Generally resources include labor and human skills, capital, land, and natural resources, while major factors affecting productivity are technology, research and development,” in his paperResearch and Development and Technology in the Philippines in 2003.

No other than our scientists have to do the proper research.

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