According to the Scopus-Elsevier database, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, DLSU was the most productive research institution in the Philippines in 2014 and 2015. In total, DLSU had 1,780 research papers published and 12,203 citations as of March 3 this year.
Among the top five disciplines are the social sciences, engineering, computer science, environmental science, and arts and humanities. In addition, DLSU is currently publishing journals such as The Asia Pacific Education Researcher, Asia Pacific Social Science Review, Malay Research Journal, DLSU Business and Economics Review, and Manila Journal of Science.
Since its transition to a research university, DLSU has formed research collaborations with over 159 educational institutions, 25 of which are local while 134 are international. For research collaborations with local and international institutions, DLSU was able to publish 268 and 1,260 research articles, respectively.
Research organization, standards, and incentive systems
The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation oversees research in the University. The office, headed by Dr. Raymond Girard Tan, is composed of 11 research centers and five offices in charge of research management, intellectual property, incubation, research dissemination, and research ethics.
Further down the organizational structure, the University’s colleges also have their own directors for research and advanced studies, and college research councils. The research and advanced studies offices of the various colleges are given small endowments that allow them to initiate small research projects.
A faculty member who wishes to get involved with research can approach either their department, college, or an appropriate research center. For those who want to pursue their research through the University Research Coordination Office (URCO), research grants and teaching de-loading are made available. Endowments are managed by the DLSU Science Foundation, and the income of the faculty members doing research is disbursed as professorial chairs, supplementary research funds, publication cash incentives, and travel grants.
“Faculty members cannot get their tenure if they cannot produce papers. Here in La Salle you can get your promotion every year if you’re doing research, and the monetary reward in between ranks is very substantial,” explains URCO Director Dr. Feorillo Petronilo A. Demeterio III.
Before being promoted, faculty members need to present their published research output. Quality control measures are set, such as making sure these research outputs are published in journals that are listed on the ISI-Thomson Reuters, Scopus-Elsevier, and ASEAN Citation Index databases. The University gives higher cash incentives to faculty members who are able to publish in journals listed on the mentioned databases.
However, as of press time, DLSU has yet to produce a massive database or portal that will help catalogue all the publications and conference papers of its faculty members.
“That will be a very difficult project to do,” Dr. Demeterio describes. “We have an existing system called the Faculty Scholarly Output, but it’s so cumbersome—faculty members are not updating their [research] output. Our alternative now is to catalogue the papers of our faculty members through [online platforms such as] Google Scholar, Academia, and Research Gate.”
The problem with the Scopus-Elsevier database, Demeterio comments, is that it is unable to capture all output because many Filipino journals are not part of the database. However, a Philippine Citation Index, similar to the Scopus-Elsevier database, is currently being developed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). It is set to catalogue local journals accredited by CHED.
DLSU’s research philosophy
Dr. Demeterio says that ideally, DLSU should follow the Humboldtian model of a research university. Under the model, three factors are considered, namely, intensive and sustained research collaboration between professors and students, unity of pedagogy and research, and endowments.
“You cannot see that here,” Dr. Demetrio posits. “Professors and students doing research together as teams, you cannot see that in UP, you cannot see that in DLSU yet,” he states.
“[Through the Humboldtian model] there is no need for long classroom lectures. All we need is for professors and students to get on, do their research together. So through doing research, the students will learn, that’s the most important thing,” he emphasizes.
As of late, research collaborations between professors and students are evident only in some of DLSU’s graduate programs. “We’re encouraging professors to do research together with graduate students or even alumni,” Dr. Demeterio shares.
One of the other challenges for the University, however, is the lack of endowments to fund its research projects. According to Dr. Demeterio, the University’s current funds are not enough in order to fully transition into a research university.
In Germany, the birthplace of the Humboldtian model, research universities are publicly owned so the endowments are subsidized mainly by the German government. In some other countries like the United States of America, research universities are privately owned but also receive initial endowments from the government. In the Philippines, however, the government does not have a support system yet for the research projects of universities and colleges.
In line with this, Dr. Demeterio surmises, “I think our being a research university is [still] an ideal, and we’re still trying to work towards that status of becoming a real research university.”
Tradeoffs of doing both teaching and research
According to Dr. Demeterio, it is an inherent danger for universities that have not fully transitioned to a research university to experience problems in doing both teaching and research. He explains, “If you’re a good researcher, team player, and research manager, you will be a good teacher, because teaching in a research university is all about facilitating the research projects or collaborating with your students on how to do research.”
DLSU’s faculty members have to be good in both teaching and research in order to get promoted. Aside from research output, the faculty members also get a bulk of their performance assessment through the faculty evaluation done through the My.LaSalle system.
Dr. Maricar Prudente is one professor who engages in research work along with producing research. A full professor of the Science Education Department, she also presides as director of the Lasallian Institute for Development and Educational Research. For Dr. Prudente, doing research has not affected her teaching load. “I do my best to manage my time and allocate enough time for my research works and teaching preparations,” she explains.
Future of research in DLSU
Dr. Demetrio shares that while it might be difficult for DLSU to transition into a fully fledged research university, he hopes that it would at least transition to such in the graduate program. “We really need to reflect because when we declared ourselves as a research university, there was no massive change in the way we teach,” he highlights. “I think we should revisit that.”
He expresses the need for the government to acknowledge and support research universities, such as DLSU, through endowments in order for the Philippines to compete with other countries in terms of research output. Moreover, Dr. Demetrio also hopes that the University’s alumni and students would be able to support the school’s research efforts through funding.