DLSU held the title of most productive research university in the Philippines for 2014 and 2015 according to the Scopus-Elsevier database. On August 19, the University will hold a celebration marking the 2,000th Scopus paper it has produced.
Administering overall research activities in the University is the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (OVCRI), which is composed of several research centers. The University Research Coordination Office (URCO) also aids in propagating research in the University by providing research grants and de-loading schemes to faculty members who wish to pursue research.
On the Humboldtian philosophy and incentive systems
According to URCO Director Dr. Feorillo Petronilo Demeterio III, the University should ideally follow the Humboldtian model of a research university, which primarily revolves around intensive and sustained research collaboration between professors and students, unity of pedagogy and research, and endowments. Dr. Demeterio believes that while the Humboldtian model, in its entirety, may not be able to function well in the Philippines, the University is trying to find a suitable model to increase its research productivity.
It was only in 2011 when DLSU declared itself as a research university. However, Demeterio believes that the University has not transitioned into a full-fledged research university just yet. “We’re transitioning to a research university from a teaching university, so the transition started about 40 or 30 years ago, but, predominantly, at present, it is still a teaching university,” he shares.
On the trade-offs between research and teaching, Dr. Deeterio believes that both are rated equally. “If you cannot pass the threshold in teaching, you cannot be promoted. If you cannot produce a paper for research, you cannot be promoted also. I think we have a balanced way of promoting and retaining [and] of giving tenure or permanency to faculty members,” he remarks.
In order to get promoted, a professor must be teaching at least one subject or three units for full-time professors. The lone subject will be used for evaluation for the professor’s teaching. Up to nine units can be de-loaded, explains Dr. Demeterio.
However, he explains that there are additional de-loading schemes for faculty, which includes the conferment of the research faculty status by the OVCRI and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academics. “For recipients of this status, they will have three, six, or nine units [of] de-loading every term so we [would] have enough support and grants for our faculty members,” Dr. Demeterio expresses. Cash incentives are also given to faculty members who are able to produce in Scopus or International Scientific Indexing (ISI)-listed journals.
Collaboration with students
On the quality of education being affected by research, Dr. Demeterio says that the Humboldtian model counters the problem by unifying research and teaching. The Humboldtian model does not only advocate teaching research to students, but also the idea of students being able to collaborate on research work with their professors. The University produces at least 250 research articles a year, and Dr. Demeterio believes that this number will rise once intensive and systematic collaborations with students and faculty members ensue from following the model.
“We have some measures in our faculty manual,” claims Dr. Demeterio. “For example, a faculty member collaborates with students, and they were able to publish their collaborative papers. The professor can claim credit for the paper, but the students can only be paid as research assistants. We pay them more if they are research assistants.” He also mentions that while students may not be automatically recognized as a collaborator in the paper, research grants will soon be made available to recognize graduate or undergraduate students as research collaborators.
The University also has its annual research productivity recognition ceremonies held in late September or early April. Professors who are able to publish with their students are recognized in this event. Graduate students or undergraduate students who were able to publish are also given recognition.
URCO recently implemented a research professors’ program. Research professors with less teaching assignments are expected to produce a number of Scopus or ISI papers. Once professors get into the program, they will be entitled to full scholarships as well as a salary or allowance. They will only be required to focus on their studies so that they will be published at the end of the year. Additionally, a research program for graduate students is also in the making, reveals Dr. Demeterio.
OVCRI also implemented an option for undergraduate and graduate thesis writers to submit a publishable article instead of a full thesis. A grant is also given to students who are able to publish in a journal listed in ISI, Scopus, or the Commission on Higher Education. Students entitled to the grant are able to participate in conferences both locally and abroad, and are given a stipend of P15,000 for conferences in the country and P30,000 for conferences abroad.
For now, the University, for its part, is pushing for more research collaboration between students and professors. “I think the most crucial thing is once we fully transition into a functional research university—a real research university—where the collaboration between students and faculty members are intensive, that is the point where production will really jump,” Dr. Demeterio expresses.
Students’ take on professors engaging in research while teaching
There are instances wherein professors who have accepted an academic load for a specific term choose to do research simultaneously. In these cases, there are times when students notice the tendency of such professors to neglect their teaching jobs because they are engrossed in research.
Marian Ferriols (III, AB-OSDM) shares that she feels disappointed when these professors end up focusing more on doing research. “If [professors] want to conduct research, they should properly balance it with their responsibilities as a prof. This means that while he/she is conducting research, it shouldn’t be at the expense of learning and personal development of the students,” she comments.
Jillianne De Jesus (III, AB-OSDM) expresses the same sentiment, saying that it is unfair for the students enrolled in such classes. “It is a bit irresponsible of the professor, since he/she committed to teach a class but couldn’t balance their time for both class and research. I understand that most professors really do many researches but they still have a job to fulfill and the students paid a relatively big amount and enrolled in their class to learn something,” she says.
Despite these sentiments from some students, Dr. Demeterio remains hopeful in the status of research in the University. “Today, the professors are more motivated to do research, because the rewards for research are great,” he explains. On the gap between research and teaching, he shares, “The fact that you noticed that some teachers are good in research but poor in teaching [is] a symptom, a problem that we are encountering because we have not fully transitioned yet into a research university.”
“In the transition phase we encounter these problems but hopefully we will transition towards a real research university then that problem will not exist anymore,” he ends.