National Academic Award

The nominations for the National Academic Awards 2009, which recognizes successful academicians in their respective fields, are now open until May 17, 2010 (for details, click here). Briefly, there are six categories to be presented,

  1. National Academic Personality Award
  2. Journal Article Publication Award
  3. Book Publication Award
  4. Innovation and Product Commercialization Award
  5. Arts and Creativity Award
  6. Teaching Award

The above awards are several positive initiatives taken by the Higher Education Ministry to transform Malaysian universities into world-class institutions.

In this short article, I would like to share my personal views on the Journal Article Publication Award. The minimum criterion is very clear, i.e. journals listed in the top 10% of impact factor in each discipline (for Sciences), and  in the top 15% of impact factor in each discipline (for Social Sciences).

The criterion adopted is quite fair because:

  • Sciences and social sciences are two different fields that cannot be put together.

In 2008, there were 6,620 journals indexed in the JCR Science Edition, and the top-ranked journal CA-A Cancer Journal for Clinicians garnered an impact factor of 74.575. In fact, 52 science journals have impact factor greater than 16.

In sharp contrast, there were only 1,985 journals in the JCR Social Sciences Edition 2008. The impact factor for the top-ranked Annual Review of Psychology was 16.217. About 1100 journals have impact factor less than 1.o, which account for 55% of the report.

  • Even in the same field (sciences or social sciences), the impact factor should be discipline-specific.

In this regard, the National Academic Awards (NAA) is on the right track. The sciences are divided into 170 subject categories, and the NAA only considers journals listed in the top 10% of impact factor in each discipline. 817 journals were included in the final list (see here).

As for the social sciences, there are 59 subject categories, and only journals in the top 15% of impact factor in each discipline are selected as the minimum criterion for consideration.  Even so, there were only 349 journals in the final list (see here).

I strongly believe that such recognition to academicians should be extended to the university level. If the Thomson ISI is adopted as the  benchmark  at the ministry level, similar exercise at the university level should also employ the above indicator. I am glad that my home university (Universiti Malaysia Sabah) is moving in the same direction. To kick-start,  each article published in ISI-indexed journals for year 2008 and 2009 were rewarded with cash incentive by UMS. However, there is still much room for improvement in terms of the reward structure.