Bonuses encourage lecturers to do scientific research, but problems remain

January 06, 2020 - 08:12
Universities in Việt Nam have had an increasing number of scientific articles published in prestigious international journals.



Financial incentives motivate scientific research at universities. photo


HCM CITY – Universities in Việt Nam have had an increasing number of scientific articles published in prestigious international journals.

This is thanks to a recent policy offering financial bonuses to researchers.

Three years ago, HCM City’s Economics University started offering money to lecturers who had articles published internationally, reported Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) Newspaper.

With the rewards of up to VNĐ200 million (US$8,650) in cash per article, the university witnessed the number of publications increasing steadily each year, with 44 in 2016, 57 in 2017, 60 in 2018 and 82 this year.

“Along with the compulsory regulations on scientific research, the incentive policy helped increase the number of internationally-published scientific articles in recent years,” Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Trọng Hoài, vice rector of the HCM City Economics University, told the paper.

“Our university’s fund of bonus money is about VNĐ2 billion (US$87,000) per year,” Hoài said.

Published articles by lecturers from HCM City’s Open University increased to 62 in 2018, from just 16 in 2017, after the university introduced the bonus policy.

“The university started the incentive policy in 2017, with rates ranging from VNĐ40 million to 100 million (US$1,700-4,300) per article,” said Prof. Nguyễn Minh Hà, rector of the Open University.

The rates would increase next year, he said.

“The bonus was not much, but motivated lecturers and graduate students to pay more attention to doing scientific research and publishing their articles in international scientific journals as well as co-operating with professors at universities abroad,” Hà said.

At present, the bonuses offered by universities in HCM City range from VNĐ6 million to 200 million (US$259 to US$8,650).

The Ministry of Education and Training paid a total of VNĐ6 billion (US$259,000) to 1,718 writers of scientific articles published in international journals in 2018.

In 2018, the number of internationally-published articles increased 26 per cent compared to previous years.

Side effects

However, financial rewards have exposed some shortcomings.

One problem was that some lecturers were naming other universities in their work to get higher bonus pay-outs.

“This is because the bonus at our university was low. So, many lecturers published their articles under names of other universities,” said Nguyễn Đức Chung, vice rector of HCM City’s Banking University.

“Some universities pay VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) for an internationally-published article,” Trung said.

“In fact, this method helped them buy scientific articles,” he said.

In scientific research, the collaboration of lecturers from many different universities was very common, Trung said.

But being a full-time lecturer at one university but receiving money from another was a form of fraud, he said.

According to Prof. Hà, in other countries, universities had their own funds for scientific research but professors were very active in finding external financial sources to carry out work.

The financial sources would be used to buy equipment which became property of the universities after the research was completed, Hà said.

“That is a form of doing research we need to learn,” he said.

In the short term, universities in Việt Nam will still continue offering incentives to motivate researchers, but in the long term, universities should encourage lecturers to find external financial sources to undertake their work, he added. – VNS