Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Finally, a VC with a good academic record

Got this piece of news from a friend from one of the public unis. Zaini Ujang, at 43, is the youngest VC in a public university, in this case, UTM. Unlike the UITM VC, Prof Zaini Ujang is a legit academic with a history of academic publications in peer reviewed journals. And he doesn't boast that he's a life long UMNO member and is proud of his publication record. You can view his publication record here. It's this kind of appointment which gives me some hope in the public university system in Malaysia. Another sign that UTM is moving in the right direction? I recently got to know two Malaysian PhD students in Cambridge who are sponsored by UTM. If they and others like them go back to UTM, it's a good sign for that institution.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kian Ming!

Am excited to read about Zaini's publications but I think the link is broken.

Thanks.

WY Kam 甘永元 said...

http://www.fkkksa.utm.my/staff/zaini/

google will tell you that

Anonymous said...

is "being cited" constitute a "publication"in itself?

Anonymous said...

Fellow anon: An article X "being cited" in article Y means X is mentioned/ referenced in some manner in Y. Roughly speaking, a more widely-cited publication has more "impact" in its field of research. Of course that then leads to gaming of the system by researchers citing their own papers, etc.

Anonymous said...

BTW, why were the VC's papers submitted almost exclusively to this single Water Sci Technol Journal? Why not Water Management (Inst Civil Engineers, UK), Environ Sci Technol (Am Chem Soc, US), Water Res (Elsevier), etc.?
I won't speculate, and must agree with KM that at least he's publishing. Our lot to have such lowered expectations of our university leaders...

Anonymous said...

because he is the editor of the journal!

Anonymous said...

Anon 2.02 pm,
I was only trying to put a tongue in the cheek or sarcasm! hehehe
Dont be so straight like Mr Bean larrrr ;)

Anonymous said...

Among environmental and water engineering academicians, Water Science and Technology is not a highly rated journal. In fact, the papers published are presented at conferences and then minimally reviewed and published as archived journal papers (like a reviewed conference proceedings). The more highly rated journal from this association is Water Research.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the bloggers here. They give perspective to all the issues and give the balanced view or peer review of academic matters. Keep it up!If not for these silent and hidden bloggers we would not have been exposed to the real truth...
but still KM is tooquick going overboard in praising

WY Kam 甘永元 said...

anon_10042008:1024am,

as usual, most people will take things are its face value. well, publishing in a journal that one is part of the editorial board is nothing new really. I have to admit though, Water Sci Tech is not the best journal out there on this stream of research. nevertheless, this is stil better than that UiTm fella...by miles!

Some impact factors ( can be misleading) for u guy:
0.726 WASTE MANAGEMENT
0.380 WASTE MANAGEMENT & RESEARCH
0.526 WATER AIR AND SOIL POLLUTION
0.817 WATER ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH
0.560 WATER INTERNATIONAL
0.698 WATER QUALITY RESEARCH JOURNAL OF CANADA
1.611 WATER RESEARCH
0.302 WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
1.692 WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH
0.481 WATER SA
0.661 WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Anonymous said...

Most academics will not publish in a journal when they are a member of its editorial board. Due to ethical reasons I suppose.

Anonymous said...

PhD holders in Dept of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University Putra Malaysia.

1. Dr Mohd Halim - Sheffield
2. Dr Zurina - UMIST
3. Dr Wan Azlina - Sheffield
4. Dr Tinia Idaty - Cambridge
5. Dr Suraya - Imperial College
6. Dr Siti Aslina - Imperial College
7. Dr Shafreeza - Newcastle
8. Dr Salmiaton - UMIST
9. Dr Norhafizah - Cambridge
10.Dr Mohd Amran - Birmingham
11.Dr Intan Salwani - Cambridge
12.Dr Dayang Radiah - Birmingham
13.Dr Thomas Choong - Cambridge
14.Dr BT Tey - Birmingham
15.Dr Luqman Chuah - Birmingham
16.Dr Fakhrul Razi - Newcastle Upon Tyne
17.Dr Azni - Newcastle Upon Tyne

WY Kam 甘永元 said...

the last anon is a little random. what about UPM? we re talking about UTM....

Anonymous said...

What is there to shout about getting a degree in Birmingham, or Cambridge...etec. It is more what you are or how productive you are after getting the PhD. What is the point after getting such degrees if you produce Mickey Mouse Research papers in Mickey mouse journals such as Sains Malaysiana ?
Make me sick hearing these jokers bragging they have PhD s from these universities but becoming a lame duck or in fertile in publications after reaching home...
The only thing these people can do is brag themselves like s**t in front of first year students and having the jaguh kampung mentality

Anonymous said...

Well said, Anon 11:00am. There are many cases of PhD holders from prestigous universities ending up as 'dead' PhD's in their academic careers. As someone commented, what is more important is whether a PhD holder can do independent research and be productive 'when the umbilical cord (to the thesis supervisor) is cut'.In our local universities you will hear complaints from a number of new lecturers that they are not guided in their research work. Looks like research cannot be done without a supervisor!

Anonymous said...

Not many people can fathom what it takes to do 'real' research, thus the careless comments.

I have a PhD from oxbridge, and yes, I would still need my supervisor's guidance even afer I called myself a lecturer, IF I want to continue doing research at oxbridge levels. At least for some time.

If you ask me, getting a PhD, even from oxbridge, is merely ''an indication that you can be trained to do science at a high level''. Full stop. It doesn't means you are ABLE to do science at a high level YET.

The real reasons why people like me becomes dead academicians (sad, isn't it) when we get back here is multivariate : lack of a research culture, non-conducive environment, too much focus on other aspects e.g. admin, politicking (main reason...); whether willingly or having it shoved down the throat.
Not that we don't try to stay on the true path of a scientist, but it gets very tiring and frustrating very quickly.

Anonymous said...

Ouch!!
If you just read the comments, you get a picture that ALL local academics are losers....just to tip the scales, there are a lot of brilliant academics..yes..in local universities...there are professors who've risen due to merit......there are professors with a long list of publications in respectable peer reviewed journals....some are fellows of respected assoc.s overseas and are accepted as peers....indeed, they are specialists in their own field...
I dont want to name names....but tak a closer look at their CVs....don't just generalize...just because they;re not glorified by the press does'nt mean they dont exist

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that our VCs need to have better qualifications. Just look at Universiti Malaya. Supposedly one of our top ranked Universities, but headed by a person who left the academia years before she came back to become the VC. When Datuk rafiah Salim left, if I am not wrong, she was just the Deputy Dean of Law Faculty. She does not even have a Phd or failed to complete her Phd. She is also not even a professor. How can she sit on the same table with the likes of Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, LSE and so on. Or even the lower ranked universities who are headed by professors.

Even so, if she can perform, that is alright. But when I saw her in the news and so on, she does not inspire confidence. And as far as I am concerned, her appointment came with great hope but she has failed miserably so far.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:08:00

Agree that there are some real-world profs, but they are from an era that's slipping away. When was the last time someone publish an article in Nature or Science?

Anonymous said...

Anon 09:04:00 PM
There is some basis for saying that lack of research culture, non-conducive environment, politiking etc in our local universities hamper research.But there a number of local academics (many have already retired)who have succeeded in doing 'real' research (in your words)against all these odds.Often, these reasons are quoted to justify nonproductivity. As a retired academic I have heard them often enough.
Research at a very high level (real research) is indeed very tough and should be the goal of every academic. However it shouldn't be a all or nothing mission.CV's of renowned professors will show you that they do not publish in top journals all the time. In good universities to publish in mediocre journals most of the time means academic death (well, not in local universities).
Based on encounters in my academic career,I do concur with Anon 11:06:00 AM regarding the remark "complaints from a number of new lecturers that they are not guided in their research work". If a PhD holder has been trained to do research at a high level, it appears strange that he can be at a loss (or sometimes 'total loss').It's fine to go back to one's supervisor for collaborative work (after all both have worked together) but it should be on a different level and should not be a repeat of the whole PhD process (in extreme cases it's 'baby sitting'by the supervisor). PhD students who need very little or no handholding from their supervisors are very likely to be independent later on. Doing a post-doc will be very useful for a PhD to gain more research experience(how many of our academics do this?).

Anonymous said...

There's a comment about Zaini Ujang easily publishes because he's editor of the journal....
Isn't the fact that he is an editor of an international peer reviewed journal a positive thing?

Anonymous said...

Dear 02:51:00 AM,
Being an editor of an international peer reviewed journal is something positive but using the position to publish papers not subjected to the (strict) standards of the journal is not:Fellow associate editors will tend to be accommodating and papers can be sent to friends/colleagues to get favourable reviews.

Anonymous said...

I heard of a regional journal, something like Asia Pacific Journal of Biotech or watever, asides from hanging names of a few eminent researchers, most in the Editorial Board are all " kawan2" to the editors or watever...

The budaya to bodek and jack or please some one is so rampant that in the end the journal loses its academic credibility....

Malaysia bolih!

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:10:00 retired academic
I think you answered yourself in your 1st para - "(many have already retired)"- they were from a previous era where research and publication is not so competitive. The good old days when you just teach and do research. I did my basic degree during those days, and fondly remember them.

Check out Scopus - prior to 1980's, UM published 9 papers in Nature, and IMR published 25 in Nature. Then it was a complete drought. Why? The world has moved forward, fast forward. The standard of publication is being raised every year. There is no way we can catch up unless those "reasons quoted to justify nonproductivity" are removed.

I do agree that PhD holder should at least be able to do something. But nobody's ever totally independent. My supe spent 15 years in oxbridge when I join the lab. There were many times when we are both at a total loss. What do we do? We refer to my supe's old supe in MIT......

Sorry for all these rantings, will stop here.

Points to add:
1) some local academics may think that being ask to review a paper means you are on that journal's editorial board.
2) some journals intentionally has editorial members in as many countries as possible to 'provide a global platform'
3) a better (though not foolproof) method to judge is by looking at citations, not number of publications. Even the THES ranking uses 'citation per faculty member' as one of their measures.

Anonymous said...

Dear 08:47:00 PM,
Have been following your comments with interest.There seems to be a misunderstanding about independent research here. With the fast-paced development in science, cross-displinary research is the current norm.In my opinion this type of dependence is good.Retired academic did point out the need for collaborative work. Whether a researcher can be "totally independent" will depend on the discipline. For example, in theoretical especially mathematical research, a researcher can work alone. This can be seen from the single-authored publications of theoretical physicists and mathematicians.On the other hand a researcher can be working independently to build a theoretical model to explain a certain phenomenon but will depend on the experimentalist for data to validate the model. Perhaps Retired Academian is refering to the 'baby-sitting'(in his/her words) or hand-holding kind of dependence. (Retired academician please elaborate.)This may be the case in our local institutions. In top universities overseas one of the criteria for promotion is to show ability to do 'independent' research.
The drought in significant publications you mentioned is not due to raising standard alone. You know very the prevailing policy for the last twenty years or so and the resulting brain drain.

About-to-retire academic

walla said...

- why no paper in BM?
- does he teach his students in BM or english?
- when he/they research, are the research papers they refer in BM or english?

three simple but important questions if our uni's are to produce more Dr Zaini's, the one here was trained in UK.

Agree?

Anonymous said...

SAINS MALAYSIANA is indexed and abstracted in ISI Thomson Reuters (Science Citation Index Expanded/SciSearch®, Journal Citation Reports/Science Edition), SCOPUS, Chemical Abstracts and Zentralblatt MATH.