The SSCI: A Response to Clyde Warden and Michael Turton

In the past, I have written quite critically about the Taiwan Ministry of Education’s pressure on university faculty to publish in journals listed on indexes compiled by the commercial company Thompson ISI. In addition, Dr. Ian Morely has made numerous insightful comments to these posts discussing the practical problems of this policy [See comments to these posts (1), (2) ]. In addition, I have received personal correspondence from Dr. Steven Krashen supporting my posts about the SSCI. Dr. Clyde Warden and Michael Turton, who generally support this policy, have responded to this with many excellent comments discussing the positive results this policy creates [See comments to these posts (1), (2), (3), (4)]. Recent conversations with Taiwanese professors have made me reconsider my feelings about the policy.

My limited experience speaking about this policy with Taiwanese is that they believe it is good for Taiwan scholarship. While they recognize the difficulties that I have pointed to in my posts, they are extremely critical of the research directions of work in their own fields being published in local journals. I have been repeatedly told about problems getting research published locally that was published without difficulty in the internationally recognized top journals in their area.

I have heard other interesting reasons for why local scholars feel there are positive aspects to the policy. I have been told of pride that one’s work is now being read by an international audience, rather than just local scholars. Along this line, I have been told about the feeling that joining the international research community is important for scholars in Taiwan, since much of the overseas training received by professors here was done 10 or more years ago and is now becoming dated. And it goes on and on. The point is that local scholars themselves don’t seem to feel that the problems of this system are all that serious.

I still think there are problems associated with this system. And to be frank, I was extremely flattered by Dr. Krashen’s attention. But I am coming to feel that my stubborn resistance is self-serving and neglects the wider needs of the people the system is set up to serve — the Taiwanese.

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Comments

Scott, I’m very impressed to see you follow up our long discussion with a post like this. Rather than just a single opinion, your blog seems to inspire you to check out more information, which you then post. While we don’t always come closer on our opinions, this time it seems we have.

From my own perspective, I can list many strange effects the SSCI emphasis has, but you have covered the main positive one—people here generally feel comfortable with it because they live in the complex cultural milieu that brings about the need to start with.

Just out of curiosity, Scott, what kinds of fields are the professors you’ve talked to coming from?

While I still feel that the MOE’s policy distorts the professional market creating unanticipated effects, this is a trade-off. Just as I accept the market distorting effects of trade unions and welfare because of the benefits I perceive them to bring, I am coming to accept that the MOE may have greater goals in mind that are difficult to see from my standpoint.

The sources of my inspiration on this matter come from a number of differnt departments, but they include Education, Hotel Management, and Microbiology.

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