Only 3 of 8 new Academicians are scientists

By Flor Lacanilao

The Philippine Star reports yesterday (11 Sept) the 8 new members of NAST. It says, “Academician is a title given to Filipino scientists whose significant scientific works have considerably contributed to the progress of the country and the Filipino people.”

Six are from UP and the two others, from the Department of Agriculture (Philippine Carabao Center) and De La Salle University. Those from UP are Arsenio Balisacan, Carmencita Padilla, Jaime Montoya, Jose Maria Balmaceda, Gavino Trono, and Gisela Concepcion.

The two others are DA/PCC executive director Libertado Cruz and Alvin Culaba of DSLU.

See full report at http://philstar.com/index.php?Science%20and%20Technology&p=49&type=2&sec=36&aid=2008091017

To find out if there was an improvement in electing new members to NAST, I made a search of their publications through the Google Scholar and selected only publications in journals indexed by Science Citation Index (SCI) and Social Sciences Citation Index.

Only 3 of the 8 new NAST members are scientists — Balisacan, Trono, and Concepcion (see attached Table 1). Of the other five, my search showed that two have only 3 publications each and the last three have no publication each as sole or lead author in SCI-indexed journals. As I have mentioned elsewhere, in 2007, only two of the four elected to NAST membership are scientists.

For comparison, I also attached Table 2 to show a partial list of our leading biologists, who are non-NAST members, and their publications. You will note that the top 3 of the 8 new Academicians have publication performance comparable to the lower third of the 18 non-NAST biologists. All these clearly show the continuing problems with electing new members to NAST discussed in my UP Centennial paper (note importance of Science Citation Index to developing countries) posted at,

http://www.philippinestoday.net/archives/479
http://www.bahaykuboresearch.net/index.php?module=article&view=52

They again emphasize why it is important for our science administrators and media people to know the relation between scientific work and national progress. This requires understanding how scientific work leads to national progress. Crucial is technology development, the capability for which is determined by the state of science, and this in turn is measured by the number of scientific publications, the output of research if properly done. Hence, the important role of SCI as an objective indicator in measuring research performance, especially in poor and developing countries.

Let me close this by quoting again Bruce Alberts, former president of US National Academy of Sciences and now editor-in-chief of Science, “Membership in the NAS is a widely recognized sign of excellence in scientific research” and where “each member should serve as a role model for defining excellence in science for the next generation of scientists in his or her field” (PNAS 102: 7405-7406, 2005).

Table 1. Top 3 of 8 new members of NAST elected in 2008 and their publications in peer-reviewed international journalsa
Academician No. of journal titles No. of publications Sole or lead authorship
Arsenio Balisacan 8 13 12
Gavino Trono Jr 6 16 7
Gisela Concepción 16 29 4
aData were obtained through the Google Scholar in Aug-Sept 2008, and only publications in journals covered in Science Citation Index (SCI) or Social Sciences Citation Index are included. NAST, Philippine National Academy of Science and Technology.

Of the remaining five new members, two have only 3 publications each, and the other three have no publication each as sole or lead author. In 2007, only two of the four elected to NAST membership are scientists. Compare with Table 2.

Table 2. Partial list of leading Filipino biologists who are non-NAST members and their SCI-indexed publicationsa
Red = SEAFDEC 
Brown = UPD / MSI
Blue = UPD / Inst Biol
No. of journal titles No. of publications Sole or lead authorship
Jurgenne Primavera 23 38b 21c
Relicardo Coloso 16 35 12
Helena Yap 9 36 16
Rhodora Azanza 12 29 13
Teodora Bagarinao 10 17 13
Oseni Millamena 6 26 18
Josefa Tan-Fermin 7 20 15
Luis Maria Garcia 5 20 17
Felix Ayson 6 18 14
Anicia Hurtado 4 24 19
Ilda Borlongan 7 19 11
Clarissa Marte 5 20 11
Gilda Lio-Po 6 15 10
Miguel Fortes 10 31 4
Celia Lavilla-Pitogo 12 22 5
Joebert Toledo 6 14 8
Porfirio Aliño 8 19 4
MA Juinio-Menez 8 13 4
aSame as footnote of Table 1, except for SCI-indexed publications only. bOne paper in Nature and two in SciencecOne paper in Science as sole author. SEAFDEC, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center; UPD, University of the Philippines Diliman; MSI, Marine Science Institute.