FOR academia, the tradition in the past has been to focus on research and educating the citizens of the future with less regard for commercial return.
Today, university expansion is accelerating in a number of countries around the world; it is a trend partially driven by the view that higher education is key to economic progress spearheading innovation and creating new industries.
A rich and diverse ecosystem of world-leading research is a key driver of growth and productivity.
The contribution of university research in advancing science — from the ideas, knowledge and talent in developing the field — can help to not only drive the global economy but also benefit society.
Industry-academia partnerships for instance can unlock and advance life-changing drug discoveries and significantly propel human progression.
Clarivate Analytics (CA) Asia Pacific managing director Dr David Liu said: “Scientific research and innovation are fundamental to society. Knowledge in innovation can help us tackle the many challenges of the world and address some of the most fundamental issues facing society and business.”
Based on global research reports on publication and patenting activity by CA, a trusted source of multidisciplinary citation databases for research discovery and analytics, 85 per cent of the research publication in the Asean region is dominated by research communities in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
“Universities are major players in many countries and most are working to develop world-class tertiary institutions with world-class research.
“If you look at a university’s life cycle, it starts with discovery and research. If you don’t build world-class universities with world-class research, you will not have the fundamentals to support the economy.
“Collaboration between the academia and corporate world plays a major part in the translation of basic research into practical application in the life cycle of innovation. Normalising this way of doing things benefits both parties in the long term,” added Liu.
As well as the commercialisation of research, innovation generated through business-university partnership is critical to growth in new businesses and driving efficiency and value in existing businesses.
Companies, driven by profit and creating value for stakeholders, can benefit by potentially influencing the academics and research of universities. By collaborating, academia can get access to more funding they will not have otherwise.
Malaysia showed a healthy growth in the number of granted patents accompanied by a corresponding growth in domestic patents from 17.5 per cent to 19.8 per cent of total patents in 2014.
“At CA, we have the data to measure, demonstrate and present all the contributions and excellence, not only in basic research and discovery but also across any life cycle of innovation.”
Headquartered in Philadelphia in the United States, CA (formerly the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters) owns and operates a collection of subscription-based businesses which provide customers with access to scientific literature, patents, trademarks, pharmaceutical information and other curated content.
Insights and analytics from its various Intellectual Property and Science resources, including Derwent World Patents Index, Derwent Patents Citation Index and the Web of Science which indexes contents of some 12,000 journals, enable the research ecosystem to accelerate discovery and the pace of innovation.
“When researchers publish their research articles in journals, we collect and index the top journals in our database. A selection of the best journals goes into our databases to present to customers. Within the databases, we also uniquely index the citations.”
Index citation helps to gauge the impact of research presented in the articles. The impact is based on the frequency the article in the journal is cited in a particular year, quantified by the citation usage of scholarly works measured by analysing the citation counts for an individual article, an author and an academic journal.
For instance, Liu explained, if there is interest in a particular research, it will also be vital to select the best research quality based on the citations impact.
“It is not only to help find specific research, but the best research in a particular area based on the citation impact of certain articles in the research.”
According to global research reports, Malaysia’s strongest marks in the world’s Highly Cited Papers are in the fields of engineering and space science.
While CA does not produce university rankings, it provides data relating to research impact and innovation.
“University rankings have their own objectives — some rankings provide information for students to choose their universities, others promote excellence of university development.
“Ranking agencies use CA’s data to produce different types of university rankings. They leverage on CA’s citation data and precise analytics to identify universities with potential to compete at a global level.”
However, scientific discovery achievement is just a part of university ranking. To achieve world-class standard, Malaysian universities must improve research capabilities and excellence that contribute to society.
One way to do this, Liu added, is getting impact through collaborations. “Globally, scientific research is no longer an individual play nor a nation’s exercise — it is becoming a global exercise — scientists are working with partners across industries and across countries and borders to tackle important research areas.
“In today’s world, it is more difficult for individuals to do research by themselves. A lot of research and innovation come in the from of partnerships.”
While the “publish or perish” mentality is rife in the academic world, partnerships places more emphasis on the need for quality contributions over a number of publications.
“Collaborations across different cultures and background offer more perspective.”
To compete, he added, we need access to how companies globally innovate. An example is United Kingdom’s top university, London Imperial College, where 75 per cent of its high impact journals are collaborations with other institutions, and 50 per cent with other countries.
In Malaysia, research output has grown five-fold over the last decade, from 3,843 scientific research publications in 2007 to 19,176 in 2016.
CA has also worked with the Higher Education Ministry for the last three years to recognise promising influential Malaysian researchers with Malaysia’s Research Star Award. The award, previously known as Malaysia’s Rising Star Award, celebrates those whose research are cited and recognised by their peers worldwide for their contribution to global science. The award is based on citations of published research papers in quality international journals as indexed in CA Web of Science.
CA is even more focused and agile to support customers to help accelerate innovation.
“As part of product development in Asia Pacific, we are adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our products to develop more AI intelligence support and tools.
“We look forward to learn more on research that’s beneficial for product development from universities in Malaysia.”