International ISI Papers Published by Vietnamese Universities from 2015 to 2017

(The data in this article comes from information on 8,500 Vietnamese ISI publications available in the Web of Science database, from June to May, for the academic years 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017)
  The top 20 Vietnamese universities with the most ISI publications from 2016 to 2017

Number of publications

As seen in Fig.1, in 2016-2017, the Vietnam National University in Hanoi, with its many researchers, has the highest number of ISI publications in Vietnam, 50% higher than VNU HCMC and Ton Duc Thang University, in second and third positions respectively, and followed by Duy Tan University and the Hanoi University of Science and Technology.
Looking more closely, it can be seen the publications these five leading universities can be differentiated from the remaining ones, by totaling double the number of the next fifteen universities combined. Among the twenty universities ranked, DTU is the only private institution.

The top 20 Vietnamese universities publishing in the first six months of 2017

In the first six months of 2017, the quantity of ISI publications already represents 55% of the total in 2016-2017, (see Fig. 2), indicating increased activity. However, it does not indicate the quality or depth of the research. 

Research at Ton Duc Thang University has risen rapidly, but still lacks the strength of VNU Hanoi, VNU HCMC or Hanoi University of Science and Technology, (see Fig. 3). However, it is possible for Ton Duc Thang University to move into second position if it can compete with its neighbor, VNU HCMC, which includes the University of Science and Technology.
The top 10 public Vietnamese universities, ranked by number of ISI publications in 2016-2017

The top private Vietnamese universities, ranked by number of ISI publications in 2016-2017

All Vietnamese private universities are relatively new and must independently prioritize fundamental education before engaging in research and publishing papers in international ISI-listed journals. This requires heavy investment and the determination to re-channel or hire new resources into research activities. The number of publications by private institutions in 2016-2017 was only 402. Fig. 4 shows that, apart from DTU, all others had low output, with DTU contributing 77% of the total, 3.5 times higher than all the other private universities combined. However, one other university, Nguyen Tat Thanh University, is rising fast, having focused on research over the last two years.  

Comparing Vietnam’s regional universities with each other, based on the 2016-2017 data, Thai Nguyen University leads in the number of publications, (see Fig. 5). The next three universities are Can Tho University, Hue University and Danang University, with similar numbers of around 75 publications. The remaining universities, Vinh, Quy Nhon and Tay Nguyen University  had less than 40 ISI publications.
 Comparing the number of ISI publications from regional universities in 2016-2017

Increases in publication numbers between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017
Percentage increases and absolute increase in ISI publications from 2015-2016 to 2016-2017

Fig. 6 highlights the percentage increase in publications by Vietnamese universities between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. DTU and Ton Duc Thang University take the lead but other schools, like the University of Transport Technology, the University of Economic and Technical Industries, and the Trade University, show a notable increase during the past two academic years, although they are still lagging. Overall, this data demonstrates the efforts currently being made at Vietnamese universities to create a presence in international ISI-listed journals.

Impact Factor (IF)
  Distribution of Vietnamese universities in journals with high IF (> 15) in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017

Fig. 7 shows that papers in journals with the highest IFs have been published by VNU in Hanoi and HCMC, three medicine and pharmacy universities, two engineering, two regional universities in Thai Nguyen and Can Tho, DTU and Tan Tao University. The journal with the highest IF of 47.831, Lancet, specializes in Medicine, and all the universities that publish in it teach medicine and pharmacy.

Almost all Vietnamese research published in high-IF journals is conducted in collaboration with foreign partners. Fig. 7 shows the relative strength of these partnerships based on the quality of the journals they publish in. Hanoi Medical University, the University of Medicine and Pharmacy HCMC, the University of Public Health, Thai Nguyen University, Hanoi University of Pharmacy, Can Tho University, the Military Medical University, DTU and Tan Tao University all demonstrate the power of partnerships by publishing in Lancet. Next come the two VNUs again, this time by publishing fundamental science research in the Nature journal. Meanwhile, the University of Science and Technology in Hanoi is focused on material, energy and environmental sciences, and Le Quy Don University specializes in Electrical Engineering.

In summary, the 2016-2017 data shows that the strongest institutions are the ones who employ the largest number of researchers, the VNUs and HUST, for example, as well as some newcomers, including Ton Duc Thang and Duy Tan University. Vietnamese universities are working hard to increase the number of research papers published, which is rising from year to year. This is a good omen for Science in Vietnam, although many issues still need to be resolved.

(Media Center)

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