Red Tape Holding Back Quality Research in Indonesia
Excessive regulation is hampering research in Indonesia, placing the country far behind other Asian countries in terms of research productivity, a study shows.
Commissioned by Regional Autonomy Watch (KPPOD), the study reveals that cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and uncertain waiting times for obtaining research permits are discouraging research activity, which at the same time continues to be subject to competition for influence between the country’s institutions.
KPPOD executive director Robert Endi Jaweng said on Monday that it took about three weeks to get a permit for a research project.
He opined that the requirement for an individual or institution to get a permit for a research project was unnecessary, because public information should be freely accessible for all people.
“It contradicts the spirit of our regulations on the freedom of information,” Jaweng said, adding that the output of scientific research was rarely even used by the government.
Meanwhile, academics and researchers welcomed last week’s move by the Home Ministry to annul a controversial regulation to screen research projects deemed to have potential negative impacts on the country. The regulation, issued quietly last month, had been sharply criticized, with academics stating it would harm scientific objectivity.
“Despite the progress, red tape is still a significant barrier to research development in the country,” Jaweng said.
Scientists need a research permit, also known as a research recommendation letter, to access government data or to interview local administration officials. The requirement for a research permit is stipulated in a 2011 ministerial regulation on guidelines for research recommendations. The regulation was revised in 2014.
Conducted in East Java and Yogyakarta, the study, which was started in April last year, found that, despite the permit requirement, many researchers were determined to continue their research activities without obtaining a permit, as they saw no practical benefits of holding such apermit.
Researcher Boedi Rheza said their reluctance might be down to the fact that, even if they had a permit, they would often fail to get data as expected.
“They face many procedural obstacles regarding the issuance of the permit, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia. This is because there has been a shortage of staff available to handle the issuance of permits,” he said, adding that inadequate infrastructure aggravated the situation.
Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) economic researcher Bhima Yudhistira shared his bitter experience on the impact of red tape in his research activities.
Even though INDEF had officially collaborated with the government in carrying out a research project, he cited an example, regional administration offices would still ask the institute to present a permit or recommendation from the National and Political Unity Agency (Bakesbang- pol). The group’s researchers had to wait for the issuance of permits from higher local administration institutions as well.
“When we were about to carry out two research projects together with the Agriculture Ministry and the Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry in 2016, local offices asked us to provide a permit from Bakesbangpol and from the regional administration,” he said.
As a result, Bhima said, the institute had to allocate 20 percent of the projects’ work time to getting the permits, which subsequently impacted the research outcome.
In 2016, Indonesia only published 11,470 scientific articles, far below Singapore and Malaysia, which published 19,992 and 28,546, respectively, according to scimagojr.com, an independent journal ranking website. That number puts Indonesia in the 11th position among Asian countries and 45th in global ranking.
“Research activities should be free from any hassle,” said Jaweng. (srs)
--- (Sorce The Jakarta Post – Wednesday February 14, 2018) ---
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