Red Tape Holding Back Quality Research in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post - Wednesday February 14, 2018

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, 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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