Monday, April 4, 2011

Former U.P. Visayas Chancellor criticizes CHED-sanctioned Pilipinas Monitoring and Evaluation Society workshops as promoting "grey literature"

(Editor's note: We are posting the following dispatch from former University of the Philippines in the Visayas Chancellor Flor Lacanilao who just sent us this short critique of an ongoing Commission on Higher Education and Development-sanctioned research and thesis writing seminar at U.P. Diliman which he says increases instead of reduces the incidence of "grey literature" in the Philippines)

By Flor Lacanilao

I got this message today on Research and Thesis Writing Seminar, which has been endorsed by the CHED Chairperson in her Memo to  ALL CHED Central and Regional Office Directors, and All Presidents/Heads of Public and Private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

(Editor's note: see the link to the seminar here)

It is yet, sad to say, another example of how the CHED has been doing damage to Philippine higher education (this seminar highlights the CHED part of my recent review on Basic Problems of Philippine science and education). Any academic scientist will see this by just reading through the announcement below and attached. 

For example, one learns to do academic research properly by doing it properly, as mentored by well-published scientists. Those who try to learn it through how to write a thesis are among our numerous unpublished or improperly published faculty members (gray literature authors). Note that some leading graduate schools in America, Europe, and Asia have done away with thesis requirement, and require instead publications in peer-reviewed international journals. (See also Training graduate students).

Further, the Seminar program does not list the lecturers, except for the Main Lecturer: Romeo B. Santos, Ph D, Professor, UP Diliman, etc., etc. I could not find any research publications by him in journals covered in Science Citation Index or Social Sciences Citation Index.

Why this is going to be held in UP Diliman campus, and to think that the CHED Chair is UP's Board of Regents Chair, say a lot about the state of research in UP.

(Dr. Flor Lacanilao obtained his Ph.D. (specialization in comparative endocrinology) from the University of California at Berkeley. He served as chairman of the Zoology Department at UP Diliman, chancellor of UP Visayas, and chief of SEAFDEC in Iloilo. His email address is at: .) 


  1. Dear Prof Florlaca,
    Prof. Romeo Santos cannot respond yet to your mail, as he is still in Paris through an invite from the French Evaluation Agency -for an annual meeting of international evaluators. Being part of his Secretariat and on his behalf, let me initially react to your letter.
    First of all, let me say that we, in PMES and WorkLand M&E, have a high regard for you and truly respect you -being an accomplished researcher, scientist and academician. In fact, Prof. Santos has from the very beginning broached the idea of approaching you and invite you to be one of our Consultants or Instructors in the seminar series that we are offering. We believed that due to your expertise and the Cause that you have been espousing vigorously in the media, we may find a noble way together of contributing concretely to the betterment of the society, which is our common desire. We continue to believe that we share the same aspiration.
    However, as we have stated in the past, although we support most of your grand ideas, let me say that we kindly detract from some of your thoughts. We, in these organizations, firmly believe that we cannot accomplish much improvement in the society if the Cause we are advancing is done through adversarial and put down manner. ‘Each of us has a stake in each one of us’, and we need all and everyone’s contribution, regardless of their level of intelligence, accomplishment and expertise, to help improve the country. To put down others who are of lesser ‘pedigree’ is not good for the society as whole. We particularly believe that a strong sense of Common Good is what we lack to move forward -and so values that support it shall be cultivated. We cannot attain this if we become dogmatic in our appraisal of ourselves, much more if we readily dismiss others as unfit because they do not measure up to the standards we personally believe in. We cannot readily make a strong conviction for or against something [or someone] we do not know much in the first place. To do so would be a betrayal of the ideals we hold so dear in our field. You, as a scientist, would not infer adversely about something you do not have yet complete knowledge of [or information], would you? Otherwise, it would either be bigotry or a senile way of thinking.
    We agree that peer-reviewed publications are a strong indicator of accomplished researcher. But to make it as the lone criterion for saying that one who is not published is unfit as a researcher, administrator or a mentor would constitute total intellectual arrogance. People who have published may just have the circumstances favorable for publishing, but to say those who have not done much are not capable people would be a sign of narrow-mindedness. Who are we to say that given the circumstances, we, the lowly researchers would not be able to pass the rigid measure of peer-reviewed journal? People normally are of different circumstances and contexts -some virtually grow up in the lab or classroom, making it more conducive for them to contribute to journals. Some do not have that luxury –many are consumed by administrative work or industry practice, but it doesn’t make them lower caste individuals who will not be able to pass a refereed journal. There is no such thing as monopoly of intelligence. Published scientists like you are not the sole arbiters of what is correct and what not in research.


  2. Prof Romeo Santos has been in the industry practice for a number of years, simultaneous with his academic post in UP -and for more than 15 years had run a Japan-based Manila branch of a development and research consultancy firm. He was trained in the Japanese way of research and was exposed deeply onto Japan’s style of business management –for a long time managing that firm of more than 600 staff and employees at its peak. His recent research job commissions were from the UN & related organizations (UNIFEM, UNFPA, UNICEF, IDLO, others) and Canadian, Japan and US governments, among others. These may not be considered peer reviewed journal articles, but who are we to say that these commissioning agencies have lower standards of research? His works may not be of the same nature as your work and he is not used to a study ‘stimulating the bladder of marinus frogs’,, but certainly he also knows that research has ‘universal’ features regardless of whatever field one is working on.
    When you referred to ‘Academician Emil Q. Javier, as President, Academician Ledivina V. Cariño as Vice President, and Academician Evelyn Mae Tecson-Mendoza Secretary, etc., etc.’ as non-scientists,, and scornfully claim that ‘No wonder the state of science in the country is so bad’, we can only smile in disbelief. Your doctrine would put other people as scratch and hopeless, if your measure of fitness were to be valid.
    President Alfredo Pascual, our current leader, may not have published much in refereed journals. Would that make him unfit to run a Research University –which is UP? We ABSOLUTELY DON’T believe so. In the same line of argument, Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Director of CHED, may not have published much in your ‘Science Citation Index or Social Sciences Citation Index’ journals. But we are CONFIDENT that she is running the CHED in a way that research is brought to the forefront.
    Publication in peer-reviewed journals is not the sole determinant of performance. In the field of evaluation, it is an Output, an indicator. But in socio-economic development, being just Output-oriented has been clearly shown as a wrong direction of practice, management or governance. We subscribe to the principle of Results-oriented way of measuring performance and success. It involves change of behavior and the attainment of enabling environment that supports positive change in the state of things. Output alone does not guarantee progress and achievement of Collective Well-being. It should be the Outcomes brought about by the outputs and the activities we put in our plan. How sure are we that peer-reviewed publications alone can improve the Philippine society?
    For instance, you, as a well-published scientist had the opportunity of running the UP VISAYAS as a CHANCELLOR, and CHIEF of SEAFDEC in ILOILO in the past. Going to the counterfactual… -How did your peer-reviewed publications work [for YOU] for the betterment of these two organizations? Where are they now? IS the state of science and research in these organizations now better off because of ‘Non-Academician but Scientist’ Flor Lacanilao? Well, based on the reality of what we see in these organizations right after your stint, we suggest you better confer and compare notes with ‘Academician and Non-Scientist’ Emil Q. Javier, ‘Academician and Non-Scientist’ Ledivina V. Cariño, and ‘Academician and Non-Scientist’ Evelyn Mae Tecson-Mendoza, etc., etc.’ and see whether there are better ways of doing good for the country other than flipping your peer-reviewed articles in the air. And maybe you guys can give good advice to ‘Non-Scientist’ President Pascual and ‘Non-Scientist’ Director Licuanan on how to or not to run their organizations based on grey papers.


  3. By the way, we feel sorry in knowing that the Philippine Star and other dailies in the past had declined printing your fifth paper “because many of our respected scientists found my articles adversarial and counter-productive”. BUT NO PROBLEM, DONT WORRY -you don’t have to fret a lot because they are GREY PUBLICATIONS anyway! Aren’t they?
    Prof Lacanilao, we have a high respect for you, as we have mentioned early on. We still believe in your Cause and we trust that we can do much together to help our country. But we suggest we do it in a different way. Yes, “the truth hurts and it hurts only the culprits”, but we need the culprits on our side [to be together with us] in mending the tear in our society. Truths or facts alone may not settle disputes nor even put us in unity. Besides truths, we need to walk extra miles with our values and dignity intact to unite for the Common Good. Please put faith that we, the ‘culprits’, can change for the better -despite having less of your peer-reviewed journals. Please don’t just sit on the embankment, and from there - bark about how really stupid we fish, get right on the water and hold the line with us together- perhaps we could learn your trade that way better. And perhaps we can expertly dissect a Tetraodontidae soon -for submission to the Nature Journal.

    Yours truly,

    By the way, in your article in SEAFDEC not too long ago, Doing research for development ,

    we think, as a Scientist, you could better present a less-faulty paradigm on representing how a right research is done. No researcher, in his right mind, would go right into Publication by just having the Proposal and the Data Gathering –or even to writing the Report or the Thesis. All of us know there is something amiss in your model, and being a noted scientist that you are and authority in this field, you certainly know what it is.

  4. Dr. Licuanan also initiated the thing called vertical articulation putting bondage/chains to the interests of the faculty. If for instance, one is simply a biological science major, and would like to zero in to more specialized field like Entomology for his Masters and later take an Int'l Management for his Ph.D. as a result of various training abroad and as to his current non academic and non profit jobs where this is the pace and direction of his career- this as to Licuanan does not qualify him in the college (let us say agriculture) where he is currently teaching. There is a need for agricultural management or the like too as an undergraduate or graduate course- then why nail this person and expect him from the very beginning to be a biological science major, an MS in Biology and a PhD in Biology-- this does not support academic growth especially if it focuses only in one field like Taxonomy-- there is even more interest to get a PhD. in Molecular and Cell Biology because this opens more opportunities for the teacher but for Licuanan let it be Biology, Biology and Biology forever Biology- we don't need a psychologist as a CHED Director- she makes a soup out of anything.. just to show she is working under PNOY effectively..

  5. I don't know any of these people- lacanilao and santos- my queston -did santos now that he is in this position by licuanan contributed something to lift this country the philippines from poverty?- we don't care about his going to paris or whatever planet for i usually being invited too many times without using the phil government's money- or is this is just going here and there without tangible outptut but could be a basis for santos- licuanan corruption tandem?

  6. More on Ched's Patricia Licuanan-
    -as former Pres of a college in metro manila bakit wala sa top 600 ng qs' best univ worldwide ang school where you presided as the president? now you are ambitious to change the whole of country's educational system? what's your basis? wala... just for the sake of.
    -second- your agency didnot announce suspension of classes in mm for typhoon pedring- inspite of the floods? if you are smart enough you could have discussed this with all pertinent agencies in metro manila so that not a single drop of water will be left during typhoons in mm- i think you are aware of climate change? o bubo ka? this is a major component of your work.. third- a domestic helper complained that her master's didnot help much to elevate her status sa foreign country where she works- eh bakit lahat pinapa master's mo so ma promote ang status ng mga pinoy teachers na domestic helpers abroad- it is appropriate na e boycott c licuanan ng ofw workers you have a connection sa mga countries na ito to accept only master's degree for non domestic jobs? are confusing so many people with what you are doing without looking forward for the appropriate results--


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