Indonesia is the the largest economy in Southeast Asia and the fourth most populous country in the world, but not much is known about its scholarly publishing landscape. We've heard that there is a large, ever-growing number of independent academic journals and some interesting new initiatives in Open Access scholarship such as the INArxiv 'pre-print' server. We asked Dasapta Erwin Irawan of Institut Teknologi Bandung tells us more.
Last year, after my article was announced as the winner of OpenCon London 2017, I was contacted by AuthorAID and offered to write a guest post. After a long thought, I choose to cover the strength of Indonesia’s publication by looking at some facts that must have been missed by many, including Indonesian academia and rule makers.
Publications and journals
So what I did was to access the DOAJ database, on 8th June 2018. The reason I used it is because it is one of the biggest free online database of open access publication, with 11,619 Journals, 8,427 journals searchable at Article level, from 127 Countries, with 3,125,511 Articles.
I found that the sum of Indonesian articles was 103,516 (Table 1), or number 6th world wide, which is great to see. If I narrow it down to only Indonesian language, I get a list of publication from 1968 to 2017 (49 years) showing a tenfold growth over the last decade (Table 2), with the oldest article dated back in 1968.
Table 1 Sum of articles based on full text language (DOAJ, as of 8th June 2018)
Table 2 Distribution of papers by year since 1998 (DOAJ as of 8th June 2018)
According to DOAJ there are a total of 1324 journals that were published by Indonesian publishers listed in the DOAJ database. That puts us 2nd in the world (Table 3). Most of these journals (1106) publish articles in Indonesian, but over half (717) publish English content. Another dataset published by Public Knowledge Project (PKP) mentions that more than 2000 Indonesian journals are using Open Journal System (OJS) platform in 2016. Assuming the 1300+ journals in the DOAJ list are included in the PKP data, then that means that there are more than 700 journals that are using OJS platform but not yet indexed by DOAJ.
Table 3 Sum of journals based on country of publisher (DOAJ, as of 8th June 2018)
Country of publisher
Using the DOAJ APC filter we find that most of the journals are not charging APCs to the authors (75%). Only 25% are charging low APC, a maximum of IDR 1.500.000 or less than USD 150 (they provide APC waivers upon request). Many of you reading this might find that number to be very low. Unlike journals in most countries, all journals in Indonesia are living with institutional funding, therefore APCs are not their main source of funding, which is good news for all scientists, not only for Indonesian, to have a range of low cost OA venues for their works.
Looking at those numbers, clearly Indonesia has massive OA scientific publishing resources with zero to very low APC. We have many journals that publish large numbers of articles throughout the years.
Indonesia education system is centralized by the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education (later mentioned as Ministry). Therefore the regulations in journal publishing and staff performance assessment are relying on the Minister’s decree. All universities, public or private (4100+ universities according to the Ministry‘s database), must follow the same regulations, with some improvisation along the way.
The rank for university lecturer in Indonesia (190,000+ in total) consists of Junior Lecturer (JL), Senior Lecturer (SL), Associate Professor (AP), and Professor (P) (Table 4). The regulations for full professor promotion are harder than the rest of the ranks. Given that basic rule, then they use some criteria for assessment, at journal level such as: journal impact factor, journal indexing and at article level such as sum of citations etc. The lecturers are given incentives based on their Scopus H-index and for every paper published in reputable journals (see quality control section). Research grants are also given to lecturers based on their Scopus H-index. Some lecturers with high H-index have the chance to get higher funding than others.
Table 4 Sum of lecturer by rank (Ministry Report, 2016)
Not yet ranked
Capacity building and quality control
Along with it, the Ministry also manages a set of routine capacity building programs every year -- short courses in scientific publishing for lecturers, journal management, etc. All free for registered lecturers. More initiatives are also being set up by individuals and not for profit organizations. One of them is The Indonesian Journal Volunteer (Relawan Jurnal Indonesia).
With such a big sum of journals, the Ministry also initiates an accreditor foundation for journals, study programs, and institutions. Specifically accreditation for journals, the foundation sets a very good and strict criteria to assess journal quality and to certify that the operation is following good academic practices. There are two ranks of accreditation status: A and B. According to the Ministry’s report, in April 2017, there were 471 accredited journals which falls into two group (Table 5).
Table 5 Accredited journals (April 2017, Ministry’s report)
Accredited journal published by
Higher education institution (Dikti group)
Research institution (LIPI group)
Basically Indonesian journals are classified based on its indexing and accreditation status (Table 6). Higher score is awarded to an author whose paper is published in the 1st grade journal. The paper score decreases towards 4th grade journal.
On journal’s side, journal managers have the chance to compete in a journal improvement grant. Journal’s with an excellent performance to maintain their reputation are entitled for incentives.
Table 6 Classification of Indonesian journals
Indexed by GS2
Indexed by reputable indexing3
Reputable internasional level journals
General international level
Domestic level accredited journals
Domestic level not-accredited journals
NC = Not Compulsory C = Compulsory
1 accredited by the Ministry
2 indexed by Google Scholar (GS)
3 reputable indexing platform (Scopus, Web of Science, later on Microsoft Academic was added in this criteria)
In the latest guidelines, the Ministry published a grading system for various indexing platforms to high, middle, and low grade based on their reputation (Table 7). However, a more detail criteria for reputation has not been acknowledged.
Table 7 Grading system of various indexing platforms
Note: * Indonesian indexing platform
Up to this point, you might think that Indonesia has some of the best scientific resources and incentives. We have many OA journals with zero to low APCs; also we have a system of research and journal management grant funding as well as incentive for lecturers and journals managers. But the hardest part is to keep all lecturers and journal managers at the same standard. With all the funding, we find that the standard is still not applicable to all. Most high profile journals are owned by big universities located in three main islands: Sumatra, Java, and Bali. More journals from Kalimantan and Sulawesi are chasing their way to increase the quality of their journals. Long story short, most journals (90% at the minimum) are in 3rd and 4th grade. But luckily in general, they all are online and indexed by GS. Thanks to the endlessly capacity building efforts from the Ministry and RJI to advocate and educate journal managers. Therefore the current journal classification are not very applicable since only 5 to 10% of the journals have the capacity as reputable international level journals.
Our 2nd problem is the unbalanced ratio of reputable international journals and the sum of lecturers, especially the Assoc Professors and Professors who are required to publish in reputable international journals. The impact is the long duration of paper processing in journals, in which, it can take two years before a paper gets published.
The 3rd problem is language barrier. Although Indonesian education system teaches English since early years of life, but we do not use it as 2nd or 3rd language. This is a major problem for senior lecturers. They may have a good research to share but they can not report it in a good quality of written English, not as good as if they report it in Indonesian language (Irawan, 2017).
Then both 2nd and 3rd problem combined creates an effect of:
- the mis-perception of reputable journal indexing. The Ministry and common lecturers see journal indexing as the guardian of quality, not as an agent for wider readership.
- a dis-orientation of lecturer in writing manuscript in English. They write in English because they think it’s the only way to get indexed by international indexing system.
- high submission to “predatory” journals as have also been mentioned by the Ministry. By sending their manuscript to these journals, the authors can save their time from journal rejection and long peer review, but not their money. Based on some personal communications via social media, they have to pay averagely from USD 200 to USD 600, which frequently drawn from their pocket money.
Given the above situation, my hypothesis was the lack of interest to submit to 3rd and 4th grade domestic journals. However based on my personal communications in some social channels of lecturer and journal managers, I might have to turn that hypothesis down. Although I am sure it will need a more systematic survey to accept or reject my hypothesis, but after had many conversation in various channels with lecturers and journal managers, they suggest that the sum of submission to their journals has not been influenced by domination of Scopus indexing. Most of the manuscript are written in Indonesian language and submitted by Junior Lecturers and Senior Lecturers, not Assoc Professors and Professors. Some journals may even have a rejection rate of around 50% due to the large volume of submissions.
Can we conclude that Junior Lecturers and Senior Lecturers write and submit paper more than the Assoc Professors and Professors? We still need to get more data. This question should be easily answered with the ORCID data, as Indonesian Ministry of Research and Higher Education is now registered as ORCID member.
INArxiv Preprint server
INArxiv is an OSF-based preprint server. It is a nationwide repository for preprints and other scientific materials. It was founded in Aug 17th 2017 (Indonesia's Independence Day). It soon began attracting attention from Indonesia's scientific community, who found pros and cons with this approach. The fact that it is harvested within a week by Google Scholar, is the major positive side, as they need to have a good and consistent research profile. Being indexed quickly is very important for Indonesian scientists as the government has launched the SINTA portal to measure lecturer's and researcher's productivity. At INArxiv, the steering committee is also promoting data sharing as one of the tools to increase impact (beyond Journal Impact Factor and H index).
To end this blog post, I write these closing remarks:
- Indonesia has a vast resource of open access journals. The government also have a good support to the publishing system, as well as incentive.
- Such great resources are nothing without supportive regulations. The government need to revise the regulation, specifically ones that related to rank promotion and journal classification criteria. They should never rely the quality of article and journal to journal indexing, especially the one that based on for profit entity. They should redefine scientific/research impact by using more open and inclusive instruments.
- Nonetheless, more efforts should be directed to improve the quality of journals and lecturers.
Some online sources of Indonesian research
- Indonesia Institute of Sciences Journal E-Portal
- SINTA (Indonesian science and technology index)
- ONEsearch (National Library of Indonesia)
- ISJD (Indonesian scientific journal database)
- Indonesian Publication Index
- INArxiv - Indonesian pre-print server (OSF)
Dasapta Erwin Irawan is a hydrochemist at Institut Teknologi Bandung in Indonesia. He is a keen proponent of Open Science, and an ambassador for ORCID and OSF (osf.io). You can find out more about his work on this website http://dasaptaerwin.net/wp/ or follow him on Twitter @dasaptaerwin.His ORCID ID is http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1526-0863.
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