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Professor worried about lack of independent thinking in academe

2012/08/13 21:31:29

Taipei, Aug. 13 (CNA) A National Taiwan University (NTU) professor called on local academics Monday to shed the yoke of American citation indexes and embrace a "cultural awakening" while doing their academic research.

Taiwan's academic community considers America's Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and Science Citation Index (SCI) so highly, said Hwang Kwang-kuo of NTU's Department of Psychology, that he is worried about local academics' lack of ability in independent thinking.

He said many Taiwanese scholars are used to studying local subjects from Western perspectives and end up writing papers of interest only to foreigners.

Seeking to get their work published in foreign journals, Taiwanese researchers copy Western models and sharpen their skills in English writing, but fall short in their ability to explain their own ideas, according to Hwang.

Hwang called on the academic community to find a way to solve what he described as "our own problems."

In an effort to analyze and "rectify" this over-dependency on Western approaches to academic research, Hwang has written a book titled "Foundation of Chinese Psychology: Confucian Social Relations."

During an event to launch the book, Huang said one of its purposes is to remind academics in Chinese societies of the need for "cultural self-awareness."

Professor Chou Chu-ying of National Chengchi University said meanwhile that while she is not opposed to SSCI, she has reservations about over-emphasizing its value.

In Taiwan, she noted, the index has become almost indispensable when judging whether a university teacher's ranking should be raised or when evaluating a university's overall performance.

Huang, Chou and others launched a campaign a few years ago to oppose the paramount status enjoyed by SSCI and SCI. To date, 2,332 academics have endorsed the call, more than 80 percent of whom have backgrounds in the social sciences and the humanities.

(By Chen Chih-chung and S.C. Chang)
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