Scientific Research in Indonesia needs big momentum to accelerate: A Reflection from Asian Games 2018

The tagline of “Indonesia Emas 2045” or Golden Indonesia 2045 is  echoing in Indonesia. We, as a nation, are aiming to be a sovereign, developed,  just and prosperous nation at that time. In order to achieve those goals, we have many homework to be done. Two of the most important sectors are science and technology. They are powerful resources for a nation because they are related to many aspects of our lives from food, environment, infrastructure, access to information, defense and till sovereignty of a nation. Scientific research clearly plays an important role in the progress of science and technology of a country. However, have we been doing something big to create a power in science and technology by scientific research?

We can reflect from the latest big event happened in our country, the Asian Games 2018. By hosting the event, every stakeholders gave their best efforts to win the gold medals. An ambitious goal to gather 16 gold medals was set by the government. Training facilities were upgraded and renovated to support the athletes and coaches. Finally, we collected a total of 98 medals in which 31 are gold medals locking the fourth position in the final standings. A big bonus of money was given to the medalist by the government. The struggles to win the medals were valued and appreciated by our government. We could achieve incredible results in sports if we have the momentum. If it worked in sports then it should do in science and technology. To make a big leap in scientific research, Indonesia needs big momentum in this sector.

Unfortunately, big momentum in science and technology is not that easy to find. It is not a competition among nations that are crazily praised by people if a nation can top the standings. The government should create the momentum itself. The momentum in scientific research should be ambitious goals or a revolutionizing policy for this sector. By only these means, every stakeholders in science and technology-government, universities, research institution, company’s R&D, professors, faculties, researchers and students-will do their best to produce impactful publications, high quality patents and technological products

Indonesia needs talent in science and technology. By providing full scholarship for students to study science and technology abroad in master and doctoral level, our government has made the initial momentum. However, they need to increase the number of promising students sent abroad to study in doctoral level, creating more scientist to execute ambitious science and technology when they come back later after earning their degrees and getting enough research experiences.

The next step is to make another policy that will make sure we have those talents contributing to science and technology in Indonesia. Example of policies are calling 1000 qualified scientists for homecoming every year and providing them with full time professor position at universities, supporting them with adequate research facilities, funding and also promising salary. They must be qualified from their work, ideas and their past publications. I emphasized that they must be supported by research facilities and funding if their ideas are worth pursuing from the novelty, creativity and applications point of view. Higher stakeholders usually think that we only need talent but not research facilities. This is clearly a wrong paradigm because talent will not be able pursue their idea if they have no facilities to do the experiment.

The next spark should be ambitious goals. Our government should set a goal, for example every top universities in Indonesia should be able to publish in top scientific journal like Nature, Science and other high impact factor journals at least 2 papers per year. Publishing in such journals is not an easy job because from point of view of science, the idea and the experiment method should be very novel and creative, have interesting story and make a big improvement in terms of results. Publishing in scientific journal like Nature and Science is a tremendous achievement. It can drag the media attention to the research team. This will create a domino effect of science spirit among other researchers and also young generation. Government should give some money incentives to the authors of the paper if they can publish in those top journals. This appreciation will spark and motivate every researcher to give their best ideas and efforts to produce more impactful publication.

In addition, the government should give target to every universities in Indonesia to produce scientific paper for example 100 per year in scientific journal with impact factor between 5-8. In order to improve the productivity, every university needs to have adequate professors and graduate students. A very supportive system of policy and regulation should be made by government in order to increase the number of graduate students in science and technology in Indonesia.

Another momentum in the technology industry sector is also demanded. The idea is to set goals and regulations to have industries that can provide Indonesia’s needs in important technologies therefore we will not depend on imports of the product from other countries. This regulation will help Indonesia’s economy sector. We can still trace back the history of PT. Dirgantara Indonesia. An ambitious goal was set by the government at that time to have an industry that can make our own airplane.

Our government has tried to make a national research plan (Rencana Induk Riset Nasional 2017-2045). The plan is really appreciated by many stakeholders. However, the document does not seem to have a very ambitious goal and target. No specific goals stating about the impact of research and the following publications and patents. In the section of research priorities of the document, there is nothing about research in basic science like Physics, Biology or Chemistry. Basic science research is the knowledge reservoir for other applications-related research. Our government needs to be visionary and to involve experts in every fields when setting  scientific research and technology goals.

There are so many countries like South Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan that have been developing rapidly by seriously improving the research in science and technology. Although admittedly there is a lot of work to do, It is better to start now for Golden Indonesia 2045!


  1. Anonymous5:58 pm

    It is a superb idea you are having. I think you might need peer review on this issue. let's say from some experts in economics and politics to ameliorate the idea.


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