Advancing Science in South East Asia Web Conference 2021 was organized by global leading organizations on 29th of October 2021. The idea sparked when it is observed that there are some challenges in the research systems arising across Southeast Asia with similar themes. Among those are lack of resources and policies that promote quantity at the expense of quality and credibility, and research inequality across the Global North and South, as well as within countries.
As a step forward to address and highlight these issues, this event called for global experts and world leaders in science to share their experiences and thoughts on practical knowledge to equip researchers and research stakeholders across Southeast Asia and to realize their individual, institutional and regional research potential for societal good. Hence the topics for the event was How to Produce Research That Has Impact, Credibility, and Quality, as well as How to Utilize Existing Infrastructure In The Region.
This event aimed to equip researchers and science stakeholders with the basic skills to maximize their research potential. To further the discussion, the 2nd session of the event was held to focus on issues and problems to do research specifically in Malaysia. The country-specific break-out session was successfully done in a forum mode. The forum moderated by Professor Dr Ismanizan Ismail, Director of Center of Research and Instrumentation Management (UKM), and the panelists were Professor Dr Kamisah Osman, Head of Science Education Module (UKM), Professor Madya Dr Zainul Akmar Zakaria, Head of Research Group (UTM) and Professor Madya Dr Sarah Othman, Member of Young Scientist Network-Academy of Sciences Malaysia (YSN-ASM). The discussion and sharing by the panelists were very insightful and such an eye-opener for researchers in Malaysia.
The forum also provided opportunity to participants to address issues in doing research in Malaysia, as well as ideas on how to resolve them. These overwhelming contributions of ideas by participants were documented and later will be brought to higher ups and may be documented as a policy to overcome those challenges.
One of the main issues highlighted in the breakout sessions are the overwhelming responsibilities of researchers in Malaysia to juggle research, teaching and administrative works. Next is the insufficient funding for research work including maintenance costs of the equipment and post-projects costs, especially for long-term research projects. Also, the fierce competition to get research opportunities between experienced and new researchers.
Although in Malaysia, we can see some issues that are unique to us, but in a bigger picture, we can see similar themes on research challenges across the region. Now, we should strive to address these issues to better our research ecosystem nationally, and collaborate regionally to move forward, together.