DaigakuRonshu_38_319.pdf 1.64 MB
An analysis of university research
In Japan, the common criticism is that college and university professors prioritize their research activities excessively; it is generally considered that they allocate more time for teaching and other services. However,university research, despite its merit, has not been able to find significance in industrial and governmental laboratory research. Universities have contributed to a great extent toward the development and welfare of society through their basic research. Moreover, the biggest incentive for university professors to conduct research is the fact that they are mostly evaluated based on their research activities. Thus, it is imperative for us to understand the current situation of university research.
A recent survey that I conducted for the purpose of this study revealed several interesting facts about university research. One finding is that there is considerable diversity in the funding of research; many professors in the fields of humanities and social sciences receive a size able amount of research funds. Another interesting fact is that, in some fields, professors require more funds, while in some other fields, professors require more research staff and facilities. The priority of various research resources differs within each field. In fact, some professors claim that an extremely large amount of money does not contribute to more comprehensive research results. Hence, based on the analysis conducted in this study, it is evident that a more comprehensive research policy is required to enrich the research infrastructure rather than merely increasing the amount of research funds.
Shifting the focus to international matters, the discussions held at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) cannot be overlooked. OECD has held many discussions, conducted numerous analyses, and has also published several reports. The Ad-hoc Group for university research under the Committee on Science and Technology Policy (CSTP) is one of the achievements of the OECD. This group was established in 2000, and its final report“ Governing Public Research" was published by the OECD in 2003. In fact, I was personally involved with the activity from the beginning to the end. During their tenure, the Ad-hoc Group identified the following three major issues: (1) setting priority on research policy,(2) competitive funding for research, and (3) research training (human resources). Based on a comparison of these issues among member countries, policymakers and people from the university with useful and practical information were provided as resources for policy making and research. In addition, based on personal experience, the Workshop on Human Resources for Science and Technology conducted in Rome in 2003 was impressive. There were certain issues that could be shared with Japan because Japan was confronted with the problem of enriching the graduate program, especially at the doctoral level.
In Japan, regardless of where they work, university professors are regarded as researchers. Moreover,research activities are held in high esteem. However, based on the official statistical data, Japan's research economy in the university sector is far bigger than expected. This is because, in every country, the data pertaining to research funds include the salaries of professors who conduct the research as well as the funds provided for purchasing equipments and materials and travel. Since Japan has a large private university sector within the higher education system, after calculating the research money, a large amount of money for the professors' salaries is also included in the research funds and is paid by the universities. In most countries, data is collected in a full-time equivalent manner, i.e., based on the extent to which professors devote their time to research. Thus, based on the abovementioned facts, it is clear the statistical data of the research economy in Japan should be reexamined.