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Top Fifty of Vietnamese Universities with Best International Publications in 2019

This article provides an analysis of data extracted from the Scopus scientific database last updated on February 1, 2020. Data processing methods and data used for analysis are provided at the end of the article. In 2019, the total number of publications with Vietnamese address counted up to 12,307 of different types. Among these, publications from Vietnamese universities take up 90.3% or 11,118 publications. The remaining number comes from hospitals, independent research organizations, businesses, colleges, and a few high schools.
Vietnamese publications in the Scopus database in 2019 come in eleven types: (1) article or article in press; (2) conference paper; (3) letter; (4) review; (5) book; (6) book chapter; (7) data paper; (8) note; (9) editorial; (10) erratum; and (11) short survey.
Analysis of output 
Top 50 Co s? Giáo d?c Ð?i h?c có Công b? Qu?c t? t?t nh?t Vi?t Nam 2019
Table 1: Top 50 of Vietnamese universities with most international publications in 2019
The top 50 of universities with best publication output in 2019 is given in Table 1. With its exponential growth rate in recent years, Ton Duc Thang University continues to overtake the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology to lead the list as the Vietnamese university with most publications. The total number of publications in all types from this university is, on average, two or three times that of the next three schools.
The data also show that the four universities with more than one thousand publications per year are
- Ton Duc Thang University,
- Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology,
- National University Ho Chi Minh city, and
- Duy Tan University.
The top ten of universities with best publication output in 2019 are
- seven public universities: Ton Duc Thang University, National University Ho Chi Minh city, National University Hanoi, Hanoi University of Science & Technology, Danang University, Can Tho University, and Thai Nguyen University;
- one research institute: Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology,
- two private universities: Duy Tan University and Nguyen Tat Thanh University.
In addition to the above universities, the top 50 counts several schools of note: Phenikaa University, the University of Technology Ho Chi Minh city, Vinh University, Quy Nhon University, Tay Nguyen University, and the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences.
A broader analysis shows that all 256 universities, institutes, colleges, and research institutions with university and postgraduate education had international publications in 2019. The 50 first ones, however, have a total publication number (10,673) of 95.9% of the total (11,118).
Top 50 Co s? Giáo d?c Ð?i h?c có Công b? Qu?c t? t?t nh?t Vi?t Nam 2019
Figure 1: Distribution of international publications in 27 fields. Schools are ordered by decreasing total number of publications. Darker colors show higher numbers, white signifies no publications.
An analysis of the distribution of the international publication among fields shows that most universities have research focused on (in alphabetic order): Agriculture and Biology (AGRI); Biochemistry, Genetics, and Molecular Biology (BIOC); Chemical Engineering (CENG); Chemistry (CHEM); Computer Science (COMP); Earth and Planetary Sciences (EART); Energy (ENER); Engineering and Technology (ENGI); Environmental Sciences (ENVI); Materials Science (MATE); Mathematics (MATH); Medicine (MEDI); and Physics (PHYS). Among these, the key fields at Vietnamese education and research institutions are:
- Engineering and Technology,
- Physics,
- Computer Science,
- Materials Science,
- Mathematics.
Other fields with quite some but not many publications are: Business, Administration, and Accounting (BUSI); Decision Science (DECI); Economics (ECON); Multidisciplinary Fields (MULT); Pharmacology (PHAR); and Social Sciences (SOCI). In the remaining fields, very little research was published, namely in Arts and Literature (ART); Dentistry (DENT); Health Professions (HEAL); Immunology and Microbiology (IMMU); Neurology (NEUR); Nursing (NURS); Psychology (PSY); and Veterinary (VETE).
Analysis of citations
Up to the last time the data was updated, the total number of citations to all publications in 2019 from Vietnam was 16,211. For the fifty universities mentioned above, the total number of citations to all their publications was 14,357, or 88.6% of the total. Note that the total number of citations for these fifty universities is not the total sum of the numbers for each of them, but that it is counted as the total number of citations to publications with at least one of these fifty schools on them. 
Top 50 Co s? Giáo d?c Ð?i h?c có Công b? Qu?c t? t?t nh?t Vi?t Nam 2019
Table 2: Total number of citations to 2019 publications of the fifty Vietnamese universities with highest output. “0” means the school had publications, but that these have not yet received citations. “--” signals a lack of publications from this school.
The data in Table 2 show that the total number of citations published in 2019 by Ton Duc Thang University and Duy Tan University are much higher than those of the remaining schools. If considering author roles for each publication, one easily sees that for most of the institutions the number of incoming citations to papers written as coauthor is higher than the number of citations for papers written as main authors. Only some schools buck the trend with a large difference, such as Ton Duc Thang University, the University of Transport Technology, and the Ho Chi Minh University of Transport. 
Analysis of publication quality
An indicator often used when evaluating journal quality is the Impact Factor (IF), provided by Clarivate’s Web of Science scientific database. However, the distribution of IFs is very different between different fields. This is why the IF cannot really be used to evaluate journal quality between different fields, and even less so to evaluate publication quality between different universities, especially between multidisciplinary and specialized schools.
Instead, one should use the journal ranking by field (per quartile or Q). This ranking is currently in use at scientific funding agencies (such as NAFOSTED), and universities use it to evaluate relative publication quality. Large scientific databases like Web of Science or Scopus provide rankings for the journals they index. Web of Science, for example, ranks journals in the same field from high to low based on their IF and then divides them into four groups of identical size. The group of journals with 25% highest IFs are called Q1, the next 25% is Q2, then comes Q3, and finally Q4. The Q journal ranking used by Scopus is similar. For this analysis, we used the Q ranking provided by Scopus (Scimago Lab).
Table 3: Analysis of journal ranking for the publications of each school
Table 3 shows an analysis of the number of articles and articles in press from the top-fifty universities by Q ranking of the journal of publication, while also considering author roles on the papers. The schools are ranked by the total number of papers in first rank. Note that one journal can be ranked in many different fields due interdisciplinarity in science. This is why one and the same journal can be allocated different Q rankings depending on the field. The journal Applied Sciences (ISSN: 2076-3417), for example, is Q1 in Engineering, Q2 in Materials Science, and Q3 in Computer Science according to Scimago 2018. For simplicity we therefore only used the best Q ranking a journal received for this analysis. Furthermore, there are many journals that passed quality review and were included in the Scopus database with index and paper information, but without Q ranking yet; these journals were not included in this analysis.
Table 3 shows most universities have publications in journals of all ranks, with lessening number when going from Q1 to Q4. Only a few schools have no papers in Q4 journals: Dong Thap University, the University of Public Health, the Vietnamese–German University, and Tay Nguyen University. The distribution shows that the research done at Vietnamese schools is of relatively high quality, with most publications in Q1 or Q2 journals.
A deeper analysis of author roles on the papers shows the following trend: papers written as coauthor have higher proportion than papers written as main author (corresponding author, first author, or both) at most universities, and this is the case throughout all four Q ranks. The disparity is, however, not big in general, except for several institutions like Nguyen Tat Thanh University, Dong Thap University, Lac Hong University, and the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences. These institutions have several times more papers as coauthor than as main author.
For Ton Duc Thang University, though, the above assessment is not borne out, as the number of papers where its lecturers are main authors is several times higher than the number where they are coauthors, in all four Q ranks. This is a “miracle” of the current picture of Vietnamese scientific research.
Warning about publication in Scopus ‘fake’ journals
‘Predatory’ scientific journals, commonly called ‘fake’ journals, are a pressing problem of our times, with computer technology undergoing booming development. With just a computer, an office, and someone who knows a little about computing, it is possible to create a journal with a publishing procedure identical to that of famous journals and one can publish scientific papers sent in from all over the world. This kind of journal is not only unhelpful for scientists developing their careers, but it can even harm people’s prestige and squander the resources of the universities they work at, and by extension of Vietnam.
Mr Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at an American University, created the famous Beall’s List listing predatory publishers and journals. The list was welcomed by researchers all over the world; it helps them avoid publishing in these journals. The link to the list is https://beallslist.net.
It is worrisome that, while analyzing the data, we discovered many journals that could be called ‘fake’ according to Beall’s List present in Scopus, and many Vietnamese institutions send them their papers for publication. Several examples are Biointerface Research in Applied Chemistry; the Asian Journal of Chemistry; the Journal of Electrical Engineering; and the International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research.
We are of the opinion that researchers should verify whether a journal is ‘fake’ or not, or acquire the skill to detect such journals before sending them one’s manuscripts. Scientific management departments at universities should furthermore update and provide training to their staff and lecturers. Only this way can this issue, which troubles science and which many experts have warned about, be abated.
[2] J. E. Hirsch (2005). An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. PNAS, 102 (46), 16569-16572.
1. 19 (nineteen) authors and groups are considered for prizes for outstanding scientific publications.
Top 50 Co s? Giáo d?c Ð?i h?c có Công b? Qu?c t? t?t nh?t Vi?t Nam 2019
2. 102 (one hundred and two) authors and groups are considered for prizes for scientific publications in prestigious ISI-indexed journals.
Top 50 Co s? Giáo d?c Ð?i h?c có Công b? Qu?c t? t?t nh?t Vi?t Nam 2019
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