Bracing up research with extension services



Part 1
THE pursuit of excellence by an institution, especially if it asserts excellence as a descriptor of its products and services, is an unending quest. HEIs, with fervid attempts, try to comply with the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) memo orders to pursue the threefold function of higher education—research, instruction and community service (and as we academics know, weld them together). These are meant to make Philippine HEIs stride along with universities across borders recognized worldwide not only for the quality of their programs but, as in corporate business, for their social initiatives as well.

Basis for research agenda. Research usually is thought to be a turning point of an institution’s reputation. As a social institution, HEIs serve society utilizing their expertise in research and instruction to deliver the academic and social/extension programs for their catchment communities. The CHEd has been, as it were, paddling on rough waters to anchor HEIs on equal footing with their counterparts in the First World. Hence, Philippine HEIs try their best to transform into research institutions, drawing their research agenda from the updated National Higher Education Research Agenda (NHERA). Such agenda should match the HEIs’ academic programs and likely would merit CHED’s funding allocated in generous terms.

Nurturing a research culture. Liceo’s scientific journals, four of them, have made a name among research and publication units here and abroad. Two qualified for categories under the CHEd Journal Accreditation Services (JAS). These are: The Liceo Higher Education Research Journal (Category A-2)and The Asian Journal of Biodiversity (listed in the Thomson Reuters IP Science Master List). The other two, The Asian Journal of Business and Governance and The Asian Journal of Health. “The journals are internationally peer-reviewed, indexed and archived by Philippine E-Journals; Google Scholar; Philippine Journals On-line; Ebsco Publishing; Scholastica; Public Knowledge Project; Crossref; and Cengage Learning.” “All these journals use technology-based quality assurance such as plagiarism detector, grammar checker, reference checker, formula checker, academic readability citation gadget (H-Index), among others. A peer review rejections rate of 80 percent has ensured the quality of the researches selected for publication.” <>

Research and social/extension service. With research strongly encouraged by CHEd, there could be the tables turned. Extension could find itself in limbo. However, a defining structure has ensured more mutuality of purpose by its extension services unit merged with the Research and Publication Office (RPO).One of 53 universities granted by CHEd autonomous status until May 31, 2019 (CMO 20, s. 2016), Liceo de Cagayan University introduced this structure to better tie up its extension services with what these communities most need and which are within the University’s expertise. Dr. Lubos who has carved his name in research here and across borders, secures Liceo’s scientific journals to be in the best of hands. Being a PhD in Biology, one would guess that his pet journal is the Asian Journal of Biodiversity, he being its editor-in-chief. But with a set of avid professionals here and abroad for editors of each of the other journals, all these journals do come out well-read as indicated in reviews and citations.

Insuring sustainable research-based extension services. With Dr. Lubos administering also the extension function, a stronger relationship of research to extension has come to fore. As Dr. Lubos says, “research interweaves the mutual complementation of extension services and research.” “Extension,” he says, “stimulates research activities such as the assessment, analysis, and resolution of the needs and concerns of a target group; supports and provides the scholarly dimension of extension. Research involves knowledge generation that helps ensure a positive impact on any of these dimensions—the socio-politico-economic-cultural development” of target communities. “Especially on climate change, research addresses environmental and disaster management issues communities have to contend with.” To illustrate, he cites Liceo’s “Adopt-a-Mountain” project launched last May this year. Given the research findings on the Malasag area in Cagayan de Oro City and the nature conservation benefits to Malasag’s outlying communities, the project is a three-year tree-planting and tree-growing activity on a one hectare land offered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Dr. Lubos stressed the exercise of prudence in designing a project to ensure its sustainability—the guaranteed availability of funds and needed personnel. The design shall likewise have inputs from the target groups, people with appropriate expertise, including from alumni involved in aligned undertakings. Rather than imitating service activities of private or public agencies, he suggests “collaboration rather than duplication.” Participation of these publics in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project ensures deepened engagement of stakeholders and project sustainability.

On to new heights. Research studies that shed light on extension service needs of target communities include areas on health, education, legal and public service (HELPS) projects with several published in Liceo’s scientific journals. Meanwhile, the CHEd has announced that only 28 Philippine scientific journals out of the 777Philippine journals are indexed by the Scientific Information Institute (ISI Thomson Reuters)/Scopus. As of this year, Liceo’s The Asian Journal of Biodiversity, is the lone ISI-indexed scientific journal in Mindanao (since 2010), along with 24 other scientific journals from Luzon and two from the Visayas.

We hope to share in next week’s issue some information on the extension activities which, like “Adopt-a-Mountain,” were research-based, collegially designed and are administered by appropriate academic groups.



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