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Open Science in Indonesia

*Terima kasih to Afrilya, Surya Dalimunthe, Sami Kandha Dipura, and Dasapta Erwin Irawan from the Open Science Team Indonesia for their valuable input for this post.

***post authored by Lisa Matthias***

Last month, the Institute for Globally Distributed Open Research and Education  (IGDORE) hosted their first Open Science Meetup in Ubud, Indonesia. Despite being a small group of participants, many different nationalities, disciplines, and professions were represented. During the 5-day event, open science projects like Conscience, Curate Science, and the Open Science MOOC were presented, more general research-related topics like disclosing scientific misconduct were discussed, and Tim Sains Terbuka Indonesia (Open Science Team Indonesia) provided insight into Indonesian open science endeavors and barriers.

Before diving into the challenges in practicing and/or advocating for open science in Indonesia, some background information about the country’s higher education system:

  • Indonesia has more than 4,600 higher education institutions. While polytechnics and academy are for obtaining diplomas and their curricula consist of 80% practical activities, universities and schools focus on undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.
  • 0.08% of the country’s gross domestic product. (As a comparison, the amounts of EU countries (average) and the US are 2.02 and 2.74 respectively).
  • In 2016, the Indonesian Science Fund was founded to increase investment in research, but announced that it failed to allocate funds earlier this year.

Indonesian Scholarly Publishing Landscape

All journals published in Indonesia are open access. The Directory of Open Access Journals currently lists 1,318 Indonesian journals and based on data from the Public Knowledge Project 2,097 Indonesian journals were using the Open Journal Systems software in 2016. All Indonesian journals are embedded in universities, which means they operate mainly through institutional funding. As a consequence, Indonesian journals can sustain themselves without charging Article Processing Charges (APCs) like we are seeing in the West, averaging between $1,400 and $2,700 (depending on journal type and publisher). As a comparison, 75% of Indonesian open access journals do not charge APCs at all, while the remaining 25% only charge a maximum of $150.

The national journal accreditation body, ARJUNA (Akreditasi Jurnal Nasional), evaluates the quality of Indonesian journals and ensures good scientific standards and practices. The accreditation body has been established to improve the quality of Indonesian journals and to internationalize accredited journals. Additionally, the government also provides a three-year grant to support journals in becoming international.

National Policy on Faculty Assessment

The Indonesian education system is centralized and so all higher education institutions must follow the same policy. The government has established national regulations on evaluating faculty for promotion (Permendikbud no. 92 Tahun 2014, revised Permenristekdikti No 20/2017). These assessment criteria include publications in accredited or reputable international journals, as well as “journal impact factor, journal indexing and [citation counts]” (Irawan, 2017). The table below shows the ranking of diffferent indexing platforms. Interestingly, the Indonesian government rates their national indexing services (marked with *) lower than Western platforms, such as Web of Science and Scopus.

Grading system of various indexing platforms
Grade Indexing platforms
High 1.   Thomson Reuters/Web of Science,
2.   Scopus
3.   any other equivalent platform
Middle 1.   Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ)
2.   EBSCO
3.   Pubmed
4.   Gale
5.   Proquest
6.   Chemical Abstract Services Compendex
7.   Engineering Village
8.   Inspec
9.   ASEAN Citation Index (ACI)
10. Any other equivalent platform
Low 1.   Google Scholar
2.   Indonesian Publication Index (portalgaruda.org)*
3.   ISJD*
4.   Moraref
5.   Mendeley
6.   CiteULike
7.   WorldCat
8.   Sherpa/Romeo
9.   Any other equivalent platforms

In January 2017, the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia launched the Science and Technology Index (SINTA) to assess researchers’ publication productivity. SINTA uses data from Scopus and Google Scholar. However, no Indonesian-language journals are indexed in Scopus, which disadvantages scholars with a lower English proficiency. Although, English is taught from an early age onwards in many places, it often is the third or fourth language for Indonesians.

Besides facing a language barrier in trying to fulfill their government’s policy, Indonesians also have to overcome a financial issue. As Indonesian journals are born open access journals, the concept of green open access is relatively new. Hence, if researchers want to publish their work open access and fulfill with their government’s assessment criteria to publish in high-ranking journals, they often struggle to cover the APCs. Although Indonesians have a wealth of free and low cost open access journals, they are often reluctant to publish in those venues as it hinders their career by not ranking high enough in the assessment criteria. But researchers have found a way to make their research open access for free, and to receive credit for Indonesian-language research: They can upload their research papers to INA-Rxiv, the Indonesian preprint server founded by Dasapta Erwin Irawan in 2017, and since INA-Rxiv is indexed by Google Scholar get acknowledged for all their scholarly articles regardless of the language.

Funding Opportunities for Indonesians

As mentioned above, Indonesia invests only 0.08% of its GDP in research and development. The lack of financial support for research has critical consequences. First, competition for government grants for research is extremely high. In 2015, only 15,000 grants worth a total of about £80 million were awarded, while the number of academics was estimated at 120,000 the following year. However, funding decisions are based on publications indexed in Scopus or WoS, which places researchers that do not speak, or only speak little, English at a disadvantage. One possible reason for that is that Indonesian government wants to improve their higher education world class rank and commonly uses the neighboring Malaysia as a benchmark. Currently, Malaysia is far ahead in terms of international publications. Part of the reason for this is that a) Malaysians learn English as their second language, and b) Malaysia has a greater budget for universities, which means that researchers have more time to do research and publish papers. Dasapta Erwin Irawan says “Another way to look at it is the government could have promoted the usage of Indonesian language, but they chose not to. There should be a way to proportionally work towards the goal of achieving a fairly good international standing, while at the same time promoting the usage of Indonesia language at wider scope, especially considering the additional efforts from the government to increase the quality of national journal.”

Another consequence of the limited research and development budget is that academics face heavy teaching workloads and sometimes have to take on additional jobs to earn a sustainable salary. This is also means that many researchers are left to conduct international-standard research with no funding and only very limited time.

Third, alternative, non-governmental funding schemes are needed. The establishment of the Indonesian Science Fund aimed at increasing available research funds, but the first round of funding had to be delayed due to difficulties in allocating the funds.


Looking at the Indonesian context, some similarities to the European Research Area appear, such as facing high APCs  and the question of incentivizing open science and disincentivizing closed science. However, what would be interesting to explore further and taking a closer look at is that publishing in Indonesia, similar to Latin America, is scholar-led and scholar-owned, which is rarely, if at all, seen in Europe and North America.

In order to learn from each other and improve the way research is done, it is important to lower barriers to participation. This can mean providing low cost publishing venues, moving the conversation to the other side of the world, or making an effort to communicate in a different language. Thanks to IGDORE, there is now an open science hub in Indonesia that encourages diverse discussions and collaborations. If open science is about participation, equality, transparency, collaboration, sharing, and inclusivity, we should broaden our perspectives more often, not shy away from difficult conversations, and be mindful of the different contextual circumstances when advocating for open research practices or developing new tools.



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23 Jun 2021

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