Science as ideology: SSCI, TSSCI and the evaluation system of social sciences in Taiwan
Arthur Hou-ming HUANG
Abstract In this paper, I review the background and history of how the Taiwanese government implements policies to evaluate and enhance scholarly performance in Taiwan's universities and research institutes. The policies include the priority of advancing universities into the Academic Ranking of World Universities (compiled by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University). Meanwhile, in accordance with this objective, the administration spends a large proportion of educational investment on only a few so-called research universities and a few 'blessed' fields of sciences, in order to quickly enhance academic productivity before the next presidential election. Furthermore, I examine the academic evaluation system as related to social sciences, describing the use of SSCI and TSSCI to rank and classify journals, put into practice by almost all education-related bureaucracies such as the Ministry of Education, National Science Council, universities, colleges, and academic departments. Consequently, the academic administration system ranks scholars strictly according to the number of their papers published in journals listed in the databases, rather than by the qualities of their publications, including both journal articles and books. From this analysis I intend to explain some ideologies behind these policies; for example, the culture of science, especially natural science and pseudo-natural sciences, such as engineering, and economics; and, accordingly, the distinction given to leading figures of natural science, such as winners of the Nobel Prize. In brief, the top-down system of various fields of science reflects the myth of using quantitative standards objectively, that is, to 'scientifically' measure and discriminate the excellent from the inferior in terms of academic performance. There is a general emphasis on performance according to so-called international standards, which are essentially based on foreign (often American) perspectives. These notions are prevalent in Taiwan and have resulted in policies that form the evaluation system of scholars' academic performance.
Keywords: academic evaluation system; technological democracy; reflexive sociology; scientific ideology
Arthur Hou-ming Huang is Assistant Professor in The Department of Sociology, National Cheng-chi University, Taiwan. His research interest includes cyber-sociology, and sociological theory.