ASEAN Engineering Journal (AEJ) by JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net


1. Establishment of the JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net

Two years after the founding of the ASEAN University Network (AUN) in 1995, the ASEAN-Japan Summit Meeting was conducted in 1997 where the then Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto, emphasized the importance of human resource development for sustainable economic growth in ASEAN countries. This ushered in the evolution of the ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (AUN/SEED-Net).

Possible project ideas were discussed among the relevant authorities of ASEAN countries and Japan, mainly in the context of strengthening higher engineering education by ways of creating engineering institutions’ networks ASEAN-wide. Consequently, the project on the development of the Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (SEED-Net) was proposed as a thematic network under the auspices of AUN and recognized as the third AUN Thematic Network after the AUN-Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) in 1998 and the AUN Business and Economics Network (AUN-BE) in 1999.  

The AUN/SEED-Net was officially inaugurated in April 2001 with the Secretariat Office located at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. At present, the AUN/SEED-Net comprises 26 leading engineering institutions in ASEAN Member Countries and 14 Japanese supporting universities.

The Cooperative Framework of the AUN/SEED-Net was signed at the inauguration ceremony on 1 December, 2017. It was jointly signed by representatives of ASEAN University Network (AUN), Japan Institutional Cooperation Agency (JICA), ASEAN Foundation, member institutions from 10 ASEAN Member Countries and witnesses from the ASEAN Secretariat, Government of Japan and concerning Ministries of their respective countries. This Cooperative Framework serves as an institutional official document that outlines the operational structure, administrative arrangement, comprehensive work plan, and initial activities of the AUN/SEED-Net that helped to create the basis for the development of the Network in the following decades. AUN/SEED-Net is currently in Phase IV (2018-2023) with six core programs that have been developed from the first three phases. The scope of programs and areas of cooperation have been expanded to reflect the advancement in science, technology and engineering in ASEAN countries in response to the regional demand for human resource development.   

To date, AUN/SEED-Net has granted scholarships to over 1,500 students and faculty at member institutions to advance and pursue their academic degrees at Masters and Doctoral levels and provided grants for collaborative research and trip supports to more than 200 faculties to acquire and develop research skills through academic collaboration between ASEAN and Japan.

2. ASEAN Engineering Journal (AEJ): A Key Success Story of the AUN/SEED-Net

To address specific examples of AEJ across the wide assortment of the AUN/SEED-Net portfolio. AEJ is a valuable asset to their catalogs regarding an increase in demand from engineering professional institutions and individuals to enhance engineering education in ASEAN. It takes a holistic and integrated approach to manage the journal, exploring both technical and managerial perceptions. It not only emphasizes individual project execution but also provides a strategic perspective and demonstrates organizational management at both the program and portfolio levels. To manage a journal requires academic and technical skills, and most importantly, a broad-based set of people skills that are important in ways that help develop a trust-based professional relationship among the AEJ team and a number of individuals involved in the project. The AEJ team employs a managerial, public-value, and not-for-profit oriented approach to the management of the journal.  

It is important to unfold the elements in the process and execution of organizational strategies to understand the keys to successful AEJ portfolio management. To become a forefront in engineering journals in Southeast Asia, AEJ has developed a number of logical procedures to make this process as efficient as possible.


The AEJ was established in 2011 as the official publication of the AUN/SEED-Net, with strong support from the Government of Japan and cooperation from the Governments of the ASEAN Member States, 26 ASEAN Member Institutions, the ASEAN Secretariat, the AUN Secretariat, and the 14 leading Japanese universities.  

In the beginning, AEJ was divided into 3 sections, ASEAN Engineering Journal A,B,and C. Each section covered different scopes of the thematic engineering fields with its own ISSN and has published 2 issues annually both in printed and online editions. In 2017, all three parts were incorporated into one electronic edition with e-ISSN, and the printed edition has been discontinued ever since.

Over the years, AEJ has strived to promote research work, improve research quality, and strengthen its network of young researchers and high skilled human resource in 10 engineering fields, making AEJ an outstanding engineering journal and internationally recognized academic platform in Southeast Asia. The significant milestones of AEJ eventuated in June 2019 when the journal was officially accepted for inclusion in Scopus database, taking a 13-day turnaround time. 

The AEJ citation in Scopus index did not occur abruptly but gradually moving forward through the increasing reputation and recognition of the journal by the Thai-Journal Citation Index (TCI) and ASEAN Citation Index (ACI) in 2015, the important cognition steps that enhance a maturity process of the journal development towards the Scopus. Currently, the journal maintains its indexed status in Scopus, TCI, ACI, and Google Scholar.

Key Success Factors

In keeping the reputation, increasing growth, and maintaining a leadership position in the field  that requires a number of factors, the AEJ can be described in one word; “competent management” that lasted for years.

The following are concrete structures and correlated working methods of the AEJ that are key components of success.

1. Editorial Board
The Board comprises academic professors from Japan, ASEAN, China, and Middle East countries who have expertise in the 10 thematic engineering fields.  It is the highest policy body that established the regulations and directions of the journal. Since 2017, the main focus of the Editorial Board was the inclusion of AEJ in Scopus database and the journal's sustainability. 

The Editorial Board Meeting is held once a year in conjunction with the AUN/SEED-Net Steering Committee Meeting, which aims to ensure the alignment of the journal with the future directions of the Network.

The meeting is held in a consultative manner taking into account the most beneficial impacts to the Network and stakeholders involved. It is a mutual agreement that the members of the Editorial Board are appointed as individuals on a no-fee basis. Their contribution to AEJ and to the Network is invaluable and an important factor for the journal’s solid foundation.

2. Editors-in-Chief 
The panel of the Editors-in-Chief (EIC) is appointed by the JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net and is the key body responsible for ensuring the journal’s quality and reliability. The main responsibility of the EIC involves the entire paper review process, including nominating reviewers, considering reports from the reviewers, making decisions to accept or reject the manuscripts, performing all editorial matters, and considering the final draft journal before publishing.  

In practice, face-to-face interaction remains a substantial part of AEJ networking strategy. It complements the relationships and networking among EIC, and is more synchronous than other forms of communication, which is essential for effective journal management. 

Importantly, a panel of EIC consists of 10 persons. Each of them is responsible for a specific discipline, which is the forethought and long-term strategic planning for the journal to attain international benchmarking. It also reflects a balanced ratio between the number of editors and authors in each particular field, giving the journal unique advantages and strengths over other comparable publications. EIC applies the same practice as the Editorial Board in voluntary work for the spirit of academic collaboration without being commercially oriented. 

3. Reviewers
The EIC will assign 3 reviewers to assist Section Editors-in-Chief in making editorial decisions in accordance with the criteria set by the journal to improve the quality of the paper. They hence perform a key role in maintaining high standards of the AEJ.

The AEJ applies a double-blind peer review process to ensure the quality of the paper published and avoid any bias that might occur along the reviewing process.  

4. AEJ Secretariat
The AUN/SEED-Net Secretariat serves as the AEJ Secretariat to coordinate with the Editorial Board, Editors in Chief, reviewers, authors, and partners involved to make sure that all the processes are successfully carried out.  

The Secretariat is a core agent that performs the back-office operation tasks. At the beginning, the office recruited a few staff to oversee the journal. However, due to the impressive growth of the journal with an increase in the number of the submitting manuscripts, AEJ has become a recognized journal in the region and its scope has expanded to the next level within a few years.         

Currently, the Secretariat Office has 5-6 staff to take care of the journal. In addition to the administrative responsibilities, the Secretariat also assists and supports the EIC in editorial related matters, including proofreading and detecting technical inaccuracies of accepted manuscripts for further publication.

Figure 1: Procedure for Paper Submission and Review

Figure 2: Review Result: The result of each paper can be categorized as below

The editorial team who come from different origins and possess various professional skills, while being connected through a strong academic bond have defined the ideal components for a successful organization. It helps in laying a solid ground for AEJ to grow together with the AUN/SEED-Net and be part of the ASEAN legacy that belongs to all the member institutions. It will also provide a future-proof platform for academic collaboration within ASEAN, ASEAN-Japan, and other future strategic partners.

To become the strong network that it is currently, the AEJ team had to embark through a critical time of improving the quality of the journal to be ready for the Scopus application. To meet the Scopus criteria, the team had to cope with challenges in setting the structure, serving the academic demand, and positioning the directions of the journal. With limited experience in journal management at the regional level, the Secretariat required the support of member institutions to determine the frequency of the publication, number of thematic engineering fields, assurance of research quality, etc. With firm commitment of the Japanese government through JICA, a strong network and unending collaboration of member institutions and supporting Japanese universities, and tireless endeavor of the Secretariat, the AEJ team took only a year to overcome the existing challenges and make the journal evolve from a small-scale-limited-resources journal to a rapidly growing standard one, with the ground set for all work to date.            


To prepare for the termination of the JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net in 2023, the AUN/SEED-Net has officially transferred the AEJ management to the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) from 1 April 2021 onwards. UTM and the affiliated publishing division of the university, the Penerbit UTM Press, have comprehensive knowledge and professional experiences in managing Scopus scientific journals, including Journal Teknologi Science & Engineering, Malaysian Journal of Fundamental Applied Sciences (MJFAS). Moreover, they have been a host of more than 20 e-journals on all aspects of Sciences & Engineering and Social Sciences across the campus. AEJ is the latest journal that was brought under the UTM custodian.  The AUN/SEED-Net Secretariat will continue working with the UTM team to ensure the continuity and reliability of the journal and greater participation of member institutions throughout this seamless transfer period. 

For universities that wish to publish an academic journal, AEJ may be referred to as one of the good examples and rare cases in ASEAN proven by their salient achievement in establishing and sustaining a quality research publication. For those who wish to maintain quality academic resources and networking, AEJ can offer another prong of a holistic collaborative platform for like-minded people whose academic dedication is an honor for professional attainment.      


Cooperative Framework of the AUN/SEED-Net Approved on the Occasion of the Inauguration Ceremony of the AUN/SEED-Net, April 23-24, 2001, Bangkok.

Record of Discussions between Japan International Cooperation Agency of University Affairs on Japanese Technical Cooperation for The ASEAN University Network/ Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network, March 11, 2003, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

AUN/SEED-Net Secretariat (Murakami Yusuke, Paew Pirom, Papol Dhutikraikriang). 
Interview by Choltis Dhirathiti. November 25, 2019.

Norhazilan Md Noor. Interview by Naparat Phirawattanakul. December 8, 2020.

ASEAN Engineering Journal. JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net, from

ASEAN Engineering Journal. JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net, from

UTM ASEAN Engineering Journal EISSN 2586-9159, from