Credit Boegh

A blueprint for EU research and innovation reforms

Resilience—the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change—is a useful concept for understanding the dynamics of ecosystems. Indeed, all complex systems are evolutionary. They constantly co-evolve and interact in ways which are difficult—if not impossible—to predict with absolute certainty. This is also true of the European Innovation ecosystem. Unfortunately, the notion of resilience is not often used in policy making, according to the High Level Group on Innovation Policy Management. Read more [...]
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Special issue on Research Activism Print Edition

As waves of researchers’ protest are about to invade the streets of Paris, Rome and Madrid, among others, there is a clear sense of déjà vu in these white coats with large signs walking the avenues of European capitals. What is new, however, is that these protests on longer follow a logic of being centred around national territories. They have become supra-national and aim to target the central power in Brussels as much as national governments. Read more [...]
Credit 3Ro-Rokenublo

Research Activism Special Issue

As waves of researchers’ protest are about to invade the streets of Paris, Rome and Madrid, among others, there is a clear sense of déjà vu in these white coats with large signs walking the avenues of European capitals. What is new, however, is that these protests on longer follow a logic of being centred around national territories. They have become supra-national and aim to target the central power in Brussels as much as national governments. Read more [...]
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Joining the dots: unprecedented level of pan-European research activism

Research activism in Europe is about to transcend borders. Forthcoming protests movements planned for around mid-October in France, Italy and Spain are not a coincidence. Scientists will rally their respective capitals—be it on their bike or on foot—as a result of unprecedented concerted planning. Up until recently, the scientists involved did not collaborate across borders to campaign for a change in their own working environment. Yet, they are no strangers to international collaboration when it comes to collaborative research projects. So what triggered this shift in attitude? Read more [...]
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Science funding angst: is rhetoric masking what is really at stake?

Some worry basic science will get left in the dust once changes in the new European Commission are set in stone. But before we fret in the wrong direction, should we stop to think about what terms like 'basic,' 'applied,' 'innovation' and 'society' translate to in reality? With all arrows pointing to the need for economic growth, many have begun to wonder how changes in the new European Commission will affect the balance between basic and applied research. But scholars in Science and Technology Studies (STS)— a field that investigates the relationships between scientific knowledge, technological systems and society— say that this linguistic dichotomy of 'basic' versus 'applied' research masks the real issues at stake. Read more [...]
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How to balance a European research ecosystem with its national parts

Researchers across France, Spain and Italy are orchestrating a wave of national protests, which will culminate on the 17th and 18th October 2014 in their respective capitals. Their objective is to highlight how Europe’s knowledge economy is being undermined by a lack of investment in research, amongst other factors. European national research systems are struggling; that much is beyond doubt. The question is how to balance national versus EU research support and how the EU can drive rehabilitation of national research systems. Another question is whether the increased focus on excellence-based funding is really necessary. This debate is now fully open. Read more [...]
Credit: Ciencia para el pueblo

Repeated research protests on the streets of Madrid

Doing science in Spain is like crying. This well-known quote from one of the most famous Spanish scientist, Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón Cajal, seems more pertinent today than ever. For that reason, Spanish scientists took to the streets of Madrid on 26th September 2014, in a protest dubbed the Red Tide for Science—Marea Roja por la Ciencia. These protests reflect the sense of hopelessness, which pervades research centres and universities around the country, as scientists are leaving in droves. Another demonstration is scheduled in Madrid on the 17th October 2014 to coinciding with the arrival in Paris of the French movement Science en Marche. and the protest in Rome, Per la Scienza, Per la cultura the next day. Read more [...]
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Italian scientists protest against budget cuts, crocodile tears included

In the successful Italian comedy, Smetto quando voglio (I can quit whenever I want), a group of young and talented scholars with no career perspective turns into a successful drug-dealing mob. The story is imaginary—a surreal rendition of Breaking Bad—but it is also the portrait of Italian academia. There, the shortage of funds, baronies, and scant meritocracy hamper the careers of many endowed scientists. This fiction is not that far from reality. Now, as an attempt to change their working conditions, Italian researchers are planning a protest movement in October, to take a stand against budget cuts and political apathy. There is no doubt that such movement is justified, but there is also a need for academics to run their universities better. Read more [...]
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For the sake of Italian science and culture

Italian scientific research and university systems are in a dramatic position. The poisonous fruit of the recently approved university reform—referred to as the Gelmini law— assisted by the actions of successive governments, are reaching their goal: downsizing the university system and introducing a political control, never attempted before, on basic research. Now a vast movement of researchers across Europe is organising a series of initiatives during the autumn with the aim of bringing research and innovation to the public attention and at the centre of governments’ action. Read more [...]
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Streamlining immigration procedures for scientists

Just about every research institution wants to be international and attract researchers from overseas. If foreign researchers are coming to a country it shows that its research system is healthy, and is doing work worth participating in. International mobility, whether to attend conferences or for research visits, is considered important to smooth the exchange of information, and is essential to doing good science. But while there is much universities and research institutions can do to encourage international mobility, some things outside their control can work to prevent it. Immigration policy is one example. Read more [...]
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French scientists get on their bikes for research

French research is in trouble. A protest movement has arisen from the ranks of research centres and universities to protest against what French scientists consider a progressive assault on research funding, jobs and autonomy by successive French administrations. Research activists from Montpellier have devised a very French response to this problem: marching out on the street—albeit this time with a twist. From the 27th September 2014, the grassroots movement Sciences en Marche, will see researchers march on Paris. They are planning to arrive in the French capital on 18th October, having bicycled in stages from labs all over France. Read more [...]
Credit Alain Trautmann

Once upon a time, the tale of how French scientists lost their autonomy

Protests concerning the French government's policy on public research and higher education (PRHE) has arisen in France during the course of 2014. Interestingly, these protests are taking place five and ten years, respectively, after the previous research activism movements of 2004 and 2009. So why such protest? Find out more in this riveting perspective by Alain Trautmann, former spokesperson of the 2004 protest movement, Sauvons la Recherche. He provides the benefit of hindsight into 15 years of French research policy and, thus, gives a unique analysis of the current research activism movements in France. Read more [...]

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