Policy

Top level research policy issues that affect the way science is being organised and funded

Designing antivirus for nuclear power plants to fend off cyber-terrorism

In 2008, it was the first time that a software virus replicating the automatic process control system of a nuclear facility was recorded. In this opinion piece, Anastasia Tolstaya, an engineer at the Institute for Cyber-Intelligence Systems, Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, in the Russian Federation, explores what can be done to prevent exposing the safety of nuclear plants, in the case of a cyber attack. Finding solutions, she argues, is not trivial. Read more [...]
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Nightmare on Academia Street: an English horror story coming to a campus near you

Any politician that dangles the carrot of a graduate premium on future earnings to justify increases in student fees, interest rates on loans, or adjusting student loan repayment thresholds, should be challenged for gross mis-selling. These are the findings of a recent report by the UK Intergenerational Foundation. In this opinion piece, the author of the report warns of the possible financial implications of postgraduate student loans for the future financial health of students and their career prospects. This phenomenon, particularly acute in the UK, could soon reach other countries in Europe, should they be tempted to follow suit. Read more [...]
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UK scientists’ loss of influence to be felt at home and across Europe

Brexit keeps resounding in the many aspects that its implications may have for European research. In this opinion piece, Thomas König, Austrian social scientist, who was previously scientific advisor to former ERC president Helga Nowotny, examines the consequences of the predicted fall of influence of British scientists on the future of European science. He believes the consequences of Brexit are likely to be felt, not only in UK science itself, but also at the level of pan-European research endeavours, such as ERC-backed activities. This shows that scientists are not sheltered from the vagaries of politics when policies emanating from the popular vote forces them to defend their interests. Read more [...]
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Enough with counter-intuitive cryptic physics theories

Science progresses through discussions and debates. Sometimes accepted notions are too well-established to be open to questioning. In this personal view, Helmut Tributsch, emeritus professor of physical chemistry, formerly at the Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany, challenges the notion that physics theories, such as quantum scale phenomena, obey counter-intuitive laws. Instead, he claims that introducing a definite and irreversible direction for the passing of time, would make our theoretical interpretation of physical phenomena more logical and resolve many unsolved questions pertaining to our understanding of the world surround us and the universe. Read more [...]
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Top Trumped: what does the US election mean for science and Europe?

Donald Trump’s imminent arrival at the White House has blown a cold wind through the scientific community. In this article, Arran Frood, investigates the likely impact the Trump presidency could have on research in Europe. He also explores how a likely change in science policy in the US may result in a shift of the centre of gravity of research, particularly in certain disciplines. Finally, there could be some consequences for the mobility and career of scientists themselves. Read more [...]
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Open governance enhances the value of land use policy software

moja global is a collaboration among governments to develop software informing land use policies. It is also designed to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from the land sector. Thanks to its open governance structure, funders, developers and users, have their say in the development of the software. The private sector is rapidly adjusting to this opportunity to gain value from the process. According to an opinion piece by Guy Janssen, interim director at moja global, this should, in turn, inspire governments to explore how open governance can create a vituous circle leading to a similar multiplier effect for the common good. Read more [...]
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Self-organised scientific crowds to remedy research bureaucracy

In an era where research bureaucracy is the biggest burden bestowed upon scientists, some are seeking practical solutions. Inspired by the science of complex networks, new ways of harnessing the wisdom of the scientific community are emerging. This leads to new decision-making mechanisms to allocated the limited amount of resources, which is bypassing the biggest plague affecting the research endeavour. Michele Catanzaro investigates out-of-the-box solutions to this bureaucratic conundrum for Euroscientist. Read more [...]
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The controversial art of research management

The parachuting of a politician with no research experience into the coveted top position at INRA, France's national institute for agricultural research, last summer did not go down very well with the scientific community in the country. This raises the question of whether research institutions should be managed by professional research manger without first-hand experience of research? This issue keeps arising in discussions across European academic institutions. And it is unlikely to go away any time soon. Fiona Dunlevy investigates for EuroScientist. Read more [...]
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Data Journalism Awards celebrate evidence-based questioning in our society

Data journalism has the potential to make reporting on scientific activities and innovation more accountable to society. In this article and podcast, EuroScientist covers the 2016 Data Journalism Award, recently held in Vienna, Austria. Find out more about the winning entries from Spain, Peru and the USA. In these projects, data analysis has helped uncover the varying cost of medicines across borders, the environmental and social impact of commodity mining and the extend of privacy loss due to US surveillance planes, respectively. These examples show how data journalism has the potential to bring scientific analysis to the practice of journalism, ultimately leading to more accountability and transparency in society. Read more [...]
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When privacy-bound research pays for open science

Thanks to the growing uberisation of science, opportunities to participate in world class research could soon no longer be limited to researchers in well-funded labs. According to an opinion piece by Barend Mons, professor at the Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands, technology has now made it possible to distribute part of the interpretation of scientific results across a geographically widespread work force, to include scientists from developing countries. In the first of a two-part contribution, he also envisions that a new business model allocating free access to those who share, and charging a premium to those who don’t, could soon disrupt research and innovation and further open science. Read more [...]
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Is Europe doing enough for refugee scientists?

Migration issues are high on the political agenda. Forced mass migration of people is an issue that will not go away and one that global citizens must address. The research community should play its part, according to this opinion piece from representatives of the Global Young Academy published this week in EuroScientist. Read more [...]
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