All posts by EuroScientist

Change needed for Spain to compete internationally

Science is an activity that needs to be planned with a long-term perspective. It is the only successful way of doing science. The system in Spain has to be changed to be able to contract the best people in each field. It might also help if prestigious calls like the ERC grant calls could account for the fact that countries are being faced with economic hardship and therefore give their scientists a chance to compete on a more level playing field. Read more [...]

Your opinion on reinventing research models, in Europe and beyond

Problems identified in our Special Issue on Research Austerity underlined the vital need to develop a public debate, beyond Southern European borders, into a global virtual forum. This is the goal of our special issue: to focus the wider European science community’s attention on how to solve research issues across Europe and beyond. Read more [...]

Research Austerity

Austerity has taken its toll on European research, and particularly on scientists from Southern Europe. In this special issue, we bring you an analysis of the impact such conditions have had on scientists who stayed and on those who were forced to emigrate. We also bring you testimonies of researchers sharing their experience of navigating the troubled waters of recession, when it comes to maintaining a seemingly steady research career path. Read more [...]

Spain: The Goverment needs to show the world it believes in science

In the last years Spanish budget in R&D has suffered strong reductions. Only in 2012 the reduction of public budget devoted to R&D was of 25% with respect to the previous year. Moreover, looking in some detail the figures one sees that the reduction in the sort of public funding to which Universities and Research Institutes may accede have decreased by 45% since 2009. We need to show the world that we believe in science Read more [...]

Italian scientists highly valued, but only abroad

“There still remains enough researchers to guard research,” was the answer of an undersecretary for education, when questioned on what to do to counter the trend of a large fraction of Italy’s top researchers leaving the country every year. These illuminating words are still vivid in the collective memory of the country’s scientists. As if research was a sentry box to guard and as if the quality of those who leave or stay were irrelevant. Read more [...]

Portugal: Filling up a glass that is already half-full

Early this year, the news hit the Portuguese scientific community as a cold blow: the national agency for science and technology FCT was unable to fund all of the research projects rated as excellent. Needless to say, this unprecedented event immediately caused uproar among researchers across all disciplines. But as often happens, where some scream outrage, others see a ray of sunshine. Read more [...]

Academics hired, but not appointed: a new Greek tragedy in the making

In 2008, after 5 years abroad as a postdoc, I decided to return home. I left the offer of a new three-year contract behind in order to return to an insecure Greek research environment. I felt I should offer something back to the Greek university system which I felt I owed a lot to. Now, two years after being elected as an assistant professor and still waiting to be appointed, I have started considering other options such as emigration, out of respect to myself both personally as well as professionally. Read more [...]

Portugal: science friendly despite relative research immaturity

In Portugal, science friendly policies continue in current times of severe financial restrictions. Indeed, public budgets were preferentially spared and re-directed to the essentials. And a more efficient spending has brought more money to the system than in previous years. The decision of Pedro Passos Coelho, the Portuguese Prime Minister, to create and chair a new advisory body: the National Council for Science and Technology, in 2012 brought another positive initiative to support science in Portugal. Read more [...]

Greece: Innovation born from austerity

After 2008, the global crisis had hit the Greek economy for good and affected academia and its funding. My attempts to fund my R&D work through EU and National projects, or via outside collaborations, were unsuccessful. Despite these setbacks, Greek artificial intelligence scientist Nikolas Nanas decided to turn his PhD work on adaptive information filtering into a real world application that became the NOOWIT magazine platform. Read more [...]

Myths and misadventures of Spanish science

The financial crisis—in which we are still immersed—has brought back words such as cyclical and counter-cyclical; a terminology typically used by economists, independently their ideological or theoretical flavour. The problem with the current debate is that most of the discussions are about the economic aspect of the recession. Meanwhile, the concerns of citizens confronted to this economic context are diluted. Read more [...]

Portugal: the knowledge capital of an entire generation in the balance

Portugal has experienced outstanding scientific progress among EU and OECD countries. Despite the last two decades of amazing scientific progress, our extremely young National Research System still lacks a strong scientific structure. As such, it is quite fragile and highly sensitive to external and internal changes. While this was already the case before the recession, the current situation imposes high levels of stress on researchers and institutions thereby amplifying existing weaknesses. Read more [...]