Funding

All aspects of research funding, in its full complexity

Research funding: Science in the firing line as Europe fails to pay

As the three-week conciliation period on the EU 2015 budget started on 28th October 2014, research in Europe is facing a funding crisis. And this time, the harbingers of doom are not grumbling scientists, gloomy economists or critical journalists, but powerful voices within the European Commission (EC) itself. Read more [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Portugal in a research maelstrom

The recent election of Jean Claude Juncker and the nomination of Portuguese national Carlos Moedas, as Commissioner-designate for Research, Science & Innovation, raise important questions about the role of science in Europe. Moedas was part of a government that undertook the biggest attack ever made to the Portuguese scientific system, carried out by Miguel Seabra, the new head of Brussels-based association of European research funding and performing organisations, Science Europe. As a result, Portugal is now facing a political and administrative reduction of 50% in the number of the Research Units—namely scientific laboratories and university centers—funded by the Government, with severe future consequences. Read more [...]

Funding policy tools: up for revamping

The research ecosystem is in constant evolution. Funding policy tools, however, have not evolved as fast as the research activity itself. At the macroscopic scale, the policy shaping the way research funding is allocated could be improved by gaining more precise evidence-base of the potential effect of policy choices in achieving desired research objectives. Indeed, the science underpinning the research funding policy—also known as the science of science policy—is in infancy. Read more [...]

Alternative modes of research funding: exceptions or growing trend?

Peer-review of projects dominates when it comes to decision on how to allocate funding for science. But is it really the best way? Funders certainly think so. Over 95% of biomedical funding in the UK, for example, relied on peer-review grant allocations, a 2012 report found. In the absence of tried and tested alternative, peer review has become the default solution. But there is a clear demand for new and less onerous ways of funding research. Read more [...]