All aspects of research funding, in its full complexity

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 [...]

Research funding: trust, freedom and long-term vision pay off

A recipe for how to stimulate breakthrough research would include the following ingredients: long-term commitments, large flexible grants, trust, and the funding body’s continuing interest in the research. This is precisely the approach that the Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF) has adopted with its ‘Centres of Excellence’ concept, over the past 22 years. The foundation’s core activity is to fund frontline research in highly creative environments. By recognising and trusting the talent of top researchers, the foundation expects them to deliver potentially ground breaking results. Read more [...]

How particle physics is eroding the scientific method

Last years's results of the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) brought the director general of the European Particle Physics Laboratory, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, to comment that “a Higgs boson” had been discovered. He nuanced his statement by saying it was “not necessarily the standard model Higgs boson”. One might wonder whether such a “non-standard Higgs” is a true triumph of the so-called standard model, or has a “non-standard” standard model still to be developed to make use of such a triumph? Read more [...]

Russian researchers protest against law dissolving Academy of Sciences

Russian researchers are vehemently protesting a bill that would essentially liquidate the venerated Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and replace it with a newly -formed but as-yet poorly-defined body. The bill was passed its first and second reading on 1 July and 5 July 2013, respectively. It is slated to be signed into law when the Duma resumes session on 10 September. According to Russian law, substantive changes may not be made to a bill after it passes its second reading. Read more [...]

Fusion: waste of research money or solution to world’s energy crisis?

The international fusion reactor ITER, located in the South of France in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, will cost an estimated 15 billion Euros over its lifetime. For critics, this project is an enormous white elephant, a colossal misdirection of resources away from other areas of science at a time when money is in short supply. Supporters say ITER can move us closer to sustainable energy, with no atmospheric pollutants, and that the one billion per year between 35 or so countries is money well spent. Read more [...]

Cumulating R&D cuts does not bode well for the future of Spain

For the fourth consecutive year, resources allocated by the Spanish Government to R&D have been reduced. To assess its real impact, we need a detailed analysis. However, facts already speak for themselves. The 2013 annual budget approved by the Spanish Parliament reveals the government’s actual policy regarding R&D. To say the least, it is not always in line with politicians’ statements in the media. Read more [...]

As little as 2 Euros per reader to provide a truly independent magazine

With only two euros per reader, we believe, we can provide you with a magazine that is sustainable. Above all, by supporting us, what you would be supporting is EuroScientist's independent editorial content. Since the magazine will only be accountable to its readers, this approach equates to guaranteeing the editorial independence of the magazine. It would therefore not be subjected to any of the financial and editorial pressures that affect traditional publishing. Yet, EuroScientist is not-for-profit organisation but still requires a minimum amount of support to exist. Read more [...]

Edito: An evolutionary tale of short versus long-term research vision

The recessionary climate has disturbed research cycles. All the testimonies gathered for this special Euroscientist issue covering research austerity in Southern Europe concur. If we draw a parallel with Nature, we observe that disturbance in seasonal cycles imposed by climate change is responsible for the disappearance of biodiversity. Unlike animal species, however, European scientists have a fantastic ability to adapt to the disruptions in their research environment. Read more [...]