The chief is dead: what next for science policy advice in Europe?

Was the recently scraped role of European chief scientific adviser (CSA) position, held by Anne Glover, doomed to fail from the outset? Clearly it was a role that was under resourced and not clearly defined, at no fault of Glover’s, who was clearly full of the right stuff coming from the post of chief scientist in Scotland. And what role did the lobbying by a coalition of NGOs—including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth—who called for the post to be scrapped? Without an easily identifiable and contactable figurehead, the exact mechanisms by which science policy-makers use evidence – or not – remain as mysterious and opaque as ever. The debate goes further than the question of whether Europe needs a single science advisor or a series of science advisors for every single discipline. It raises the question as to how in concrete terms the evidence-base can weave its way more systematically through the policy-making process.

Russian science oscillating between progress and backlash

Last year, Russia’s president Putin took away all the assets of the Russian Academy of Science . Putin has also created a sort of mega-academy, merging the academies of Sciences, Agricultural Sciences and Medical Sciences. However, its control was not bestowed upon the forward thinking chairman of the RAS, Vladimir Fortov. Instead, it was attributed to one of Putin’s finance manager, creating fierce controversy in the country and abroad. These events have come to disrupt parallel attempts to put Russian science back on the world map. For example, through initiatives such as the creation of a Russian Silicon Valley and the support of a mega-grant programme to reverse the brain drain.

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Online reputation: necessary, but not sufficient

Social connections, of course, are a key part of being a researcher—all the more so as science becomes increasingly collaborative. Much of scientific success—in both intellectual and career terms—is down to finding the right mentors and collaborators. Networks are a resource as much as any other. So how important to academic success is cultivating your profile online?

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The German Science Debate: innovation with democratic participation

Science and technology are always intertwined with the economic and political system. Therefore it needs to be submitted to fundamental democratic procedures. For the upcoming federal elections in September 2013, the German Association of Science Writers TELI has launched a Science Debate . On its internet platform , every citizen is able to share a topic of concern. These will subsequently be discussed with experts.