Special issue on Research Activism – Print Edition

As waves of researchers’ protest are about to invade the streets of Paris, Rome and Madrid, among others, there is a clear sense of déjà vu in these white coats with large signs walking the avenues of European capitals. What is new, however, is that these protests on longer follow a logic of being centred around national territories. They have become supra-national and aim to target the central power in Brussels as much as national governments.

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.

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.

Consolidation in the voice of researchers in Europe to defend working conditions

For the first time, active science researchers to have a unified voice representing them on an EU and international level. Indeed, the two major umbrella researcher representative associations in Europe have just signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), announced on 19th June 2014. It enables both organisations to act together to represent the interests of researchers at European level. Previously, independent efforts of the two associations to represent the interest of researchers were limited and lacked coordination in defending the interests of the entire research community.

Academic and research circles EP election debate: too few concrete proposals

The debate in the running up to the 22nd and 25th May 2014 vote to elect members of the European Parliament, is also taking place among academic and research circles. Opinions and analyses have been published in the specialist press and on the pages of science and higher education advocacy groups across Europe. A few of them have questioned the main political parties about their intentions in relation to topics relevant to scientists, innovators and academics. Below are outlined the key issues featured in this debate, ranging from the ERA, mobility, higher education, H2020 funding and the national target of investing 3% of GDP in R&D.

European Elections coverage – Print edition

In the past few weeks, European elections debates to elect members of the European Parliament (EP) have been in full swing. The vote will take place between the 22nd to 25th May 2014, depending on the country. In most territories, the mainstream press appears to have little concern over higher education, research and innovation. It is also worth distinguishing the debate taking place in academic and research circles. There, the debate is only touching a few of the issues pertaining to research and education that would need to be addressed.The EuroScientist following its vocation as a participatory magazine, has called upon its network of loyal readers, supporters and reporters to gather an overview of issues that are relevant to scientists debated during the various campaigns across Europe. This article will give our readers food for thought by providing an overview and some anecdotal evidence of the debates that have taken place both in the mainstream press and in academic and research circles.

Sexual harassment’s insidious nature makes it persistent

Examples of men who are really interested beyond professional boundaries in one of their – often clearly younger – female colleagues are widespread. Typically, the men do not want to accept these women’s refusals and start harassing them. Often, the trouble is that the harassment is underhand. One difficulty is that there is a fine line between providing compliments and harassing someone, often due to cultural differences. Although women are mostly affected, men are also victims of sexual harassment.

A ‘single market for research’ is closer, but not yet a reality

It is widely accepted that Europe needs more investment in research and innovation. Investment that will advance knowledge, make people’s lives better, and safeguard our economic competitiveness. What is less well understood is that spending alone is not enough. The money needs to be spent efficiently and with the greatest possible impact. That’s why making the European Research Area (ERA) a reality is a key structural reform for Europe. The ERA Progress Report 2013, the first of its kind, shows that in many countries policies are in place to support a single market for research jobs. However, it also shows that we still have a long way to go.

Do science girls have an image problem?

Is the image of women scientists to blame for the lack of popularity of science studies? And how much could changing the image of female scientists do to solve the two problems that persist? Namely, boosting girls’ involvement in science from an early age. And removing the barriers to top positions for female scientists when they get there. Find out more in this EuroScientist article.

Human rights: a responsibility of scientific organisations too

A 30 years old Iranian physicist, called Omid Kokabee, languishes in jail in Teheran since January 2010. He has been condemned to 10 years for spying for the US government. His case has received the support of major scientific societies. But does it make sense that scientific organisations care about human rights issues, beyond their main, scientific mission? Is it useful? Or even desirable?