Policy

Top level research policy issues that affect the way science is being organised and funded

Medicamentalia Contraceptives

Medicamentalia-Contraceptives is an international journalistic investigation by Civio on birth control access and barriers. We have combined data journalism with on-the-ground reporting to tell the stories of the women behind the statistics, to gather their opinions about birth control access and their freedom to decide about their bodies. This instalment follows in the footsteps of two predecessors, focused on access to essential medicines and access to vaccines around the world. Read more [...]

Heightened multi-lateral collaboration fever as Brexit mitigating strategy

Too much is at stakes in European science for people managing research—particularly in the UK—to leave it up to politicians to determine their future. Brexit or no Brexit, there are signs that further integration of the UK scientific activities into the European research fabric is underway. Indeed, universities across the UK are establishing new partnership deals in education and research with European and Commonwealth universities. Whether this move will allow UK research institutions to remain attractive to European collaborators remains to be seen. Read more [...]

Homo scientificus europaeus: Giving European scientists back their voice

Political populism, with its accompanying "fake news" and pseudoscience, leaves scientists distraught. But maybe scientific research itself needs a reboot. Research can no longer win public funding on the mere promise of a possible contribution to society. Read more [...]

Spain, the European exception: ‘economic miracle’ & scientific suicide

Six years ago, the Spanish parliament approved Law 14/2011, known as the Science Law, aiming to modernise and harmonise different aspects of scientific activity in Spain, by a virtually unanimous vote. Today, Spanish scientists are still waiting for the law to be fully implemented; more than three and half years after the deadline for implementation has passed. In this article, the 5s6s Platform, a grassroots movement of Spanish scientists, including about 400 tenured scientists working in OPIs, supported by another >1300 scientists working in different Spanish Universities and other research institutions, denounces this untenable situation and requests that the Government finally implements the law. Read more [...]

Scientific advice for politics: The European way

Politics is not an exact science: moral choices, traditions, communication and many other aspects play important roles. But working on politics without caring for scientific evidence is almost certainly a recipe for failure. In the last few years, the European Union has struggled to find its own, formal model for conveying scholarly knowledge in its policies. After a tangledattempt to concentrate this task into a single Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA), the Commission opted in 2015 for a much more complex Scientific Advisory Mechanism (SAM). The High Level Group at the top of the mechanism was appointed in November 2015. The seven prominent scholars that form the committee discuss their first year and a half of work in a debate at the European Conference for Science Journalists, taking place in June in Copenhagen, Denmark. Read more [...]

Climate change: It’s a business matter too

In 1973, a group of scientists published a report linking rising CO2 with global warming and some of the resulting meteorological patterns. It was one of the first publications on what would later be called ‘climate change’. Surprisingly, the report’s authors worked at Munich Re, one of the big players in the global insurance business. “Our industry […] started monitoring this issue long before the public even noted that there was a problem,” says Peter Höppe, head of the company’s Geo Risks Research division based in Germany. Höppe will join the roundtable “Climate: facts, figures and future” at the 4th European Conference of Science Journalism. Read more [...]

Unbiased reporting can help call time on pseudoscience

In July 2013, a 21-year-old man died of leukaemia in the Spanish city of Valencia. Mario chose to dismiss his doctor’s advice, turned to a so-called expert in 'natural and orthomolecular medicine' and abandoned chemotherapy, choosing instead to fight his illness with alternative medicine. Mario was not, as some might conclude, an uneducated young man who did not know better. He was studying to become a physicist, but even this background did not prevent his believing a charlatan's claims. Tragedies like this beg the question: What can journalism do to better encourage trust in scientific evidence? The 4th European Conference for Science Journalists hel on 26 to 30 June 2017 aimed to answer such questions in a series of sessions that examine the roles of policymakers, citizens, scientists, and science journalists in making scientific facts great again. Read more [...]

Watch for disingenuous initiatives among the guises of Spanish research activism

When it comes to science diplomacy and grassroots research movements, beware of disingenuous initiatives that increase the gap between perception and reality warns Amaya Moro-Martín, who is the founder of Spanish activist group Investigación Digna and an astrophysicist currently working in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. In this opinion piece, she explains how the Spanish government has created a network of seemingly grassroots scientific associations to serve its branding needs, without serving the interests of Spanish scientists on the ground. Read more [...]