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.

ESOF 2014 Copenhagen Special Issue – Print Edition

What can a conference like this one bring to you? Those among our readers who have a sweet tooth will agree that such events can be compared to the cherry on the cake of academic life. Once every two years, it is time to enjoy a stimulating flow of discussions. Participants are guaranteed to have fruitful encounters with other people from various horizons. They may not be like-minded but, at least, share similar concerns about European science, policy or science communication. This is what ESOF 2014 is about!

Research funding gap: her excellence dwarfed by his excellence

Promoting excellence is an explicit goal in European and national research systems. As a result, various excellence-marked initiatives have been established across Europe. However, recent empirical studies and monitoring exercises outlined below show that these excellence initiatives have been more beneficial for male than female researchers. Moreover, this applies to excellence initiatives from organisations or countries with gender equality plans and monitoring practices in place. It even applies in countries with long-term gender equality interventions backed up by political will, such as countries in the Nordic region.

Germany: the career challenges of a single academic track

A recent petition seeking government support to establish more permanent jobs and to limit the number of short term contracts in science and technology positions in Germany has already gathered over 10,000 signatures. It was initiated on 7th March 2014 by a German scientist called Sebastian Raupach, who wrote a letter addressed to the vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, and to the country’s federal minister for education and research, Johanna Wanke. This petition reflects the growing unrest among scientists regarding the limited career path in Germany.

Special Issue: Ethics – Print Edition

This post is designed to allow our readers to convert the full issue into a single PDF file, that can be read offline or in print. We are introducing such printer and tablet-ready version of the EuroScientist to respond to the expectations of our readers, who have expressed the need to access the magazine when they are not connected to the internet, so that they can read it at their leisure, while travelling for example. As a participatory magazine, we encourage you, our readers, to provide further feedback so that we can make the magazine more accessible and relevant to you.

Have we reached the twilight of the fundamental science era?

History reveals a succession of many dawns and twilights, in different facets of human activity. Looking at the past, we can date and understand the reasons for the birth of science, specifically fundamental science. However, we do not know precisely when its twilight will take place. Nevertheless, clues of the advent of such twilight are already in the air. This article presents the underlying rationale suggesting that we are now past the golden age of pure science, and how we need to accommodate our research to this new era.

Science Communication: putting the cart before the horse

A Danish research project on the so-called Nordic diet has raised concern about new trends in the way science is being communicated to the wider public, through untimely PR campaigns. The example of the OPUS Research Centre at University of Copenhagen, Denmark, stands out. This centre aims to investigate whether public health is likely to improve in Denmark, by renewing the Danish culinary culture. The trouble is that it started its promotional activities before any research findings had been published.

Can national culture influence success in open innovation?

Cultural differences among nations are not to be taken lightly. Especially, when it comes to innovation. A debate related to the influence of culture on innovation started in the 1980s’. We now live in a world where globalisation and international collaboration increasingly shape research and innovation. It is still difficult to gauge how the advent of open innovation will be influenced by national cultures. Even though the jury is still out on this debate, one thing is certain: open innovation is not happening in a vacuum.

One World, One Lab: science meets culture in Vietnam

I want to learn what makes scientists tick. And what is important in their lives. I found some answers at the Agricultural Genetics Institute, in Hanoi, Vietnam. This is the first of a documentary series, called One World One Lab, featuring scientists from eight different countries around the world. This video is a window into the research world, which is not about complex research data. Instead, it is about culture, street life, religion and all the strange and tasty foods.

Mary Phillips: The academic evaluation conundrum

Mary Phillips has worked as an academic in biomedical sciences at Oxford University, UK, as a funder with the Wellcome Trust, in London, and as director of research planning for University College London. Find out her unique perspective on the limitations of the existing evaluation systems, be it for academic institutions or individual scientists. In this exclusive interview with the EuroScientist, she shares the lessons learned from her various positions related to academia.

Tenure track: key to attract top talent?

Recruiting and retaining the best researchers is a key challenge for Europe. Talks about introducing an attractive career structures with prospects for advancement, such as a tenure track, are ripe. Well-established in the US and increasingly in the UK, tenure track provides a clear, merit-based system that takes excellent researchers from postdoc to professor. But even if it is desirable, it does not guarantee more time for research given the increasingly bureaucratic nature of the job of university professor.