Is scientific research reviving?

June 20th, 2007

scientific researchThe 9th National Conference on Scientific Research in Romania has recently taken place in Cluj – Napoca and has highlighted the core issues of this crucial sector of national economy.

Basically, it is about two fundamental features of the Romanian scientific research. The first, a positive one, is identified with the fact that the Romanian researchers have a first level competence, in general. This has been outlined by the European Commissioner for Research and Development during the visit he made in Bucharest, when he specified that Romania has been participating for several years in the European research programmes. Due to this competence, Romania has never been penalized by the EU with yellow or red flags, regarding research, during its preparation for accession.

The second feature, which is a negative one this time, is the under-financing experienced for many years by the Romanian scientific research.

This feature either could not have been left aside by the European Commissioner. Particularly because during the meeting he had with PM Tariceanu, he informed that the funds earmarked for research in 2007 would increase up to 1 per cent of GDP, specifying also that this raise would result both from public and private sources. Being aware of the fact that unfortunately companies in Romania invest little in research, the European Commissioner approached the most important issue, underlining that providing funds from the budget for research, for them to be sufficient, would mean that such funding should account for 3 per cent of GDP.

These core issues structure the debates around the two important Romanian projects: National Plan for Research, Development and Innovation 2007 – 2013 (PNCDI) and National Strategy for Research, Development and Innovation 2007 – 2013 (SNCDI).

Their analysis has led to several remarks and propositions addressing, first, the status of the scientific researcher. It has been clearly specified that a core issue of the Romanian scientific research is represented by human resources. Why this? As there is a shortage of tools able to secure quality human resources. The existent ones are mainly from the past because public institutions often attach a second place to high education and to the full capitalization of the specific potential of the young researchers.

There is no updated situation with the staff working in research and in universities, by groups of ages and by field of specialization, in order for somebody to be able to accurately evaluate the dimensions and the structure of the current Romanian research potential.

Could this lack of evaluation express fear to have an accurate image of the “present disaster in research?” – this is a question often raised by experts.

The word “disaster” is not something overstated – this was underlined within the recent debates.

The shortage in terms of highly performing young researchers and the absence of regular concern in relation to having them educated in famous institutions was a serious bottleneck in the accomplishment of the two projects, PNCDI and SNCDI. In the absence of an internal concern, thousands of young persons had to leave abroad in order to undergo serious academic training.

But nothing has been done for putting in place favorable prerequisites for them to return.

In this respect, best practices were cited, as examples to be followed, such as China, France, Germany, UK and other countries which pay efforts for bringing back the young research potential spread within Diaspora.

All these aspects are an outcome of under-funding in research, as well.

This under-funding is not only hindering the future programmes, but it even destroys the current institutional structure of research. This is the explanation of the fact that fundamental research has been always overlooked.

Whilst technological research and design receive 90 per cent of the budget allotted to the Romanian scientific research, there is only 10 percent left for the fundamental research. Fixing this malfunction is crucial considering even only the fact that Romania current scientific fame, as much as one can see it in international statistics, is mainly due to fundamental research.

Based on this viewpoint, one can obviously see the need for fundamental laws and decisions which address the Romanian research would have advanced from survival up to development.

This implicitly entails the annulment of the obvious fragmentations in research, including “feuds” which often annul each other similarly as in case of public funds, preventing the badly needed performance, which is still possible in Romania.

Several other opinions of experts supported an ampler vision when it comes to research management, they plead for putting an end to frauds that have taken place within the privatisation process developed in research institutions, for ceasing the Romanian brain drain that takes place inclusively through theft of Romanian invention patterns.

The Romanian research potential has a decisive role in the European integration process and this is why it should not be wasted as it has happened.
by Mihai Iordanescu

Source: nineoclock

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