Interview with Mary Ellen Perry, NIH, and George Weinstock, WUSTL
Hundreds of researchers and multiple academic institutions and NIH institutes participated in the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) to sequence and analyze microbial genomes, create resource repositories, and examine the associated ethical, legal and social implications. The NIH Common Fund supported the HMP as its goals spanned the missions of several NIH Institutes and Centers.
Interview with Da Hsuan Feng, National Tsing Hua University
The Academic Executive Brief interviews Da Hsuan Feng about the formation of the University System of Taiwan. People in Taiwan realized that merging the four universities would be virtually impossible because of the extremely competitive climate within Taiwanese higher education. Instead, another model was proposed to achieve some sort of commonality for competing not only nationally, but globally.
By Mike Conlon, University of Florida and Kristi L. Holmes, Washington University in St. Louis
In modern science, like never before, it often takes a top-notch team to maximize the discovery process and compete effectively for essential funding opportunities. Forming a world-class team requires a rich and varied type of research discovery, one in which member scientists have both a broad and deep awareness of what is going on in their discipline. To fully understand the 21st Century landscape of science, we now need networks to better collect, observe, disseminate, and evaluate what is going on in science. One such interdisciplinary network is VIVO, which comprises more than 100 institutions representing more than 1 million scholars and support staff across more than 25 countries.
By Bertil Andersson and Tony Mayer, Nanyang Technological University
By changing mind-sets and creating new interactions, we can open universities to new ways of working and generate excitement about interdisciplinary possibilities. Young institutions such as Nanyang Technological University may have advantages in this realm; their structures are not as constrained as those of older institutions. By promoting interdisciplinarity within a Humboldtian ethos, combining research and education, young institutions can be at the forefront of change.
By Brad Fenwick, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
In the winner-take-all system, everyone pays to compete but only one person walks away with the prize. In the competition for grants and contracts, the investment in infrastructure is enormous if you want to remain competitive. As the cost of winning goes up, the resources become scarcer, the prizes become more precious, and the bidding rises. It is increasingly clear that the focus must be on the development of systems that enhance institutional productivity and effectiveness.
By Ram Ramaswamy, University of Hyderabad
Many academic leaders believe that the most exciting developments of any given field lie along its boundaries with other disciplines. This article describes the various multidisciplinary centers established by the University of Hyderabad after it received a grant of approximately US $6 million to focus research in Interfacial Studies. Making faculty members think more about the ways in which disciplines can mesh has encouraged UoH colleagues to venture into exciting and unexplored regions of the academic landscape.
Challenge accepted – Japan’s AIMR champions mathematical integration to afford infinite possibilities
By Motoko Kotani, Tohoku University
In the 21st century, materials science seems to be at a turning point, changing into a more exact science based on fundamental principles and prediction. AIMR is playing a leading role by gathering top international researchers from various backgrounds and developing interdisciplinary research in a supportive environment.
By Chris Llewellyn Smith, University of Oxford
The global scientific landscape has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Since the beginning of the century, global spending on research and development has nearly doubled, and the number of scientific publications has grown by almost a third. This article, based on the Royal Society's "Knowledge, networks and nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century," describes changes in the global scientific scene and analyses their implications.
With Keith Micoli, New York University Langone Medical Center
The Academic Executive Brief interviews Keith Micoli, Postdoctoral Program Director at New York University Langone Medical Center and former chair of the National Postdoctoral Association. Micoli reflects on the importance of postdocs to the US research enterprise, the largely international nature of the position, and the importance of making the postdoc an attractive career option.
Eye on Mexico: Public support for science is high, but transition to a research-based economy remains the challenge
By Edmundo A. Gutiérrez-D., National Institute for Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics, Mexico
Most Mexican companies are oriented towards low-tech production and commercialization of imported goods, while the government is steering the research community, through the evaluation process, towards an international qualification level, which is not correlated with the country’s current industrial needs. This disconnect is hindering the transition toward a more technology-oriented base economy. There is an urgent need to build confidence in the joint university-industry relationship and to reorient high-skilled human resources to meet Mexico’s industrial and technology needs.
By Francesc Xavier Grau Vidal, University Rovira i Virgili
The recent large reduction in public finance in Spain is affecting all public services, including the pillars of our society: the health service, social cohesion, and education. In the case of universities, the effect is twofold. In addition to negatively influencing their role as providers of higher education, the reduction in public finance is harming our universities’ ability to generate knowledge and their power to bring about cultural, social and economic change.
By Scott Rutherford, Queen's University Belfast
It is no surprise that the need for research information comes from both internal and external drivers. Perhaps the most important external driver for information within the UK context is the Research Excellence Framework (REF), an initiative of the four UK higher education funding bodies to assess the performance of UK researchers.
Interview with Yuko Harayama, Council for Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office of Japan
In Japan, we realized we needed to take advantage of our existing universities’ knowledge-creation capacity and transform that into industry. However is there a danger in moving away from basic research? The serendipitous use of created knowledge is a key component of innovation, but the pressure from policy makers is to explain the impact up front, which cannot be done in such a scenario.
Interview with Marye Anne Fox, UC San Diego
Chancellor Fox discusses the University of California, San Diego's global reputation/regional impact, funding successes and challenges, and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. "It’s a challenge to manage public opinion when a large part of the public may not understand the difference between an operating budget and a capital budget."
By Joshua Rosenbloom, National Science Foundation
Measuring the economic benefits of investments in R&D requires tracing a complex web of influences over periods of several decades. A community of practice centered on key issues in science and innovation policy has emerged in support of drivers to place policy decisions on a sound scientific basis. Only through a sustained and systematic study of this subject will we improve our understanding of the key issues that motivated the call for a Science of Science Policy.
In the wake of 3-11, Japanese academics must further increase understanding of and interest in science and technology in Japan
By Yoichiro Matsumoto, The University of Tokyo
Before the triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident — of March 11, 2011 (3-11), struck Japan, our faculty members within science and technology (S&T) were already under pressure. Historically, professors have been accorded much respect in Japan, and the academic freedom offered at universities presented a desirable career option. However, changing attitudes and conditions have tempered benefits and diminished the pool of next-generation aspirants.
By John T. Green, Fellow of Queens’ College, University of Cambridge
John Green's interest in research metrics grew in concert with the UK’s downturn in higher education funding, when it became increasingly apparent that the academic research enterprise required the application of business principles in order to survive and thrive. He later became involved in developing Snowball Metrics, an agreed set of robust and consistent definitions for tried-and tested metrics across the entire spectrum of research activities.
By Andrew Plume, Elsevier
Historically, studies have shown and continue to demonstrate that researchers desire to disseminate information and further knowledge within their disciplines. But they are also fundamentally human and susceptible to the drivers that motivate us all, including advancement and competition.
By David Kross, Elsevier
Research is big business. But identifying return on investment is not easy for research funders. While publishers almost always include an acknowledgements section in their journals, where authors credit their funding sources, the lack of standardization of funding organizations’ names and their abbreviations make it difficult to use the information for reporting or analysis. Several funding bodies and publishers are now collaborating with CrossRef to address this problem.
Attracting talent in a global academic world: How emerging research universities can benefit from brain circulation
By Jamil Salmi, Global Tertiary Education Expert
Though academic mobility has been a defining element of higher education from its beginnings, it has now reached unprecedented levels, and is likely to continue growing as countries and tertiary education institutions compete for the most talented professionals. As the examples in this article illustrate, a notable selection of universities in emerging economies have succeeded in building their teaching and research capacity by relying extensively on their ability to lure and keep foreign academics, often through directed recruitment from their diasporas.
Ambitious and agile: The University of Bremen’s institutional strategy for advancing research strengths at a mid-sized university
By Rolf Drechsler and Achim Wiesner, University of Bremen
The University of Bremen produces internationally competitive research, ranking especially high in volume of third-party funding for that research. Bremen has been notably boosted in its development by its capacity for internal cooperation and communication.
Tackling grand challenges: Boosting interdisciplinarity to embrace complexity, unknowns and imperfection
By Gabriele Bammer, The Australian National University
For a team-based interdisciplinary effort to successfully address complex, real-world grand challenges, we need to boost our problem-solving skill sets. In addition to reductionist thinking, which gives us detailed understanding of specific elements of the problem, we need to enhance our ability to also understand the problem as a system. This involves understanding interconnections, possible vicious or stabilizing cycles, simple rules that may underpin complex behaviors, properties that emerge when the focus moves from one level in a hierarchy to another, and so on.
By Andrew Plume, Elsevier
The International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base: 2011 report assessed the performance of the UK's research base. It found that UK researchers generate more articles per researcher, more citations per researcher, and more usage per article authored, and that the researchers' mobility was a key factor.
By Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, Elsevier
The author explores recent findings about team assembly and composition, as well as trust and communication, and offers related tools leaders can use to implement effective practices in team science.
By Norhayati Zakaria, Universiti Utara Malaysia
With the globalization of research teams, institutions are increasingly paying attention to the interconnections between management competencies and culture. Whether the team is together in one physical location or operates in a virtual environment, challenges can arise from many sources: cultural, managerial, operational, efficiency or effectiveness concerns, and more.