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.
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 Miyoung Chun, The Kavli Foundation
The Kavli Foundation has carved out strategic positions as a catalyzer in well-established centers of science and as a leader in identifying and developing new niche areas of science in a timely way. Kavli Institutes are structured to enable a level of independent inquiry lacking in funding from other sources.
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.
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.
By Dr. Jerson L. Silva, FAPERJ and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
The State of Rio de Janeiro funding agency FAPERJ has achieved its most significant growth over the last 15 years and consolidated efforts as an important funder of science, technology and innovation. As a result, the State’s scientific output has improved in quantity and quality over recent years.
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."
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.
By Doochul Kim, Institute for Basic Science
The Institute for Basic Science has established an internal review system that allows fair and rigorous research assessments. Its research centers are evaluated on research excellence, economic and social impact, training of talented researchers, research collaborations, and environment and infrastructure.
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 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 Sergio Benedetto and Marco Malgarini, ANVUR
The goal of Italy’s Research Evaluation Exercise is to evaluate the quality of the research conducted in Italian universities, and to rank these institutions and their departments in 16 research areas. The evaluation of 400 expert assessors will significantly inform the distribution of public funds.
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.
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 Marcus Nicol, Leanne Harvey and Aidan Byrne, Australian Research Council
Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) expert assessment is informed by indicators of research quality, application and recognition. The metrics used to inform assessments depend on the discipline and include such variables as external funding, publications, competitive awards and patents.
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.
By Adam Tickell, University of Birmingham
During the past 15 years or so, the University of Birmingham progressively slipped according to the UK’s research evaluation measures. Under the leadership of a new Vice Chancellor, Professor David Eastwood, the university went through an ambitious transformation to achieve its goal of becoming a leading global university.
By Benjamin Wan-Sang Wah and Michael Ming-Yuen Chang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The authors explore approaches considered to understand their CUHK’s impact on society, including reputation surveys, altmetrics and bibliometrics. They suggest that deep analysis of citations may be more meaningful than the current dependence on number of citations as a proxy for a paper’s quality.
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 Byoung Yoon Kim and Sung-Mo “Steve” Kang, KAIST
For the new economy, KAIST is recharging itself to educate future entrepreneurs and to create an ecosystem for world-class technology startups. It is planning new programs for entrepreneurship education and adding the supporting infrastructure, while strengthening basic R&D activities to sustain creativity and innovation.
Considered one of the most ambitious national research assessments to date, the 2014 REF comprised more than 191,000 submissions from 56,000+ research staff representing 155 institutions across the UK. Elsevier provided a combination of products, services and customized functionality to support the REF.
By Mohd Jailani Mohd Nor, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka
Realizing that R&D excellence cannot happen in bits and pieces, the Ministry of Higher Education has launched a comprehensive initiative to create synergistic efforts in promoting R&D excellence throughout Malaysia. To secure the new incentives, all parties interested in conducting research in Malaysia, including university administrators, research offices, research groups and individual researchers, must now work together in multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional teams.
Interview with Per Eriksson, Lund University
Exemplifying adaptation and innovation, institutions like Lund University help Sweden consistently top the European Union’s Innovation Scoreboard. The university offers a comprehensive education as it establishes top research teams and a new international hub for materials science, and champions local development while seeding global companies.
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.
An interview with Alicia Löffler, Northwestern University
In 2010 Northwestern University decided to change the way it moves innovations to the market, instituting a more holistic approach and incorporating translational activities: discovering research with potential and moving innovations toward commercialization.