Posts filed under 'Politics'
IMHO there are already many systems/concepts/etc. that indicate that “openness” is there and will stay. Open source, for instance. But also Open Streetmap, Linked Open Data, Open Innovation, open access, open science, … The question is whether these are always transparent, safe and privacy aware.
April 22nd, 2012
Published today (Aug. 24, 2011): Andreas Meier and myself edited an HMD issue on “Communitys im Web” (in German).
It includes an objection by Matias Roskos who critically comments on crowdsourcing and the contribution by “others” (where we all benefit from).
And: besides technical and research papers it also addresses the issue of the knowledge society and how we can deal with relevant issues such as privacy, etc. IMHO the issue of a knowledge policy is a crucial one: we need to define rules, principles, guidelines, legislation, infrastructure, etc. for dealing with knowledge.
August 23rd, 2011
Some guys, mainly from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, founded the Journal of unsolved questions.
What I like about it: they also except research papers that describe research that has “failed”, i.e., did not (yet) lead to the results expected. I think we need more of this! Why? Because most (all?) of the research projects we do are doomed to success. But how can that be, given the fact that all research activities include risk and that risk is typically taken over by the public. We call that “funding” and sometimes we receive 75 % funding (see for instance the current European Framework Programme). Consequently, a certain percentage of research projects would need to fail – if research were so perfectly calculable, one could go to the next bank office and ask one’s bank of choice to provide the money (at least for applied research that would be the case).
I am not arguing for inferior project management. This has to be top/professional! But the research activities as such are risky and sometimes risk factors will apply. We – as a research community and also the funding agencies – need to be more honest. So: let your research project fail!
August 11th, 2011
Trust Researchers is a declaration to the attention of the European Council of Ministers and the Parliament.
The background (text taken from the declaration at http://www.trust-researchers.eu/index.php?file=background.htm):
“Currently research is funded according to many input oriented indicators.
At present the financial regulation – the relevant legal funding framework – treats research in similar way as procurement processes for any goods.
This condition is unsatisfying for researchers, research organisations and the European Community as a whole. It hinders the development of ground-breaking results through ineffective research funding.
The funding of European research should be based on trust. Today European researchers face many red tape and cumbersome financial regulations. We are not against rules. Rules are important and accountability is essential. However, research has to be funded in recognition of the nature of research, thus, the financial regulation and associated rules have to be adapted to primarily output oriented objectives and to conditions creating a transparent justification of costs.
What we need is a change in philosophy! ”
Interestingly, Austria currently leads with respect to the number of signees: see the excerpt form the official web site (http://www.trust-researchers.eu/index.php?file=background.htm) as of today (March 2nd, 2010) on the left. The right figure displays the list of countries in descending order:
At present, 3767 people have signed (March 2nd, 2010).
March 2nd, 2010
The image above shows the average yearly funding in Mrd. EUR (2.5 for FP5, 3.4 for FP6 and 7 for FP7 sofar) vs. number of projects funded.
There is a short, well written article in research eu, issue June 2009 (unfortunately it is not yet available online at http://ec.europa.eu/research/research-eu/index_de.html). The article is about the development of the European Framework Programms, it is written by Didier Buysse.
The main findings are:
- Over the years, the average annual funding was steadily increased. In FP5 (1998-2002) we talk about 2.5 Mrd. EUR per year, in FP6 (2002-2006) 3.4 Mrd. EUR and in FP7 (2007-2013) sofar 5.7 Mrd. EUR.
- At the same time the competition has heavily increased, we are now talking acceptance rates of about 20-25% across the whole programme (depending on the subject this may even be lower, e.g. ICT in Austria on average has an acceptance rate of 17% in FP7).
- The ambition of the Commission in FP6 and FP7 is to “think big”, i.e., have most of the money being spent in a few projects (this is what integrated projects do/should be doing; actually they cover about for instance 40% of the FP6 budget); also networks of excellence aim at clustering European research expertise to get higher critical masses; at the same time the smaller initiatives should not be neglected.
- The highest competition is in the human mobility programme (less than 20% on average)
- The biggest group amongst the players (about 50000) are the universities and public research labs (they build 2/3 of all participating parties).
- Public-private partnership is strengthened in FP7 with the Joint-technology-initiatives
On a personal note I believe that European research programmes (and the participation therein) are an established method/tool in doing (excellent) applied research. On the negative side, competition on the hand but also auditing on the other hand have increased dramatically, which overall makes the European research programmes less attractive than the used to be. Note on that: the issue in increased competition ist not the competition as such: this is a “healthy” element to ensure quality. However, if the acceptance rates go under 10% the gambling factor simply is too high.
September 13th, 2009
It is often important to distinguish between the various types of research. These are defined in the Frascati (and also Oslo) Manuals of the OECD and the European Commission takes them for their definitions in their legal frameworks for RTD and Innovation concerning funding options (especially maximum funding rates):
The following is defined there:
|fundamental research/ Grundlagenforschung
||‘fundamental research’ means experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any direct practical application or use in view;
||„Grundlagenforschung“ bezeichnet experimentelle oder theoretische Arbeiten, die in erster Linie dem Erwerb neuen Grundlagenwissens ohne erkennbare direkte praktische Anwendungsmöglichkeiten dienen.
|industrial research/ Industrielle Entwicklung
||industrial research’ means the planned research or critical investigation aimed at the acquisition of new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services or for bringing about a significant improvement in existing products, processes or services. It comprises the creation of components of complex systems, which is necessary for the industrial research, notably for generic technology validation, to the exclusion of prototypes as covered by point(g);
||„Industrielle Forschung“ bezeichnet planmäßiges Forschen oder kritisches Erforschen zur Gewinnung neuer Kenntnisse und Fertigkeiten mit dem Ziel, neue Produkte, Verfahren oder Dienstleistungen zu entwickeln oder zur Verwirklichung erheblicher Verbesserungen bei bestehenden Produkten, Verfahren oder Dienstleistungen nutzen zu können. Hierzu zählt auch die Schöpfung von Teilen komplexer Systeme, die für die industrielle Forschung und insbesondere die Validierung von technologischen Grundlagen notwendig sind, mit Ausnahme von Prototypen, die unter den Buchstaben g fallen.
|experimental development/Experimentelle Entwicklung
||‘experimental development’ means the acquiring, combining, shaping and using of existing scientific, technological, business and other relevant knowledge and skills for the purpose of producing plans and arrangements or designs for new, altered or improved products, processes or services. These may also include, for example, other activities aiming at the conceptual definition, planning and documentation of new products, processes and services. The activities may comprise producing drafts, drawings, plans and other documentation, provided that they are not intended for commercial use.
The development of commercially usable prototypes and pilot projects is also included where the prototype is necessarily the final commercial product and where it is too expensive to produce for it to be used only for demonstration and validation purposes. In case of a subsequent commercial use of demonstration or pilot projects, any revenue generated from such use must be deducted from the eligible costs.
The experimental production and testing of products, processes and services are also eligible, provided that these cannot be used or transformed to be used in industrial applications or commercially. Experimental development does not include the routine or periodic changes made to products, production lines, manufacturing processes, existing services and other operations in progress, even if such changes may represent improvements;
|„Experimentelle Entwicklung“ bezeichnet den Erwerb,
die Kombination, die Formung und die Verwendung vorhandener wissenschaftlicher, technischer, wirtschaftlicher und sonstiger einschlägiger Kenntnisse und Fertigkeiten zur Erarbeitung von Plänen und Vorkehrungen oder Konzepten für neue, veränderte oder verbesserte Produkte, Verfahren oder Dienstleistungen. Dazu zählen zum Beispiel auch andere Tätigkeiten zur Definition, Planung und Dokumentation neuer Produkte, Verfahren und Dienstleistungen sowie auch die Erstellung von Entwürfen, Zeichnungen, Plänen und anderem Dokumentationsmaterial, soweit dieses nicht für gewerbliche Zwecke bestimmt
Die Entwicklung von kommerziell nutzbaren Prototypen und Pilotprojekten ist ebenfalls eingeschlossen, wenn es sich bei dem Prototyp notwendigerweise um das kommerzielle Endprodukt handelt und seine Herstellung allein für Demonstrations- und Auswertungszwecke zu teuer wäre. Bei einer anschließenden kommerziellen Nutzung von Demonstrations- oder Pilotprojekten sind die daraus erzielten Einnahmen von den förderbaren Kosten abzuziehen.
Die experimentelle Produktion und Erprobung von Produkten, Verfahren und Dienstleistungen ist ebenfalls beihilfefähig, soweit sie nicht in industriellen Anwendungen oder kommerziell genutzt oder für solche Zwecke umgewandelt werden können. Experimentelle Entwicklung umfasst keine routinemäßigen oder regelmäßigen Änderungen an Produkten, Produktionslinien, Produktionsverfahren, bestehenden Dienstleistungen oder anderen laufenden betrieblichen Prozessen, selbst wenn diese Änderungen Verbesserungen darstellen sollten.
Other definitions include “process innovation”, “organisational innovation”, “highly qualified personnel”, etc.
In the Frascati Manual (on page 30) the following quite similar definition can be found (applied research can be compared to “industrial research”):
The term R&D covers three activities: basic research, applied research and experimental development; these are described in detail in Chapter 4. Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view. Applied research is also original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective. Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed. R&D covers both formal R&D in R&D units and informal or occasional R&D in other units.
March 20th, 2009
I happened to read two articles on research development
- One was in “Financial Times Deutschland” (FTD) on “Research in Austria” (Oct. 21, 2008 – also available as http://www.ftd.de/forschung_bildung/forschung/:Forschung-in-%D6sterreich-Jeder-freie-Cent-flie%DFt-in-die-Labore/435388.html?nv=cd-rss900).
- The other one was in “research eu” (No. 56, June 2008) on the “Finnish model tops the ranking”.
The first article argues that Austria has substantially intensified its research activities and has come from an innovation follower to the position of an innovation leader. The research quote was increased form 1,7 % (in 1997) to 2,63 % in 2008. The increase has been achieved by more spending from the public as well as from industry (fostered by tax incentives and programmes).
The second article argues in a similar fashion about Finland (albeit with a longer historical perspective).
The interesting thing to me is, that in a short period – we are only talking about 10+ years in both cases – a country can be reshaped concerning its FTI-policy. I think this is amazing, I would not have thought that this is possible in such short timeframes (even one might argue that for a sustainable impact including a change of culture this will take at least 25 years …).
November 2nd, 2008
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology EIT is taking shape. The constitutive meeting took place in Budapest, September 15th. The first research themes to be worked on in KICs (Knowledge and Innovation Communities) are climate change, renewable energies and the next generation of information and communication technologies.
Basically, any funding in research (fundamental as well as applied) will help in achieving the Lisbon objective and will make Europe more competive. Hower, I am not convinced whether EIT will have impact (in a broad sense on the community) and/or how it will be sustainable.
September 16th, 2008
Today, the closing event of Minister Hahn’s dialogue on science and research took place.
There are two points that I take from that event
- In order to reach the “3% target” (as outlined in the Lisbon and Barcelona objectives), governmental and public institutions can further stimulate research by rethinking procurement processes. The volume of these processes in Austria is estimated at 40 Billion EUR, about 10% of that could be earmarked with innovation. I.e., the idea is that public agencies and the government foster innovation by asking tenderers to develop new/innovative solutions that require some amount of research and have a good leverage (for all of us). Examples mentioned (mainly with respect to environmental themes) include the British government that has recently advertised a call for low carbon vehicles in the U.K. (volume: 50 Mio. Pounds).
My estimation: this is an excellent idea. Mainly because it will support a shift in mindset, i.e., everyone will be thinking in terms of innovation and research. It needs however, IMHO, a substantial critical mass and adds extra complexity.
- Promotion of people in fundamental research. The idea here is to develop a programm following the COMET-schema (K2-K1-K-Projekt) in terms of excellence targeted at supporting people’s careers. Details are still missing, typically one would have a look at the science funds existing funding schemes (which could simply be “boosted” rather than developing new programmes). Press article at http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=3397370.
June 30th, 2008
This dialogue is an initiative by BM Dr. Hahn (see http://www.forschungsdialog.at/). The Salzburg event was on interdisciplinary research and had a focus on humanities and social sciences. Some key phrases
- research problems do not follow disciplines, i.e., they are inherently interdisciplinary
- it is extremely challenging to teach interdisciplinary research/research methods
- evaluation of interdisciplinary research is not solved; so is measurement of the scientific quality in the humanities.
An excellent discussion with over a 100 participants.
April 11th, 2008