sábado, 30 de agosto de 2014

Sociedade Americana de Física preocupada com o fim de metade da Física portuguesa (article in Physics Today on the science cuts in Portugal)

A revista Physica Today da Sociedade Americana de Física, num longo artigo no seu número de Setembro, faz eco das preocupações dos cientistas portugueses e internacionais com a liquidação de metade das unidades de investigação portuguesas: 

"Half of Portugal’s research centers could see their funding plunge

Shock and anger have pervaded Portugal's scientific community since early this summer, when the results of an evaluation organized by the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) threatened nearly half of the country's research laboratories with death by financial starvation. The evaluation was the first of a two-part look at some 320 research groups across all areas of science and humanities. A second phase is under way, with final grades expected at the end of the year; the grades determine core lab funding for the six year period 2015–20.

Although it’s widely accepted that funding is tied to such evaluations, researchers say that the current process is unfair. Among other complaints, they say that not all sites were visited, the process didn’t permit fair comparisons across research centers, the expertise of the more than 650 outside evaluators represented an inadequate range of subdisciplines, there were irregularities in scoring, and the results are skewed geographically. “This evaluation is flawed,” says Carlos Fiolhais, a physicist at the University of Coimbra. “We are asking for a suspension of this
process and a reanalysis.”

The uproar is making national headlines as university rectors,the Portuguese Physical Society and other scholarly societies, and major laboratories protest the process. The complaints reached fever pitch in mid-July, when reports emerged that the FCT had specified from the start that only half the research groups should score well enough to proceed to the second phase of the evaluation.

The FCT, the main government funding agency, denies that it made such a specification. The research laboratories, or "units," being evaluated can be based at a single university or research center, or have members from multiple institutions.The units range in size from a handful
of researchers to hundreds. The first phase of the evaluation was outsourced to the European Science Foundation (ESF) and used bibliometrics, performance reports, and future plans.

(...)  Toni Feder

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