Astrophysicist Amaya Moro-Martin wrote an opinion article in nature, regarding science policies in Europe, and included a brief reference to the situation in Portugal:
"Already reeling from budget cuts of 50% for universities and research centres, Portugal may now have to close half of its research units because of a flawed evaluation process supported by the European Science Foundation.”
Amaya Moro-Martin was contacted by the European Science Foundation (ESF) in the following terms:
"Dear Amaya Moro-Martin,
The European Science Foundation hereby requests that you retract the following allegation contained within your opinion piece published on 8 October in Nature (Volume 514, Issue 7521). [Portugal may now have to close half of its research units] because of a flawed evaluation process supported by the European Science Foundation. The European Science Foundation refutes any allegation that the process was flawed and considers that the statement cited above is slanderous, as the independent work performed in the framework of the evaluation of FCT research units followed the best international practices. http://www.esf.org/serving-science/fct-rd-units-evaluation-by-esf.html. While the European Science Foundation is cited in your paper, it is highly regrettable that no one from our organisation was interviewed and no request for clarification made. In addition, and as you may be aware, the Portuguese national union for higher education has launched a formal legal action on the evaluation process, and this has not yet come to a conclusion. If your allegation is not publically retracted in Nature, the European Science Foundation will be compelled to take appropriate legal action."
Dr. Jean-Claude Worms
Head of Science Support Office European Science Foundation
The complain that no one from ESF has been interviewed is absolutely ridiculous. It’s an opinion article, and, therefore, doesn’t require sources at all. Threats with unrealistic lawsuits are the oldest trick in the book. But it’s nice to see that ESF is afraid. And it should be, given the flawed evaluation it has conducted.
I've posted the following comment on Nature:
"I have no doubt that the FCT/ESF evaluation is severely flawed. Therefore, I kindly ask European Science Foundation to include me in their lawsuit as well."
I urge you to do the same, in solidarity with astrophysicist Amaya Moro-Martin and to stand for better science policies in Europe.
(to make a comment you have to register for a free subscription, in the top of the page, and then confirm your email).
If you want to know more please read about the ESF/FCT evaluation in here: