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Hßskˇlarannsˇknir ß tÝmum kreppu (3) GŠ­i rannsˇkna

EirÝkur SteingrÝmsson & Magn˙s Karl Magn˙sson.

H÷fundar eru prˇfessorar vi­ lŠknadeild Hßskˇla ═slands.

Hßskˇlarannsˇknir ß tÝmum kreppu

(3) GŠ­i rannsˇkna

═ fyrri greinum okkar rŠddum vi­ um mikilvŠgi vÝsindarannsˇkna fyrir efnahagslÝfi­ og ■ß sta­reynd a­ innan vi­ 15% af framlagi rÝkisins fer Ý gegnum samkeppnissjˇ­ina. ═ hinum vestrŠna heimi er ■etta hlutfall vÝ­ast mun hŠrra og er um 30-40% ß hinum nor­url÷ndunum. ═ BandarÝkjunum koma um 85% af rannsˇknafÚ hßskˇla ˙r samkeppnissjˇ­um. Ůa­ er ■vÝ ljˇst a­ ═sland sker sig verulega ˙r hva­ ■etta var­ar.

Samkeppnissjˇ­irnir tryggja gŠ­aeftirlit me­ rannsˇknunum. Rannsˇknaverkefni og virkni vÝsindamanna sem sŠkja um styrki eru metin reglulega og ■egar dregur ˙r virkni e­a hugmyndaau­gi, fß vi­komandi vÝsindamenn ekki styrki lengur. HÚr ß landi nŠr ■etta eftirlit a­eins til ■ess hluta af framlagi rÝksins sem fer gegnum samkeppnissjˇ­i. Sumir Ýslensku samkeppnissjˇ­anna, t.d. Rannsˇknasjˇ­ur, notast n˙ vi­ erlenda matsa­ila ■annig a­ flestar, ef ekki allar, umsˇknir fara Ý mat erlendra, ˇhß­ra vÝsindamanna. Ůannig fŠst ˇhß­ mat ß gŠ­um Ýslenskra vÝsindaverkefna og vÝsindamanna. Sjˇ­urinn og ■jˇ­in Šttu ■vÝ a­ vera nokku­ viss um a­ ■essu fÚ er vel vari­. A­rir sjˇ­ir notast vi­ innlenda matsa­ila og Šttu, Ý ljˇsi jßkvŠ­rar reynslu RannÝs, a­ breyta ■eirri stefnu sinni og taka upp erlent mat. Sumir hinna sjˇ­anna eru reyndar fremur pˇlitÝskir sjˇ­ir og eiga lÝti­ skylt vi­ alv÷ru vÝsindasjˇ­i. Sem dŠmi um slÝkan sjˇ­ er AVS (Auki­ ver­mŠti sjßvarfangs) en nřskipa­ur stjˇrnarforma­ur hans er ■ingma­ur og nßinn samstarfsma­ur landb˙na­ar- og sjßvar˙tvegsrß­herra. Mikill munur er einnig ß ßrangurshlutfalli Ýslenskra vÝsindasjˇ­a. Sem dŠmi mß nefna a­ Ý Rannsˇknasjˇ­i er ■etta hlutfall a­ nßlgast 10% en er 50% Ý AVS. Ůetta ■ř­ir a­ ■a­ er mun meiri samkeppni um fÚ ˙r Rannsˇknasjˇ­i en AVS.

Hva­ me­ gŠ­aeftirlit me­ hinum 85-90 prˇsentunum af framlagi rÝkisins til rannsˇkna? Sta­reyndin er s˙ a­ me­ ■eim er lÝti­ sem ekkert ytra eftirlit og ekkert er spurt um gŠ­i e­a ßrangur. Ůessu ■arf a­ breyta. VÝ­ast erlendis er strangt gŠ­aeftirlit me­ ÷llu fÚ sem veitt er til rannsˇkna til a­ hßmarka nřtingu almannafjßr. Vi­ erum ekki a­ tala um hef­bundi­ bˇkhaldseftirlit heldur eftirlit me­ gŠ­um rannsˇknanna. ═ BandarÝkjunum og vÝ­a Ý Evrˇpu er ■etta oftast gert ß ■ann hßtt a­ ß 5 ßra fresti ■arf hver rannsˇknastofa a­ ˙tskřra fyrir sÚrstakri ˙ttektarnefnd vÝsindamanna hva­ stofan hefur gert ß tÝmabilinu og hva­ h˙n hyggst gera nŠstu 5 ßrin. Rannsˇknastofan undirbřr vandlega skřrslu sem nefndin fŠr til yfirlestrar, nefndin mŠtir sÝ­an ß rannsˇknastofuna ■ar sem verkefnin eru ˙tskřr­ me­ fyrirlestrum, fari­ er yfir ßrangurinn og hann metinn og sko­a­ hvort framtÝ­arߊtlanirnar sÚu raunhŠfar. A­ lokum kemst ˙ttektarnefndin a­ ni­urst÷­u sem settar eru fram Ý vi­amikilli skřrslu. ═ ˙ttektarnefndinni eru yfirleitt lei­andi vÝsindamenn ß vi­komandi svi­i sem ekki hafa starfa­ me­ vi­komandi rannsˇknastofu en ■annig er tryggt a­ ˙ttektin sÚ fagleg og ˇhß­. Vi­ h÷fum kynnst svona ˙ttektum Ý st÷rfum okkar erlendis. Ůessi a­fer­ virkar afar vel. H˙n er fagleg og lei­ir til gagnrřninnar umrŠ­u. Rannsˇknastofum er hrˇsa­ fyrir ■a­ sem vel er gert en ■Šr gagnrřndar fyrir ■a­ sem mi­ur hefur fari­. Ni­urst÷­ur slÝkra ˙ttekta eru sÝ­an nota­ar vi­ ßkvar­anat÷ku og stefnumˇtun.

HÚr ß landi er ekkert slÝkt gŠ­aeftirlit me­ ■eim fj÷lda stofnana sem stunda vÝsindarannsˇknir. Hi­ opinbera, og ■ar me­ skattgrei­endur, vita ■vÝ ekki hvort ■essu fÚ er vel vari­. VÝsinda- og tŠknirß­ hefur ■ˇ nřlega teki­ mßli­ til umfj÷llunar og segir Ý n˙verandi stefnu rß­sins äSjßlfstŠ­ greiningarvinna ß afrakstri rannsˇkna, ■rˇunar og nřsk÷punar ver­i styrkt hÚr ß landi og unnin af ˇhß­um a­ilumô. Mennta- og menningarmßlarß­uneyti­ hefur nřlega sett ß fˇt GŠ­arß­ hßskˇla sem Štla­ er a­ sko­a gŠ­amßl innan hßskˇla, ■.ß.m. tengsl kennslu og rannsˇkna. Rß­i­ er skipa­ sex erlendum a­ilum og Štti ■vÝ a­ geta veri­ faglegt og ˇhß­. Ůa­ vekur fur­u a­ GŠ­arß­i­ er einungis skipa­ einstaklingum ˙r hug-, fÚlags- og menntavÝsindageiranum. ═ ■vÝ eru engir me­ reynslu af raunvÝsindum e­a heilbrig­is- og lÝfvÝsindum, ■eim greinum vÝsindanna sem sterkust eru ß ═slandi. Ůa­ er ßhyggjuefni enda mikill munur ß vinnubr÷g­um Ý raun- heilbrig­is- og lÝfvÝsindum annars vegar og fÚlags, -hug- og menntavÝsindum hins vegar. GŠ­arß­i­ er ■vÝ ˇlÝklegt til a­ geta lagt mat ß gŠ­i rannsˇkna Ý raun- heilbrig­is- og lÝfvÝsindum. Ůessu ■arf a­ breyta til a­ slÝkt ˙ttekt ver­i tr˙ver­ug.

Vi­ leggjum ■vÝ til a­ i) hafi­ ver­i gŠ­aeftirlit me­ ÷llu rannsˇknafÚ ß ═slandi; ii) vi­ ■etta eftirlit ver­i notast vi­ ■Šr a­fer­ir sem gefist hafa best annars sta­ar (sbr hÚr a­ ofan); iii) ni­urst÷­ur slÝkra ˙ttekta ver­i nota­ar vi­ ßkvar­anat÷kur; iv) Ý gŠ­anefndina ver­i skipa­ir a­ilar ˙r raun- heilbrig­is- og lÝfvÝsindageirunum.

á

Birtist Ý FrÚttabla­inu hausti­ 2010.

Sett inn fyrir h÷nd h÷funda.

á


Hvatningarver­laun VÝsinda- og tŠknirß­s

I just stumbled upon this story about hvatningarver­laun VÝsinda- og tŠknirß­s (science and technology council - hereafter VT council).  I'll make clear right away that my point is not to suggest Armann doesn't deserve the award - I'm in no position to make such a judgement as VT appears to be equally secretive about who is nominated as Rannis is about its applicant.  However, it does strike me as somewhat problematic that the Armann's sister is the Minister of Education - who has a seat on the VT (and also nominates one of its members).  Of course, the award winner is selected by a selection committee composed of former winners of the award so the story isn't that juicy.  However, I would think this would put the selection committee in a somewhat awkward position.  And I doubt this was a unique situation - the smallness of Iceland, as well as the research community, pretty much makes (potential) conflicts of interest unavoidable, which in turn enhances the importance of patronage that has long plagued Icelandic politics and society.  So, in a sense, I'm sorry to single out this case because I have no reason to believe that the decision was any more or less biased than in any other case (VT council or Rannis).  The problem is that I just don't have that much faith in the other cases either - I think there is a fundamental problem with respect to the transparency of the decision making process when it comes to funding (and awards) in research.  It is far from being the only thing wrong with government policy with respect to research and academics but it is one that could be fixed rather easily.
mbl.is ┴rmann Jakobsson hlřtur hvatningarver­laun
Tilkynna um ˇvi­eigandi tengingu vi­ frÚtt

Better late than never?

I found this story about recommendations for reducing the number of universities in Iceland interesting.á The recommendations from the Icelandic committee are here.á While I disagree with many of the points (in both reports) I basically agree with it being desirable to reduce the number of universities.á But I suspect that the obstacles to doing so are greater than they seem.á It is, for example, not clear to me that the standards employed by the different universities in hiring faculty are at all comparable.á So in effect, 'mergers' would result in our best universities becoming worse.á And these are potentially not one off costs because of the way hiring works in academia - bad departments tend to hire lower quality candidates.á One reason is that it is harder for weak departments to attract good candidates but also because bad departments are less able to tell which candidates are the best.á I'm sure my comments will be controversial (after all, it is worth the effort if only to bring this blog back to life) but it strikes me that actually thinking about how different universities (or departments) compare in terms of quality and how transparency can be increased is an important issue.á I consider competition between universities healthy but it only works if there are ways of telling what the score is.á At any rate, in my opinion simply closing down universities that shouldn't have been established in the first place rather than attempting `mergers' strikes me as a more reasonable strategy, which could be accompanied by increases in the budgets of the two survivors who could then compete for the faculty of the unfortunate universities. An added benefit of that approach is that the universites aren't forced to adopt whole departments whose talents/specialization may largely overlap existing faculty's specialization.
mbl.is MŠla me­ tveggja hßskˇla kerfi
Tilkynna um ˇvi­eigandi tengingu vi­ frÚtt

Rannis frustrations pt. 1

I just finished reviewing some applications for student funding for Rannis.á Of course, as soon as I took on the task I was reminded why I had sworn not to do more reviews for Rannis: Reviews aren't anonymous.á Now, personally, I don't really care too much about potentially upsetting people but, then again, I'm a few thousand kilometers away and I feel fairly safe that I won't run into any of them anytime soon.á But in general I think this policy is little short of insane.á It is simply unreasonable to expect people to give their honest assessment of their colleagues (i.e., you are asked to assess the research activity/output of the advisor as well) when, at best, it may result in some awkward moments at work and, at worst, have real implications when it comes to promotions etc.á Of course, one would hope that everyone was able to rise above such things or chalk them down to academic differences but I think it is a very optimistic view to assume that is the case.

á

At any rate, for the second year in row, I made a note of this when turning in my reviews.á If you agree that this policy is idiotic (or just not that good) I encourage you to do the same.


...falli­ ver­ur frß framl÷gum Ý rannsˇkna- og tŠkjasjˇ­i...

KŠru vÝsindamenn.

Ef ■etta gengur eftir getum vi­ pakka­ saman og flutt til ˙tlanda e­a fari­ a­ ■vo tyggjˇ af g÷tum bŠjarins Ý sjßlfbo­ali­astarfi (af nŠgu er a­ taka ■ar!).

Atvinnustefna ß ═slandi gengur nefnilega ˙t ß malbik, steypu og m÷l.

H÷fum vi­ ekki lŠrt nokkurn skapa­an hlut af bankahruninu, steypumusterin eru tßlsřn.

Finnum lei­ir til a­ beina kr÷ftum ■eirra sem missa vinnuna Ý frumkv÷­lastarf, Ý sprotafyrirtŠkjum e­a Ý samstarfi vi­ rannsˇknastofnanir og hßskˇla. Kostna­urinn yr­i a­allega Ý formi launa, en ekki Ý rekstri stˇrvirkra vinnuvÚla, bora og kostna­i vi­ stßl og steinsteypu.
mbl.is Tekjuskattur og ˙tsvar hŠkka
Tilkynna um ˇvi­eigandi tengingu vi­ frÚtt

...falli­ ver­ur frß framl÷gum Ý rannsˇkna- og tŠkjasjˇ­i...

KŠru vÝsindamenn.

Ef ■etta gengur eftir getum vi­ pakka­ saman og flutt til ˙tlanda e­a fari­ a­ ■vo tyggjˇ af g÷tum bŠjarins Ý sjßlfbo­ali­astarfi (af nŠgu er a­ taka ■ar!).

Atvinnustefna ß ═slandi gengur nefnilega ˙t ß malbik, steypu og m÷l.

H÷fum vi­ ekki lŠrt nokkurn skapa­an hlut af bankahruninu, steypumusterin eru tßlsřn.

Finnum lei­ir til a­ beina kr÷ftum ■eirra sem missa vinnuna Ý frumkv÷­lastarf, Ý sprotafyrirtŠkjum e­a Ý samstarfi vi­ rannsˇknastofnanir og hßskˇla. Kostna­urinn yr­i a­allega Ý formi launa, en ekki Ý rekstri stˇrvirkra vinnuvÚla, bora og kostna­i vi­ stßl og steinsteypu.

á


Lei­in ˙t

Ůa­ er alltaf ßnŠgjulegt a­ sjß ungt Ýslenskt vÝsindafˇlk standa sig vel. Pßll ١r­arson lauk prˇfi frß H═ en hefur sÝ­an numi­ ytra og n˙ starfa­ ytra. Fˇlk sem leggur stund ß raunvÝsindi vi­ H═ hafa l÷ngu­ sta­i­ sig vel Ý framhaldsnßmi ytra, komist Ý gˇ­ar st÷­ur og lagt miki­ af m÷rkunum Ý ■ekkingarleit okkar. Vi­ leggjum ßherslu ß ■a­ vi­ nemendur okkar Ý lÝffrŠ­i, a­ gˇ­ar einkunnir sÚu a­g÷ngumi­i a­ ˙tl÷ndum og ÷­ru lÝfi. Ůa­ ß sÚrstaklega vel vi­ Ý n˙verandi efnahags■reningum.

Ůa­ er gˇ­ur kostur a­ leggja meiri ßherslu ß grundvallar vÝsindi Ý menntun ■jˇ­arinnar, sem skila sÚr Ý talnalŠsi, sk÷punarkrafti, gagnrřni og sjßlfstŠ­ri hugusun.


mbl.is ═slenskur efnafrŠ­ingur hlřtur hvatningarver­laun
Tilkynna um ˇvi­eigandi tengingu vi­ frÚtt

Support for Basic Research from Private Foundations

I recently learnt about the existence of a new centre of excellence in Denmark devoted to topics close to me research area. Anna and I know basically all the consortium members very well. These people have been collecting centre-of-excellence funding from Danish governmental funding bodies before and on a regular basis. A very interesting aspect of this CoE is that this time around the 25 million DKK (roughly 458 million ISK at today's exchange rate) are being provided by a private foundation, The Villum Kann Rasmussen Foundation. (See also this page to find out what other things they fund.)

Wouldn't it be good to have a similar foundation in Iceland supported by a consortium of Icelanders who made it big and want to support the scientific development of their country? This is daydreaming, I know....

Rannis - Research Fund announcement

I just criticized Rannis in the comments of the previous post but Rannis should be given credit when it does things correctly.á The announcement for applications to the Icelandic Research Funds contains this paragraph:

"Allar umsˇknir og umsˇknag÷gn skulu vera ß ensku, svo a­ m÷gulegt sÚ a­ senda umsˇknir Ý mat erlendis. Undan■ßgur eru veittar frß ■essari meginreglu ef birtingar ß vi­komandi frŠ­asvi­i einskor­ast vi­ Ýslenska ˙tgßfu. ═ ■eim tilvikum skal umsŠkjandi fß lei­beiningar hjß starfsm÷nnum RannÝs. Allar umsˇknir um ÷ndvegisstyrki skulu vera ß ensku, enda eru ÷ndvegisverkefni ßvallt metin af erlendum sÚrfrŠ­ingum."

To the best my knowledge this is the first time applications must be submitted in English and the first suggestion that Rannis is moving towards having foreign scholars review applications.á I think this is a tremendously important step.á Iceland has a small research community, which meant that applications were more often than not reviewed by non-specialists in the applicant's subfield. á Then there was, of course, the problem of everyone knowing the other two people that might review their application - meaning that the anonymity of the referee was pretty much guaranteed not to exist.á Great news!


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