Bloggfćrslur mánađarins, ágúst 2009

Hvatningarverđlaun Vísinda- og tćkniráđs

I just stumbled upon this story about hvatningarverđlaun Vísinda- og tćkniráđs (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. Ármann Jakobsson hlýtur hvatningarverđlaun
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