Friday, April 08, 2011

Scientific research in 3 different countries

Pick your choice of poison:


For most scientists, publishing an article in a prestigious journal is likely to be recognized and rewarded with attention from one’s peers.

In China, however, scientists are also rewarded with cash, and the more prestigious the journal, the larger the sum, according to a new paper published in the April issue of Learned Publishing.


The theory is simple and pure economics. Money motivates: pay people to publish in good journals and they try to do so. Monetary rewards are the best; money is a universal reinforcer.


Because of limited international circulation of Chinese journals, there is a real push to have one’s work appear in an international index, such as the Science Citation Index (SCI), Engineering Index (EI), or the Index to Scientific & Technical Proceedings (ISTP). But it doesn’t stop there. Institutions like Zhejiang University rely on a detailed accounting sheet that lists specific monetary rewards for articles according to the journal’s Impact Factor.

(Converted to US$:)

* Indexed in ISTP — $92
* Indexed in EI — $275
* Impact factor < 1 — $306
* 1 ≥ IF < 3 –$458
* 3 ≥ IF < 5 — $611
* 5 ≥ IF < 10 — $764
* IF ≥ 10 — $2,139
* Published in Science or Nature – $30,562


In a 5-year plan launched this month, Singapore will boost public spending on research by 20% compared with spending during the previous 5 years. This largesse comes with a price: The government is demanding more economic bang from its research bucks. The drive to make science pay is falling hard on bioscience institutes under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Their core budgets will be cut and A*STAR's bioscientists, accustomed to assured funding, must compete for grants decided in part by the likelihood of an economic payoff. In contrast, government funding for research at the universities would increase steadily.

The sudden change has left many A*STAR scientists confused and chagrined. “Planning for the change has been rushed, the execution has been disappointing, and the messaging to the scientific community problematic,” says Edison Liu, director of A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore. Some are packing up. Two high-profile scientists who arrived here with great fanfare 5 years ago—cancer researchers Nancy Jenkins and Neal Copeland—will return to the United States in September. Others say they are mulling exit strategies.


NRF and the Education Ministry, meanwhile, are supporting the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University in their quest to become global research university powerhouses. Over the past decade, both schools beefed up their faculties and research, and expanded graduate programs.


With a possible government shutdown only a few days away, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) appears to be ready to send in a skeleton staff to care for patients and maintain animals and experiments at the agency's Bethesda, Maryland, campus. But accompanying the plans is a strange sense of secrecy.

As lawmakers and the Obama Administration continue to clash over the depth of budget cuts, leaders are now acknowledging that the federal government could shut down Monday barring another stopgap measure to fund government operations for a fiscal year that began last October. University-based scientists may not notice at first, as temporarily closing the offices that distribute most of NIH's $31 billion budget to outside investigators won't immediately affect these extramural grants. But about 10% of the agency's budget goes to its intramural program, which has over 1000 principal investigators (PIs), 4000 postdocs, hundreds of labs, animal facilities, and many clinical studies. Much of this can't just shut down and be left unattended.


Although government shutdowns are not uncommon, most recently in late 1995 and early 1996, the culture seems different this time around. While in the past many people, especially postdocs, came into work and were eventually paid, this time, "the impression I have is that you will have to show you're on some list" to enter a building, one lab chief said. Another investigator was told there will be fines for violators. This time, NIH staff members aren't even supposed to log into e-mail from home, a source said.


Ponder Stibbons said...

Hmm, I can't find any press releases from MTI or A*STAR on this.

cu em said...

@ponder stibbons, if you have access, search for "IT'S CRUNCH TIME" published in The Straits Times 09/10/2010.


Ponder Stibbons said...

The Science article refers to changes that were launched in the past month. I doubt those would be reflected in an article from October.