Wetenschap 2030 / Evolutie of revolutie" conference in The Hague it was all about excellence. Confusion set in when the question was raised: what is excellence.
Two big Dutch science funding organisations invited young scientist to consider scientific practice in 2030. It was a great gathering, more than half of the public were women, one prominent speaker told them she had two children and we were reminded that a more diverse team is a more successful team as shown in a recent paper.
One of the introductions set the tone. In science itself there is no room for all of us. It would take exponential funding, funding that is not available. In a few panels the subject of the daily practice was discussed and indeed, it is cut throat. Many people do not share expertise, results; there is no common good, everything to win in a rat race to move up the ladder towards tenure. Some say these practices are on the way out, others indicate that it depends on the field you research.
And then there is this guy from Europe who says, only excellence will get you funding from the EU..
What helps; scientists that may indicate what their primary concern is to be, what they want to be evaluated on; education, research.. Counter intuitively, such focused reviews have the effect that results outside the track benefit as well. In this way it is the university itself who finds excellence and improves its processes.
Another perspective on excellence; what value does research offer. Not to the scholars, nor the universities but to the ones bearing the burden of the costs and expect results. Are these results truly the best that can be achieved, does it reflect cooperation, are the numbers reproducible and the papers readable. For Europe to fund; the proposal must have merit.
My take away message; all those scientists that do not collaborate, back stab and think it acceptable because that is the way it is done, they do not deserve my taxeuro going forward towards 2030. The good news; thanks to Open Science and everything related change is underway but we are not there yet. Important: it does not follow that getting funding is a sign of quality, there is too little money to go around for all proposals with merit.