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Research Voices Speak Out on Science Policy

Despite broad differences in research funding and support across Europe, one factor is unifying disparate countries and organizations: scientists believe that budget and hiring cuts are so severe that they’re destroying national research and development infrastructures.


From grant reductions to hiring freezes, education cuts to laboratory downsizing, most countries across Europe have witnessed a drop in resources devoted to scientific research. Places like Spain and Italy are claiming the biggest hardships – it is thought that the former has seen a 40 percent decrease in grant funding, while the latter has cut higher education spending by 20 percent and recruitment to permanent research positions by as much as 90 percent (1). But even in countries less rattled by the economic downturn, science appears to be taking a hit. In France, for example, scientific and academic positions have declined by over 20 percent, whereas in Germany, some institutions are seeing as much as 80 percent of research being conducted by scientists on fixed-term contracts rather than in permanent positions (2).

“The drastic budget and hiring cuts […] are triggering a brain drain,” says Amaya Moro-Martin, an astrophysicist and science policy spokesperson, in Nature. “Where they can, scientists are shifting from the less-affluent south to the north of Europe. Where they cannot, many are abandoning the continent altogether.”

Along with eight other researchers from six European countries, Moro-Martin wrote an open letter to science policymakers and government leaders decrying what they refer to as “destructive policies.” So far, nearly 10,000 researchers and concerned citizens from over 60 countries have signed the letter. With a movement extending far beyond a single petition, though, involving rallies, protests, meetings and even a cycling tour of France – it’s evident that now, more than ever – European scientists are feeling the need to make their voices heard.

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  1. A. Moro-Martin, “A call to those who care about Europe’s science”, Nature, 514, 141, (2014). doi:10.1038/514141a.
  2. E. Pain, “European scientists ask governments to boost basic research”, ScienceInsider, (2014).
About the Author
Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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