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nature

03/13/2006 | rombarbar
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v440/n7081/pdf/440132a.pdf


According to the Thomson Scientific (ISI) statistics, academy scientists publish around 1,500 papers a year roughly one-third of the output of Britains University of Manchester alone.



Ukraine scientists grow impatient for change

Ukraines orange revolution a national protest against corruption that overthrew the first results of the countrys 2004 election raised hopes for political and societal change. But more than a year on, scientists are increasingly frustrated by the slow pace of reform of the countrys Soviet-style research system, which they believe is being hampered by Ukraines aged and anti-European scientific establishment. The nation, which has a population of 48 million and is Europes second-largest country in terms of area, has a long tradition in science and hosts an extensive network of academic institutes and research facilities. But, as it did elsewhere in Eastern Europe, science declined dramatically after the collapse of communism in 1991, forcing thousands of researchers to leave the country. When Viktor Yushchenko came into power in January 2005, it was hoped that the pro-West president would encourage a fundamental reform of the science system. But critics say that the promised switch to less a authoritarian system has hardly begun. The focal point of criticism is the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU), which runs 174 institutes and employs around 28,000 researchers. The powerful academy, a relic of the Soviet science complex, dominates Ukrainian science. The average age of the academicians is about 71; the president, Boris Paton, an expert in electric welding and the son of the former president, is 85. The bulk of the academys activities relate to mechanics, material sciences and physics euphemisms, according to critics, for former military-oriented engineering institutes. And productivity is low. According to the Thomson Scientific (ISI) statistics, academy scientists publish around 1,500 papers a year roughly one-third of the output of Britains University of Manchester alone. But critics say the academy is not interested in carrying out an independent review of its scientific performance. There are also claims of widespread corruption. For example, an attempt to create closer ties between Ukraine and western European institutions by linking Ukraine to GÉANT, the high-speed European data communication network, was allegedly hindered by academy members demanding bribes. Another complaint is that the academy leaders, fearing competition and loss of influence, are blocking attempts to facilitate Ukraines participation in research programmes funded by the European Union (EU), by deliberately holding back information and generally failing to cooperate with EU authorities. The Academy is not interested in any reform whatsoever, says Aleksei Boyarski, a theoretical physicist at CERN, the European lab for particle physics in Geneva, Switzerland.


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