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Mixed feelings over Spanish science law

Cristina_Garmendia.JPGPosted on behalf of Michele Catanzaro

The new Spanish science law will be approved by the country’s Congress at the end of next week, probably on Thursday 12 May. The final draft, which was unanimously approved by the Senate yesterday, implements just some of the requests of the local organizations of scientists (see our previous coverage). The Senate’s draft must be approved by the Congress next week, but further changes are unlikely, due to the agreement achieved in the low chamber.

The bill is aimed at updating the 1986 law, the country’s first scientific legislation after becoming a democracy. It was Cristina Garmendia’s first project when she became minister of science in 2008, but it had to pass through two different drafts before reaching parliament a year ago.


In an unexpected change, the Senate accepted the main request of the country’s Federation of Young Researchers (FJI): the law now says all scientists, including PhD students and technical staff, must be hired through contracts and not fellowships in both the public and private sector.

The law allows scientists to move more easily between the public and private sectors, outlines a strategy to coordinate the efforts of regional governments, and creates a state research agency, with the power to grant independent funding. But the Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies (COSCE) is concerned that the law is unclear on how independent the agency is from the government.

More disappointed are the representatives of the “Dignified research” campaign, a movement of 2,500 scientists that delivered an open letter to the government in March. They asked the government to implement a five-year, tenure-track contracts with regular evaluations that, if passed, would lead to a stable job. Instead the new “access contract” does not require institutions to provide a job to every researcher who passes the evaluation, meaning an access contract offers no more stability than a standard post-doc position.

Image: Science minister Cristina Garmendia via Wikimedia Commons

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