Archive by category | Policy and Public

Websites encourage direct public funding for research

The ‘SciFlies’ project, according to a Nature news story (Nature 459, 305; 2009), will profile scientists from a range of disciplines and the new ideas they want to pursue, or ways in which they would like to expand their current research programme. Website visitors will be able to donate any amount to support the projects they find most interesting or worthwhile.  Read more

Online patient communities

Disease-orientated consumer online communities radically change the way in which individuals monitor their health, but they could also create new ways of testing treatments and speed patient recruitment into clinical trials. So starts the editorial in the September issue of Nature Biotechnology (26, 953; 2008). From the editorial:  … Read more

UK science and society strategy calls for input

Charles Darwin comments on the latest UK government initiative to engage society as a whole with science: “Scientists pressed, sweating into corners as costermongers, corn-chandlers, dogs meat men, chimneysweep’s boys, executioner’s assistants, crimps, pimps, organ grinders, grooms of the stool, fullers, gentlemen of the road, members of the aristocracy and ladies of the night (to mention but a few) all clamour to press on you their views on string theory, stem cell therapy, plate tectonics or catalytic cracking.  Read more

Paying taxes is not a qualification for assessing research programmes

Massimo Pinto has discovered an unusual qualification for being a peer-reviewer: paying your taxes. Since 2006, Italians have been allowed to donate 0.5 per cent of their taxes to charity in a highly specific way (previously, such donations had to be made to the church or the state). On his Nature Network blog Science in the Bel Paese, Dr Pinto points out that one can elect to donate one’s contribution to specific research institutes. Leaving aside the fact that some of the intended recipients do not yet seem to have received their 2006 or 2007 contributions, specifying an individual project could have the effect of bypassing the peer-review system, particularly in Italy, where science funding levels are low. Dr Pinto writes that taxpayers have three choices:  … Read more