Community Research Federal Ministry of Education and Research German EU Presidency 2007 ESFRI DESY

Challenge 3b: Infrastructures and human resources

P. Mohler, Head of the European Centre for Comparative Surveys, Mannheim, Germany
Examples of key infrastructures and actions for young scientists
a. Key infrastructures from fields as diverse as Astronomy and Social Research will be discussed. Their specific and common actions for young scientists will be outlined. Emphasis will be placed on the ultimate goal of all actions for young scientists.
b. ESO, the European Southern Observatory, will be taken as an example from the natural sciences.
c. ESS, the European Social Survey will be taken as an example from the social sciences. ESS is a general social survey conducted bi-annually in European countries.
d. Both infrastructures provide access for scientists, young and established. Both offer training or are part of specific training programmes, which are now standard across the sciences and their infrastructures.
e. Common to both the teaching and training programmes is the hope to find and foster a future leading scientist in their respective fields. This rarely entails activities which explicitly search for and foster talent.
f. Teaching and training in infrastructures should be linked with systematic searches for talent, i.e. linked up with existing efforts (young researcher competitions) and/or implement specific talent search activities.

J. Smith, Deputy Secretary General of the European University Association
Research Infrastructures: Education and Training Dimensions
The presentation will address how the “Bologna Process” of higher education reforms, particularly those relating to the 3rd cycle of doctoral programme reform, pose many challenges for the maximum available use of research infrastructures for education and training given the increasing mobility of students and researchers. University research strategies will work to enhance team-building and critical mass (both in doctoral training level and project development) in areas of strength, and the optimisation of the use and creation of research
infrastructures will remain crucial to success. Universities will also need to provide new infrastructures in order to stay up-to-date and competitive (e.g. in electronic publishing, repositories and e‑learning).

T. Diercks, NMR facility manager, Centro de Investigación Cooperativa en Biociencias (CIC bioGUNE), Spain
Towards career opportunities for young scientists in the EU
Without adequate long-term employment opportunities, European Research Infrastructures (ERIs) offer negligible career options for researchers and can neither help to avert the ongoing costly brain-drain abroad, nor establish the EU as “the most attractive research region”. Lacking sufficient permanent scientific staff for accumulation of experience, cutting-edge facility operation, user training and know-how transfer, ERIs are often run sub-optimally and inefficiently, instead relying on precarious temporary post-doc positions. This puts the expensive ERIs into a vulnerable, precarious situation. Still, ERIs could become a tool to strengthen the scientific middle class only if sufficient staff positions are secured at the receiving institution. Better even, the EU should go beyond mere investment-on-request and directly finance tenured European research positions – not only within ERIs – granted to qualified persons, not institutes. This would allow the researcher to move on to more attractive institutes, promoting mobility and positive competition and, thus, weakening its crippling
systems of institutionalised dependencies.

C. Andrade, ESFRI delegate
The views from infrastructure operators
The initiative to gather all known and existing proposals for large infrastructures and establishing a working program and timetable – the “Roadmap” – has to be welcome. ESFRI constitutes a permanent and ideal forum to discuss proposals far beyond the capacities of national research communities. ESFRI initiatives are an excellent occasion to review the national plans. From an operator point of view, the advantages of participating in large infrastructures of European or international level are:
a. forum for knowledge-exchange regarding the state of frontier-research in various disciplines;
b. shared responsibility for maintenance and strategy development;
c. excellent training ground for young researchers and also help to keep senior researchers informed of latest developments;
d. promote industrial advances, either by the engineering needed for their construction and maintenance or by the direct work performed;
e. stimulate interdisciplinarity.
Finally, the disadvantages should be also mentioned: the funding and financing of maintenance together with the need of having skilled researchers.

 

 
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