SNSF Blog

Ecopop is the wrong way forward!

​Isolation as a formula for preserving our natural environment? People who subscribe to this idea and support the Ecopop initiative are wrong on two counts the environment and natural resources can only be effectively protected and studied through cross-border cooperation. And the success of Switzerland - and the strength of its research - is intricately linked to its openness and readiness to connect with the world.The strict limitation of immigration demanded by Ecopop has no effect on the most pressing global challenges with regard to the protection of our environment and basis of existence. Climate change, the development of renewable energies and sustainable food production can only be tackled successfully by the international community as a whole. This is particularly true where rese...

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Promoting the research careers of women

Not a week goes by these days without a news report on equal opportunity - and the latest is the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF). This report analyzed gender gaps in 142 countries based on economic, political, education and health criteria. The results for Switzerland are sobering even though the status of women has improved continuously, progress has slowed down and even come to a halt of late. With respect to academia and research, we note that there is no significant gap in education in Switzerland, yet there is a pronounced gender gap when it comes to the senior or managerial levels, and in the amount of funding allocated. The percentage of female PhD students is rising steadily, yet the percentage of women decreases with each step up the academic career...

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State-of-the-art research "made in Switzerland"

​Internationally renowned and envied by our partners, the NCCRs promote long-term, innovative research projects in areas of vital strategic importance for the future of Swiss science, the Swiss economy and Swiss society. The 14 NCCRs of the first series, concluded in 2013 after 12 years of intensive research work, have produced 24,391 publications, 341 patents and 79 start-ups as well as serving as the training ground for 3105 doctoral students and 1819 postdoctoral researchers.Would such a performance have been possible without highly qualified employees from abroad? The NCCR statistics give a clear answer with regard to the "made in Switzerland" aspect, thanks to which Switzerland is at the cutting edge of research and innovation according to the majority of indicators. Of the 3105 docto...

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Quantifying science - the SNSF signs DORA

​In recent years, rankings, ratings and other quantitative indicators have become a more commonplace feature of research. To an ever greater extent, they determine who deserves support and who does not, which research has achieved excellence and which has not. While no one disagrees that excellence is central to research, there is not always a consensus on how to define it. Perhaps the most widespread indicator in the research world is what is known as the impact factor. This is a figure that provides a straightforward indication of how often, on average, the articles published in one particular journal are cited in other articles. It therefore says nothing about the content or quality of a specific article, only something about the importance of the journal as a whole. So it's hardly surp...

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Making research results available to everyone

In the SNSF's view, scientific publications and their dissemination are an integral part of the research process. Easy and rapid access to research results worldwide is central to scientific progress and hence the very foundation of research. However, published research results not only have direct value for the scientific community, they also hold social and economic benefits for potential target groups from industry, business, the State or the public at large.As a research funding organisation, the SNSF is also responsible for ensuring the optimum accessibility of research results. In its service level agreement with the Confederation, the SNSF has pledged to make scientific publications rapidly available around the world free of charge by implementing measures aimed at open access (OA)....

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Manifesto for an open Switzerland

In geographical terms, Switzerland is dwarfed by its neighbours on the map of Europe. However, when innovation is the scale, our country becomes significantly larger in comparison with the others. The story of Swiss success is underpinned principally by the fact that ours is by far the most international science nation in Europe. In particular, cross-border cooperation makes a quite considerable contribution to the impressive levels of Swiss research output. Switzerland is, and always has been at a crossroads of the scientific world. Many excellent and inquisitive researchers have set up camp here over the years, carrying inspiration for our country in their backpacks! Furthermore, we must not forget that around one third of Swiss researchers work abroad and benefit greatly from the excell...

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Strong, new generation of Swiss scientists for internationalised research

​Science is an international activity, and cross-border scientific cooperation is increasing. As I explained in my recent article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper (NZZ), a study recently published in Nature has revealed that the research output of Western countries has grown in recent years, primarily owing to international collaboration. Nowhere is this more true than in Switzerland, with more than two-thirds of Swiss scientific publications now having at least one non-Swiss co-author. This is actually a strong sign for Switzerland, since coordination, competition and exchange are key to science today, and we are ahead of the curve. I believe that two main reasons underlie the increasing difficulties experienced in encouraging young Swiss to take up careers in research competition fr...

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Measured use of new communication channels

​Thanks to new electronic information channels, the media are becoming more and more diversified and information flow is rapidly gathering pace. The demands placed on the senders' and receivers' of information are thereby multiplied. Which information is suited to which channels? Can we simply replace old channels with new ones? How can I avoid being inundated by information and succeed in getting the information I need? Which media do I use for this?The SNSF wishes to make the most of the opportunities offered by the large variety of channels. In this way, it aims to make its funding activities better known and more transparent, to expand its services and to make the results of SNSF-funded research more accessible to society. With this in mind, the SNSF has redesigned its website among ot...

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