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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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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