Argentina and Egypt Set Markers For Science Policy

Two short items of note, courtesy of Nature, about science policy outside of this blog’s usual haunts.

The lower house of the Argentinian legislature has approved a bill (en Español) that would require research results funded by the government be placed in institutional repositories once published.  There would be exceptions for studies involving confidential information and the law is not intended to undercut intellectual property or patent rights connected to research.  Additionally, primary research data must be published within 5 years of their collection.  This last point would, as far as I can tell, would be new ground for national open access policies, depending on how quickly the U.S. and U.K. may act on this issue.  Additionally, there should be an announcement from the European Union on open access requirements for its Horizon 2020 program (what would have been Framework Programme 8).  The expectation is that open access will be highly incentivized for research receiving Horizon funding.

The Argentinian law still needs to be approved by the upper legislative chamber and the executive branch.

Nature’s Middle East website has this commentary from Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb, director of the nanotechnology research center at Nile University, and a recent candidate in the 2012 Egyptian Parliamentary elections.  In it he complains that the Supreme Council for Science and Technology has not been particularly effective in influencing policy during the two years it has been in existence.  He describes the Council as having a “brief…to provide the government with sound scientific advice and to inform policymakers” but he wants the Council to serve a more active role:

“But despite having existed for at least two years, the council’s effectiveness at influencing policy is still unclear. It has managed to communicate the government’s needs to scientists, but failed to engage scientists in decisions leading to the creation of policy. The council has created a top down effect. As it currently stands, different ministries, such as industry, agriculture and water resources, indicate their needs to the ministry of scientific research. The ministry, in turn, offers funding grants for potential research to meet these needs.”

While the general thrust is similar to the urges of many to see scientists helping make policy, Abdel-Mottaleb seems focused on developing research agendas connected to national goals rather than implying that scientific evidence leads to particular policy choices.

“Such a crude approach [how the research ministry crafts research calls] – with no clear technical specifications provided nor a roadmap for applications – is short-sighted. Such issues must be addressed in future calls for proposals.

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