World Research bill: the rant of a researcher against the "American model"

17:15  22 september  2020
17:15  22 september  2020 Source:   europe1.fr

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The bill does not even provide for the creation of an executive forum that would allow the heads of the new research committee to communicate the views of their researcher communities to the CEO of UKRI. Although a supplementary document published just last week by the Department of Business

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Cécile Agosta, chercheuse sur le climat antarctique, n'est pas d'accord avec la logique du projet de loi sur la recherche, actuellement débattu à l'Assemblée nationale. Selon cette spécialiste de l'environnement, l'investissement consenti par le gouvernement correspond à une © Europe 1 Cécile Agosta, researcher on the Antarctic climate, does not agree with the logic of the bill on research, currently being debated in the National Assembly. According to this environmental specialist, the investment made by the government corresponds to a "kind of blackmail" intended to make the world of research precarious.

Frédérique Vidal describes this effort as "the biggest movement to invest in science since the end of the 1980s". Supported by the Minister of Higher Education, the research programming bill has been debated since Sunday in the National Assembly. In particular, it provides for the injection into the world of research of 25 billion euros programmed over ten years. But for Cécile Agosta, researcher on the Antarctic climate and guest of Patrick Cohen, Tuesday noon, "the opposition of the researchers relates to the pointing of this money".

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"Need for visibility"

If she "can only welcome the efforts to put money into science", Cécile Agosta regrets the fact that there is "a kind of blackmail on 'OK, we give you money, but then only if it is more fixed-term contracts and no permanent positions' ". Because, describes the researcher at the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences, France is now characterized by relatively low salaries compared to the Anglo-Saxon world, but more stable permanent positions.

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"Some of the research can be linked to emulation but, in terms of the sustainability of jobs, we need visibility", defends on Europe 1, the one whose work concerns the regional modeling of Antarctica, in order to help reconstruct the past climate from ice cores. "The fact of being in competition to eat and to have a salary wastes a huge amount of energy. We are constantly looking for new projects, instead of advancing science."

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A "fraud" linked to precariousness?

For Cécile Agosta, this professional insecurity can even "lead to scientific fraud": "When you always need to have projects, with the best marks, for your own salary, you can tend to direct your research towards them. things that have the most media visibility and not necessarily those that have the most scientific background. "

The climate science researcher denounces more generally the liberal inspiration of this bill: "The emphasis is on 'putting more resources'. Yes, but only if it's hyper competitive, because the model of government is the American model, seen as modern, ”she points out. "In research, what we see as modernity is more about having long-term positions."

High level in France

While asking for "more resources in research to work and have new positions", Cécile Agosta affirms that "the choice to have lower salaries but visibility attracts a lot of researchers". And that the French level is today far from being indigent: "Access to competitive examinations is extremely difficult, the average age of recruitment at the CNRS is 35 years", she recalls. "In France, the bar is extremely high."

According to her, the Shanghai 2020 ranking testifies to this, in which the University of Paris-Saclay, to which the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences is attached, is ranked 14th in the world.

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This is interesting!