#CSaP13 Annual Conference: snapshot summary video

I attended the #CSaP13 Annual Conference that took place on the 18th of April 2013. You can see me at 1:02.

The Centre for Science and Policy’s 2013 annual conference, held on 18 April at the Royal Society in London, brought together some of the country’s most eminent professionals working at the intersection of science and policy.

For more videos: http://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/programmes/2013-annual-conference/

NERC Booklet updated: Science into policy – Taking part in the process

This booklet aims to help NERC staff and NERC-funded scientists to:
– recognise the relevance of their science to policymakers and engage with science-to-policy activities from the outset;
– Identify opportunities, routes and best practice to inform policy-making, including opportunities to feed into NERC’s corporate science-to-policy activities;
– communicate science in an appropriate and accessible way, to the right policy-makers, showing how it fits their needs.
We have used case studies to illustrate the different approaches described, and drawn out reasons for success, where appropriate, as learning points.

Beautiful booklet by UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) advising how scientists can help shape public policy.

Science Is Vital strikes again

Yesterday a letter was sent to The Telegraph by the Science Is Vital campaign.

This was accompanied by an article in the same newspaper “Spend more on science or fall behind G8” by Stephen Adams.

And another article was written in the Guardian “Science funding: time to reverse the decline” by three founders of the Science Is Vital campaign, Jenny Rohn, Stephen Curry and Richard P Grant.

Finally, see article on the campaign website for data.

Please also see a recent Guardian article “Does the UK need to spend more on basic research?” by Kieron Flanagan

Science in Policy and Policy in Science: two events coming up

I am pleased to say that I will have the joy of attending two events next month – from which I will be tweeting hopefully.

Science in Policy

As a geekmanifesto groupie, i would not miss the CSaP annual conference 2013 “Future directions for scientific advice in Whitehall“. As mentioned in a previous post, next month Sir John Beddington gives his place as Chief Scientific Advisor to Sir Mark Walport. Thus, the aim of the conference is to launch a collection of essays charting future directions for scientific advice in Whitehall.

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Making the most of scientists and engineers in government and Beddington’s legacy

In the UK, the Government Office for Science conducted a review to provide information about the current state of the the Government Science and Engineering (GSE) community, propose a vision for the future of the profession and highlight priorities for action. You can find the report here:

The future of the Civil Service: Making the most of scientists and engineers in government

You can find more information on this report here.

You should also read today’s article in the guardian by the outgoing UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir John Beddington. There is also an interview of Sir Beddington at the Civil Service World website.

And if you want to read an opinion on his legacy, Research Fortnight has written an article on him.

UPDATE: new article by  on the issue of a Chief Social Scientist (15/03/2013) – with interesting video from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee session.

UPDATE2: Prof Sir John Beddington warns of floods, droughts and storms here (25/03/2013).

UPDATE3: In praise of … John Beddington at the Guardian (26/03/2013). 

UK Science funding and the EU: some thoughts on Paul Nurse’s article

Paul Nurse talking in the observer on “The benefits to UK research, from finance to international collaboration, make a strong case for continued EU membership”

“Given the increasing importance of science for many aspects of our lives, what will the impact be on UK science if we are in or out of Europe?

click here to read the rest of the article

I have followed with great interest the comments section at the bottom of the blog. Most of the comments come from different people who refer to a single website, a website for a referendum (http://www.eureferendum.com). Most of the comments are from people that want the UK out of the EU.

At the same, an interesting point was raised by the first commenter, a point that is close to my heart:

There was only one comment that provided some data

British annual budget:                                                                             £676,600,000,000

British annual contribution to the EU:                                                     £11,732,802,927

British annual science budget (this is the best figure I could find):             £5,500,000,000

EU annual contribution to British science:                                                £740,000,000

British budget as a percentage of total spending: 0.8%

So, extrapolating that spending into the amount of money we’d get back if we withdrew from the EU, 0.8% of £11,732,802,927 is £93,862,423

Sir Paul Nurse is entirely correct. British science is nearly 8 times better off with the EU, than without.

… and that’s just financially.

As I said on twitter, if the UK is indeed getting prepared for a referendum – given how little UK citizens know about the contributions of the EU to their life and their country – data should be gathered and presented so that people would be able to vote based on evidence. I know this would be hard so at least in the case of science, organisations such as CaSE and people working on campaigns such as ScienceIsVitalshould start gathering data on what is the EU’s contribution to British Science and how would an exit affect British science, before it is too late. It would be interesting to find out if the data above are correct! (of course if such data exists today please give me the reference since I am really interested – I am really interested to have the best evidence to base my argument or to change it if the data says so). In addition, this is one issue in which the recommendations developed in the Geek Manifesto could really show if they can in reality shine or not.

Consumer debt and mental health

[I recently applied for a job for which I had to produce a report on consumer debt and mental health. Even though I did not get the job, I did spent sometime to look over the issue so I am posting the report here.]

Consumer debt and mental health
Evidence has shown a clear association between consumer debt and mental health. Given the current financial crisis, extra measures are needed in order to deal with people affected. This note considers the published evidence on the above relationship, examines the current regulations and suggests what policies should be implemented in order to ensure that sensitive approaches are adopted for the benefit of the consumers, the health and social carers, and creditors.
 
Overview
·      There are clear links between consumer debt affecting mental health, and vice versa, even if the direction of causality has not been yet verified. Continue reading

THE SCIENCE VOTE (#SCIVOTE) MOVEMENT: ORIGINS

[Over the last 3 weeks I have been following very closely what was happening before, during and after the recent UK elections but from a scientist’s point of view. I copy-pasted every article I could find into Word documents. In the end, these Word documents were more than 300 pages long. I also read all of them and I have been following the twitter discussions as well. Finally, I wrote the following article for a major Greek newspaper (for those of you who understand Greek and this will not all “sound Greek to you” the weblink for the Το κίνημα “Ψήφος στην επιστήμη” paper is http://www.vimaideon.gr). This is my attempt to translate it. I am saying attempt because the language centre of my brain does not understand anymore which are Greek expressions and which English. I would really appreciate it if any of the people that were actually part of this movement could tell me which points I’ve understood wrongly: a third-party always sees things differently and a lot of times not correctly. I can think of many points that might be wrong or annoy people.]

THE SCIENCE VOTE (#SCIVOTE) MOVEMENT: ORIGINS

The Lisbon Treaty and then European Strategy for 2020 stressed, ambitiously perhaps, the importance of long term investment in knowledge – produced through science and technology – as the only way of exiting from the financial crisis. Politicians in every corner of Europe (and beyond) indicate that the goal of modern society should be a knowledge-based economy.Nevertheless – whereas the U.S.A., China and India increased their funding for science – Great Britain and other European countries in their general panic to reduce public deficit and debt, announced cuts in public investment in science and technology. In other words, although governments recognize the importance of these investments, they do not apply them. In this way they are risking the future of their country, since a reduction in funding today will lead to future lack of scientific expertise needed to boost economic growth.[businesses seem to agree already on this]Many British people noticed this paradox during the recent election campaign and their disagreement resulted in the “Science Vote” movement or «#scivote» if one is to use twitter terminology. But what is this movement? What were its aims? Did it succeed in British elections? What is its significance for Greece?

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UK Election and #SciVote (1)

Just because I am a geek, I decided to do a little exercise of my ownm even before we even knew what the government in the UK will be. I tried to find out how many scientists were in the new Parliament!

First of all for “after-election” articles related to science vote from people that actually know about this topic please click here , here and here.

What I did is that I took the list of MPs published in the Eureka Zone Times paper by Mark Henderson last week. Given this list, I added next to each constituency the candidate that won. For those for whom there was information on science background in THAT list I kept this information.

You can find both the original list and the “after election” list here.

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