Thanks to its independent position and accumulated experience – not least internationally – the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is well positioned to play an important part in research-political discussion.
New Academy report: Fostering breakthrough research: a comparative study
Sweden’s competitiveness weakens in In 2010 the Swedish Research Council showed ("Den Svenska produktionen av högt citerade vetenskapliga publikationer", SRC 2010), in a report by Staffan Karlsson of the Swedish Research Council’s Department of Research Policy Analysis, that Sweden’s production of breakthrough research had fallen below that of Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland. ‘Breakthrough research’ was defined as the 10% of most highly-cited scientific papers worldwide (the top decile of global output by citation rate) compared with the global mean. Nevertheless, various reports show that Sweden is holding its own relatively well internationally in terms of average citation rates: Sweden currently ranks seventh, with a large number of nations close behind.
All in all, this means that Swedish research is maintaining its high quality but that its international importance is tending to decline: a worrying trend. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA) therefore decided to carry out a comparative analysis of research systems in Sweden and the above-mentioned countries, and attempt to identify differences that may explain why this country is performing less well at the quality level defined by the ‘top-decile index’ described above. Our approach is to seek, in a historical perspective of some 20 years, explanations for present-day disparities in international research impact. The comparison includes Finland, as well as Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland. With this aim, KVA applied for and received funding for the studyfrom the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
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The reputation enjoyed by the Academy and its independent, non-governmental status mean that proposals, primarily relating to issues linked with research, are often referred to it by the government. Members, committees or organisations within the Academy review the proposals and give their comments in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary.
Statement by the Academy: Sweden needs bold, creative and pioneering basic research
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has delivered a statement to the Ministry of Education and Research ahead of the forthcoming 2012 Research and Innovation Policy Bill. It emphasises that Sweden needs bold, creative and pioneering basic research in order to safeguard the country's future prosperity and tackle the huge global challenges humanity is facing. It is the Academy's view that the government should:
• provide quality assurance for government research appropriations
• ensure long-term coordination of Swedish research policy
• work to strengthen basic research in Europe
• foster academic mobility and the long-term supply of knowledge
• invest in individual creative researchers
• improve infrastructure
• rehabilitate know-how in Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology.
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Committee for Research Structure of the Academy's Class for physics
European Research Infrastructures are research facilities that are jointly financed by the European Union and the Member States. They are set up in order to improve the quality of European research, the connection between academia and industry and the competitiveness of European industry. The Committee for Research Structure of the Academy's Class for physics gives suggestions on how to increase the efficiency of these research facilities in the report Transnational Coordination of European Research Infrastructures.
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The European coutries have much less exchange of knowledge between the academic world and the private sector than the US and many other industrialized countries. The Committee for Research Structure of the Academy's Class for physics has analyzed this problem and proposes a solution in the report Creation and transfer of knowledge - the critical need for closer ties between the academic world and the private sector.
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The Committee has also produced Analysis of the Swedish engineering and natural sciences research structure in a national perspective. The report focuses on research funding, academic structure and mobility within the research system.
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Research Policy Committee
From 2005 to 2010 the Research Policy Committe was in operation. Its task was to, in a broader social perspective and an independent position, analyse and advise on issues concerning conditions for, and opportunities in, research. Particular attention was paid to the role of research and science in the community. The goal was to identify the need for measures to strengthen Swedish research. The target groups were decision-makers in the whole of the R&D sector, political experts and political representatives in the field of education and research, nationally and regionally.
Areas in focus included the structures and control mechanisms of research and higher education, and matters of research finance. Quality issues were also in focus, as was the internationalisation of the research system.