Saturday, September 25

Current horizons and challenges of science

Science is essential for the progress of the human being, whose development has been based on his particular process of knowledge and adaptation to nature, to that world in which at every moment he has to be born, live and develop. The results of this age-old interaction with its environment have been gradually improving thanks to scientific progress, and thereby achieving a greater capacity for survival, longevity and well-being.

In these lines we are going to refer to the current horizons and challenges of Science and the research that sustains it; and we are going to do this based on the reflections and proposals generated within a Multidisciplinary reflection group, made up of more than a hundred people belonging to very different disciplines and institutions that together produced a total of 540 proposals on more than 20 thematic areas, many of them related to the scientific field itself.

We are going to group the proposals and reflections that we have selected into various topics that we consider to be the most representative in this context. We are going to refer to aspects such as: open science and informative transparency; the necessary support to some considerable disciplines as avant-garde; education and scientific training, as well as investment and financing of Science, and the need for scientific advance to have an important component of multidisciplinarity.

In relation to open science, there is an important consensus that governments and organizations closest to the scientific field must take clear and immediate measures to promote free knowledge of scientific articles and research, legally and institutionally promoting free exchange and free of charge of the works and their results, in order to be able to achieve achievements such as that of vaccines against Covid, a subject in which, thanks to the impulse of international scientific cooperation, through the free exchange of data, procedures and results, it has been Thus, it is possible to obtain a good number of vaccines in record time. In this sense, it is considered necessary to avoid the undesirable situation that numerous scientific publishers can enrich themselves with really expensive subscriptions, and even by making the authors themselves pay significant amounts to publish their works. Therefore, it is very convenient to have a higher level of scientific transparency and to promote the promotion and dissemination of repositories of articles and scientific works at national and international level, and this with an open and free nature, giving in our country a relevant role in this task to the numerous scientific societies (more than a hundred) of some and other disciplines existing in Spain.

It is considered necessary, on the other hand, to strengthen legal and financial support for the development of research in cutting-edge disciplines such as Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, true pillars today for social progress and sustainable development, as well as for the implementation and dissemination of Artificial Intelligence, as an essential means of economic efficiency and social progress. It also refers to the need to promote research and investment of resources in Immunology, a crucial biological science to advance in the research and cure of a large number of diseases, as well as the promotion of Big data, thanks to which can generate a level of calculation and obtaining data that was unthinkable a few years ago, and that allows obtaining really important results in very diverse disciplines, both in the field of natural sciences, such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Medicine, as well as social sciences, such as economics, psychology, or statistics.

Another essential vector for the progress of science is Education and scientific training. In this field, reference is made to the need to change the university research model, in order to promote a greater projection and social efficiency of it. It is necessary to consider scientific training as a public service and as an investment for the future, promoting, from the pre-university stages, an education more focused on research and technologies, and promoting full-time university teaching staff, since in In many disciplines there is a high proportion of associate professors in universities, whose role and dedication clearly deviate from research.

When it comes to promoting Science, it is necessary, on the other hand, a clear boost in investment and financing of research activity. In this regard, there is a clear consensus, first of all, on the great investment delay that exists in R & D & i in Spain and the urgent need to reach 2% of GDP in financial resources destined for science, in order to progressively approach to other developed countries that dedicate more than 3% to it. In this sense, reference is made to both political and economic measures, and both public and private. Above all, the need for a clear and detailed State Pact in this field is postulated, which among other things facilitates innovative entrepreneurship and the creation of new technology-based companies, as well as an explicit social recognition of the role of science and the importance of scientists. The need to open new avenues of patronage and participation from the private world and civil society is also proposed, as well as to promote the return of emigrated researchers. Some proposals revolve around the participation of banks in the promotion of alliances and agreements between researchers and entrepreneurs, through the establishment of credits with very favorable conditions for companies and institutions that are committed to Science.

Another aspect to be promoted is the research career in Spain, also trying to reverse the progressive aging of the university staff, and further facilitating access to the research career, as well as the stabilization and promotion in said career, with minimally decent conditions that allow developing the growing scientific vocations among young people.

Finally, a fundamental dimension of science and scientific development, already in the present and especially in the future, is the promotion of multidisciplinarity in academic and scientific work. Thus, the need to include multidisciplinary profiles in all the governing bodies of the different fields of science policy is postulated. Today, scientific and behavioral technologies and models also allow research interdisciplinary, that is, one that is based on common models and protocols shared by different disciplines and areas of knowledge. It is also necessary in this context to establish some pillars that guide multidisciplinary work, dedicating a greater amount of public and private resources for it, since the investigations are still mostly monodisciplinary. Ultimately, it is about fostering a creative and hopeful dialogue between scientific disciplines and areas of knowledge in university centers and research organizations.

The previous ideas and proposals come to reflect some horizons and exciting challenges that Science currently has, and that if carried out successfully can enable greater economic progress and social well-being, although for this it is necessary that the public and political leaders of some and other ideologies jointly assume the importance of Science and scientific advances for the progress of society and the human community that inhabit this global Village.

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