I am angry

I know that I should not be angry and upset! Life is just good.

One of my PhD students will soon see his Nature Communications paper online. I am in Singapore, enjoying the tropical warmth and I am on a sabbatical and guest professor at the Earth Observatory. Yesterday I spent an interesting day at the Singapore – Sweden Excellence Seminar, which is co-organized by several major universities in Sweden and Singapore to promote joint research; I listened to inspiring talks; enjoyed a good dinner at the same table as the famous Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang; and I got the good news that our research application to the Swedish Research Council was granted for the next four years.

Why am I then angry? Because I did not get all the money I had applied for? Because I am only second on the list of 358 persons within Natural and Engineering Sciences in terms of how much money I got for the next four years?

I am angry because so many other (and especially young) researchers, who had put weeks into writing their proposals did not get funding. I am angry because I am the only person in my department who got funding. I am angry because less and less money goes to basic (fundamental) research. I am angry about how research money is distributed.

I am deeply worried about the future of basic research in geosciences. I am deeply worried about the scientific career prospects of our young faculty, who can of course not compete with senior scientists who have been able to publish more than hundred papers, who have an high H-index, supervise many students and postdocs and through this get their minimum of five papers a year (usually many more).

The present situation, where the rich get richer, where the government and the funding agencies dictate what type of research is relevant (by creating strategic research topics), where scientific super excellence (who defines what is excellent!?) and H-index (I need another blog to comment on this!) rule, and where the science careers of many are at stake, is not sustainable. Not for science, not for the universities, not for society and not for Sweden.

This is why I am angry.

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