RESEARCH AND INNOVATION ARE CRUCIAL for the development and well-being of society. Now, in times of economic downturn, the urgency of changing the economic model to provide sustainable growth has become apparent. However, investment in R&D is the first collateral damage in the Spanish national budget, and many regional governments have also cut spending; all this in spite of the fact that Spain only dedicates 1.35% of its gross national product to R&D (1). These cuts will deeply affect aspiring researchers; researchers with temporary contracts will find that, after years of work and training, their contracts may not be renewed.
R&D has been completely neglected in the recent special anti-crisis measures, referred to as “Plan-E” (2), even though funds dedicated to science and its infrastructure would have met the same goals and been profitable in subsequent years. A training program for future researchers and technicians would have provided opportunities for laid-off workers from other sectors. It would also have been an excellent time to promote R&D in the private sector.
Unfortunately, the Spanish science system also has endemic deficits, such as continuous changes in management personnel and structure; lack of a fixed calendar of calls; bureaucratic delays; arbitrariness in the selection, promotion, and stabilization of personnel; and paralysis of necessary legislative initiatives.
We believe that it is time to demand a binding, long-term commitment from all parties to equip the Spanish science system with stability and prestige; a real increase in funding for R&D, so that spending first equals and then exceeds the European average; and rational planning to support the different stages of scientific careers.
The authors of this Letter have written a manifesto (3), summarized here, that has the support of many scientific groups. We believe that the moment has arrived for the scientific community to join forces. Learn more about our mission at www.investigaresfuturo.org.
1. Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Notas de Prensa (2009); www.ine.es/prensa/np575.pdf.
2. Gobierno de España, “¿Qué es el Plan E?” Plan Español para el Estímulo de la Economía y el Empleo; www.plane.gob.es/que-es-el-plan-e/
3. Plataforma por la Investigación, “Research is an investment in the future”; Manifesto: in Spanish | in English
By: Xosé Afonso Álvarez, Noemí Cabrera-Poch, Aana Canda-Sánchez, Carlos Fenollosa, Elena Piñero, Mark J. van Raaij, Eva Sánchez Cobos, Ignacio Segura Pérez, Francisco J. Tapiador, Ana M. Torrado Agrasar
Reproduced from Science (327:1078-1079, 26 Feb 2010) without asking permission.