Title: International research funding in the chemical sciences
Chairman: Edwin D. Becker
Members: Arthur B.
Ellis, Wenping Liang,
Manuel Mendez Nonell,
Lebusa Monyooe, Alejandra
Schmidt, and Erich
Completion Date: 2006 - project completed
To explore ways by which organizations and agencies responsible for
funding chemical research in various countries might exchange information
on international trends in funding and develop international partnerships
for projects of mutual interest. The immediate objective is a meeting
by the Task Group to examine the feasibility of a larger international
conference/workshop and to plan the scope of such a workshop.
IUPAC's efforts to encourage international cooperation among chemists
and to disseminate information globally about the chemical sciences
rely on interactions among academic and industrial chemists and cooperation
with chemical societies and academies of science. IUPAC has convened
World Chemistry Leadership Meetings with representatives of these groups.
However, one important group has not yet been consulted in an organized
way - the agencies in each country that are primarily responsible for
financial support of research in the chemical sciences.
Each country has a number of funding agencies, which are primarily
concerned with in-country research. However, many have international
programs, and some agencies in various countries interact formally [e.g.,
through CERC3 - the Chairmen of the European Research Councils Chemistry
Committees]. Unfortunately, there is as yet no global forum for exchanging
information and advancing international research collaboration and training
Informal discussions among IUPAC officers and officials in chemistry
funding agencies suggest that IUPAC might be able to facilitate the
development of such a global forum. The Task Group presenting this proposal
comprises officials from funding agencies in six countries. We believe
that an international conference or workshop attended by individuals
from funding agencies would be of benefit to the participants in terms
of identifying international trends in funding and developing international
partnerships for projects of mutual interest. The outcomes of such a
conference could be disseminated in various ways, perhaps including
the use of the IUPAC web site as a central node for exchange of information
of interest to the broader chemistry community. Continuing interactions,
especially among geographic or economic subsets of the participating
countries, might be developed.
The immediate aim of this project is to convene a meeting of the Task
Group to evaluate the feasibility of a broader international conference
and to plan the scope of such a conference.
A planning meeting was held in London on 15 July 2004. The meeting
was designed to summarize aspects of funding of chemical sciences in
several countries, articulate interests in funding of international
science projects, determine what barriers exist to the funding of international
collaborations, decide whether a broader discussion forum might be useful
in reducing such barriers, and plan for subsequent activities.
After discussing the needs and possible areas where progress could
be made with broader input, the task group concluded that it would be
desirable to hold a workshop with about 15-20 participants. This would
broaden the geographic coverage and still permit a small enough group
for active discussion. Since only a sampling of important countries
can be accommodated, it was felt that, with advance planning, participants
could be asked to familiarize themselves with programs in neighboring
countries and to report on relevant aspects.
The group favored holding the workshop in Beijing, China as part of
the IUPAC General Assembly (GA) in August 2005. A period of 1½
days, 18-19 August 2005, was selected in the expectation that some attendees
could then participate in the IUPAC-sponsored World Chemistry Leadership
Meeting (WCLM) on the afternoon of 19 August.
Topics explored in the workshop include:
- National research funding philosophies, conditions, and guidelines
- Trends and priorities in chemical research
- Tracking chemical research and measuring its impact
- Programs in chemical research that encourage international partnerships
- Resources that can be shared through international partnerships
- Education and workforce in the chemical sciences
Prior to the workshop each potential participant was asked to complete
a short questionnaire that elicited information on national research
funding philosophies, conditions, and guidelines. A presentation summarizing
this information served to catalyze discussion of similarities and differences
among various countries and organizations.
Highlights and Outcomes:
Participants agreed that chemistry is international, and ideally anyone
in the world could collaborate with anyone else. However, funding is
almost entirely national. One objective for this group is to identify
ways by which trans-national research can be initiated and carried out
more easily and more widely. A second objective is to use international
research experience to validate the assumptions and conclusions within
each country regarding priorities used to establish the "science
drivers" that are needed to obtain financial resources.
ERA-Chemistry, a project of the European Research Area, was
described in some detail as an example of international cooperation
in chemical research [www.erachemistry.net].
This initiative includes funding organizations in ten European countries
aimed at supporting new cooperative projects, primarily between young
researchers in different countries. Common procedures are being developed
for submission and evaluation of proposals and for funding from a single
source, built around administrative simplicity and flexibility. It is
expected that the process will be rapid, involving about six months
between announcement and funding decisions. The first round was in progress
at the time of the workshop, with 78 eligible pre-proposals involving
189 applicants already received and final proposals due in October.
It is hoped that ERA-Chemistry will expand within the European Research
Area. It could potentially be expanded or its tools could serve as a
model for other trans-national cooperation arrangements beyond Europe.
For example, a recently established program between the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
(DFG) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is set up to permit
the use of existing NSF electronic review procedures in which the DFG
serves as a 'guest reviewer.' Thus, applicants from Germany and the
US can submit a single linked research proposal that receives a single
Particular attention was given to the emerging cyber-enabled chemistry,
the term given to the use of the broad use of world-wide computer networks,
so-called cyberinfrastructure, to permit not only such activities as
remote control of instruments, but to bring together a vast array of
databases, modeling capabilities and high speed communications that
can be used to attack chemical problems of great complexity.
Project completed - download
full report [pdf -394KB]
Last update: 18 February 2006
> Follow-up project 'IUPACs
role in international research funding in the chemical sciences: a feasibility
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