Archive for European Commission

EU without education is like a bird without wings [apologies to ostriches]

Posted in Kids, University life with tags , , , , on September 21, 2019 by xi'an

[Reposting a call for keeping education and research in the EU commission denomination:]

The candidates for the new EU commissioners were presented last week. In the new commission the areas of education and research are not explicitly represented anymore and instead are subsumed under the “innovation and youth” title. This emphasizes economic exploitability (i.e. “innovation”) over its foundation, which is education and research, and it reduces “education” to “youth” while being essential to all ages.

We, as members of the scientific community of Europe, wish to address this situation early on and emphasize both to the general public, as well as to relevant politicians on the national and European Union level, that without dedication to education and research there will neither exist a sound basis for innovation in Europe, nor can we fulfill the promise of a high standard of living for the citizens of Europe in a fierce global competition.

President von der Leyen, in her mission letter to commissioner Gabriel, has emphasized that “education, research and innovation will be key to our competitiveness”.

With this open letter we demand that the EU commission revises the title for commissioner Gabriel to “Education, Research, Innovation and Youth” reflecting Europe’s dedication to all of these crucial areas. We also call upon the European Parliament to request this change in name before confirming the nominees for commissioner.

Please support this letter by signing up as a supporter via https://indico.uis.no/event/5/registrations/

ERC panel [step #2]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2019 by xi'an

Another post that was written ages ago, about the second round of the European Research Council (ERC) panel on starting grants for mathematics in which I took part as an expert and not as an applicant. While anonymity possibly fell apart for the several dozens of applicants who were shortlisted for interview, in particular more like those few from my own field, the official list of the panel only came out much later. The interviews were quite interesting, obviously, with a strict attention to time and questions to make all interviews as “equal” as possible. And sometimes painful to attend as the candidates were visibly stressed and more over-prepared than not. Which did not necessarily help as the preparation, presumably with the help of local consultants out of maths, had removed some of the enthusiasm behind the project and too much of the maths. I think we all stopped breathing when one applicant broke mid-sentence, as in a theatre play when one actor forgets one’s lines… The rehearsal does not work so well for later questions, even though preparing for these is also essential,  and some upgrading or downgrading may then occur because of a single answer. An unavoidable limitation of the exercise.

Overall I remain impressed by the quality of the collective work of the panel [despite a gruelling schedule on interview days] and of the overall selection of eleven projects, even though it sounds like more theoretical and abstract topics seem privileged, in a bias that seems difficult to counteract. And [not because no statistics proposal was selected this time] making me (and others) wonder whether or not a separate statistics section of the ERC would not be more appropriate, since statistics proposals are not uniquely and solely centred on the maths aspects.

ERC panel [step #1]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2019 by xi'an

Although this post was written ages ago, regulations of the European Research Council (ERC) prevented me from posting it until now, for confidentiality reasons. I was indeed nominated as an expert member of the ERC panel on starting grants for mathematics [a denomination including statistics, obviously, but also quantum physics or some aspects of it], which means evaluating a hundred-ish applications of young researchers (five years from PhD) to select about ten of them to be richly funded for the coming five years. The reason for secrecy is that the panel members have to be protected from pursuits from the candidates (or, more likely, from their senior mentors). While this is a pretty heavy commitment, above 20 days total, the evaluation process gets quite interesting and the most annoying part is to have to reject proposals that should be funded, were more funds available. (For obvious reasons, I cannot get into the details of individual proposals, but let me just bemoan that there were too few proposals connected to statistics!) I may however get into my appreciation of the collective work of the panel during the first step selection process. I actually knew no other member prior to my joining the panel and was impressed at how smoothly we managed to work together and incorporate different opinions in a joint perspective. When I re-read these sentences, it feels like langue de bois (double talk), really!, but they truly represent my feelings at the end of the meeting. Making me (almost) looking forward the second step of interviewing the selected candidates in another week-long meeting, again in Brussels, for the interviews and final selection and ranking. (Which is when anonymity falls apart.)

 

40 PhD fellowships in Paris

Posted in Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on January 28, 2019 by xi'an

Brussels snapshot #2 [jatp]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on June 17, 2018 by xi'an

‘gold’ open access & gold mine for publishers

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , on March 8, 2013 by xi'an

Following a discussion within the IMS publication committee and the coincidental publication of a central double page in Le Monde, weekend science&techno section [not that it was particularly informative!], here are some thoughts of mine on open access and publications:

First, the EU is philosophically inclined toward Open Access and has been putting some money into the game towards that goal:

As of 2014, all articles produced with funding from Horizon 2020 will have to be accessible: articles will

either immediately be made accessible online by the publisher (‘Gold’ open access) – up-front publication costs can be eligible for reimbursement by the European Commission;

or researchers will make their articles available through an open access repository no later than six months (12 months for articles in the fields of social sciences and humanities) after publication (‘Green’ open access).

This means that putting IMS publications on arXiv or on HAL (which is compulsory for CNRS and AERES evaluations, hence for most French public researchers, contrary to what Le Monde states) is fine and sufficient for EU funded research. It seems to be the same in other countries (ok, EU is not yet a country!) like Australia…

My personnal position on the issue is that I do not understand the ‘gold’ open access perspective. Since tax-payers are supporting public-funded research, why should they support the journals that publish this research if it is available on a public depository like arXiv for free? Simply because the publication in the journals gives a validation of the scientific contents? The argument was that it would save money on public libraries subscribing to expensive journals like Elsevier‘s, but paying the ‘gold’ open access is another way of redirecting tax-payers money towards publishers’ pockets, so this sounds like a loophole… I would thus be very much in favour of keeping the arXiv solution as is, since it is the greenest one, as long as we comply with local national regulations.