You know, I wanted to write an “open letter”, but I don’t remember the last time I wrote a letter, and bad or good, today everything is “open” … Congratulations on your doctorate! It went really well, you published in good magazines and now you are starting your independent scientific career. For this it is necessary to take part in the competitions of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) under the direction of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES), initially for individual scientific employment and for research projects, the deadline is at the end of month. It’s the agency we have in Portugal and it’s always good training. I just wanted to leave you a few pointers.
There will be times when you will be upset, maybe even revolt. It’s part of it and just proves that you are human. I don’t know why it will be exactly (I’m a scientist, not an oracle), but it may have to do with deadlines, long (or useless or nonexistent) answers, insufficient budget for science in any country that wants being civilized, having unpredictable competitions or having ridiculous approval rates (or rigged or both), instructions that change and that seem to have the sole purpose of harming those who should be assisting, even illegals (don’t believe me; you am a Researcher, confirm yourself). The point is, they’ll never tell you the truth, but that’s simple: with the budget and priorities you have, you can’t support everyone whose education you have sponsored as you have sponsored. Maybe it was important to think about. When part of that budget is dedicated to certain partnerships and “common agendas” that have been poorly explained in some areas related to international consortia, corporations, or other matters. It’s the old question of the ceiling that doesn’t go in all directions.
What do I think of our leadership role in science? In all honesty, my opinion is irrelevant to you (and to her). I think they are generally well-intentioned. And convinced, even if sometimes doubtful. Most of all, I think that they promise more than they can and that they even skilfully distort reality (for those who do not know reality) to make it appear that they gave a lot more than they actually did gifts.
Could you explain better? You could, but it’s easier because the explanations they give are seldom addressed to us. Would you do the same for her? I have no idea, I hope not, but I see the difficulties. When he barely left the lab, he found the tour limited too. Now I apologize (much) more because I know what you’re dealing with. And I recognize that we as researchers are sometimes unreasonable. Not that I think we always have to be! The leaders could bring in some new people, the same names always appear regardless of the political situation. If we spend a long time wherever it is, we become confused with the structures and, worse, seen as indispensable. We are not; and if we were it would be very bad.
But I do not advise you to stay too long for outrage, although it does play an important role. Because few actually complain. Complain seriously, I mean, persistently, at the highest level and in court. Don’t organize protests on social networks and don’t write texts like this that are as cyclical as they are predictable. They are useful during catharsis, little more. Of course, it is understandable that there is little to complain about when you take into account not only the time and cost but also the fact that, for obvious reasons, it is difficult to challenge the institutions on which we depend.
By the way, it should be noted that in Portugal scientific ethics and integrity have so far only been promoted formally through guardianship as little as possible, so that we can carry out projects with international funds. For this reason, agreements are signed and regulations are enacted. Only then will no one agree, because the lack of integrity here (as far as I know) never had any consequences. If the example above is this …
Do not misunderstand researchers as a collective if they show little self-organization for many of the solidarity actions they carry out. You accomplish a few things like VAT reimbursement, which is no small matter, but means more to those who run scientific institutions and who should be on your side too. But there it is, it can’t always. Because it is not just you, there are many and good ones. Your success so far is in a sense (and unfortunately) a problem.
I’m going to tell you two things that never solved anything. One is to be calm (worst advice ever!), The other is to guarantee you it could be worse (another uselessness). If you had (and should!) Have had organizational activities outside of the laboratory, for example in communities, organizations, movements, parties, or companies, you would know that science and science are boys and girls in unison. At least we still have evidence and evidence that we cannot ignore without looking silly. Has nothing to do with you You’re wrong. We are not isolated.
Do not forget that you have been trained, not in an ivory tower (there’s only the lazy writer on the mind) but in a disciplinary box, however open it may be. So don’t forget your focus, just come up with other things, other boxes, including those that the Guardians want to move forward (someone has to take advantage of this, why not you?). Keep the doors open, try to rely on FCT and MCTES as little as possible, and see other options everywhere you go. I know you may not want to hear it, but you are ready for the world.
I’ll be here for anything you need and I can. And I think, despite what I’ve just said, and amidst the uncertainty that must also be part of science, everything has to go well. I believe in you and all of us. Even (without irony or Sebastianism) in the leadership we have and we will have.
Pass on news.
The author writes according to the new orthographic convention