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Unionisation could break the divisions in science

January 23, 2012

Athene Donald has some really interesting points to make over at Occam’s Typewriter. Her argument is that scientists ought not to file themselves away into their separate labs. They must work together to fight for, among other things, research funding.

Donald pulls up an old piece of advice from Jocelyn Bell Burnell: “There will be pressure to belittle other people’s work to fund your own. Resist it. We will make a much stronger public case for science and engineering by speaking with one voice and highlighting the overall benefits.”

One method of ensuring that scientists club together in the way these two big thinkers advocate is to unionise, no? I had an interesting game of comment pingpong recently on this very topic. Commenter Phil Brown says: “Unions such as Prospect can bring together opinions and evidence from across a broad spectrum of science to help to oppose the worst of short-term, quick-fix-ism which we increasingly see being imposed on funding decisions.”

I’m not convinced that it could really be this simple. And Prospect is hardly small. So if senior scientists are thinking that more should be done to bring scientists together, perhaps Prospect is missing a trick somewhere.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. NicolaSC permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:07 pm

    I work for the Science Council which brings together the science professional bodies and learned societies – we work on exactly the type of issues you are talking about and are currently discussing with our member organisations whether we should be saying more on the benefits of science. Take a look at what we do:

    • February 8, 2012 2:45 pm

      Thanks Nicola,

      I’ll get in touch as we might do a post on your current discussion with members and maybe we’ll drive more people into that discussion.

      If any of our readers have an opinion on this, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments here.


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