Scientific Career

Scientists often have to grow old and curtail activities in society and private life before obtaining a professorship. How can we grant scientists with early independence? How can we foster diversity in science?

Conclusions at the congress «We Scientists Shape Science»

The workshop group suggests to focus on the following three aspects: 1. Define excellence in a new way: Reconsider the existing criteria (impact factor, h-index) and add new criteria that value inter- and transdisciplinary approaches, non-linear career paths (experiences outside of academia), teaching and science communication. This means: Value quality instead of quantity. (If fully implemented and lived, DORA can help essentially in this respect. Therefore: Live DORA!) 2. Improve the hiring process: In order to install the new criteria of excellence, the procedures used for hiring new faculty should be clearly communicated and universities should focus on scientists that step out of the box, meaning people who have established their own research profile and may have done research on different subjects in the course of their career. The system needs a flatter hierarchy and more middle non temporary positions 3. Change our concept of PhD: A PhD is not only a training for professorship but for becoming an independent thinker. PhD students should have a time credit for enhancing their soft skills. Scientists - leaving academia - with a PhD can be valuable for society in many ways.

Noteworthy, there are places in Switzerland where the current system works fine, whereas at other places this is not the case and as a result there is dissatisfaction. It became also clear that different disciplines have different needs, thus, we need a system that respects the different needs.

Workshop held at the congress «We Scientists Shape Science», January 2017, Bern. Conclusions are based on the debate in the workshop and on online comments by the participants.

Some participants of the workshop - Anne Jorstad, Adria C. LeBoeuf, Elias Mulky (with input from others who choose to remain anonymous) - elaborated the issue further and drafted the report «Scientific careers in Switzerland».

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