Science in Society
A knowledge-based society that gives priority to education, research and innovation has the best chances of meeting the future challenges. The Academy focuses on important social issues and appraises them from a scienctific perspective.
Thanks to its independent position and accumulated experience – not least internationally – the Academy is well positioned to play an important part in research-political discussion. Since the Academy comprises all scientific disciplines a very wide spectrum of issues can be reviewed, just as complex issues can be discussed from many different viewpoints.
New Academy report: Fostering breakthrough research: a comparative study
Sweden’s competitiveness weakens in In 2010 the Swedish Research Council showed ("Den Svenska produktionen av högt citerade vetenskapliga publikationer", SRC 2010), in a report by Staffan Karlsson of the Swedish Research Council’s Department of Research Policy Analysis, that Sweden’s production of breakthrough research had fallen below that of Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland. ‘Breakthrough research’ was defined as the 10% of most highly-cited scientific papers worldwide (the top decile of global output by citation rate) compared with the global mean. Nevertheless, various reports show that Sweden is holding its own relatively well internationally in terms of average citation rates: Sweden currently ranks seventh, with a large number of nations close behind.
All in all, this means that Swedish research is maintaining its high quality but that its international importance is tending to decline: a worrying trend. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA) therefore decided to carry out a comparative analysis of research systems in Sweden and the above-mentioned countries, and attempt to identify differences that may explain why this country is performing less well at the quality level defined by the ‘top-decile index’ described above. Our approach is to seek, in a historical perspective of some 20 years, explanations for present-day disparities in international research impact. The comparison includes Finland, as well as Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland. With this aim, KVA applied for and received funding for the studyfrom the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
Read the full report (pdf)
All too often, politicians and other decision-makers reason that strategic research initiatives focusing on predetermined areas will deliver the necessary results. With this approach, we are in danger of missing the greatest breakthroughs, which in many cases are based on discoveries in open-ended research. The Academy is alarmed by the decline of recent years in conditions for open-ended research, and strongly supports initiatives to improve its funding. Without such actions, the long-term development of society will be impaired.
In the publication Unexpected benefits, the Academy aim to highlight a few examples of how basic research, without being driven by ideas about applications, has nonetheless yielded myriad everyday benefits. History is full of unexpected discoveries that paved the way for what are now self-evident features of our everyday life, such as our IT society, healthcare and drugs that keep us healthy, or new materials with fascinating properties.
The project is funded by the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation, the Olle Engkvist Foundation, the Sven and Dagmar Salén Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
Download Unexpected benefits (pdf)
IPCC and climate change assessment – is the science robust enough for reliable societal advice?
Panel discussion with Thomas Stocker, University of Bern, Switzerland and Stephen Schwartz, Brookhaven NL, USA. Lennart Bengtsson, University of Reading, UK and International Space Science Institute, Bern, Switzerland. Concluding remarks by Stefan Claesson, 1:st Vice President, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. From: Natural and man-made climate change – open sessions, 2012-05-23.
Watch the entire symposium at KVATV.se (search on symposium title)
Statement by the Academy: Sweden needs bold, creative and pioneering basic research
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has delivered a statement to the Ministry of Education and Research ahead of the forthcoming 2012 Research and Innovation Policy Bill. It emphasises that Sweden needs bold, creative and pioneering basic research in order to safeguard the country's future prosperity and tackle the huge global challenges humanity is facing. It is the Academy's view that the government should:
- provide quality assurance for government research appropriations
- ensure long-term coordination of Swedish research policy
- work to strengthen basic research in Europe
- foster academic mobility and the long-term supply of knowledge
- invest in individual creative researchers
- improve infrastructure
- rehabilitate know-how in Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology.
Read the full statement (pdf)