Much has changed: COVID-related research projects have taken off at lightning speed and new knowledge is being shared faster than ever. At the same time, many scientists have found themselves in a bind due to aborted research projects, a shift to online teaching and work from home. Younger generations of researchers with temporary contracts in particular have been, and continue to be, victims of this. The rapid digitization of the science company has opened up a lot of potential, but as a result of this digitization, universities have also completely succumbed to big technology.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, science has played a vital role in providing knowledge to deal with the crisis. Science and scientists became more visible than ever before, and they had to connect with an audience that was often critical and became part of the political dynamic.
This requires a different view of scientific communication. Scholars must not only be able to explain, present and discuss well, but also must be able to have a dialogue. In doing so, they must be aware of the basic values and assumptions of scientists, governments, and the public. The Academy advocates that scientific communication should become an integral part of the academic curriculum. In addition, the Academy stresses that it is important for scientific institutions to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to threats and intimidation of scientists and to support their staff through thick and thin.
The direct and indirect effects of the epidemic appear to vary greatly among scientists from different disciplines, and depend, among other things, on care tasks, gender, and occupational stage. The pandemic has exacerbated already existing differences. The Academy is calling for measures to reduce differences. It also recommends that young researchers be generously compensated for lost time. The Academy warns that otherwise a lost generation will emerge.
During the pandemic, science gained momentum. Research funds became available without lengthy procedures, researchers transformed their research and found each other in collaboration and new knowledge was exchanged at lightning speed. This new flexibility is something to keep, although the Academy stresses that this should not be at the expense of quality and curiosity-driven research.
Accelerating digitization has fundamentally changed the way science is managed. This applies not only to education, but also, for example, to international cooperation and attendance at conferences. This has positive effects. In this way it makes the science more comprehensive, because lack of money or visa problems are no longer an obstacle. Less travel also means scientists reduce their environmental footprint. Now that traditional ways of working have changed, academia can look for a good mix of on-site and online work and mixed work.
Rely on big technology
However, the increasing degree of digitization also forces us to think critically about universities’ increasing reliance on big technology. KNAW therefore urges universities to jointly research alternative digital infrastructures and to develop guidelines that do justice to the independent position of science.
By: National Education Guide
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