Fixing hiring practices means asking the right question

Sir

Whenever Spain's research or academic life is analysed (see, for example, Nature 451, 1029; 2008), a comment invariably follows on hiring practices and regulations (Nature 453, 26–27; 2008). This obsessive repetition points to a deep problem in that country, but these issues are shared by many other nations and so deserve international attention.

The question that is usually asked or answered concerns 'how': how should the academic system be regulated to avoid widespread poor practices in hiring? As an academic, I would start by asking 'why': why is it that the hiring decisions of academics in some countries cannot be trusted and apparently need to be enforced by tight regulations, whereas this is not the case in other countries?

Remedies don't work well without a good diagnostic.

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Artacho, E. Fixing hiring practices means asking the right question. Nature 453, 720 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/453720a

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