Hurdles to international review scupper science in Romania

National R&D Institute for Biological Sciences, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

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Institute of Space Science, Măgurele, Romania.

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Imagine a Nobel laureate willing to review research-grant applications for Romania. She or he would first need to learn Romanian, to produce a letter of permission to participate from their university president or department chair, and to upload a declaration on Romania’s platform for grant reviewers ( confirming that they have committed no ethical misdemeanours in the course of their duties in the previous 5 years. These strictures can only lead to the further marginalization and inbreeding of a research system that is hobbled by plagiarism, paltry funds and brain drain.

According to Eurostat, Romania is in the lowest tier of European Union countries in terms of the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on research and development. In 2018, the nation allocated only 0.18% of GDP to its Ministry of Research and Innovation. About one-quarter of these funds are used in national calls for proposals, which are sparse, unpredictable and currently evaluated by Romanian nationals.

We urge the Romanian government to reinstate the use of international evaluators — with scientific merit as the sole criterion for selection. It should also restore the requirement that proposals be written in English.

Nature 558, 189 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05390-9

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