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13th CFRS Meeting (Oct 2012)

The meeting of the Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science (CFRS) on 9-10 October 2012 was the first in its present composition with a new Chair, Leiv K. Sydnes, and some two thirds of new members. In addition to the agenda items, Faouzia Charfi, a physicist from Tunisia who held the post of Secretary of State in the country’s Ministry of Higher Education post-2011, joined CFRS for lunch on day two to talk about the latest developments in science and higher education in her home country.

Under freedom of science issues, the Committee again considered, with concern, the situation of the scientific community and academies in Montenegro and Turkey. In reviewing a number of cases of individual scientists around the globe, it was pleased to learn of the release of Adlène Hicheur, the French-Algerian physicist, from prison in France, and of the letter from the CFRS Chair to “Nature” addressing the case of Kemal Gürüz. This 65-year-old retired professor of chemical engineering and former university rector, who is internationally known for his efforts to raise Turkey’s higher education standards and for his leadership in the Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Council (TÜBITAK), was arrested in mid-2012. CFRS members also decided to further investigate the issue of obtaining transit visas for the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and the United States. This sometimes posed a problem for scientists planning to attend a scientific meeting in a country for which the necessary entry documents had been obtained, but requiring transit through the aforementioned countries or regions. Concerning the CFRS initiative on academic freedom, the responses obtained to the letter by the outgoing Chair on the “muzzling” of scientists and the protection of whistle-blowers would be made available on the ICSU website, together with constitutional texts that were guaranteeing academic freedom at the generic level in different national contexts.

Concerning workshops, CFRS will be a co-organiser of the forthcoming 3rd World Conference on Research Integrity (WCRI) in Montreal, Canada, on 5-8 May 2013. Another topic to be pursued would be that of science assessment and the implications on research integrity. This was scheduled for April 2014 in China.

Regarding agenda item scientific publishing issues, “publication ethics” and “open access” were discussed. On the former, a case put to the Committee concerned possible misconduct by the Editor-in-Chief of an international scientific journal regarding two publications by a primatologist in Sri Lanka. On the latter, the output of the workshop “Valuing science in the digital age: alternative metrics for future science”, co-sponsored by the UK Royal Society and CFRS in September 2012, would feed into the broader approach by the Executive Board to define ICSU’s overall policies with regard to openaccess to data and information.

The Committee also took stock of the Statements/Advisory Notes it had issued so far as means of communication with the ICSU Membership and how these related to the policy statements issued by the ICSU Executive Board.

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