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15th CFRS Meeting (October 2013)

CFRS met on 7-8 October 2013 in Paris, with Alberto J. Núñez Sellés, a chemist from Cuba who currently works in the Dominican Republic, as a new member. A summary of the main issues and decisions is provided below.

Interaction with ICSU Members: information on CFRS meetings, CFRS work plan 2014-2017, “Freedom, Responsibility and Universality of Science” booklet

  • Strengthen communication of decisions at Committee meetings to the ICSU Membership by further improving the online presentation and visibility of CFRS’s work as well as by attempting to draft a communications strategy;
  • Consult the ICSU Membership early next year for proposals of additional topics for joint workshops with CFRS as part of the process to update the Committee’s work plan for 2014-2017;
  • Revise the 2008 booklet outlining CFRS’s brief for presentation at next year’s ICSU General Assembly, inter alia to initiate a dialogue with the Membership on its work.

Freedom of science: academic freedom, persecuted/imprisoned scientists, Palestine-Israeli scientific relations, independence of academies, visa problems

  • Further elaborate a document that was intended to clarify and frame academic freedom as it related to CFRS’s remit;
  • Reviewing a number of cases of individual academics around the globe who are persecuted and/or imprisoned as a result of carrying out their scientific work, the situation in Turkey was noted with particular apprehension and the CFRS Chair was considering taking part as an observer in the trial against Büşra Ersanlı, a political scientist;
  • Condemn the boycott of scientists against an Israeli scientist who took part in a Future Earth meeting that ICSU had organised at the Cyprus Institute in June 2013, thereby reaffirming its stance in favour of Palestine-Israel science co-operation;
  • Emphasise the need for the independence of academies as a prerequisite for the free and responsible conduct of science in light of the mechanism of the government’s reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences, while agreeing that there needed to be room for manoeuvre by national governments to implement changes considered necessary to render the work of academies more effective to benefit the country and society;
  • Contact the UK Royal Society for their assessment of detailed information about difficulties that several participants encountered in trying to obtain visas to attend two ICSU Union science congresses in the United Kingdom in July and August 2013, before taking action such as writing a letter of concern to the UK government authorities and alerting ICSU Members about the visa challenges.

Contribution to multilateral processes: UNESCO, UN “Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights”

  • Seek an involvement in the redrafting process of the 1974 “Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers” intended by the UNESCO Executive Board and before the UNESCO General Conference on 5-20 November for approval;
  • Note the CFRS contribution to a seminar of experts in Geneva on 3-4 October as a follow-up to the consultation process since 2011 by the UN “Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights” on the implementation of Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that stipulates the right “to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications”.

Publishing issues: ethics, authors from Iran and evaluation metrics

  • Renew contact with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) because of continuing concern about an unresolved case of possible misconduct by the Editor-in-Chief of an international scientific journal and involving two publications by a primatologist in Sri Lanka;
  • Seek verification among the ICSU Union Members whether the prohibition imposed by the US sanctions system against Iran for US-based editors and reviewers to handle scientific manuscripts if any of the authors was employed by the Government of Iran or had dual affiliations, i.e. academic and government, affected the scientific journals they were publishing:
  • Feed into the work of the ICSU Executive Board sub-group on open access and evaluation by metrics by noting the San Francisco “Declaration on Research Assessment” of May 2013 as a critical document towards the use of metrics as the sole means to evaluate scientific output and to reward scientists accordingly.

Thematic workshops: science assessment and research integrity

  • Organise a workshop on the implications of science assessment on research integrity – focusing on the rapidly developing science systems in Brazil, China and South Africa – jointly with the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and linked to the next CFRS meeting hosted by CAST in Beijing in April 2014.
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