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Reader feedback: Competition could make SAV savvier,

Re: Slovakia not invested in science, News in brief, June 21 - 27, Vol 10, No 24

The Slovak Academy of Science (SAV) does not have to "lose all of its competitiveness" if it loses its dedicated funding. Instead, it should support open competition for the whole science allocation, competing, for example, with the universities, other state research institutes, private for-profit and not-for-profit research.

I suspect such competition would show that the quality of research at the SAV, at least as measured in a free grant competition, is far from uniform. Pockets of excellence sustain islands of little accomplishment and social benefit.

The SAV has some 56 institutes and 14 additional centres and facilities. Many overlap functions with small departments in universities, while institutional cooperation is limited, fragmenting what little money there is.

I tried searching the SAV website for some info on its budget or the results of any evaluation processes their institutes undergo. I found neither.

In a situation like this, making the SAV compete in open competition for the taxpayers' money it receives seems like something that would enhance, rather than hurt, competitiveness by increasing institutional accountability from its present, rather low levels.

Patrik Slovák,
Bratislava, Slovakia

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