Science academies urged to be more proactive, write more reports

Mohamed Hassan (ESOF2010)

Science academies in developing countries should be more proactive and produce reports on critical issues confronting them, says Mohamed Hassan, executive director of TWAS.

The sentiment is echoing in many places. South Africa’s science minister Naledi Pandor too says science academies in developing countries should “become more dynamic actors” instead of limiting themselves to a “catching up” session for scientists.

Earlier that was what Raghunath Mashelkar, former director general of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said in a chat with SciDev.Net. That Indian science academies should become more visible and offer the collective expert opinion of their members on controversial issues such as genetically modified crops, or geo-engineering.

Caught up with Mashelkar at TWAS and he has a clarification to issue on his comments quoted in a recent article on SciDev.Net on the controversy over India’s inter-academy report on genetically modified brinjal.

He explained that his remarks were made in the context of the specific report on brinjal, and were intended to imply that the entire inter-academy report should not be trivialised just on the issue of citations and references.

But he was also keen to add that that didn’t mean to imply that he considers the presence of citations and references in all reports as being a “trivial” issue.

Citations and references are absolutely essential in scientific research papers. “Scientific ethics demand that they be rigorously cited,” he says.

T V Padma, South Asia Regional Coordinator, SciDev.Net

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