Poland’s higher education reform – new voices in the debate

I recently discussed some of the ideas presented by the Polish Science Minister Jarosław Gowin as foundations for the reform of research and higher education law in Poland. A couple of days ago, an article came out in “Polityka” (paywalled), a popular weekly journal, discussing the specific projects for the reform developed by three independent teams. The authors, Dariusz Jemielniak and Piotr Stec mostly talk about the weaknesses of these projects and the pitfalls that the lawmakers should avoid when implementing changes. I think that the most important take home message from the article is that whatever the final reform will be, it will have to be followed by a cultural change if it is to be effective. Otherwise, academics will just find ways to work around the reform and everything will remain the same. Continue reading

Polish national funding agency under scrutiny

A series of opinion pieces in the bulletin of the Polish Academy of Sciences (1, 2, 3, 4, all in Polish) discusses the process of research grant evaluation by experts at the National Science Center. This institution (pol. Narodowe Centrum Nauki; NCN) is the principal science funding agency in Poland – the equivalent of ERC in the EU and NIH/NSF in the US. It supports science in Poland by a variety of research grants depending on the stage of scientific career of the applicant. All applications are evaluated in two stages. First they are scored by a group of experts who are selected from Polish research institutions. Once the application passes the first “filter” of the expert opinion, it is sent out for formal review by independent reviewers, often from abroad. Continue reading

Grant writing in Poland

It’s been an insanely busy couple months for me. I have just gone back to Poland to pursue my research career here. Not only did I have to finish up all my experiments at Stanford, but I also wanted to apply for a Polish grant for young investigators who want to start their own research group. It has been a great learning experience and also an opportunity to compare the grant proposal submission process in Poland and in the US. There are marked similarities, but also significant differences. Just to be clear, I will be comparing the NIH R01 type submissions, which are the most common ‘big’ grants for biomedical research in the States with the Opus or Sonata Bis grants from the National Science Center (Narodowe Centrum Nauki; NCN) in Poland, again a typical ‘big’ grant, but one not limited to biomedical research.
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