Polish research in the spotlight

Poland has just been highlighted in a Nature feature as an up and coming contender in the international research landscape. The piece was well-researched and I think it pretty much sums up all the pros and cons of Poland as a destination for international talent. The pros are the relatively plentiful funding, and lots of newly constructed modern labs and institutes that have many vacancies. The cons are the sometimes hierarchical power structure, the resistance to change on the structural level by the established “old guard”, and the sometimes inadequate logistical support for researchers from abroad. Continue reading

On the Polish love of hierarchy

First of all, Happy New Year 2015 to all my readers! As is typical of this season of the year, I have in the past couple of weeks met with a few old friends who had left Poland, and usually only visit over the Christmas break. One question that we discussed is how they find Poland after having spent some time abroad and whether or not they would come back if they were offered good work opportunities and a decent salary. Most, to my chagrin, said no. They find it hard to readjust to the Polish way of life after having experienced more Western cultures. One of my friends pointed out that what is most annoying to her personally, is the need of the Poles to constantly compare themselves to others. There is an ingrained love of hierarchy in our nation that has withstood the political transformation from a totalitarian communist regime to a capitalist democracy. Continue reading

Can new significant discoveries be made in Poland?

Today I went to a talk by a well known Polish physicist Prof. Tomasz Dietl on whether the scientific environment in Poland is conducive to the making of important discoveries. Prof. Dietl argued that it is, but also discussed a number of obstacles that hinder scientific progress. First, he pointed out that the most common metrics currently used in evaluations of research in Poland, i.e. the total number of papers and citations, does not reflect the potential to make significant progress in science. Instead, he proposed an alternative metric – the ability of an institution or a country to attract funding from the European Research Council (ERC). Continue reading