Dr Jim Watson: Practical science only way forward

Some extracts:

Article here in full

On comparisons with the rest of the world:

“Concerns are identified in the 2007 OECD report on our innovation system which recognises New Zealand lags seriously behind global competitors in research, science and technology investment. Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Finland and now Singapore are small nations who have successfully invested much more in science systems and this is reflected in the growth of their economies relative to the OECD mean.”

On having a chief scientist or science advisor to the prime minister:

“Many other nations have recognised that to get the best value out of their science systems, they need an independent chief scientist or science council directly advising the leader of the government. Such independent advice to government is an essential part of the functioning of the nation.”

On the problem of attracting people into science and retaining them:

“We must ask why students are steering away from science as a career. It is not because they lack passion or ability. They drop science because science is devalued here. Scientists, frustrated with the complex funding and compliance regimes, and being relatively underpaid, simply do not recommend science as a career.

“We see weekly stories lamenting the loss of top rugby players. We have talented scientists leaving all the time and scarcely a word is said. We need to demonstrate that we value science highly by providing stable careers here and by assisting scientists’ development, particularly early in their careers.”