Critical science reports 'hidden'

January 30, 2004

Israel's National Academy of Sciences is suspected of suppressing international evaluations that recommended ways of improving the country's science.

The national newspaper Ha'aretz reported that in 1999, the academy commissioned two reports from two international committees of scientists who were asked to review Israeli researchers in immunology and neural science.

The reports were unfavourable and the academy elected not to forward them to members of the government, as it should have done, or publicise them in university circles, according to Ha'aretz .

The reports are alleged to have painted a bleak picture of the researchers' publication records as well as their financial resources and other aspects of their activities.

Although reports that were completed after 1999 have been published, the critical ones have yet to see the light of day.

Ya'akov Ziv, president of the academy, refused Ha'aretz access to the "hidden" reports, saying that despite the lapse of four years, "their processing was not over". But Ha'aretz eventually received the report on immunology.

Despite Professor Ziv's statement that the reports had not been fully processed, Ha'aretz said it had received documents revealing that in January 2000, Ruth Arnon, head of the academy's natural sciences section, sent the completed reports to the presidents and rectors of the country's seven universities.

But sources from the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University denied having received such reports.

The academy said a full report, compiled with the Council for Higher Education, would be published as soon as a summary had been completed.

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