News in brief

February 25, 2010

Science funding

'Not possible' to reverse cuts

Adam Afriyie, the Conservative Shadow Science Minister, has sought to clarify his comments that major science budget cuts are "inevitable" whichever party wins the general election. In a New Scientist blog, he says cuts are inevitable because "Labour has already announced them". "Realistically - and I regret this - I am not in a position to promise that a Conservative government would immediately reverse them," he says. Listing the cuts already announced, he adds: "Only a year ago, Labour was teasing the science community with rumours of a billion-pound fiscal boost ... Now there will be a billion-pound cut."


Support for unorthodox journal

The campaign to save the journal Medical Hypotheses continues to gather pace. As Times Higher Education first reported in January, its publisher, Elsevier, is attempting to rein in the unorthodox journal - which does not use peer review - after it published a paper that denied the link between HIV and Aids. This week, its editor, Bruce Charlton, posted a series of letters on his blog supporting the journal in its current form. The journal's editorial board also formally wrote to Elsevier to say it would not accept its proposals to introduce a peer-review system and exclude papers on certain controversial topics. "If Elsevier can no longer tolerate this core feature of our editorial policy, then (it should) close Medical Hypotheses and allow us to seek a publisher that understands the rationale behind our policy," it writes.


Anglo-Indian collaboration

New agreements for collaboration between UK and Indian researchers have been announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The UK's research councils and the Indian Government will invest up to £5 million each for two research projects studying solar cells. In addition, the Medical Research Council and the Indian Council for Medical Research have agreed to encourage joint health research into diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases. Also, the Natural Environment Research Council has agreed to work with India's Ministry of Earth Sciences on water-cycle research.


Seven-strong alliance

The University of Wales has formed a network with six Welsh institutions to improve collaboration in higher education in the country. The University of Wales Alliance also incorporates: the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff; University of Wales, Newport; Swansea Metropolitan University; Glyndwr University; University of Wales, Lampeter; and Trinity University College. Each university will appoint an alliance chair.

European Union

Cut the red tape

A petition calling for a reduction in red tape and the simplification of financial accounting for European research has been signed by more than 2,000 scientists. The petition, "Trust researchers", says: "Researchers in Europe face a lot of red tape and cumbersome financial regulations. We are not against rules. But we need to simplify." The declaration is being pitched to the European Council and Parliament. The highest proportion of its signatories come from the UK.

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