Opening up science to the community

May 28, 2003

Brussels, May 2003

Providing better public access to research findings is critical to knowledge transfer in Europe. Germany's Max Planck Society shows how it can be done without too much fuss.

Institutes working for the Max Planck Society (MPS) publish some 10 000 scientific articles annually in internationally recognised periodicals. Prior to publication, their findings are assessed – peer-reviewed – by noted experts from the respective discipline. Recently, MPS has taken steps to open its research up to an even broader audience over the internet via BioMed Central's Institutional Membership programme, set up in 2002 and used by over 130 members including the NHS in England, Harvard University (USA), Institut Pasteur (France) and the World Health Organisation.

Established in 1948, the Max Planck Society for the advancement of the sciences is an independent organisation which promotes and performs fundamental research in the interest of the general public. In particular, it takes up new and innovative research areas that German universities may otherwise not be able to handle – i.e. interdisciplinary research in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences and humanities which requires exceptionally large sums for personnel and/or equipment.

As a non-profit organisation, scientists and scholars in Max Planck institutes have to make the results of their work accessible to the general public. The main vehicles of this knowledge transfer include publishing research results in professional journals, on-going training and education of junior scientists, technology transfer, as well as press and public relations work circulating the latest results to a wider public.

Responsive science

German taxpayers are currently footing the bill for much of the research performed in universities and research centres in the country. Yet their findings are only published in expensive trade and scientific journals, which are not freely available to the general public. In recent weeks, German politicians have been calling for more transparency in the way government and state-funded research is carried out and disseminated.

Signing up to public platforms such as BioMed is a simple and effective way to publicise new research findings. A number of Max Planck researchers have already used BioMed's platform to publish their work on a range of topics including genomics and genome biology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, cell biology as well as medical research into arthritis and breast cancer.

"[Our] Institutes conduct scientific and other research autonomously and independently since the results of their work are to be published," according to the Max Planck Society website. In addition, it is actively committed to promoting technology transfer in the economy by directly collaborating with partners from the business sector and public institutions, as well as through patenting and licensing. But, the website openly admits, "the most important path of knowledge transfer from Max Planck Institutes is via people".

Contact: research@cec.eu.int

Max Planck Society
BioMed Central
Max Planck Society page on BioMed

DG Research
http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/research/i ndex_en.html

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Deputy Chief Examiner for Spanish ab initio INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE
Deputy Chief Examiner for Music INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE
Deputy Chief Examiner for Visual Arts INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE
Deputy Chief Examiner for Mathematics HL INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants