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Europe’s Joint Research Centre, although improving, must think bigger

Nature

External report criticizes lack of exploratory research.

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The European Union’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) uses the label EU Science Hub now. Whether the rebranding will increase its profile is one question. What science gets done inside this hub is another. In response to that query, there is some positive news. It is doing what it should be, and doing it well: collecting scientific and technical evidence in support of EU policies. That’s according to the report of an external evaluation released this week. [...] The new report, headed by the former Irish government science adviser Patrick Cunningham, [...] acknowledges how rapidly the centre has broken out of its much-criticized institute-based silos to restructure thematically into cross-site departments, such as energy and health, which more directly mirror policy areas. It also notes that the JRC has significantly increased its presence in the world’s top-cited literature. But it says that the centre still does too little exploratory research — such research engages only 3.5% of JRC staff, well below the target of 10% that it set itself in 2015. [...] There is much satisfaction in contributing to policies that influence the lives of people in the EU. But officials and staff must look again at their priorities. As well as keeping the JRC relevant, a wider focus on the cutting edge would allow it to flag up hot topics to policymakers earlier. [...]


Nature, Vol. 550, No. 7674. (3 October 2017), pp. 8-8, https://doi.org/10.1038/550008a 
Key: INRMM:14445601

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