Italy is often thought of as the land of the sun. But is everything so cheerful for researchers in Italy? In her Editorial in Angewandte Chemie, Roberta Sessoli from the Università degli Studi di Firenze explains that despite its long academic history, Italy is among the European countries with the lowest investments in research.
Italy has a low success rate in obtaining funding from the European Research Council (ERC), and there is a lack of support for junior researchers. A program for the support of young researchers has been launched, but the proposals have yet to be evaluated.
Researcher mobility is low, although this has the advantage that stable schools are formed and knowledge is passed down the generations. Although there are some successful large strategic investments such as the Elettra Synchrotron, Trieste, rigid subdivisions need to be broken down to allow multidisciplinary research, and the amount of bureaucracy needs to be reduced.
The Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerce (National Research Council, CNR) in Rome is able to provide researchers with complementary skills to match the requirements of a project, but this organization too suffers from a lack of funding. One reform that has been introduced is that permanent positions at universities are no longer filled based on teaching commitments but rather on research potential.
The Italian education system still compares well to other countries and is capable of carrying out outstanding research, however, significant investment is needed so that it does not fall behind other European countries.
- Italian Research at a Turning Point: An Opportunity that Cannot Be Missed,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014.