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Young scientists urged to carry research load

By ​Liang Shuang Source: China Daily Updated: 2023-09-05


Researchers test the performance of Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) imaging circuits at a laboratory of the Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Hefei, Anhui province on April 18, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

More responsibility to be given to youthful talent on bigger projects of importance

China's central authorities have released a slew of measures to encourage young talented scientists to shoulder more of the nation's research responsibilities and to reduce the pressures they face in obtaining job promotions and dealing with unnecessary administrative affairs.

A guideline unveiled recently by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council calls for relevant departments, including universities, research institutes and key laboratories, to put more young scientists in key positions and projects, further invest in them financially and address their concerns and suggestions so that they can devote themselves wholeheartedly to conducting scientific research.

The guideline requires that scientists under 40 serve in at least half the leading and"backbone" positions in major national science missions and projects tackling significant concerns. Scientists under 45 should be appointed to a minimum of one-third of the expert panels that evaluate the performances of various national-level science projects.

To better support young scientists financially, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, an institute administered by the Ministry of Science, will have more than 45 percent of the projects it sponsors led by scientists under 40 to assist them in conducting original, cutting-edge and cross-disciplinary research.

Research and development budgets should favor early-stage independent projects by scientists under 35, according to the guideline,which encouraged institutes to allocate more than half their basic R&D budgets to such projects.

To address young scientists' concerns about obtaining promotions and professional titles, the guideline requires institutes to set their performance and promotion evaluation standards reasonably, adding that institutes should strongly oppose judging scientists solely by the number of their published papers.

The evaluation of institutes should also not depend on the number of published works and awards as criteria so that institutes won't feel the need to pass on that pressure to individual scientists.

The guideline also said that institutes should help young scientists avoid red tape by taking actions such as streamlining reimbursement procedures, avoiding unnecessary public relations activities and reducing the number of needless administrative affairs. Institutes should see to it that young scientists can devote at least 80 percent of their time to conducting scientific research.

The guideline pointed out that institutes should pay more attention to meeting the health and financial needs of young scientists.Among other steps, they are encouraged to guarantee proper salaries,annual leave time and physical and mental health checkups, and they should try to help the scientists with finding accommodation and schools for their children.

The measures come as China is seeking to boost its scientific and technological capabilities in order to achieve its goal of becoming a leading global power in science and technology by 2035.

The Ministry of Science said that from 2012 to 2021, 450,000 students earned doctorates, and about 20,000 postdoctoral researchers in the field were hired to work at research stations nationwide annually.

"We will push employers at the local level to make detailed plans on these measures," the ministry said in an explanatory statement,adding that it will evaluate the implementation and solve emerging problems accordingly.