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On the election of academicians 精选

已有 12243 次阅读 2011-12-28 09:51 |系统分类:海外观察

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20111121赵永新改稿何毓琦文章二稿.qs.docx

In late October 2011, I wascontacted by a Chinese  reporter tellingme that the People’s Daily Newspaper in China wishes to interview me about thedifferences between the US and the Chinese way of electing academicians totheir Academies of Sciences and of Engineering. Since this topic hadconsiderable interest in China as well as recent controversies, and the factthat I happen to know some objective facts concerning the topic, I agreed to aphone interview.

In preparation for theinterview, I submitted to the reporter a written version of what I plan to sayas a memorandum (see below).

Subsequent to the interview,the reporter and her editor wrote a final version of the phone interview. Theywere kind enough to sent me a copy. Although I have no control over what anewspaper reports, their write up substantially represented what I said. Thus,I happily approved their final version.

A month went by and  I inquired as to when the interview will bepublished in the Daily and was told that some leaders in the newspaper objectedto the publication of this interview and ultimately, a revisedand sanitized version appeared onDecember 22, 2011 issue of the paper.

Of course a newspaper canpublish what it thinks appropriate. And I also appreciate the leaders’ worryabout taking responsibilities for what they publish. But to set the recordstraight, I would like to use Science Net, where the readers were veryconcerned with the issue of academician election procedures in China, toclarify my view and the modest proposal I made (the proposal was completelysuppressed by People’s Daily.).

I take full responsibilityfor what appears below:

 

今年十月底人民曰報通過科學時報向我訪問關于中美選舉院士制度的不同及相同之處.

第一在下面我轉戴了人民曰報領導准允在報上發表的文章 (十二月二十二號版). 

 

 

访两院外籍院士何毓琦:美国怎么选院士

 

作为国家设立的科学技术方面的最高学术称号和终身荣誉,如何让评选办法更加合理、科学,使结果更加公正、公平,确保新增院士的质量和水准,近年来颇受社会各界关注。他山之石可以攻玉,从今天起分别介绍美国和俄罗斯两国院士选举的有关情况,以飨读者。——编者

 

核心阅读:

 

■美国的院士是一种非官方、低调的个人荣誉,机构一般不会公开声称自己拥有多少院士,个人通常也不会将院士头衔列在自己的名片或信笺上

 

■候选人只能由院士提名,评选过程全部保密,候选人不应该知道自己被提名

 

■第三步的同行院士评审非常关键。同行委员会通常由3050名院士组成,任期36年;所有新当选的院士都会被鼓励加入同行委员会,服务至少3年,以保证委员会始终保持新鲜的想法和思想

 

作为世界上科技实力最强的国家,美国的院士选举是怎样进行的?与中国的院士选举有何异同?哈佛大学终身教授何毓琦(科学网博客)日前就这些问题接受了记者专访。

 

整个过程全部保密

 

只考虑学术水平和贡献

 

“我对中美两国院士选举体制的认识基于我在美国工程院、中国科学院和中国工程院的院士经历。” 何毓琦说,“以下所讲的美国科学院,也包括美国工程院。”

 

“为了避免个人难堪或麻烦,从提名到选举,在近一年的时间里,美国科学院、美国工程院的院士选举全过程保密,只有院士参与,候选人也不应该知道自己被提名,公众只知道最后的当选人名单。” 何先生说,“中国的情况刚好相反,院士选举有机构和公众的参与,从提名的有效候选人到每一轮选举结果,都会在媒体上公开。这种差异有体制和文化方面的原因。”

 

据何毓琦介绍,美国科学院是美国科学界荣誉性及政府咨询机构,186333日根据林肯总统签署的国会法令创立,但它不是政府部门,而是民间、非营利的科学家荣誉性自治组织,不设研究机构。中国科学院则是根据19491031日中央人民政府主席毛泽东签署的命令成立,是国家自然科学最高学术机构、科学技术方面的最高咨询机构,和自然科学与高技术综合研究发展中心。

 

在中美两国,院士均通过选举产生,当选院士是科学家或工程师所能获得的最高学术称号,是终身荣誉。何毓琦说:在中国,院士有官方副部级待遇,是公众人物,院士不退休。在美国就没有这回事了,当选院士当然令人十分高兴,因为这是同行对自己所做事情价值的公认,是一位学者很大的荣誉。“但大家都明白,院士身份是一种明确的个人荣誉,相当低调,机构一般不会公开声称自己拥有多少院士,个人通常也不会将院士头衔列在自己的名片或信笺上。”

 

“对院士身份不同方面的强调产生了非常不同的激励作用,”他说。在美国,科学院像私人俱乐部一样按自己的规则运行,实行学术自治;院士选举只考虑候选人的学术水平和学术贡献,没有宗教、政治、种族等因素。学术水平只有真正的同行才能评价,因此整个过程只有院士参与,没有公众和外界的介入。“我们说这是我们内部的事,我们不追求公众的意见和监督;我们对外界没有要求,也不需要得到公众利益或公众认可,除非对方自动给予。”

 

候选人只能由院士提名

 

“中美两国推荐院士候选人的方式也有不同。”何毓琦强调。在美国,院士候选人只能由院士提名,方式有两种,一是由多名院士组成“自愿提名小组”联合提名某位候选人,比如在美国工程院,候选人需有4名院士提名,其中与候选人在同一机构的院士不能超过2;二是国家科学院委员会向院士们提出建议候选人名单,或组建专门临时提名小组提名某个或某些领域的候选人。“无论哪种方式,都在科学院内部进行,只有院士参加。”

 

在中国,除院士之外,机构也可以推荐候选人。何毓琦认为,“院士是一种荣誉,当机构参与推荐候选人时,就有利益关系在里面,想法就不一样了,单位希望自己的人能选上,就会像竞选一样,为候选人运动、造势、拉票等。在美国,科学院会周期性地提醒自己的院士:为候选人竞选造势的行为受到强烈劝阻。”

 

同行评审最关键

 

不鼓励匿名投票

 

何毓琦介绍说,美国工程院院士的选举分为四大步骤——

 

第一步,院士提名候选人;

 

第二步,候选人经过所在学部院士的通信评议和投票,但不会根据投票结果对候选人进行排名和淘汰,全部候选人名单和投票评议资料被转入下一步;

 

第三步,由学部任命的同行评审委员会在学院位于华盛顿特区的总部召开评审会议,对候选人的学术成就和资格进行详细评审,然后投票并对候选人进行排名和淘汰,提出院士候选人最后名单;

 

第四步,院士大会对最后名单进行投票,根据定额和得票排序选出院士。

 

“中美两国院士选举过程中的关键不同之处,在第二步和第三步,即学部院士对候选人的初步评审和投票,以及院士同行评审。”何毓琦说,在第二步,美国只投票和评论,但不对候选人进行排序,所有结果全部转入第三步,没有淘汰问题。“在中国,学部根据院士投票结果对候选人进行排序和淘汰,这是一种非常机械化的淘汰制,可能会导致非常有价值的候选人被不公正地淘汰,没有解释也无权追索。”

 

“第三步的同行院士评审在美国是非常关键的,因为这是真正的学术评价。”何毓琦说,在这一步,以第二步的评议和投票情况作为参考,同行委员会完全按学术标准,尽可能给每位候选人一个公正、准确的评议。同行委员会通常由学部任命的3050名院士组成,任期36年;所有新当选的院士都会受到鼓励,加入同行委员会,服务至少3年,以保证委员会始终保持新鲜的想法和思想。因此,同行委员会中至少有23位院士对每位候选人的学术领域和学术水平非常了解,能够公开站出来为他讲话,纠正第二步中出现的不公正或非学术的评价,并做出最终学术评价。因此,第三步的工作最重要,也是最难、任务最重的部分。“同行评审所提出的院士候选人最后名单提交到院士大会后,院士大会投票极少发生否决的情况。在我24年的经历中,只有一次院士大会否决了一名候选人的资格。”

 

何毓琦认为,中美院士制度另外一个关键的不同之处是投票是否记名。

 

“在美国,我们可以不记名投票,但科学院非常不鼓励匿名投票。他们会告诉你,假如不记名投票,那么你的意见在同行评审中将不会被看重或考虑。因此,一大半的院士都是记名投票。我永远都是记名投票。”

 

链接

 

何毓琦:著名华裔美籍数学家、控制论专家,哈佛大学终身教授、清华大学讲席教授,动态系统现代控制理论创导者之一。他1987年当选美国工程院院士,2000年当选中国科学院和中国工程院外籍院士。

 

19343月出生在上海,1961年获哈佛大学应用数学的博士学位,其后在该校工程和应用科学学院任教。1965年获哈佛大学终身教授职位,2001年退休,其间培养了50名博士生。1979年中美建交后,他基本上每年回中国一次,为大陆的科研和高等教育发展服务。2001年受聘为清华大学讲席教授,10年间培养了3名博士生。(原题为——美国院士评选:同行评审最关键(国外怎么选院士())——访中国科学院和中国工程院外籍院士、哈佛大学教授何毓琦)

 

第二,我要補上記者及編緝原文上寫的三個我的小建議。但是報領導不允許在報上發表。

 這裡我了解領導門的保守及怕出事的心理 (for their complete report, see the attached)

 

"  到对改良中国科学院院士选举制度的建议,何毓琦说:“我对中国的情形并不是完全了解,我的意见不一定适合,但有三点值得考虑。”

 

 “第一,院士候选人只能由两院院士提名,不可以由单位来提名;第二,院士在选举中最好是记名投票;第三,同行学术评价最要紧,不要在第一轮投票时就对候选人进行机械排序和淘汰,因为在这一阶段真正懂得候选人学术的人并不多,应该让所有候选人接受同行真正的学术评价和投票,如果选院士不单看学术,还要看是否爱国和对社会的贡献等,也可以,但应该讲得清清楚楚,有章可循。”

 

假如要看記者及編緝寫的全文,请看附件

 

最後我戴上我自己给人民日報的英文疧稿,

 

On the Chinese and USSystem of Electing Academicians

 

1.    Myknowledge of these systems is based on my membership in the US National Academyof Engineering (NAE) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the ChineseAcademy of Engineering (CAE). The US National Academy of Sciences followsessentially the same procedure as the NAE with minor differences.

2.    Firstthe similarities. In both the US and in China, the procedure roughly works asfollows:

a.    Acandidate is nominated

b.    Thenominated candidate goes through a general round of voting and comment by allmembers of the Academy

c.     Thecandidate then goes on to a peer committee where s/he is examined closely forscholastic achievement and qualifications

d.    Afinal list of candidates are assembled and voted on by the Academy.

3.    Nowto the major differences:

a.    Inthe US, the academician status, while a distinct individual honor, is ratherunderstated. Organizations do not openly boast how many academicians in theiremploy. Individuals usually do not list such honor on their name cards orletter heads. In China, academicians enjoy official rank at the vice-ministerlevel and must be treated as such. This different emphasis creates verydifferent incentives.

b.    Toavoid personal embarrassment, the nomination and election process in the USacademy are only known to academy members. A person is not supposed to knowabout his/her own nomination.  The publiconly knows the final list of the elected candidates. In China the exactopposite happens.

c.     Inthe US, a candidate for membership can only be nominated (item 2a above) byfour other academicians (and no more than two of the four can be from the sameinstitution to which the candidate belongs). In China, an institution,university or otherwise, can nominate candidates. This creates very differentincentives and leads to practice (such as openly campaigning for a nominatedcandidate by the institution which the candidate belongs) which distort thescholarly standard. In the US, the academies periodically remind its memberthat campaigning for election is strongly discouraged.

d.    InChina, step 2b involves extra ranking of the nominated candidates by otherinstitutions, such as the Ministry of Education and not under the control bythe Academy members.

e.     InChina, the voting in step 2b by academy members is anonymous. In the US,anonymous comments by academy members are generally dismissed or ignored by thepeer committee in step 2c. Almost all members sign their votes/comments in step2b since the academy strongly suggest that they do so.

f.       InChina, there is a arbitrary mechanical cutoff after step2b. Thus, a worthycandidate, such as recently with Professor Rao of Beida, can be eliminated withno reason or explanation and no recourse. In the US, no matter how many bad comments a nomination receive in step2b, the peer committee in step 2c makes the final recommendation since it isthere the scholastic standard and contributions of the candidate can beaccurately and fairly determined by his peers.

g.    Inthe US, for each section of the academy covering different areas of expertise,the peer committee in step 2c usually consists of 30-50 members appointed for aperiod of 3-6 years. All newly elected members are encouraged to serve at leastfor 3 years on this committee to insure fresh ideas and thinking. Thus, it ismy experience  that at least 2-3 membersof this peer committee have good knowledge of the qualifications of everynominated candidate in his/her specialized area.

h.    TheUS peer committee members examine ALL nominated candidates in their section andthe votes/comments in Step 2b. This is a heavy burden. But it is here that anyunfairness and ultimate scholarly judgment can be corrected and rendered by theknowledgeable peers of the candidate. There is no automatic cutoff in step 2bas in the Chinese case.

4.    Inthe US, the ranking of candidate in each section by the peer committee areforwarded to the membership committee where some adjustment, but not veryoften, can be made based on quota and allocations among different sections.

5.    Themembership committee produces the final list of candidates for one more votingby all members of the academy. Very very few reversal can occur at this stage.In my 24 years of experience, only one candidate in the US academies was deniedadmission at this stage.

 

Looking at the above , we find that thesource of these differences and possible problems occur in one major culturaldifference. In the US, the Academies run like a private club with its own rules(so long as the rules are not discriminatory based on race, politics, andreligion). It does not make public who is nominated and being considered nordoes it asks for anything from the public. The elected candidate receives nopublic benefit or recognition except those by tradition and freely offered. InChina, the process is completely public from the start to finish. Thesuccessful candidate receives official public benefit and rank. As such,institutions and the public other than the academies feel they have a say inthe process. For example, firstly institutions other than the academy can havesay in the nomination and ranking of candidates. Secondly, anonymous commentsand mechanical cutoff in step 2b creates unfairness and no recourse. Both ofthese reasons distort the scholarly standard which must be the ultimate testfor academician status. Finally, the status accorded by the public and thegovernment on academy membership also induces different incentives bothindividually and organizationally.

In other words, in the US, academicianis a private, understated, and individual honor depending strictly on thescholarly contributions of the candidate. But in China, academician is anofficial status subject to public adoration and scrutiny where considerationsother than scholarship intrude. Culturally these are two very different things.“Scholarship is supreme” and “government/public status of Academicians” may betwo incompatible requirements.

On the other hand, if China wishes touse additional criteria beyond scholarly contributions for academicianselection, then so long they are clearly stated for all to see and know, Chinaand the Academy of Sciences are perfectly free to do so.

 

Three minor suggestions of mine forrevision to the Chinese system

1.    Onlyacademy members can nominate candidates

2.    Abolishanonymous votes/comments during the first round voting

3.    Nomechanical cutoff threshold during the first round

(Note added on 12/28/2011. In the US, if a nominator happens to serve on the peer committee, then s/he must recluse him/herself during the peer committee discussion and voting of the candidate s/he nominated.

Also I should add that as a foreign member of CAS and CAE, I have no voting rights nor nomination right in either of the Chinese Acaemies. Foregin membership is purely a symbolic honor)

.



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