英国皇家化学会上海办公室分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/yolandahongmei Representative-Shanghai, Royal Society of Chemistry(RSC),毕业于新加坡南洋理工大学,曾在中科院上海有机化学研究所工作,现为英国皇家化学会 ...

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包信和院士与唐本忠院士评述:中国将如何应对面临的科研挑战?

已有 6342 次阅读 2016-10-27 10:33 |个人分类:英国皇家化学会在中国|系统分类:观点评述|关键词:英国皇家化学会,唐本忠,包信和| 英国皇家化学会, 包信和, 唐本忠

   近年来,中国的整体科技水平大幅提升,科研实力显著增强。但与此同时,所面临的问题与挑战也与日俱增,比如科研工作原创性不足、广受诟病的国内科研评价体制、人才流失严重等。在当前形势下,我国将如何面对这些问题和挑战?为此,受英国皇家化学会会刊 Chemistry World的邀请,包信和院士和唐本忠院士为此撰写专题评述。他们从三个角度对这些问题进行了解读:中国科技迅速发展的原因及可持续性,如何看待科研工作原创性不足的问题,人才引进措施及其改进。(该篇专题评述发表在2016Chemistry World 13卷第十期,我们特作翻译,英文原文附于文后。)

现实情况:

有数据表明,中国科学家近些年发表的科研论文数量快速增长,论文总数已连续数年位列全球第二(仅次于美国)。在化学、材料科学及能源转化等领域,中国的研究工作更是堪称顶尖,引起了国际的广泛关注。早在2011年,中国国家知识产权局就曾表示,该年度成功专利申请总量突破50万。2013年,中国拥有185万理工科在读研究生、2550万在读本科生以及148万全职科研人员。

最近几年,中国研发经费投入总量呈不断上升趋势;相比之下,西方国家的相关经费则增长缓慢,甚至出现下滑趋势。联合国教科文组织预测,中国极有可能在未来三年内超越美国成为世界第一的研发经费投入大国。

中国科技的迅猛发展引发了世界的广泛关注和议论,不少人表示对中国科技发展的可持续性持怀疑态度。此外,尽管中国高质量的科研工作得到了多方认可,但其原创性不足和突破性的创新工作缺乏依然让外界颇有微词。另外一个值得注意的现象是,在世界人才争夺战中,中国在吸引最优秀的人才归国方面依然面临着不少挑战,大量青年人才依然选择留在海外。这些批评的声音引人深思,它们是否公正?而中国又该采取何种对策?

中国科技迅速发展的原因及可持续性

2006年,中国国务院发布《国家中长期科学和技术发展规划纲要(2006-2020)》。该纲要明确指出,到2020年,中国研发总投入占国民生产总值的比重将提高到2.5%。尽管目前中国科研经费投入快速增长,但距这一目标仍有较大差距。可以预见,为了实现该目标,中国研发投入仍将保持稳定的增长速度。

目前,中国社会仍面临着许多挑战,需要借助科技手段予以解决,这决定了中国必须保证研发经费的持续性投入。比如,作为能源消费大国,中国在能源转化领域上的投入远超北美和欧洲。

中国领导人大多出自理工科背景,他们对于科技在解决经济和社会发展问题上的价值和作用有着更深的理解,从而能推动制定更有利中国科技发展的政策方针。这也是近些年中国科研投入得以稳定增长的一大原因。

此外,中国为初出茅庐的青年学者提供了优厚的福利待遇和科研经费,支持他们建立独立课题组,全身心投入科研工作。反观大多数西方国家,对于一名年轻的科研人员而言,在高等院校觅得教职或得到足够的科研经费实属不易。

如何看待科研工作原创性不足的问题

目前,外界有一种声音认为中国整体科研水平还缺乏原创性和创造性,较少有突破性的成果出现。在这一点上。毋庸置疑的是,中国目前仍有很大的提升空间。但从某种程度上来说,西方发达国家的科研发展已有相当长的一段历史,而中国的现代科学研究是在近几十年才得以渐渐步入正轨,因此我们现在不应过度苛求原创性不足的问题。原创性的科研成果需要长期的积累和发展,不可能一蹴而就。如今我们看到,在顶级期刊上有越来越多中国学者的身影。因而我们有理由相信随着中国科研事业的继续发展,我们国家所做出的原创性工作会越来越多。

在中国,一个广为争议的话题是,学术界片面地看重和追求科研论文的数量及所发表期刊的影响因子,这两者直接影响了科研工作者的科研经费。为了应对发表论文的压力,很多科研人员不得不去追求一些“短、平、快”的研究方向或所谓的热门领域。他们过于关注快速地、大量地发表论文,因而也就难以潜心思考重大的科研课题,难以真正做出具有重大意义的科研成果。

因此,我们应该尽量避免引导青年科学家和学生去单纯关注论文发表,而是鼓励他们去学习其它更为重要的技能,比如如何管理一个课题组以及如何独立思考等。历史告诉我们,很多重大的科学发现来自于“机缘巧合之中的意外发现serendipity);如果过于关注快速、大量地发表论文,科学家们将可能会很遗憾的和这些重大发现失之交臂。

人才引进措施及其改进

如今,互联网的高速发展使得在线阅读和跟进最新科研成果变得轻而易举,得益于此,全球的科学家们可以及时了解彼此的研究进展。尽管如此,大部分中国学生,不管是本科生还是研究生毕业后,还是会选择到海外的优秀课题组进行更深入的学习,以此来积累学术经验,提升科研能力。反之,国内这些青年学者的加入也使海外的科研团队受益匪浅。虽然这种形式的交流可以促进相互合作,大家都能彼此获益,但由此引发的一个问题是,不少科研精英选择了留在海外,造成了国内科技人才的流失。

值得庆幸的是,中国也一直在努力推进人才引进策略,吸引海外人才归国。比如众所周知的“百人计划”“千人计划”等。目前,中国的一系列人才引进措施已发挥了很大的作用,成功吸引了一大批高层次人才回国发展。但是,中国的人才引进标准主要还是基于科研人员所毕业的学府及所发表的高水平论文,并没有很好的考虑国家需求。因此,我们应更进一步完善现有的人才引进机制。

中国科技在短时间内的快速发展引发了全球瞩目,我们相信,随着以上问题的逐步解决,尤其是逐步提升的创新力及进一步完善的人才引进机制,中国在这方面将会变得越来越强。

包信和院士:物理化学家,2000-2007年,任中国科学院大连化学物理研究所所长;2009-2015年,任中国科学院沈阳分院院长;2015年至今,任复旦大学常务副校长。2009年当选中国科学院院士,2010年当选发展中国家科学院院士。主要从事表面化学与催化基础及其应用研究。

唐本忠院士:高分子化学家,香港科技大学化学与生物医学工程学部首席教授2009年当选中科院院士。2012年起受聘为华南理工大学双聘院士。主要从事高分子合成方法论的探索、先进功能材料的开发以及聚集诱导发光(AIE)现象的研究目前担任RSC期刊Materials Chemistry Frontiers的主编。


How China will tackle its science challenges

Increased creativity and improved recruitment will see China strengthen its claim as the leader in global science

China is a scientific powerhouse. It currently produces the second largest number of scientific papers in the world (after the US), and delivers cutting-edge, world class research in areas such as chemistry, materials science and energy conversion. In 2011 more than half a million patents were filed to China’s State Intellectual Property Office, and in 2013 the country was home to 1.85 million science and engineering postgraduates, 25.5 million undergraduates and 1.48 million full time equivalent researchers.

Indeed, China’s investment in all areas of research has been increasing rapidly in recent years; a trend that is particularly marked compared with funding in western countries, where it is either growing at very small rates or even decreasing. According to UNESCO, this will see China outpace the US as the leading R&D spender in the world in the next three years.

This scientific growth has attracted comment and criticism. Some have questioned whether the growth is sustainable. Elsewhere, the quality of research from China, though recognised as of high quality but still lacking in world class originality and with  breakthrough innovation. Others point to an apparent ‘brain drain’, with talented scientists leaving the country for international institutions. But are these criticisms justified, and what must China do to address them?

Reasons for growth

While China’s investment in research has increased rapidly, R&D investment is still far below the target of 2.5% of national GDP, set in the government’s national science and technology development plan (2006–2020). In the coming years, it’s likely that R&D will maintain a steady growth rate until this target is reached.

One determining factor for the continuation in investing into R&D is the fact that there are pressing needs for scientific means to solve the challenges that we are facing in China. One example is energy conversion, which is receiving more investment than in North America and Europe.  

Another reason for this predicted increase in investment is the scientific background of China’s leadership, such as president and former chemical engineer Xi Jinping. Their expertise has helped them to better understand the value of science in solving economic and societal development issues, and to make effective decisions.

In addition, China is very generous in supporting young faculty members to establish their own independent research groups, while in other countries it is generally quite hard for fresh graduates to find faculty positions and get sufficient funding.

Lack of creativity?

Of course, there is still room for improvement. Currently, many research publications from China are regarded as still lacking in breakthrough creativity and originality. However, China has only been active in modern scientific research for a few decades, in contrast to the very long history and tradition of scientific research and publishing scientific papers in the Western world; at this stage, we should not be too harsh in judging researchers. Increasingly, more and more Chinese researchers are starting to publish research that is on par with western countries in terms of creativity. And there are solutions we can implement to make research even stronger.

One option is to improve on how we measure success. Academic researchers in China are largely assessed by the number of publications they have produced and the impact factors of the journals their articles are published in – which has a direct effect on their funding. This creates pressure on researchers to focus their efforts on short-term, ‘quick hit’ or fashionable projects and discourages them from embarking on longer term, more impactful scientific research areas.

Therefore young chemists and fresh graduates in China should be encouraged not to focus purely on publications. Instead, they should be supported to develop skills in other areas, such as how to run a research group and how to generate creative ideas independently. History tells us that many important scientific breakthroughs are made by serendipitous discoveries; scientists will not be able to follow through with such chance discoveries if they are too preoccupied in producing research papers.

Attracting talent

All scientists benefit from going abroad to gain working experience with other leading research groups (and vice versa), even though nowadays we can keep track of each other’s research through the literature. These exchanges enable cross-fertilisation of ideas and create synergies among teams, although some scientists have chosen to remain in other countries.

China is now pushing hard to recruit international talent itself, and to attract  researchers of China original who are studying and working overseas. For example, the Thousand Talents Programme, set up by the Chinese government in 2008, provides generous financial incentives, such as research funding and personal remuneration – to recruit young professionals and established experts to China.

The current recruitment schemes though largely work well, it can still be improved in order to attract the kind of talented people based on our demand in China. For instance, the current selection criteria are based on the reputation of the university, the individual graduated from and the number of high-quality papers they have published. In the future, China will need to reconsider its approach and think about how to improve selection criteria.

原文链接:

  https://www.chemistryworld.com/opinion/how-china-will-tackle-its-science-challenges/1017316.article



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