Careers for science researchers

 

A chara, – Although Science Foundation Ireland deserves much credit for bringing our third level research capabilities into the 21st century, this progress is in critical danger of being lost due to disjointed public policy concerning scientific research staff.

Recruitment embargoes, temporary funding problems and the continuous use of short-term employment contracts have ensured most science research facilities in the country have haemorrhaged research staff over the last couple of years. Several universities refuse to employ any recently contracted research staff for periods of longer than four years as continuous employment for more than four years entitles a researcher to a contract of indefinite duration under the terms of the Fixed-Term Work Act.

Faced with no long-term career structure, low pay and no job security, even in the medium term, many of our best and brightest researchers end up either leaving the country or leaving the field entirely. While we fund world-class science, our effective staff expulsion policies ensure that much of this investment in our national future will end up wasted.

As noted in a recent letter to Nature, far from being a world leader in the area, Ireland is now being held up as a poster child of short-term thinking and poor scientific research policy. Unless our policymakers show the commitment required to fix these problems, our impressive research buildings will produce no better than second-rate science. – Is mise,

NICK HILLIARD,

De Courcy Square,

Glasnevin,

Dublin 9.