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华人科学家致信《科学》:《资助华人合作研究》(Funding for Chinese Collaboration)

时间:2010-11-09 09:18:24  来源:  作者:

Science 5 November 2010:
Vol. 330. no. 6005, p. 756
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6005.756-a
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Letters
Funding for Chinese Collaboration
In their Editorial "China's research culture" (3 September, p. 1128), Y. Shi and Y. Rao describe an example of the rampant problems in China's research funding allocation, namely the selection of recipients for "megaproject grants." I often hear stories about very expensive equipment left packed in hallways or labs for years without being used. The funding agencies often have very strict guidelines for using the funding on salaries, even though a research group's ability to hire the talent they need is often the most important factor in the success of the research program.
China's funding strategy for overseas Chinese scientists is also problematic. As part of an Asia-wide trend, China has been trying to recruit talents from overseas (1). To attract established overseas Chinese researchers with advanced education from western countries, China has devoted billions of Chinese yuan to talent programs [such as the Thousand Talent program (2) recently established by the central government] that require overseas scholars to relocate to China to accept prestigious fulltime positions. However, many recipients of these awards cannot relocate because of practical and family obligations.

China should focus instead on grants that fund collaborative research between overseas Chinese scholars and their peers in China. Collaborative programs are more cost-effective and more practical for those who cannot relocate. One such program is the Joint Research Fund (JRF) for Overseas Chinese Scholars and Scholars in Hong Kong and Macao, administered by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). In 2006, a mere 0.7% of the NSFC budget was allocated to this worthy program (3). In 2008, the maximum grant was reduced from 400,000 Chinese yuan over 3 years to 200,000 Chinese yuan over 2 years (4, 5). By dedicating such a small budget to this program and others like it, China misses an opportunity to engage overseas Chinese scholars and benefit from their contributions to the country's research and education.

Scott X. Chang


E-mail: scott.chang@ualberta.ca

Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada.

 

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