Research and competence clusters, phenomenon-based research and research profiling pave the way to the future
The Academy of Finland today published the 2018 report on the state of scientific research in Finland. Based on bibliometric indicators the report concludes that the level of Finnish science and research has improved in the 2010s. Researchers with a doctoral degree account for an increasing part of the research performed in the country. There has been a substantial drop in research FTEs at government research institutes. At the same time, phenomenon-based research, research and competence clusters and stronger research profiling are gaining a more prominent role in advancing research.
The report analyses the state of scientific research using the top 10 index, which examines the scientific publications ranked in the top 10 per cent of a given discipline in relation to the number of citations worldwide. The latest data cover publications from 2012–2015 and the citations they had gained by the end of 2017.
Finland’s top 10 index has improved in the 2010s. For publications between 2012 and 2015, Finland’s top 10 index value is 1.12. The world average is 1. In other words, the upward trend reported in the 2016 review has continued. However, many key reference countries are still clearly ahead of Finland. Finland has a high number of scientific publications per capita.
Heikki Mannila, President of the Academy of Finland, said: “The index values are going in the right direction. However, it’s important to bear in mind that while bibliometric indicators represent one view of analysing scientific impact, they alone cannot adequately provide an overall picture of the level of research. The shifts that occur are always the result of multiple long-term factors.” Mannila chaired the report’s steering group.
Researchers with a doctoral degree account for an increasing part of the research performed in Finnish higher education institutions and government research institutes. In the business sector, however, PhDs still only account for about 6 per cent of R&D.
The analysis of university teaching and research staff shows a decrease in the FTEs of doctoral candidates between 2012 and 2017. In turn, the FTEs of postdoctoral researchers increased. Research FTEs at government research institutes decreased significantly.
In future, research and competence clusters (ecosystems) and phenomenon-based research will gain a more prominent role in science. The recommendations of the 2018 report state that high-quality, high-impact and attractive research and competence clusters are essential for Finland’s development. Such clusters require stronger research profiling and broad-based collaboration.
Rector Jukka Mönkkönen, University of Eastern Finland, said: “Successful research and competence clusters are nowadays often phenomenon-based, and university strategies are increasingly based on such multidisciplinary hubs. To facilitate the formation of these clusters, research organisations need to delineate their profiles, clarify their distribution of work and collaboration, and adopt distinct, long-term solutions.” Mönkkönen is also chair of Universities Finland (UNIFI).
The recommendations of the report also highlight the importance of human resources in strengthening the quality and impact of research. Rector Keijo Hämäläinen, University of Jyväskylä, said: “Recruitment is a key element in the success of universities, and successful recruitment requires decisive strategic action. The renewal and profiling of university research are realised in practice through the people that are recruited.”
A special theme in the review of the state of scientific research in Finland is the share of GDP spent on R&D in Finland and the reference countries. Anni Huhtala, Director General of VATT Institute for Economic Research, said: “The target set by the Research and Innovation Council and in the vision for higher education and research for an R&D intensity at 4 per cent will require significant action from both public and private actors.
Anni Huhtala, Keijo Hämäläinen and Jukka Mönkkönen are members of the steering group of the 2018 report on the state of scientific research in Finland.
The Academy of Finland’s reports on the state of scientific research in Finland support Finnish universities and research institutes in their efforts to further develop their operations. The reviews also serve to strengthen the knowledge base for policy-making.
- President Heikki Mannila, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 001, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
- Director General Anni Huhtala, VATT Institute for Economic Research, tel. +358 295 519 414, firstname.lastname(at)vatt.fi
- Rector Keijo Hämäläinen, University of Jyväskylä, tel. +358 40 680 0215, firstname.lastname(at)jyu.fi
- Rector Jukka Mönkkönen, University of Eastern Finland, tel. +358 294 458 001, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
- Senior Science Adviser Otto Auranen, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 295 335 141, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi