Sun, Jul 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Global research to see rule change

STANDARDS:Researchers said the Ministry of Science and Technology should focus less on how prestigious institutions are when reviewing proposed collaborations

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has loosened certain regulations to encourage researchers to propose more collaborative projects with other countries, while some academics said it would be more beneficial to identify mutually complementary partners.

The ministry on Monday launched its MOST Add-on Grant for International Cooperation (MAGIC) project, which encourages researchers working on ministry-funded projects to apply to join additional international projects.

Unternational projects used to be conducted in accordance with the bilateral agreements between Taiwan and other countries, but the restriction would be lifted from Aug. 1, Department of International Cooperation and Science Education Director-General Huang Hsin-ya (黃心雅) said.

The ministry would give project heads an additional monthly grant of NT$5,000 and subsidize their research trips abroad, as well as their invitations of foreign academics to Taiwan, she said.

To give researchers more flexibility, the ministry would review proposed projects as they arrive, and the process would be completed within two months, she said.

The significance of the institutions to which foreign academics are affiliated would be a key factor for reviewers, Huang said.

When asked for comment, two researchers said they welcome more flexibility for applications, but that “mutual complementariness” should be given more emphasis.

Instead of an institution’s significance, the ministry should put more emphasis on an institution’s long-term potential and how it complements its Taiwanese counterpart, said Lin Yao-tung (林耀東), a professor at National Chung Hsing University’s Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences.

The university is planning to work with Utah State University (USU) to establish a training center for agricultural talent from Southeast Asia, which would help bridge agricultural studies in Taiwan, the US and Southeast Asia, he said.

Although USU is not part of the prestigious Ivy League — a group of eight private schools based in the US’ northeast — it would introduce US academic resources to Taiwan and Southeast Asia, Lin said, adding that he would still try to apply for the ministry’s new program when it launches.

Local researchers are advised to seek opportunities for cooperation when they attend overseas conferences, but they should find partners who would add value to their projects, said Lee Yi-hsuan (李怡萱) a professor at National Yang-Ming University’s Department of Physiology.

Different researchers are likely to “hit it off” immediately if their research methods or laboratory techniques are mutually complementary, Lee said, adding that program applicants should consider the necessity of foreign partners if they are able to find similar matches in Taiwan.

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