The debate on ‘Science in Transition’ on 21 January 2014 in Maastricht is due to take place. Scientists and executives will debate together with the audience about desired and necessary changes in the way scientific output is produced. Although the initiative is launched by Dutch scientists, the international aspects of business science cannot be disregarded and must be taken into account.

The report ‘International Comparative Performance of the UK  Research Database 2013’ written by Elsevier for the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) provides information on the number of publications published worldwide in scientific (refereed) journals in 2012. Year after year, the number of scientific publications has grown up to the number of 2.2 million articles in 2012. The largest ‘producers’ of scientific output in Europe are the UK (almost 6.5%), followed by second best Germany. However, the real thing is found outside Europe: almost half of the global production takes place in the US and China. China and emerging economy India are the rising producing powers in science.

Where is the Netherlands in this picture?

Data retrieved from the ‘Branchejaarverslag VSNU 2012’ tell us that almost 83.000 publications were written in 2011, of which 46.593 scientific articles in refereed journals. Even if the output had grown in 2012, Dutch scientists are accountable for a modest share of approx. 2% of the global production. From the same UK report can be concluded that 47.6% of the UK publications are written in corporation with non-UK researchers. Science is therefore by far a multinational business and is becoming more and more international over the years. The Netherlands experience the same: in the period 2007–2010 the Dutch universities published articles together with colleagues abroad. Figures vary between 41% (Tilburg University) and 54% (Wageningen University) (source: WTI).

The first scientific journal published ever was launched in 1665: ‘Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society’ (Phil. Trans.) published at the Royal Society of London by philosopher Henry Oldenburg. If science is to be restructured, the people in the science business need to be in the driver’s seat. It is a comforting and reassuring thought that in the actual debate on science the scientists themselves are on the forefront. It starts with a debate within the Dutch universities, but at the same time – if science is to be in transition – national borders need to be crossed. Scientists have to take the international perspective and agree on common, global conditions, bearing in mind the differences between disciplines. The fact that international cooperation among scientists is common sense will help the initiators of Science in Transition. An interesting topic for a congress of scientists, but as well for boards and librarians participating in international networks of universities and libraries.

Dutch version of the post


Ingrid Wijk
Director University Library/Language Centre


On 22 January Science Guide posted a news item on the same subject:

Transition or hell

The ‘Science in Transition-debate’ continues. At Maastricht University and elsewhere in academia. Are solutions dawning? “They say, ‘I’m not going to stay in academia, because it’s hell’ and set up their own start-up.” Who will take the first step in measuring ‘real impact’?

Read the whole article in the Science Guide newsletter

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