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On 24 October 2019, the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences organised an open discussion ‘The Principles of the Academic Career of Young PhDs’. As a representative of young researchers’ interests, the Young Academy notes that today, the academic career raises many challenges to the young PhDs, and these challenges are related not only to low salaries.
Taking the existing situation into account, the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences invited institutions of research and higher education to contribute to the enhancement of young scientists’ careers and discuss the academic future and the principles of the career of young PhDs. Representatives of the Government Strategic Analysis Centre, the Lithuanian Research Council, Mykolas Romeris University, Kaunas University of Technology, the Lithuanian Agrarian and Forestry Research Centre, the Lithuanian Social Research Centre, the Lithuanian Energy Institute, and the Lithuanian Institute of History accepted the invitation and took part in the discussion.
The Academic Career of Young Doctoral Students and Related Research
In his welcome address, Prof. Zenonas Dabkevičius, Vice-president of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, emphasised the importance of the young researchers’ voice in Lithuanian research policy. Dr Donatas Murauskas, Chair of the Young Academy, presented the principles of the academic career of young PhDs and pointed out: ‘We are seeking an exhaustive discussion of these principles and that their introduction is not just a one-off event. The principles should be illustrated by actual examples of their implementation, which would form a set of good practices in the academic career of young researchers’.
At the discussion, Ramunė Dirvanskienė, a policy analyst from the Research Policy Analysis Department of the Government Strategic Research Centre, talked about the study ‘The Career of Doctorate Holders in Lithuania: Employment, Income, and the Sector of Activity’ conducted by the centre. She also introduced new research on the researchers’ working conditions and invited the representatives of research organisations to participate in it. The Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences stressed that the study into the working conditions of young researchers carried out by the Government Strategic Analysis Centre is highly relevant in enhancing the academic career of young PhDs. Therefore, the Young Academy seconds the invitation to participate in the study conducted by the Government Strategic Analysis Centre.
Ramunė Dirvanskienė, a policy analyst of the Department of Research Policy Analysis, the Government Strategic Analysis Centre
Dr Reda Cimmperman, the scientific secretary of the Lithuanian Research Council, emphasised that the council is doing all it can to facilitate the development of young scientists’ academic career by inviting young researchers to submit their research projects. At the same time, she emphasised the importance of institutional enhancement of young researchers’ careers.
Good Practices and Problem Areas
The representatives of research and higher education organisations were asked to share good practices of their institutions that helped to promote and guarantee the careers of young PhDs.
Prof. Regina Valutytė, Vice-rector of Mykolas Romeris University for Academic Affairs, pointed out that the approach to the academic career of young PhDs should be integrated, starting from doctoral studies that could be organised along the lines of the principles of the academic career of young PhDs proposed by the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. Talking of actual examples at Mykolas Romeris University, the vice-rector noted that the university organises social labs that are independent of faculties and other administrative divisions. In this way, the university implements the principle of academic openness proposed by the Young Academy, when an open space for interdisciplinary communication is set up.
Prof. Zenonas Dabkevičius, Vice-president of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, stressed the importance of immediate structural changes: doctoral studies should be approached not as the third stage of higher education but as the stage of scientific research activity. Assessing the work of the Lithuanian Agrarian and Forestry Research Centre, he said that the overall level of doctoral studies at the centre is high; the majority of the doctoral students take part in international scientific events and are involved in the research projects in progress. However, the engagement of research supervisors plays a significant role in a successful academic career of doctoral students and, later, young doctorate holders.
Prof. Tomas Tamulevičius of Kaunas University of Technology and Prof. Zenonas Dabkevičius, Vice-president of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
Prof. Tomas Tamulevičius and Dr Agnė Gadeikienė represented Kaunas University of Technology. They pointed out that their university implemented various practices promoting successful academic careers of young PhDs. For example, part of the university’s research fund is designated, by way of competition, to young PhDs (35 years of age and below) who have already achieved significant results; there is also a private foundation for support of postdoc internships. Prof. Tamulevičius added that Kaunas University of Technology established separate research groups matching the breakthrough themes, which matches some of the principles of the academic career of a young doctoral student proposed by the Young Academy: ‘balanced research’ and ‘consolidation of new fields’.
Karolina Čepurnienė, Head of the School for Doctoral Studies of Vytautas Magnus University, spoke about the university’s concern with the successful future academic career of young PhDs. The university implements doctoral students’ academic practice in research institutions, organises summer schools, and facilitates free-of-charge courses of foreign languages.
Dr Vytautas Akstinas (Lithuanian Energy Institute), Dr Karolina Čepurnienė (Vytautas Magnus University), Dr Agnė Gadeikienė (Kauno University of Technology)
Dr Andrius Vidikas and Dr Vytautas Akstinas of the Lithuanian Energy Institute spoke the involvement of young PhDs in research activities and their participation in shaping the institute’s research policy. Talking about the ‘focus on research’ principle, they singled out the importance of concentration on research at the institute.
Dr Donatas Burneika and Dr Daumantas Stumbrys, of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre, came forward with the suggestion that the size of various research and higher education institutions should be taken into account, and, bearing this in mind, more favourable possibilities for the academic career of young PhDs could be created. According to Dr Burneika, engaging young people in research activities should start not from their doctoral studies but from their work as lab technicians. Dr Stumbrys pointed out that many doctoral students and young PhDs are forced to seek jobs in several institutions of research and higher education as their employment at the institution of their studies and research is not always guaranteed.
Dr Jonas Paškauskas of the Lithuanian Institute of History agreed with the thoughts voiced by his colleagues from the Lithuanian Social Research Centre and observed that doctoral students must be very well aware of the amounts of money that could be allocated to their research work that would ensure their successful careers as doctorate holders.
Dr Mangirdas Malinauskas (Laser Research Centre, Vilnius University) and Dr Vaidas Palinauskas (Nature Research Centre), both members of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, spoke about how actively the doctoral students in their centres engage in research and that an increase in scholarships makes it possible to attract doctoral students from other countries. Dr Malinauskas, however, was apprehensive of the fact that at present invitations to postdoc study visits are suspended, which weakens academic mobility and international activity of young doctoral students.
Dr Olga Mastianica-Stankevič, scientific secretary of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and members of this academy Dr Vaidas Palinauskas and Prof. Dr Edvinas Orentas
This event was the first attempt by the Young Academy at a broader discussion about the possibilities to improve the academic career of young PhDs. The Young Academy extended their sincere gratitude to the participants and will seek further cooperation with the Government Strategic Analysis Centre and research and higher education institutions, and elaboration on good institutional practices that would lead to the formulation of a valuable corpus of such practices based on the Principles of the Academic Career of Young PhDs. The Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences invites all centres of research and higher learning to aim for the implementation of these principles.
Dr Olga Mastianica-Stankevič and Dr Donatas Murauskas
Photo Virginija Valuckienė
On 3 October 2019, Prof. Zenonas Dabkevičius, Vice-president of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, Prof. Domas Kaunas, chair of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Leonas Valkūnas, chair of the Division of Mathematical, Physical, and Chemical Sciences, Prof. Vaidutis Kučinskas, chair of the Division of Biological, medical, and Geosciences, and Prof Gintautas Žintelis, chair of the Division of Technical Sciences, met the members of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.
Three main directions of activities of the Young Academy were presented at this joint meeting the objective of which was to assess the activities that the Young Academy conducted during the first year of its existence and to discuss the principles for electing new members of the Young Academy.
The Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences focuses its attention on the representation of young researchers in Lithuanian research policy. In March 2019, the Young Academy submitted its opinion on the Description of Minimum Qualification Requirements for Researchers in Public Research and Higher Education Institutions, which is instrumental for ensuring a fluent academic career of young scientists, to the Lithuanian Research Council. October 2019 marks the beginning of the project of the Young Academy directed at the enhancement of the academic career of young doctoral students.
Active cooperation of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences with the young academies and associations of young scientists of the Nordic and Baltic countries led to the organisation of the international discussion on ethics in technology on 26 March 2019, and the conference of the representatives of young scientist organisations of the Baltic countries on 3 May 2019. On 11–12 June 2020, the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and the Finnish Young Academy are jointly planning to organise a research seminar on the interaction of research and politics.
Dr Vaidas Palinauskas, Dr Diana Marčiulynienė, Dr Olga Mastianica-Stankevič, and Prof. Edvinas Orentas, all of the Young Academy, and Prof. Juozas Kupčinskas exchange impressions from the meeting of young scientists of the Baltic countries on 3 May 2019
During the first year of the Young Academy, its members were successfully involved in expert and science popularisation activities of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and took an active part in the training sessions for young scientists and doctoral students organised by the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. The Young Academy has started a long-term cooperation with the Lithuanian School Student Union as the spread of research-based information in society is also one of the Young Academy’s underlying activities.
Regarding the election of new members of the Young Academy in 2019, the members suggested that not only the candidates’ high level of research should be considered, but also their motivation to take part in extensive public activities: the newly-elected members should enhance the worked-out course of activities and propose new initiatives.
Dr Olga Mastianica-Stankevič, secretary of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
On 13–15 September 2019, an annual meeting of the clubs of Lithuanian professionals abroad was held in Brussels. Over 70 participants from Lithuanian Professional Diaspora Clubs from 14 countries attended the event. One of the main parts of the meeting was the discussion ‘The Future of Education and Artificial Intellect’, which was attended by Dr Donatas Murauskas, chair of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. Paulius Kunčinas, chair of the board of ‘Blockchain Centre Vilnius’ moderated the discussion that was attended by Prof. Daiva Jakavonytė-Staškuvienė of Vytautas Magnus University, Vilius Žukauskas, head of business development at CUJO AI, and Andrius Perkauskas, deputy head of the EC ‘DG Connect’ audiovisual and communication services policy department, among others.
The discussion focused on the possibilities of Lithuania to become a European leader in the field of artificial intelligence. In addition to that, the participants spoke about the need for improving the training of AI experts. Vilius Žukauskas emphasised that the market is experiencing a shortage of specialist capable of applying the methods of AI in their work. The participants highlighted the necessity of creating a system of education in Lithuania based on contemporary needs. They analysed employment-related challenges that can be brought about by successful automation and algorithmization of various processes.
At their meeting, the professionals paid considerable attention to such challenges faced by the Lithuanian professional diaspora as dual citizenship, connections with Lithuania, and the like. This year’s referendum on allowing Lithuanians to hold dual citizenship and the establishment of the electoral district for world Lithuanians at the 2020 election to the Seimas were also touched upon.
The event was organised by the MAM Investments Club in Brussels and Luxembourg, founded by the Lithuanians of Belgium and Luxembourg, the Embassy of Lithuania in Belgium, the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the European Union, the ‘Global Lithuanian Leaders | GLL’ network, and the Brussels branch of the Lithuanian Lawyers’ Association.
It was the first time that the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences took part at such a meeting of the Lithuanian professional diaspora. Bearing in mind how many young Lithuanian scientists carry out their research abroad, it is desirable that the Young Academy should contribute to uniting young researchers working abroad and in Lithuania.
Dr Donatas Murauskas
Photo Tomas Razmus
On 12 August 2019, members of the Lithuanian Young Academy signed a joint statement of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Estonian young academies on promotion of gender equality in academia.
“Gender equality in academia is indispensable in order to ensure the quality of research that we need in resolving relevant contemporary social and environmental issues. Although the Nordic countries are often seen as the most progressive in tackling the issue of gender equality, there still exist important gender-related challenges, including academia. We think that a special policy is needed to rectify the distorted distribution of genders in appointments to academic senior or leading positions and in particular spheres of academia. Promotion of gender equality in academia will contribute to a broader diversity of research issues and attitudes,” said Katerini Storeng, the chair of the Norwegian Young Academy.
The idea of the statement on gender equality emerged at the first joint meeting of Nordic and Baltic young academies (19–20 March 2019, Stockholm) that was attended by the representatives of the Lithuanian Young Academy Dr Donatas Murauskas, Dr Olga Mastianica-Stankevič, and Dr Diana Marčiulynienė. The aim of the signed statement is to establish initiatives and strategies that could be implemented to improve gender equality in academia. The statement presents a number of prioritized proposals for all areas of academia: recruitment, promotion, research funding, work environment, mobility, scientific meetings and career issues. It is intended for Nordic and Baltic universities, research and research funding institutions.
Cooperation of the Lithuanian Young Academy with Nordic and Baltic young academies and organisations of young researchers is a unique platform opening young researchers’ interaction without borders in setting common interests and issues and in consolidating the role of young researchers in the broader context of European academic communities.
Dr. Olga Mastianica-Stankevič
The Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences participated at the European Young Academy Convention in Helsinki (Finland), which took place on 17-18 May 2019. The event significant for young scientists was attended by numerous representatives of the young academies of European countries, the Global Young Academy, the Young Academy of Europe, and of Eurodoc, the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers.
The participants paid special attention to the collaboration of scientist and political decision-makers and to the importance of science in politics. One of the discussions at the convention considered the role of the scientist as an aide in making political decisions. Päivi Tikka, secretary general of the Council of Finnish Academies, and Sirpa Pietikäinen, a member of the European Parliament, also participated in the discussion. The participants decided that even if the mission carried out by the scientists did not necessarily comply with politicians’ activities, political choices should be expanded to encompass top-quality scientific basis.
The currently developed open science idea and its impact on the career of young scientists also received the participants’ attention, just like the discussion about the improvement of the existing science evaluation criteria. Professor David Budtz of Aalborg University in Copenhagen spoke of the impact of the concept of open science on modern individualised science evaluation criteria. Considerable criticism was levelled at research evaluation methods based on the status of the publishers or a particular journal that publish a research paper and not on the quality of the publication itself. Although limited, they exert a significant influence on a scientists’ research activity even at present.
At the convention, young academies discussed good practice in conducting different activities in science policy, science popularization, and the like. At the session on the interdisciplinary nature of research, Donatas Murauskas, President of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, reviewed the international interdisciplinary discussion held in March 2019 at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences that addressed the issues of technology ethics as a successful example of the Young Academy activity in this area.
The Helsinki convention closed with discussions on closer cooperation between national Young Academies of Europe in the future. This event was one of the first attempts to create regular conventions of the young academies of Europe. That is why it is very important that the Lithuanian Young Academy is actively involved in international cooperation and is capable of introducing appropriate initiatives.
On 3 May 2019, the first forum of organisations representing young scientists of the Baltic countries was held at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. The event was attended by the members of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Science Academy, the Estonian Young Academy, and the representatives of the Association of Latvian Young Scientists. The forum of young academies took place during the 16th conference of intellectual cooperation ‘Genes: From the Past to the Future’ organised at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.
At the forum, the representatives of three young academies discussed activities conducted in the fields of research policy, representation of young scientists, science popularization, as well as their future plans and experiences. Inese Čakstina, a representative of the Association of Latvian Young Scientists, presented the activities of the association and discussed the integrated project currently implemented in Latvia and aimed at increasing the funding of scientific research. Tuul Sepp, a member of the Estonian Young Academy, presented a series of articles in the Estonian press focused on the significance of science; it is considered a successful example of the activity of the Estonian Young Academy. The representatives of both Latvia and Estonia accentuated the experience in collaboration with decision makers in research policy, including the representatives of public sector institutions and politicians.
The representatives of the organisations bringing together young Baltic researchers emphasized the necessity of closer cooperation, both in exchange of good practice and in enhancing the positions of young scientists in all three Baltic countries. ‘This event provided us with an opportunity to share our insights and to learn about the experience of our active Baltic colleagues in conducting relevant activities; it also became the first step towards the unified position of the Baltic countries regarding the formation of the status of young scientists,’ emphasized Donatas Murauskas, President of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.
The technology breakthrough brought about by the fourth industrial revolution highlights the urgent need of creating a balanced legal environment and looking for community-supported standards of ethics that would protect the end user and the community from too risky decisions in technology development. Ethical issues are considered to be increasingly important in this modern world when the social order lags behind technological advancement. Currently, the risks posed by the interaction of nanotechnologies, biology, information technologies, and cognitive sciences, and those associated with the possibility of changing human structure or personality, are clearly defined. The special significance of ethics against the background of technology advancement stimulated the organisation of the international discussion ‘Technological Advancement and Aspects of Ethics’ at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences on 26 March 2019. It addressed such complex issues of technology ethics as identification of the appropriate methodological approach for the solution of an ethical issue during technological development, the likeliness of identifying universal values that would facilitate the resolution of ethical issues in science and technology. Attempts were made at defining the role and practical prospects of legal and state institutions in solving ethical dilemmas during the current period of intensive science development.
The discussion was organised by the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences jointly with the ‘Human Rights and Technologies’ research group of the Faculty of Law of Vilnius University. Assoc. Prof. Donatas Murauskas, President of the Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, who moderated the discussion, emphasized the significance of ethics in performing scientific research and developing new technologies: ‘Science must develop on the basis of recognised standards of values, whereas the development of new technologies should not rest on economic logic alone’. The discussion was organised with the aim of attracting wider involvement of researchers from various fields and branches of science, including experts in philosophy and bioethics.
Eva Lievens, a professor from the Faculty of Law of the University of Gent, pointed out that legal regulation was not keeping up with technological development. Justinas Žilinskas, an expert in international law and professor at Mykolas Römeris University, spoke in favour of adopting minimal international ethical standards that would regulate application of technologies.
The roles and possibilities of the subjects conducting bioethical monitoring were discussed in the context of the evaluation of the potential of state institutions to ensure compliance with the standards of ethics. Gvidas Urbonas and Eimantas Peičius, associate professors of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, shared their insight by paying attention to the efficiency of ethics control of biomedical research that is yet to be developed. At the same time, the experts highlighted the significance of communication and mutual understanding between specialists from different fields of science regarding bioethical issues. Regimantas Juras, a senior specialist of the Office of the Ombudsman for Academic Ethics and Procedures of the Republic of Lithuania, emphasized the increased attention this office paid to the standards of professional ethics, while the issues of research ethics should be solved through the communication between the scientists and society.
The participants in the discussion looked at how the discipline of philosophy could assist in ensuring legal order by providing universal standards of values. Jonas Čiurlionis and Vilius Dranseika, the representatives of the Faculty of Philosophy of Vilnius University, were very active in discussing these issues. Attention was paid to the significance of ethical education of the general public. Talking about the philosophers’ help to the lawyers, both speakers recognised that philosophy can be useful for the lawyers as it can facilitate a better understanding of the essence of things; also, many philosophical provisions are directly related with legal practice.
The discussion was also attended by Prof. Joseph Tanega of Brussels Free University and Joanna Kulesza, an associate professor at Lodz University, who contributed to it considerably. It is expected that opinions and thoughts voiced at this event will lay a good foundation for further ethics-related discussions.
What should the place of young scientist be in resolving issues of research policy? How to ensure the broadest possible access of society to research-based information? Has gender equality been achieved in the academic world? These and other relevant questions were discussed at the meeting of Young Academies of Nordic and Baltic countries held in Stockholm (Sweden) on 19-20 March 2019.
For the first time the representatives of young academies of the Nordic and Baltic countries met for a joint meeting held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Its aim was to intensify mutual cooperation and strengthen the role of young scientists in the context of the European science policy. At the opening of the meeting, Maria Tenje, President of the Swedish Young Academy, emphasised: ‘As young scientists, we have to assume the main and constructive role in solving relevant problems in European science policy’. Among the most important issues discussed at the meeting of young scientists of the Nordic and Baltic countries were scientific conveyance and gender equality in the academic community.
The representatives of the young academies of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, members of Latvian and Icelandic young scientists’ organisations and of the Global Young Academy attended this meeting. The Young Academy of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences was represented by Donatas Murauskas, Olga Mastianica-Stankevič, and Diana Marčiulynienė.
Each of the organisations representing young scientists spoke of their activities. ‘We intend to conduct our activities in the three main directions: the interests of young scientists, the challenges of Lithuanian science policy, and dissemination of science-based information in the community,’ President Donatas Murauskas introduced the activities of the Lithuanian Young Academy. These activity directions were widely discussed with the members of more experienced young academies from other countries. During the meeting, it was decided to carry out active cooperation, share positive experience and new ideas regarding the work of young academies, and to develop an information network that would facilitate initiatives and execution of joint scientific research.
Considerable attention was paid to the sensitive issue of gender equality in academic activity and to the discussion of various cases of discrimination. Tiina Suopajärvi, the representative of the Nordwit centre of excellence of the Nordic countries, pointed out that ‘gender equality is not only the question of honesty, but also a means to achieve higher quality of research that promotes scientific advancement’. Even though gender issues are highly specific and the rising challenges differ in every country, members of young academies agreed that greater equality should be promoted in the academic activity and that various forms of discrimination that manifest themselves along the path of a successful research career should be combated.