the reasons for the French decline

Not only will Australia not buy submarines from France, but in addition, its researchers are on the verge of overtaking ours in terms of productivity. This is what emerges from the first provisional data for the year 2020, communicated by the Observatory of Sciences and Techniques (OST) to the World, relating to the volume of national scientific publications.

In 2017, Italy had passed France, which now finds itself on the verge of being excluded from the top 10 by Canada, Spain and Australia, while it was sixth in 2009. “Rapid dropout for fifteen years”, wrote, to qualify the French situation, the authors of one of the reports intended to feed the programming law for research (LPR), voted at the end of 2020. This was supposed to stop erosion but it especially aroused disputes of a scientific community doubting the interest of structural reforms, which since 2005 have accompanied this dropout. Even if correlation is not causation.

And behind the withering of French prestige, in terms of publications, financial resources, salaries, fractures appear even within the national scientific community, between rich and poor laboratories, stars and second lines, incumbents and precarious … signing the end with the exception of the French model in the global landscape.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the “Science & medicine” supplement, we wanted, to paraphrase Condorcet, to attempt a sketch of a table of scientific fractures that cross the land of the Enlightenment.

Declining productivity

Certainly, France, with 1% of the world population and more than 2.5% of the production of scientific articles (out of more than two million), “Is one of the most research-intensive countries”, as indicated by the TSB in its last report. Corn “She moves less quickly than the world”, recalls Frédérique Sachwald, its director. So much so that its share continues to decrease and its rank to decline. Worse, if it is still in the ten countries which publish the most, it is only sixteenth on a quality indicator developed by the OST which takes into account the percentile of the most cited publications, behind Belgium, Switzerland or Denmark.

The fields in which she publishes the most are the sciences of the past, maths and the sciences of the Universe, when her weak points are found in chemistry and process engineering.

But as there is always a way to see the glass half full, the international ranking of the Spanish research group SCImago, based on the number of publications, places the CNRS as the second research institution in the world, ahead of Harvard and behind the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

You have 84.52% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.